We have only three action items for you this week, but they’re all substantial ones, on issues that affect us all – health and the environment. There’s also a strong informational emphasis this week – it’s important to be well-informed as we hear and talk about these major issues.
As always, do as many as you can, and also take a few seconds to do our one-question survey. And remember to keep recruiting more people to take the pledge both in person and online. If you like the work we’re doing, please tell a friend! (If you don’t like it, please tell us. And if you really like it, tell everyone!)
1) Protect our healthcare
The House Republican leadership’s draft of the American Health Care Act (AHCA, or “Trumpcare”) would “repeal and replace” much of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), as the first part of a three-phase repeal effort.
Here are the most important changes, and why they matter:
- Reproductive Health: Trumpcare targets reproductive health specifically by increasing health care costs for women, defunding Planned Parenthood, and potentially putting domestic abuse victims at risk.
- The Exchanges: Trumpcare would de-incentivize healthy people signing up for insurance, and replace subsidies with tax credits that leave older and poorer people significantly worse off. Click here to read our summary of how that works.
- Medicaid: Trumpcare would phase out the major expansion to Medicaid seen under Obamacare. Read our extended summary of the Medicaid changes here.
The Congressional Budget Office (the CBO) estimates that the bill would leave 24 million more Americans uninsured in the next ten years, and save $337 billion dollars from the deficit (BBC CNN, NPR, WashPost) The CBO is a long-established non-partisan “scorekeeper” for Congress: it analyzes the budgetary and economic impacts of Congressional proposals, and generates high quality, objective estimates. Politicians on both side of the line take these estimates very seriously when crafting and passing bills (ex/ with Obamacare).
What can you do?
This bill is still in the House of Representatives, and significant opposition could keep it there.
- Call your senators and representatives. Here is a script focused more on Medicaid expansion, here is a short and general one.
- Even though the bill is still in the House, the Senate’s actions are important as well. Although the bill has been labelled “budget reconciliation” to prevent a filibuster, the Byrd rule may allow a Senate filibuster to block it nonetheless.
- If your senators and representatives are already questioning Trumpcare, encourage them to keep slowing the process down and demanding information.
- It’s especially important to mobilize GOP opposition. If you live in a state with a Republican governor and/or Republican representatives in Congress:
- Many Republican-governed states accepted the expansion funds and realized significant gains in coverage and health care. If you live in one of those states make sure to mention this when you contact your legislators.
- If your governor is one of the Republican governors who support the Medicaid expansion, ask them to voice their opposition to defunding it.
- To go a step further, contact friends or family who live in Republican-led states or districts and ask them to call their representatives as well!
2) Learn why environmental protections matter
The Trump administration is undermining environmental protections on a variety of fronts.
At the end of February, Trump signed an executive order to revise or rescind the 2015 Waters of the United States rule (also known as “WOTUS” or the “Clean Water Rule”). This rule clarifies the definition of “waters of the United States” that are subject to federal oversight under the Clean Water Act, which regulates water pollution and water quality. The intent of the executive order is to narrow the scope of federal oversight as much as possible. The end result will very likely include increased water pollution – the opposite of what most Americans actually want. The withdrawal and replacement of the Clean Water Rule may take several years, however, as it must go through a formal rulemaking process (which includes the opportunity for public comments).
Another water-related rule, the Stream Protection Rule, was consigned to oblivion under the Congressional Review Act because it was finalized less than 60 days before the change in administrations. The rule restricted the pollution of waterways by coal mining. The Senate also voted to throw out the Bureau of Land Management’s “Planning 2.0” regulations, which were intended to streamline and make transparent the federal land use planning process.
Finally, Trump’s proposed federal budget includes a steep reduction of EPA’s budget, prompting the long-time head of EPA’s environmental justice office to resign. The budget also calls for deep cuts in funding for research at EPA and elsewhere, especially for climate science. This attack on science is in keeping with the administration’s stance of climate change denial.
What can you do?
- Keep the spotlight on. Let your senators and representatives know that you care about these issues, and that you’re watching.
3) Reject climate denial and support the Clean Power Plan
Since Donald Trump tweeted that climate change is a “hoax by the Chinese”, we’ve known that his administration would likely be filled with climate denialists. However, at least one member of his administration clearly knew about the dangers posed by climate change: former Exxon CEO and now Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The New York Attorney General has accused Tillerson of using the pseudonym of “Wayne Tracker” to discuss climate change while at Exxon.
Although #ExxonKnew, the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt never got the memo. Last week, Pruitt claimed in a CNBC interview that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to climate change. This seems like a fairly convenient stance to take just prior to rolling back the CAFE fuel economy standards. Further, Pruitt’s climate denial comes right before Trump is expected to unveil an executive order that dismantles the Clean Power Plan.
Luckily, Massachusetts (along with several other states) has a legally binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. If Trump and Pruitt roll back federal level protections, we need to push to recommit to bold climate action at the state level.
Here’s how you can help:
- Call Scott Pruitt and tell him that it is unacceptable to deny climate science
- [MA-specific] Call Governor Baker and demand that he publicly renounce Trump’s plans to cut the Clean Power Plan and the CAFE standards. Then, demand that he support pending state legislation for a carbon tax and increased renewable energy.
- If you vote outside of MA, call the governor in the state where you’re registered.
- [Boston-area] Follow Fossil Free MIT for updates on a rapid response climate rally at the Boston Common. If Trump announces the clean power plan executive order this week, we will join 350MA and other groups to protest and push Governor Baker to act.
Until next week,