CAN FIGHTING MONEY WITH MONEY CREATE FAIRER ELECTIONS?

Less Than 1 Percent of the Population Donates to Local Races. In Oakland, Giving Voters ‘Democracy Dollars’ Might Even the Playing Field

Can Fighting Money with Money Create Fairer Elections? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Democracy vouchers—or “democracy dollars,” as they’re called in Oakland—aren’t a panacea—but the idea, first pioneered in Seattle, can help make campaigns fairer, writes Connecting California columnist Joe Mathews. Courtesy of AP Newsroom.

by JOE MATHEWS | SEPTEMBER 27, 2022 (zocalopublicsquare.org)

Would our democracy work better if all of us were campaign donors?

That’s the proposition posed by democracy vouchers, an idea with Seattle origins that has reached the Golden State.

This fall, voters in the city of Oakland will decide whether to distribute four vouchers, worth $25 each, to city residents ahead of future elections. Oaklanders would be free to give those vouchers to local candidates for mayor, city council, city attorney, city auditor, or school board. People could split up their vouchers among different campaigns, or give all four—the full $100—to just one candidate.

Not all campaigns could accept the vouchers. To qualify to receive the money, candidates would have to receive a certain number of traditional cash contributions. They’d also have to agree to spending limits on their campaigns. That’s something a wealthy self-funded politician (think developer and Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso) would be unlikely to do.

But those campaigns that did participate could redeem the vouchers for real money to spend on campaign activities, from polling to lawn signs. The money would come from the city’s general fund—at an estimated cost of $4 million per election.

Democracy vouchers—or “democracy dollars,” as they’re called in Oakland—may not win on this November’s ballot. But the idea is gaining traction across California and the country because of its pragmatic “if you can’t beat them, join them” logic.

Generally, a very small number of mostly rich people—less than 1 percent of the population—donate to local political campaigns. This is the case in Oakland, too, where backers of “democracy dollars” have found that most election donations from Oakland residents come from a few wealthy neighborhoods. About half of the money doesn’t come from Oakland at all, but from people or business interests who want something from the city, but are located elsewhere. Candidates spend most of their time talking with wealthy and far-flung donors, and responding to their concerns. That doesn’t benefit most Oaklanders.

Would our democracy work better if all of us were campaign donors?

Democracy vouchers don’t challenge the dominance of money in local politics; in 2020, Oakland elections saw $5 million in donations, between candidate campaigns and independent expenditures. But they do allow regular people to get in the game, creating incentives for candidates and campaigns to go out and talk to all of us. If vouchers take off, might the concerns of everyday Californians receive more attention in our politics?

Democracy vouchers make sense in an era in which Americans are concerned—or at least pretend to be concerned—about racial equity and justice. Since Seattle pioneered democracy vouchers back in 2015, the concept has made the population of donors more representative of the city as a whole by race, income, and neighborhood. Studies also suggest it has boosted voter turnout, since voters who give vouchers are more likely to cast ballots.

Vouchers also have proven their worth in court. Attempts to reduce the influence of money in elections have run afoul of judges who rule that limits on campaign money are unconstitutional. The voucher approach—inviting the public to put money into politics—has survived legal attacks.

All of these reasons are why Oakland’s “democracy dollars” plan has drawn support from a coalition of race-oriented advocacy groups like Asian Americans Advancing Justice, civil liberties groups (such as the ACLU), and old-line good government organizations including California Common Cause and the League of Women Voters.

The next step is to build more support for the vouchers among voters and elected officials. The idea has a mixed record at the polls. In recent years, a ballot measure to establish a statewide democracy voucher system narrowly failed in Washington state. A similar measure in South Dakota won among voters, but was repealed by the Republican state legislature.

Still, the attention that those campaigns generated, along with the success in Seattle, has raised the idea’s profile, and inspired movements to enact democracy vouchers not just in Oakland but also in L.A. and San Diego.

And that’s just a start. If such vouchers work in candidate races, perhaps their uses could be expanded. Imagine if citizens could use democracy vouchers to fund signature-gathering campaigns to qualify their ideas for laws or policies as local or statewide ballot initiatives.

People present many objections to democracy vouchers, most focused on the money. Why inject more money into political campaigns, critics say—doesn’t that only produce more conflict, more polarization, more propaganda and misinformation? And why devote scarce local dollars to turning residents into campaign donors, instead of paying for essential services? Can’t systems of public finance for campaigns prop up candidates with extremist views?

These are valid questions. You might say vouchers fight fire with fire—money with money—because that’s the system we have. Democracy vouchers can’t fix the campaign systems in California or the U.S. Real fixes will require major changes to our constitutional structure.

In the meantime, what democracy vouchers can do is make those campaigns fairer, and give everyday people, and especially low-income people, a voice in our democracy that they don’t currently have.

Welcome to the donor class, everyone.

JOE MATHEWSwrites the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square.

‘Let’s Pass Medicare for All,’ Says Jayapal as Survey Spotlights Failures of For-Profit System

Medicare for All protest

People take part in the March for Medicare for All in Washington D.C. on July 24, 2021. (Photo: Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“When the ‘all-time low’ of uninsured Americans is still 26 MILLION, something needs to change,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

JULIA CONLEY September 29, 2022 (CommonDreams.org)

A new report reveals how a lack of health coverage, underinsurance, and unaffordable medical bills still plague millions of Americans despite healthcare reforms in recent years—and makes the latest case for improving and expanding the Medicare system to everyone in the U.S., according to progressives.

“No one should have to go into debt because they need to access healthcare. No one should have to choose between seeing a doctor and paying bills.”

The Commonwealth Fund conducted a survey between March and July and found that due to high premiums, deductibles, and copays, 46% of U.S. adults have delayed or altogether avoided receiving healthcare in the last year.

Up to a quarter of people with chronic health problems were among those who had skipped getting the healthcare they need, with respondents saying out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs—for example, life-saving insulin for diabetes—had forced them to skip doses or not fill a prescription.

Forty-two percent of respondents have struggled to pay medical bills and 43% were found to be inadequately insured, despite the often-cited statistic that the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped 20 million Americans gain coverage.

Nearly a quarter of adults in the country are underinsured, with health insurance that fails to provide them with affordable healthcare—charging them high monthly premiums for coverage, covering medical care only after high deductibles have been fulfilled, or leaving certain kinds of healthcare out of coverage.

Those who were underinsured included 29% of people who had employer-sponsored healthcare plans and 44% of people who purchased coverage individually or through the healthcare marketplace set up by the ACA.

“The average insurance deductible for employer health plans with single coverage is more than $1,000 ($1,434 for all covered workers in 2021), and it’s more than $2,000 ($2,825) for HealthCare.gov marketplace plans,” reads the report. “Out-of-pocket maximums average $4,272 for single coverage in employer plans and range up to $8,700 in marketplace plans. These plan features leave people with considerable cost exposure in case of a sudden illness or accident.”

Nine percent of people surveyed were completely without health insurance.

The statistics revealed in the survey amount to “a disgrace” in the American healthcare system, said the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

“This is shameful,” said the group. “No one should have to go into debt because they need to access healthcare. No one should have to choose between seeing a doctor and paying bills.”

Half of the people surveyed said they would be unable to pay an unexpected $1,000 medical bill within 30 days, including 69% of Black adults and 63% of Latinos.

The Commonwealth Fund prominently pointed out that Americans have “record-high health coverage,” but Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the author of the Medicare for All Act, which has 121 co-sponsors in the U.S. House, pointed out that 26 million Americans still lacking health insurance.

“Let’s pass Medicare for All and guarantee health care as a right to ALL,” said Jayapal.

Articles ~ 6 Petitions ~ Events for Friday, Sept. 30 – Sunday, Oct. 2

By Adrienne Fong

Am not back posting on a regular basis

Francis Collins died on September 26:

From Susan Witka, one of Francis’s closest friends:

4 the love of Francis❤ and to all of you who showed your love & support, in various ways,to him these past weeks……

After a celebratory day of singing to Francis❤, talking and touching as he prepared 4 his Journey….. at times 8 of us surrounding him

 in his little room at UC yesterday. We all left Francis❤ by 8 pm with the day’s loving energy still surrounding him.

I got a call that at around 11 pm, Francis❤ was scooped up by his Angels, flying him to the other side where he will still be our Troubadour…

From Tommi Mecca

So sad. Veterans for Peace activist Francis Collins has died. He was a gentle man who fought for a world without war and hate. He went everywhere with his guitar.

Below:

Francis and I singing “Imagine” at a protest of SF’s sit/lie ordinance, an anti-homeless law, at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro, May, 22, 2011, Milk’s birthday.

The video is by Carol Harvey.

Keep on singing, my friend.

SAN FRANCISCO SIDEWALKS ARE STILL FOR PEOPLE. TOMMI MECCA BACKS FRANCIS COLLINS’ ON ‘IMAGINE’

SAN FRANCISCO SIDEWALKS ARE STILL FOR PEOPLE. TOMMI MECCA BACKS FRANCIS COLLINS’ ON ‘IMAGINE’ – YouTube

 Francis Collins Presente!

Please hold the following people in your thoughts:

Victor Picazo, dealing with health complications

Susan Witka, as she recovers from surgery

Jackie Barshak, battling stage 4 metastatic lung cancer, as she continues chemo therapy.

Melvin Starks recently released from the hospital!

   – Still needs housing!

Rodger Scott as he gains strength. Open site to see telephone number Meal Train for Rodger Scott

   He welcomes noon time visits

 Good visiting time is early afternoon around 1pm to 2pm, please see calendar to choose a day. Also, Rodger has a meal service and bringing meals is not necessary.

Hold the people:

– in Pakistan, Mississippi and Florida in your thoughts

-in Africa in your thoughts as they are experiencing drought and famine..

In Puerto Rico and the Dominican  Republic affected by Hurricanes

in Yemen

Please include Accessibility and ASL info in your events! And if your action is ‘child friendly’ This is a JUSTICE issue!!

*** ASL interpretation – Let me know if your event needs this service .***

Please post your actions on Indybay: https://www.indybay.org/calendar/?page_id=12

 See Indybay  for  other listings of events

ARTICLES

A. US puts energy operators on ‘heightened alert’ – September 29, 2022

US puts energy operators on ‘heightened alert’ — RT World News

  The warning comes after the apparent sabotage of Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipelines

B. DPR Civilians On Why They Wanted A Referendum To Join Russia  – September 29, 2022

DPR Civilians On Why They Wanted A Referendum To Join Russia – In Gaza (wordpress.com)

By Eva Bartlett –

 “It’s mainly the people themselves talking, over the course of 5 days, including door-to-door voting (no, not at gunpoint) and voting in voting stations on the 5th day.

Western commentators would do well to listen to them (but we know they won’t)….)”

C. Newsom relents, signs farmworker union bill after pressure from Biden and labor

Newsom relents, signs farmworker bill after pressure- CalMatters

D. Anti-government protests in Haiti enter sixth week – September 27, 2022

Anti-government protests in Haiti enter sixth week : Peoples Dispatch

E. Large Rallies In Support of Putin’s Referendums And Mobilization 50x Larger Than Protests Against – September 27, 2022

Large Rallies In Support of Putin’s Referendums And Mobilization 50x Larger Than Protests Against – YouTube

  – By Kim Iversen

F. Treasure Island resident: It’s test time for Matt Dorsey – September 27, 2022

Treasure Island resident: It’s test time for Matt Dorsey (sfbayview.com)

G. Coalition on Homelessness sues city over its treatment of homeless people – September 27, 2022

Coalition on Homelessness sues city over its treatment of homeless people – Mission Local

H. Advocates call on DA to drop murder charge against Tehachapi woman accused of killing ex-husband – September 27, 2022

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/advocates-call-da-drop-murder-010600359.html

  See Petition # 2

I. Breed’s Been Forcing Appointees to Sign Undated Letters of Resignation, Says She’ll Stop Now that She’s Been Busted – September 26, 2022

Breed’s Been Forcing Appointees to Sign Undated Letters of Resignation, Says She’ll Stop Now That She’s Been Busted (sfist.com)

J. Western media continues to ignore how Ukraine is using NATO weapons to kill innocent civilians in the Donbass – September 23, 2022

   By Eva Bartlett

L. Cop Watch: Mayor Breed pulls strings — wins some, loses some – September23, 2022

Cop Watch: Mayor Breed pulls strings — wins some, loses some (missionlocal.org)

K. Military Whistleblower Challenges Pentagon’s Warrantless Purchase Of Internet Data – September 22, 2022

Whistleblower Objects To Pentagon Purchases Of Browsing Data (thedissenter.org)

M.The CIA is not your friend By Edward Snowden – September 20, 2022

America’s Open Wound – Continuing Ed — with Edward Snowden (substack.com)

N. La Raza employees call for executive director’s ouster – March 2022

La Raza employees call for executive director’s ouster – Mission Local

  This article gives good background to event # 6

6. PETITIONS

1. Urge the Senate to repeal the 2002 Iraq war authorization

  SIGN: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/sign-the-petition-urge-the-senate-to-repeal-the-2002-iraq-war-authorization?source=2022IraqWarResolution_PA&referrer=group-peace-action-2&redirect=https%3a%2f%2fwww.peaceaction.org%2fget-involved%2fdonate%2f&emci=04cd57d2-0440-ed11-b495-00224832e4ca&emdi=90812c92-0a40-ed11-b495-00224832e4ca&ceid=122506

  This outdated war authority is unnecessary for ongoing military operations, but as long as it remains, it can be used and abused by this or future administrations.

  Earlier this summer the House passed a provision led by Rep. Barbara Lee to repeal this dangerous authorization as a part of its National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

 we need the Senate to act.  Urge senators to pass S.J. Res. 10

2. Justice for Domestic Violence Survivor, Wendy Howard

  SIGN: Petition · Justice for Domestic Violence Survivor, Wendy Howard · Change.org

3. Save Maryam from death by stoning

  SIGN: Avaaz – Save Maryam from death by stoning

4.President Biden must address Puerto Rico’s power grid failures.

  SIGN: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/sign-if-you-agree-president-biden-must-address-puerto-ricos-power-grid-failures-2?source=2022PRLUMA_DK&redirect=https%3A%2F%2Fsecure.actblue.com%2Fdonate%2Fdkdisasterrelief%3Frefcode%3D20220927SWPR&link_id=2&can_id=4d8abb95a7895a1648b41bfa1ad2bb3b&email_referrer=email_1681806&email_subject=sign-if-you-agree-puerto-rico-deserves-a-resilient-power-grid&refcodeEmailReferrer=email_1681806

5. Tell Your U.S. senators to pass the BURMA Act

  SIGN: Tell Your U.S. senators to pass the BURMA Act – Action Network

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Steve Chabot (R-OH), have led the introduction of the Burma Act of 2021 in both the Senate (S.2937) and the House (H.R.5497). The bills will, not only sanction and hold accountable the Myanmar military, but also provide support to Burmese civil society and much needed humanitarian assistance directly to the Myanmar people.

6. Stop the Execution of John Ramirez in Texas

SIGN: Stop the Execution of John Ramirez in Texas – Action Network

   Petitions will be delivered Wednesday, October 5

EVENTS

Friday, September 30 – Sunday, October 2

Friday, September 30

1. Friday, 1:00pm – 2:00pm, JUSTICE NOT Interim SF DA Brooke Jenkins

In person

SF Interim DA Jenkins office
350 Rhode Island
SF

Stand up for REAL JUSTICE NOT Brooke Jenkins! With Mothers On The March and the Community at interim Brooke Jenkins office.

We need to RESIST and expose her agenda:

   – For not holding police accountable for abusing and executing people in our communities. She fired most of the lawyers who were working on cases involved in holding sfpd accountable.

        – Twp pf the cases were om various stages of court hearings for trial

   – For deceiving San Franciscans from the time the Guido trial didn’t go her way and she quit the DA’s office to work on the Recall Boudin campaign. Her campaign is based on many lies.

   – For contributing more to AAPI hate and divisions between the Asian, Black and Brown communities.

All are welcomed.

2. Friday, 1:00pm (PT); 4:00pm (ET), The Developing Situation in Ukraine – A webinar with Scott Ritter and Joe Lombardo

Webinar registration: Webinar Registration – Zoom

In recent weeks, there have been important developments in Ukraine.  In four territories in the Eastern and Southern part of the country there have been referenda for the people to choose if they want to become part of Russia, there has been a partial mobilization of reserve forces in Russia, a Ukrainian offensive in Kherson and economic fallout from the US/EU imposed sanctions that seem to be sinking the economies, especially of NATO countries.

  Please join us to hear an analysis of developing events, what we can expect in the future and how to we get peace in the region.

Host: The United National AntiWar Coalition

Info: UNAC_092522 (nepajac.org)

3. Friday, 6:00pm, Memorial gathering for Cecile Pineda (Event by some of her Codepink friends)

In person

UC Berkeley campus

RSVP by text or phone: 510-365-1500 for exact location.

See also Event # 7  from Cecile’s family

Saturday, October 1

4. Saturday, 11:00am – 12:30pm, Keep Laguna Honda OPEN! Discharges = Deaths Say Labor, Community & Families – Press Conference

In person

Laguna Honda Hospital
(Old building entrance)
375 Laguna Honda Blvd
SF

The continued threatened closure and discharges of the 700 bed public Laguna Honda Hospital is a healthcare emergency. The mismanagement by the top officials of the DPH and HR of San Francisco is now connected with the US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra who is former California Senator. He ordered the stop of payments to for Laguna Honda patients and demanded that the Laguna Honda patients be discharged. This has directly led to the death of 9 residents. THESE ARE FORCED DISCHARGES INCLUDING TO HOMELESS CENTERS.

This order was supported by Mayor London Breed, San Francisco DPH head Colfax and the Healthcare Commission and President of the commission led by Congresswoman Pelosi’s Chief of Staff Dan Bernal. While House Leader Pelosi can send tens of billions of tax dollars to Ukraine apparently she can’t send more money to Laguna Honda to keep it open. What is going on?

Laguna Honda patients are being sent to privately run nursing homes which have much worse care than publicly run Laguna Honda Hospital

Governor Gavin Newsom and his Department of Public Health has gone along with the closure and there is virtually no oversight and protection of patients in California Nursing Homes by the State Government. It has been captured by the billionaire investors and rogue operators who really run the regulatory agencies under Newsom.

We will also be speaking out about the ongoing strike and struggles at Kaiser where NUHW members have been on strike over a month and NNU CNA nurses are without contract. All union members who are Kaiser members and all working people are effected by short staffing to make more profits for Kaiser bosses. Patients annd workers are paying the costs.

See Indybay for more info

Initial Sponsor
United Front Committee For A Labor Party

Info: Press Conf Keep Laguna Honda OPEN! Discharges = Deaths Say Labor, Community & Families : Indybay

5. Saturday, 1:00pm – 2:00pm, ROSIE JIMENEZ, PRESENTE! REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE FOR ALL COMMUNITY SPEAK OUT

In person

24th & Mission BART Plaza
SF

La Lucha Sigue/The Struggle Continues! Rosie Jimenez died on October 1, 1977 from a back alley abortion after the Hyde Ammendment took away federal funds for the procedure. She was a low-income student, struggling mother of three, and could not afford to have another child. This story is not new. Now, with the loss of Roe v. Wade, stories just like Rosie will be even more horrendous with the criminalization to this healthcare right. We honor her and want to fight like hell for free, quality, safe abortion with no apology!

We Demand:

-No forced sterilization!

-Repeal the Hyde Amendment; full access to abortion

-Uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act

-End racism in reproductive health care!

-Affordable childcare, Reunite immigrant families

-Solidarity against bigotry and homophobia/transphobia 

Host: Mobilization for Reproductive Justice

Info: Rosie Jimenez, Presente! Community Speak Out : Indybay

6. Saturday, 3:00pm – 5:00pm, Day 12 of Hunger Strike for Workers Rights to Organize – Conversation with Mama Cristina

In person

Black & Brown Social Club
474 Valencia St.
SF

All are welcomed to support 24/7.

Maria Cristina Gutierrez, a Frisco five hunger striker, has been on a hunger strike to demand THE FIGHT FOR NON-PROFIT WORKERS RIGHT TO ORGANIZE.

Learn about the next steps to support the Hunger Strike for Workers to Organize

Why is this important?

Info: Facebook

7. Saturday, 3:00pm – 5:00pm, “Tombeaux and Other Delights” for Cecile Pineda and Her Friends October 1,2022

In person and Online (From Cecile’s family)

In person:

2550 Dana St.
Berkeley

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us06web.zoom.us/j/89281025116?pwd=eDR4eWlYZXZpMGlkczhJVUozaFErdz09

Meeting ID: 892 8102 5116
Passcode: 082575
One tap mobile
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Dial by your location
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Meeting ID: 892 8102 5116

Find your local number: https://us06web.zoom.us/u/km53glQDU

Hello Everyone

Many of you have asked if there will be a memorial for Mom and if remote attendance is possible.  Yes and yes: please see announcement below; Zoom link to follow in a subsequent email.

Warm regards,

Michael, Indira & David

Order of Event

3:00     Welcome: Roger Herried  (“Cecile’s shared moment in History”)

3:15     The Barefoot All-Stars: Viol players Peter Hallifax and Julie Jeffrey 

4:05     Enjoy refreshments as you relish Cecile’s memories

4:50     Closing remarks: Pasqua Jey 

8. Saturday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, In solidarity with the Womyn of Iran – Candlelight vigil

In person

SF Union Square
Corner of Geary Blvd. & Powell St.
SF

Over 240 people have been slain & 12,000 arrested & detained during the Iran Protests, ignited by Mahsa Amini’s brutal murder in the hands of the dictators and mullahs ruling Iran.
Join us to honor fallen heroes & in support of a Free Iran 2022

Host: Iranian American Community of Northern California

Info: In solidarity with the Womyn of Iran : Indybay

Sunday, October 2

9. Sunday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Support the Courageous Uprising in Iran

In person

Revolution Books – Berkeley
2444 Durant Ave.
Berkeley

Support the Courageous Uprising In Iran
“Women, Life, Freedom!”
“Zan…Zendegi…Azadi!”
Break the Chains! Unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution!

Video from the Revolution Nothing Less Show, voices of support for the courageous struggle in Iran, poetry and music

“Righteous, angry and defiant mass protests are spreading across Iran. Over 80 cities rose up on Saturday alone, as women and men with nothing but fists, sticks
and a hatred for oppression faced off against brutal riot pigs and religious fanatics armed with clubs, tear gas and guns. These protests have grown, intensified and
spread to all areas of the country in the face of heavy and violent repression from the armed authorities of the theocratic and oppressive Islamic Republic of Iran
(IRI)

Info: Support the Courageous Uprising in Iran : Indybay

McConnell endorses bipartisan bill to prevent efforts to overturn US elections

Legislation would clarify and expand parts of 1887 Electoral Count Act and aim to avoid repeat of January 6 insurrection

McConnell’s comments gave the legislation a major boost as its bipartisan sponsors push to pass the bill before the end of the year.
McConnell’s comments gave the legislation a major boost as its bipartisan sponsors push to pass the bill before the end of the year. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Associated Press in Washington Tue 27 Sep 2022 16.54 EDT (TheGuardian.com)

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said on Tuesday he would “proudly support” legislation to overhaul rules for certifying presidential elections, bolstering a bipartisan effort to revise a 19th-century law and avoid any repeat of the January 6 insurrection.

The legislation would clarify and expand parts of the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which, along with the constitution, governs how states and Congress certify electors and declare presidential winners.

The changes in the certification process are in response to unsuccessful efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to exploit loopholes in the law and overturn his 2020 defeat by Joe Biden.

Senate convenes for votes<br>epa10197783 Democratic Senator from West Virginia Joe Manchin (C) speaks to members of the news media at the Senate subway during a Senate vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 21 September 2022. Congress faces a deadline at the end of September to pass funding or face a partial federal government shutdown. EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

McConnell made the remarks just before a committee vote on the legislation. He said he would back the bill as long as a bipartisan agreement on the language was not significantly changed.

“Congress’s process for counting the presidential electors’ votes was written 135 years ago,” McConnell said. “The chaos that came to a head on January 6 of last year certainly underscored the need for an update.”

McConnell noted that in addition to Republican objections to Biden’s win, Democrats objected the last three times that Republicans won presidential elections. The legislation would make it harder for Congress to sustain those objections.

A total of 147 Republicans in the House and Senate objected to results in key states won by Biden. Handfuls of Democrats objected to Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 and George W Bush’s wins in 2000 and 2004.

McConnell’s comments gave the legislation a major boost as its bipartisan sponsors push to pass the bill before the end of the year and the next election cycle. Trump is still lying about election fraud as he considers another run.

The House has passed a more expansive bill overhauling electoral rules but it has far less Republican support. While the House bill received a handful of GOP votes, the Senate version has the backing of at least 12 Republicans – more than enough to break a filibuster and pass the legislation in the 50-50 Senate.

The Senate rules committee was expected to approve the legislation on Tuesday and send it to the full chamber. A vote isn’t expected until after the November elections.

Senators were expected to make minor tweaks to the legislation but keep the bill largely intact. The bill, written by the Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat, would make clear that the vice-president only has a ceremonial role in the certification process, tighten the rules on states sending votes to Congress and make it harder for lawmakers to object.

Trump publicly pressured states, members of Congress and his vice-president, Mike Pence, to undo Biden’s win. Even though Trump’s effort failed, lawmakers in both parties said his attacks showed the need for stronger safeguards in the law.

The bill would be the strongest legislative response yet to the January 6 attack, in which hundreds of Trump supporters beat police officers, broke into the Capitol and interrupted as lawmakers were counting the votes. Once the rioters were cleared, the House and Senate rejected GOP objections to the vote in two states.

Differences between the House and Senate bills will have to be resolved before final passage, including language on congressional objections.

While the Senate bill would require a fifth of both chambers to agree on an electoral objection to trigger a vote, the House bill would require agreement from at least a third of House members and a third of the Senate. Currently, only one objection in each chamber is required for the House and Senate to vote on whether to reject a state’s electors.

The House bill also lays out new grounds for objections. The Senate bill does not.

California Expands Medi-Cal to All Eligible Adults 50 Years of Age and Older

Published: Apr 29, 2022 (gov.ca.gov)

This expansion, effective May 1, builds upon the state’s Healthy California for All strategy, and comes as the Governor proposes expanding Medi-Cal to every eligible state resident, regardless of age or immigration status

SACRAMENTO – Starting on May 1, Medi-Cal, California’s health coverage program for low-income individuals and families, is extending eligibility for full coverage to more than 185,000 individuals who are 50 years of age or older, regardless of immigration status.
 
“We’re delivering concrete results for Californians, continuing to fulfill the promise of a Healthy California for All, and I encourage all those eligible to take advantage of these essential health services,” said Governor Newsom. “This is an investment in our people, our economy, and our future. But we’re not stopping there. California is on the path to expand Medi-Cal to all eligible Californians regardless of age or immigration status, providing the most comprehensive health coverage in the entire country.”
 
Governor Newsom last year signed legislation making California the first state in the nation to expand full-scope Medi-Cal eligibility to low-income adults 50 years of age or older, regardless of immigration status. Subject to legislative approval, Governor Newsom has this year proposed expanding Medi-Cal to all eligible residents, regardless of age or immigration status.
 
The expansion population includes individuals 50 years of age or older who are eligible for Medi-Cal, who do not have satisfactory immigration status or are unable to establish satisfactory immigration status for full-scope Medi-Cal and are not yet enrolled in Medi-Cal. It also includes individuals 50 years of age or older who are currently enrolled in restricted scope Medi-Cal.
 
Individuals ages 50 and over, regardless of their immigration status, who have not applied for Medi-Cal can apply here starting May 1, 2022.
 
“This expansion of Medi-Cal supports the Newsom Administration’s vision of a Healthy California for All by addressing health coverage disparities that disproportionately impact disadvantaged communities. We’re committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion on behalf of all Californians,” said Michelle Baass, Director of the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). “This action reflects our fundamental conviction that all Californians deserve quality health care.”
 
Many of these individuals and their communities have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have had limited access to care. This expansion will improve access to preventive and routine care, improve financial security for those who enroll, and strengthen California’s efforts to address health disparities and inequities, especially among populations of color.
 
The state has worked for the last several years to extend health coverage to more Californians. In May 2016, children under 19 years of age became eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal benefits, and in January 2020, full-scope Medi-Cal was extended to young adults ages 19 through 25, regardless of immigration status. Previously, these individuals only qualified for limited Medi-Cal services, such as emergency, prenatal, and long-term care. Now they can access the full range of benefits available to Medi-Cal beneficiaries, including no-cost/low-cost quality health, behavioral health, substance use disorder services, and dental services through the various delivery systems under the Medi-Cal program.
 
“These Californians now have a place where they can coordinate all of their medical, dental, mental, and substance use disorder needs, and a primary care physician to better manage their health conditions,” said Jacey Cooper, State Medicaid Director. “Everyone benefits from ensuring access for all Californians, and many of us know someone who depends on Medi-Cal for vital health coverage.”
 
The next step in California’s coverage expansion, subject to legislative approval, is outlined in the Governor’s 2022-23 budget, which proposes to expand Medi-Cal coverage to an estimated 700,000-plus adults ages 26 through 49 without satisfactory immigration status, effective no sooner than January 1, 2024. Extending Medi-Cal to hundreds of thousands more is an important step to help close health equity gaps in the state and get us closer to universal coverage.
 
The expansion to individuals aged 50 and over was included in Assembly Bill 133 (Chapter 143, Statutes of 2021), which amended Welfare and Institutions Code section 14007.8. For nearly a year, DHCS held monthly advocate and county workgroup meetings to implement this expansion.
 
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services do NOT consider health, food, and housing services as part of the public charge determination. Therefore, using Medi-Cal benefits (except for nursing home or mental health institution care) will NOT hurt an individual’s immigration status. When someone applies for state-funded benefits, their information is only used to determine if they qualify. State laws protect the privacy of their information.

‘Obscene,’ Says Sanders After CBO Reports Richest 1% Now Owns Over 1/3 of US Wealth

Bernie Sanders at a 'Cancel Student Debt' rally

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joins student debtors at an April 27, 2022 protest outside the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for We The 45 Million)

“In the richest country on Earth, the time is long overdue for us to create a government and an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1%.”

BRETT WILKINS September 28, 2022 (CommonDreams.org)

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders reacted Wednesday to new government figures showing the wealthiest 1% of Americans now owns over one-third of the country’s wealth by reasserting calls for systemic reforms to tackle the highest economic inequality of any major developed nation in the world.

“A society cannot sustain itself when so few have so much while so many have so little.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Tuesday published Trends in the Distribution of Family Wealth, 1989 to 2019, a report revealing that while the total real wealth of U.S. families tripled over those 30 years, the growth was dramatically unequal.

“Families in the top 10% and in the top 1% of the distribution, in particular, saw their share of total wealth rise over the period,” the report notes. “In 2019, families in the top 10% of the distribution held 72% of total wealth, and families in the top 1% of the distribution held more than one-third; families in the bottom half of the distribution held only 2% of total wealth.”

In a statement, Sanders (I-Vt.) said that “this report confirms what we already know: The very rich are getting much, much richer while the middle class is falling further and further behind, and being forced to take on outrageous levels of debt.”

“The obscene level of income and wealth inequality in America is a profoundly moral issue that we cannot continue to ignore or sweep under the rug,” the two-time Democratic presidential candidate argued.

The CBO report also highlights the persistent racial wealth gap in the United States. In 2019, white families’ median wealth was 6.5 times that of Black families, 5.5 times that of Hispanic families, and 2.7 times that of Asian and other families.

Additionally, the publication shows that by 2019, student loan debt was the largest component of total debt for families in the bottom 25%—more than their mortgage and credit card debt combined. Among Americans age 35 or younger, 60% of their debt burden was due to student loans.

President Joe Biden last month announced a plan to cancel $10,000 to $20,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower, depending upon income, a move that drew both praise and admonition from progressives like Sanders—who advocates canceling all educational debt and making all college tuition-free.

“A society cannot sustain itself when so few have so much while so many have so little,” the democratic socialist asserted. “In the richest country on Earth, the time is long overdue for us to create a government and an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1%.”

Extinction Rebellion mission statement

We hear history calling to us from the future. We catch glimpses of a new world of love, respect and regeneration, where we have restored the intricate web of all life.

It’s a future that’s inside us all – located in the fierce love we carry for our children, in our urge to help a stranger in distress, in our wish to forgive, even when that seems too much to ask. And so we rebel for this, calling in joy, creativity and beauty.

We rise in the name of truth and withdraw our consent for ecocide, oppression and patriarchy. We rise up for a world where power is shared for regeneration, repair and reconciliation.

We rise for love in its ultimate wisdom. Our vision stretches beyond our own lifespan, to a horizon dedicated to future generations and the restoration of our planet’s integrity.

Extinction Rebellion is young, old, black, white, indigenous, of all faiths and none, of all genders and sexualities and none: being alive on Earth now is all the qualification required.

This vision statement was written in 2019

THE STORY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY

Politics and Prose Sep 23, 2022 #1 New York Times bestselling author and investigative reporter David Corn tells the wild and harrowing story of the Republican Party’s decades-long relationship with far-right extremism, bigotry, and paranoia. PURCHASE BOOK HERE: https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9… David Corn is a veteran Washington journalist and political commentator. He is the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones magazine and an analyst for MSNBC. He is the author or co-author of four New York Times bestsellers, including the #1 bestseller Russian Roulette, Showdown, and Hubris, and the author of the novel Deep Background

China’s Mistakes Can Be America’s Gain

The United States does not need to take Xi Jinping’s attempt to project power at face value.

By Michael Schuman

An illustration of Chinese leader Xi Jinping about to step on a banana peel
Tyler Comrie / The Atlantic; Getty

SEPTEMBER 26, 2022 (theatlantic.com)

Xi jinping should be enjoying his final days in charge of China. For decades now, the Chinese Communist Party has regularly replaced its senior leadership—a system crucial to the nation’s success—and after 10 years in power, Xi would be due to step aside and allow a new team to guide the country’s future. But when the country’s top cadres meet in Beijing on October 16 for the 20th Party Congress, Xi is widely expected to break precedent and extend his rule for at least another five years.

Although this departure from custom has been mooted for years, the news might send a renewed chill down the spine of some in Washington, D.C. Xi has transformed China from the U.S.’s potential partner to its chief strategic adversary. The Chinese leader appears determined to capitalize on his country’s recently acquired wealth to challenge America’s economic primacy, technological advantage, and military dominance, and even its assumptions about the global order that forms the foundation of American power. Five more years of Xi almost certainly means five more years of superpower competition, even confrontation.

That is the conventional wisdom. But maybe Washington should be grateful Xi is sticking around. China’s leader definitely intends to roll back American global influence, but he may not be doing a good job of preparing his own country to attain that goal. The actual results of his policies suggest that he is weakening, not strengthening, China as a competitor to the United States. The longer Xi remains at China’s helm, the less competitive the country may become.

Lost amid the hype about China’s ascent is just how poorly the country has performed under Xi’s stewardship in nearly every aspect of policy. The economy has slowed dramatically. The leadership has given up on meeting its once-sacrosanct growth target. Xi’s aggressive foreign policy has alienated most of the world’s major powers and terrified China’s neighbors in Asia. Many of Xi’s high-profile government initiatives are marred by waste and mismanagement. China’s rise, which Xi has called inevitable, is less, not more, certain because of his rule.

That alternative narrative has serious implications for American foreign and domestic policy. In response to Xi’s belligerence, policy makers in Washington feel compelled to contest China on every front: diplomatic, economic, technological, military, and ideological. That was the thinking behind the recently signed CHIPS bill, which is designed to ensure America’s continued mastery of the semiconductor industry against China’s high-tech ambitions. The same strategy guided President Joe Biden’s 2021 Build Back Better World, an infrastructure-building program intended to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative and vie for influence in the developing world. These policies were based on the premise that China’s capabilities are keeping pace with Xi’s ambitions. The evidence now suggests that Xi’s aims are outstripping the country’s capacity to sustain them.

The timing of Xi’s overreach is fortunate for Washington. Amid the partisan rancor and social disorder that has preoccupied the United States in the past five years, American global power has probably been more vulnerable than at any time since World War II. Xi could have taken advantage of that disarray to expand Chinese influence at America’s expense. Instead, his actions have had the effect not only of keeping the U.S. in the game but also, in certain respects, of enhancing its global standing. The worldwide American network of alliances, which had come under severe strain, is arguably stronger now than it has been in years—in part due to Xi’s policies.

Xi’s China remains a threat as the only country with both the intent and the resources to undermine the U.S.-led global order. Yet the failings of Xi’s agenda show that the widely held assumption that China’s rise is as unstoppable as American decline is simplistic. Xi wants to be written into the history books as the man who overturned Pax Americana. Instead, he could end up being the one who preserves it.

When xi jinping claimed power in 2012, most China experts anticipated that he would follow the immensely successful path laid by the “paramount leader” Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s—based on liberalizing economic reforms, integration with the global economy, and a partnership with the United States. Xi had previously served as an official in some of China’s most economically vibrant regions, so he had long experience with Deng’s central principle of “reform and opening up.” Shortly before Xi became the country’s new leader, he had had extensive interactions with then Vice President Joe Biden, which left the impression that Xi valued China’s fruitful relationship with Washington.

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As his rule has unfolded, however, those early assumptions have proved to be wrong. Highly ideological, fiercely nationalist, and obsessed with political control, Xi has deviated sharply from his predecessors’ policies. In so doing, he has altered China’s course in profound and unpredictable ways.

Most dramatically of all, Xi has entirely revised China’s foreign policy. He apparently believes that China’s moment to assume the status of the world’s most powerful country has arrived. Rather than treating Washington as a partner, Xi considers the U.S. to be China’s most dangerous adversary. Instead of immersing China in the American-led global order, Xi is promoting his own vision of a Sinocentric alternative, one that is friendlier to authoritarian regimes. Notably, the Chinese leader has forged a new friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who Xi seems to believe can be an ally in his quest to roll back American power.

Yet the more openly hostile China has become to the current international system, the stronger U.S. alliances have grown. Xi’s agenda has persuaded the world’s democracies to tighten their ties to the United States and to one another in order to counter the threat he presents.

Initially, European leaders were uncomfortable with Washington’s tougher line on China, insisting on their “strategic autonomy.” This divergence sowed some dissension within the Atlantic alliance. However, Xi’s support for Putin amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has gone a long way toward healing that rift. At a virtual summit in April, ostensibly meant to bolster cooperation between China and Europe, the leaders of the European Union criticized Xi’s pro-Russia stance, warning him against aiding Putin’s war effort.

Then, in June, the leaders of Washington’s four main partners in the Pacific—Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand—participated in a NATO summit for the first time to discuss the Chinese threat. This was a sign that a more coordinated or fully united alliance that brought together the democratic powers in Europe and Asia might be possible. In addition, India—usually wary of entangling itself in superpower competition—has become more active in the Quad (a security partnership that also includes Australia, Japan, and the U.S.). This suggests that India sees the group as a potential bulwark against Beijing, which has alarmed Indian leaders by pressing territorial claims along the two countries’ disputed border.

Xi seems not to care about these effects of his actions. In mid-September, on his first international diplomatic trip since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Xi chose to meet Putin, thumbing his nose at the United States and its European allies. He has also pressed ahead with his undiplomatic diplomacy, which has at times descended into threats and demands delivered by his appointees. In a July meeting with his Australian counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi blamed the two countries’ strained relations on Canberra’s “irresponsible words and deeds.” He went on to say that they could be improved—if Australia avoided “being controlled by any third party”—that is, the U.S.—according to an official Chinese summary of the conversation.

Shortly after that, China’s foreign ministry directly threatened the U.S. that it would “pay the price” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which Beijing perceived as a violation of its sovereignty. (The government in Beijing considers Taiwan part of China.) A few days later, a senior Chinese official warned the Israeli ambassador to Beijing not to allow the U.S. to influence Israel’s approach to China, with a tactless claim that the Jews and the Chinese share a common grievance as victims of the West.

As a consequence of all this, China’s image has deteriorated sharply around the world, according to a recent survey of 19 countries, mostly major democracies, by the Pew Research Center. Xi himself fares poorly, too, with respondents in many countries expressing little or no confidence that the Chinese leader will “do the right thing” in international affairs.

China is perceived somewhat more favorably in parts of the developing world, and Beijing’s foreign policy has become increasingly focused on winning support in what’s called the “Global South.” But even there, Xi blunders. China, for instance, failed to corral the small nations of the South Pacific into a security and economic pact, in part because of Beijing’s arrogance. Henry Puna, the secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, a regional policy organization, said in a July briefing that local leaders had rejected the initiative because Chinese officials had presented them with fully drafted documents for the pact without consultation. “If anybody knows what we want and what we need and what our priorities are, it’s not other people—it’s us,” he said.

Xi isn’t doing much better at home, particularly with China’s economy. Growth has slowed significantly on his watch. In 2012, at the start of his tenure, the economy grew 7.8 percent, but this year the International Monetary Fund forecasts a meager 3.3 percent expansion. A reduction in the rate of growth was probably inevitable as the economy developed, but Xi’s policies have likely made matters worse.

The key to China’s decades-long economic boom was the withdrawal of state intervention in the economy and its opening to overseas trade and investment, which allowed private enterprise to thrive. To some extent, Xi has reversed that—enough to undercut some of the most vibrant sectors of the economy and divert capital and talent into wasteful endeavors, such as a slate of state-led industrial programs.

The most obvious sign of that shift is the extensive new regulatory burden imposed on private companies. Some of it is well intentioned—ensuring that food-delivery workers get better treatment, for instance—but all of it has been introduced haphazardly and has curtailed the expansion of some of the country’s most important companies. The once-flourishing private-education industry, which offered after-school classes for college-hungry kids, has suffered layoffs and heavy financial losses after an edict forbidding these businesses from making money out of teaching core-curriculum subjects to most students. One prominent technology firm, the ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing, has suffered so much harassment from a cybersecurity investigation and restrictions on its operations that its share price has plunged by more than 80 percent since its initial public offering a year ago.

Instead of propelling fresh economic growth, the tech sector as a whole has been downsizing and laying off employees. That has made jobs harder to find for recent college graduates: In July, youth unemployment reached an all-time high of nearly 20 percent (though it improved slightly in August).

Xi’s motivations appear part ideological, part purely political. He seems to fear that Big Business, and especially the tech sector, could amass sufficient influence and wealth to pose a challenge to Communist rule. Party officials have said plainly that they want greater control over the management of private enterprises, and Xi himself has spoken of the “need to prevent the disorderly expansion and unchecked growth of capital.” Xi prefers instead state-led endeavors that he can more easily superintend. The government has provided lavish investments, subsidies, and tax breaks to support industries that Xi’s bureaucrats favor in sectors they want China to dominate, including electric vehicles, semiconductors, and artificial intelligence.

Although these industrial programs are in too early a phase to pass final judgment on, and there are a few signs of progress, the results so far are generally not encouraging. One observer, Scott Kennedy, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted in a recent essay that in spite of huge government support, “there is almost no sector where China is the dominant technology leader.”

One of the most high profile of these state-driven missions—to develop a semiconductor industry advanced enough to make the country self-reliant—has been plagued by corruption. To date, it has made only glacial progress in catching up to industry leaders in the U.S., and has not come close to reducing the Chinese economy’s dependence on foreign-made chips.

Xi’s apparent distrust of free-market reforms has also exacerbated the economy’s most dangerous weakness: its broken growth model. Chinese policy makers and economists worldwide have long warned that China’s growth is too dependent on investment, which is often debt driven and excessive—squandering resources on unnecessary apartments, factories, and infrastructure. Xi continued the practice of pumping credit into the economy whenever it slowed below the party’s preferred target, and he’s suffering for it today. Debt has risen steeply during Xi’s tenure, from less than double national output in 2012 to almost triple today.

The consequences are emerging in the bloated but vital property sector. A government attempt to rein in highly indebted developers led to a crisis last year at one of the industry’s giants, Evergrande, and the sector’s troubles have deepened. With developers defaulting, property sales falling, real-estate prices sinking, and new construction slumping, the instability of the sector represents a risk to the nation’s banks, which are deep in property-related lending, as well as to the wealth of the country’s middle class. In a remarkable indication of diminished public confidence, families across the country recently engaged in a “mortgage strike”—suspending payments on unfinished apartments out of concern that cash-strapped builders will never complete them.

(Contributed by Norma J F Harrison)