Meeting with Rep. DeSaulnier, who isn’t running for President

By Ted Landau and Ted Lam

Three Indivisible chapters met with CA-11 Representative Mark DeSaulnier on April 23 before his Town Hall at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill. He was accompanied by Aaron Silver, a member of his staff. Indivisible East Bay was represented by Ted, Ted, and Edwin; Indivisible Resisters was represented by Gwynne; and Cora represented Indivisible Central Contra Costa County (I4C). We kicked off the meeting by congratulating Rep. DeSaulnier for being one of the few Democrats not running for president, which made him and Aaron laugh.

We covered five major topics: infrastructure, whistleblower protection, Department of Defense oversight, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the Mueller Report. You can read IEB’s pre-meeting memorandum here.

Infrastructure

The big hope for infrastructure is to reach an agreement with the White House, but DeSaulnier remains skeptical about prospects for this. A seemingly insurmountable stumbling block is the GOP’s refusal to talk about funding sources for any proposal, because of their party’s pledge not to raise taxes.

DeSaulnier mentioned that we need to provide incentives for “smart mobility and smart growth,” but noted that Senator McConnell will likely block in the Senate any bill that the House produces. He also said that the vehicle mileage tax is a good alternative to a gas tax, and that he could support it either individually or a combination of the two. Along the lines of smart and green infrastructure, DeSaulnier said he was rooting for Tesla to be successful. He believes that U.S. car companies, and the Chinese, have the incentive to beat Tesla to mass produce a viable electric car.

We discussed PG&E as an example of a utility company with the problem of being a “hybrid company” with too much emphasis on generating profits. He would like us to move away from this model, if possible.

Whistleblower Protection

DeSaulnier agreed that whistleblower protection is important. We reminded him that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross claimed that the Department of Justice asked him to put the “citizenship” question on the Census form; DeSaulnier said that whistleblowers from the Department of Justice said it was actually the opposite, that Ross asked them to do it and whistleblowers provided the emails that contradicted Ross. This is just one example of the importance of whistleblowers and why they need protection. DeSaulnier encourages them to contact him directly or contact House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings. DeSaulnier thinks that Cummings is doing a great job protecting whistleblowers that come to his committee, and he reminded us that when Betsy DeVos recently testified to the Oversight Committee, he confronted her on ignoring statutes and laws in her duties as Education Secretary. DeSaulnier, however, had nothing flattering to say about Rep. Jim Jordan on the committee.

Acting Inspector General John Kelly for the Department of Homeland Security will come before the Oversight Committee to testify regarding Jakelin Caal Maquin’s death and related matters. DeSaulnier said that Inspector Generals do great work, and that they’re relatively insulated from partisanship.

Department of Defense Oversight

Regarding the FY 2020 budget for Defense, DeSaulnier will vote against the Department of Defense bills that increase the Overseas Contingency Operations slush fund. And yes, he supports rescinding DOD’s reprogramming authority, which has been used to divert funds to Trump’s Wall.

DeSaulnier supports Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill to rescind the War Powers Act, which would force the President to come to Congress before initiating military action in most cases.

He also said that the DOD has never done a financial audit, and although they’re in the midst of one now they are doing it kicking and screaming. In his opinion, it’s the military contractors that are the root of the problem.

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

DeSaulnier strongly supports promotion of all aspects of the ACA. We briefly discussed the racial and economic implications of the ACA: how it is more critical for people with less resources. It was pointed out that ACA, and even more so universal health care, has “indirect” health benefits because it reduces stress of worrying about how to take care of one’s health. DeSaulnier agreed, and spoke of the personal issue regarding his leukemia that requires taking pills that cost $400 a day.

He similarly noted that the ACA requires “parity for behavioral and physical health.” He is especially sensitive to and familiar with behavioral health issues, partly because of what he has experienced in his own family. He supports a suicide prevention bill, and is currently working with Rep. Joe Kennedy regarding all of this. In general, he sees reason for optimism regarding the politics on these issues. Initially Democrats were on the defensive with health care and defending the ACA against attacks. Now Democrats are on offense, as the public has come to understand and support the benefits of the ACA.

Mueller Report

As a matter of principle, DeSaulnier supports impeachment proceedings, and he has voted to take up the matter on several occasions. However, he pointed out that support for investigations that could lead to impeachment is not the same thing as supporting a vote for impeachment. He cautioned that we need to move carefully here. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated, this is a long process with an uncertain outcome — and it is likely that there will be no result from Congress (even under the best of circumstances) before the 2020 elections.

He cited the investigatory work that the Financial Services, Natural Resources, Intelligence, Judiciary, and Oversight Committees are doing. As these committees hold hearings, the public will be given a spotlight on the administration’s many corrupt acts.  At the same time, he noted that the Mueller Report clearly shows ample evidence of crimes. As one example, he cited former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s turning over private polling data to the Russians as “treasonous.”

The meeting went very well overall. Rep. DeSaulnier was responsive to all of our questions. We thanked him for representing his constituents so well in Congress. If you want more info about the CA-11 Team, contact co-leads Ted and Kristen at indivisibleca11@gmail.com. Or if you’re on Slack, contact @Ted Lam or @KristenL and join the moc_team_ca11 team. Want an invite to join Slack? Please drop us a line at info@indivisibleeb.org

Photo by Aaron Silver

Ted Landau is a retired professor of psychology. He has also spent several decades as a tech journalist/author — writing primarily about Apple products. He has been politically active in the East Bay since moving here in 2004.

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

Save our healthcare, save our lives

Deadline: Do it now! – Our healthcare is under attack by the GOP, again — or to be accurate — STILL!

In December 2018, the trial court in Texas v. US, a lawsuit brought in February 2018 by several states’ conservative Attorneys General, ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act is invalid. That’s bad, but it’s just a single trial court. The case is now on appeal to the powerful Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where on March 25, 2019 the Department of Justice agreed, urging the appeals court to strike down the entire ACA. That’s scary, but it gets worse: the DOJ’s reversal of its position was apparently taken over the objections of its own Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and those of Attorney General William Barr.

This is of course just the administration’s latest try to kill the ACA (and many many of us, along with it) — but it’s a doozy. As Indivisible National says:

This is the Trump administration’s clearest attempt yet, not just to sabotage, but to completely annihilate the ACA — and in doing so, unleash chaos on our health care system and on millions of Americans lives.

We’re pissed. And we know you are too.

→ It would jeopardize Medicaid expansion in 37 states.
→ It would end protections for preexisting conditions.
→ It would end coverage for young people who’d otherwise be able to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.
→ It would end required coverage of preventive care — like cancer screenings, vaccines, birth control, blood pressure tests and more.

And so, so much more.

You’ve fought for the ACA and sane healthcare policies before. It’s time to join the battle again!

What you can do:

  • Learn more about the legal case in Indivisible’s article
  • Thank California Attorney General Xavier Becerra – he’s one of the state AGs defending the ACA in Texas v. US, and he has announced that he and other AGs will appeal the district court’s ruling striking down the ACA to the Fifth Circuit.
    • Attorney General Xavier Becerra:  (email);  (800) 953-5335 [select English or Spanish, then press 0]
  • Thank your Representative for cosponsoring Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (WA-07) Medicare for All Act (H.R. 1384), and ask them to continue to speak out publicly and to do all they can to support the ACA and to reform our health care system to guarantee health care coverage for all. For more info about the Act, read Indivisible’s article
  • Thank Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris for speaking out, and ask them to continue to do all they can to support the ACA and to reform our health care system to guarantee health care coverage for all
  • Watch for a bill House Democrats unveiled on March 26, the Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions & Making Health Care More Affordable Act, which Leader Pelosi said “lowers health care insurance premiums, stops junk plans, strengthens protections for pre-existing conditions and reverses the GOP health care sabotage.” She also commented, about the DOJ’s position in the Texas v. US lawsuit: “.. . . [T]he Department of Justice becomes the Department of Injustice when it wants to tear down health care benefits.  Because as Dr. King said, ‘people could die’ – people could die.”

Call now!

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841; 1 Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco CA 94104
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553; 333 Bush Street, Suite 3225, San Francisco CA 94104
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095; 440 Civic Center Plaza, 2nd Floor, Richmond, CA 94804
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661; 1301 Clay Street #1000N, Oakland CA 94612
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065; 3615 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley CA 94546

Keep Readler off the bench

Deadline: now and ongoing –

The GOP continues to push through horrendous federal judges at berserker-pace, making it hard to even keep up, and harder to fight since they have a death grip majority in the Senate. We still need to stand up against the worst of the horribles. And gee, here’s one! In June 2018, Trump nominated Chad Readler to a lifetime judgeship on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, one level below the Supreme Court.

As Trump’s point man in the Department of Justice, Readler has attacked the Affordable Care Act, including protection for people with preexisting conditions, and has defended Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), from Readler’s home state, opposes his nomination. We’ll go even further and say Readler should never be a judge — read more below about his record.

What you can do:

NOW’s the time to make all of our voices heard to scuttle this nomination. Pick up your phone to call your Senators – and then stay on the phone to tell all of your friends, especially those who live in states with Republican senators, to call theirs! Pressure is working – Senator Collins announced on March 5 that she will vote NO based on Readler’s role as a lead attorney and policy adviser in the Justice Department’s decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act, including its provisions protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions.  Send your friends this link with contact info for their Senators.

What to say:

My name is ____. My zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please do all you can with your colleagues in the Senate to fight Chad Readler’s confirmation to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Readler has defended the Trump Administration’s worst policies, including separating immigrant children from their parents, and he has spent his career working for causes and for policies that would hurt millions of people.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

More information:

Some lowlights about Readler from Alliance for Justice, a national association representing 130 groups committed to equal justice and access to justice:

  • As acting head of the Department of Justice Civil Division under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Readler defended the Trump Administration’s most odious policies, including separating immigrant children from their parents at the border, while claiming that “[e]verything that the Attorney General does that I’ve been involved with he’s . . . being very respectful of precedent and the text of the statute and proper role of agencies.”
  • Readler has become a leader in the Trump Administration’s fight to destroy the Affordable Care Act and the protections it offers to millions of Americans. As acting head of the Civil Division, Readler filed a brief to strike down the ACA, including its protections for people with preexisting conditions.
  • He has tried to undermine public education in Ohio; supported the efforts of Betsy DeVos to protect fraudulent for-profit schools; fought to make it harder for people of color to vote; advanced the Trump Administration’s anti-LGBTQ and anti-reproductive rights agenda; fought to allow tobacco companies to advertise to children, including outside day care centers; sought to undermine the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and advocated for executing minors.
  • And read these powerful letters opposing Readler’s confirmation:

Fired up to do more?

  • See the Indivisible East Bay Judiciary team’s calls to action list and help fight other horrendous judicial nominees.
  • Read about our hardworking, effective Judiciary team! Have a question or want to lend a hand? Contact us!

Still Need to Enroll in the ACA? Here’s What to Do (But Act Fast!)

The deadline to enroll in the Affordable Care Act is fast approaching. Some states, including California, have extended deadlines: Covered California open enrollment ends January 31, 2018. But Friday, December 15, is the deadline for people in many states to enroll for healthcare under the ACA.

ACA Open Enrollment is the annual period to enrollswitch plans, and get subsidies; it’s the only time people can sign up without qualifying for special enrollment and avoid a monthly fee.

What you can do: First, enroll yourself & your family, then spread the word to everyone you know about the imminent deadline.

There’s free drop-in enrollment help at the Oakland and Richmond Public Libraries:

More important info:

You Are Here: What TrumpCare Means For You, Personally

By Ann Daniels and Heidi Rand

The personal is political, but the political is also personal. The gleeful destruction of the Affordable Care Act by Trump and the Republican Congress isn’t just “bad for the country” – it’s bad for you. And yes, that does mean YOU!

oprah

Unless you’re a completely healthy zillionaire whose family members are all also completely healthy, you’re probably going to find yourself on this chart. See how the new law is likely to affect you and yours, and tell your story to your Senator when you call about the Senate bill:

Find yourself? We certainly all did! And that means it’s GO time … and remember, if the line is busy, our MoCs have said they count phone calls and emails the same.

“Hi. My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m with Indivisible East Bay. I don’t need a response.”

Both Senators:
Thank you for fighting hard against the GOP’s efforts to deprive millions of Americans of healthcare in order to pay for a huge tax cut for the wealthy. Please continue to object to all unanimous consent requests until Trumpcare dies.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email): (415) 393-0707
Sen Kamala Harris (email): (415) 355-9041


While our CA senators do their best to stop this bill, let these GOP senators know that their Actions Have Consequences and their YEA votes will mean you work (and fundraise) against them starting right now!

If you have friends or family residing in Nevada, Arizona, or Texas, please have them call these senators and demand NO votes on #TrumpCare.

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (email): (775) 686-5770
DC: (202) 224-6244

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (email): (602) 840-1891
DC: (202) 224-4521

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (email): (956) 686-7339
DC: (202) 224-5922


After your calls are made, use Indivisible National’s ingenious tool to slow down the process, in effect filibustering the bill by submitting thousands of amendments. Fill out the form with your name and contact info – a copy of your amendment will be delivered to your Senators’ health care staffers and to Senator Schumer.