Are You Outraged Yet?

I just watched portions of today’s press conference with The D. He continues to defend the actions of the white supremacists who brought their vile message of hate to Charlottesville last weekend. It is revolting.

This is not my President.

I will stand with Charlottesville’s counter-protesters that risked their lives. I will stand against hate and intolerance along with my immigrant, LGBTQ, Jewish, Hispanic, Black and Muslim friends, family members and colleagues. I will not turn my head aside and silently accept this kind of world for my beautiful Hispanic grand daughters.

Yet, I (and most of my colleagues and friends) live in a cocoon of white, middle-class privilege. Many of us feel powerless to make a difference. Today, a co-worker asked “What can I do?” After pondering this much of the day, here is my suggested starter kit for white, middle-class, fledgling activists:

Recognize and acknowledge the presence and power of white privilege. Read “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh or “Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person…” by Gina Crosley-Corcoran if you want to learn more.

Be self-aware.Take a close look at your own implicit biases – we all have them because we are human. Be more aware of the lens you use to view the world and where that lens may be ‘cracked’.

Pay attention to everyday micro and macro aggressions towards yourself and others. It is likely that you have people in your life that exhibit their own implicit (or explicit) biases in unkind, thoughtless or hurtful ways.

Get out of your comfort zone to challenge inappropriate or hurtful comments or other micro-aggressions that you encounter. Call out the sexist or homophobic joke, the racist reference, or the casual nasty remark about a woman’s body.

Find your voice and find your power. Power is the ability to effect change, in yourself and others. You are not powerless.

Get involved. Volunteer in a homeless shelter, tutor someone, attend a march, organize a fundraiser, volunteer for a political candidate, write a blog, donate money, join a group that is focused on resistance. But …DO something.

Be brave. By taking a stand, you will risk ridicule and risk being misunderstood. Yet, your best and most authentic self will stand up for what you know to be right, even when it is not easy. Try being brave in small ways first; you may just surprise yourself!

Finally, be kind. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Courtesy of Paula Riesch is a member of Indivisible Madison and a frequent contributor to the IM newsletter and website.

A Prayer for the Fallen and Injured

The following is the statement Rabbi Jonathan Biatch delivered at Madison’s Candlelight Vigil in Solidarity with Charlottesville on Sunday, August 13, 2017. He was speaking on behalf of Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice.

Good evening, my friends,

I am Jonathan Biatch, Rabbi of Temple Beth El here in Madison, and I am deeply pained by the reason we gather here tonight. I represent an organization called Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice. Yet our voices are, at this moment, silenced by the shock and sadness that pervades this nation because of this weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Va.

A sacred text of my tradition reminds me that ‘although we are not required to complete the work, we are still compelled to be engaged in it.’ [Pirkei Avot 2:21]. So, here we gather once again, in this case to mourn and to seek catharsis by our presence, but also to rededicate ourselves to the ongoing work of realizing the true American values of equality and justice and peace that give our nation its unique place in the world.

On this occasion, I cannot think about anything other than fire. According to the folklore of my tradition, fire was the first of humanity’s creations. It happened just at the end of that first week in the book of Genesis’ account of God’s creating the world. Yet after creating fire, Adam and Eve discovered that they were afraid of it, and our legends tell us that God demonstrated to them how best to employ those flames which, we know, can be used for good purposes or for ill. We saw this past Friday night, one of the more purposeless and destructive uses of fire. White supremacist marchers used torches to light up the city of Charlottesville in support of their cause.

And I realized that it may have always been thus: For I recalled that these same kinds of torches were employed by Nazi troops and sympathizers during WWII, during their pro-Aryan and anti-Semitic rallies. As I witnessed this terror-filled apparition in Virginia, I realized that we have regressed as a nation and a world, that we have not learned from our past.

Yet we gather here in the same spirit of those concerned citizens, the progressive Americans, and the many religious leaders who gathered in Charlottesville this weekend (and those who are gathering in countless American communities tonight) to confront bigotry and racism.
Our hearts are with the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia who want to redress and resolve the racism in their past. They, there – and we, here – are being challenged by bigots, racists, and anti-Semites who take many of their cues from the so-called leaders in the current presidential administration.

Do we even recognize our nation? Do we see in our fellow citizens our best aspirations, or our worst fears? Is there a way that the president can remove his moral blinders that have, so far, shielded him from the truth of the hatred in our nation? Can we ask him to call out racists, anti-Semites, and xenophobes who are antithetical to the true spirit of America? We all can do this. Why does he refuse?

Let us go forward from this place, tonight, to help our leaders understand the depth of our pain and anguish. Let us go forward from this place, tonight, to ask the president to lead without being forced, cajoled, or compelled, to offer denunciations of white supremacist groups who are anti-American and anti-human, not simply anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, or anti-LGBTQ.
Let us go forward from this place, tonight, propelled by our common humanity and sense of justice, so that when white supremacists dare to appear anywhere in our nation, they will be met with overwhelming numbers of counter-protesters to bring forth true American values, not fake values.

On this night, let us go forward and offer sympathies and condolences to all those whose lives have been hurt by these bigoted and hateful people, in Charlottesville, Virginia, Bloomington, Minnesota, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and others. And let us be certain to support them in whatever ways they require.

On this night, our sympathies are with the families of Heather Heyer, H. Jay Cullen, and Berke M.M. Bates, whose deaths did not have to occur were it not for the unforgivable acts of violence and terror perpetrated by the white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville. Our sympathies are also with the wounded in yesterday’s events.

Please permit me to offer this prayer for those who were injured:

May the One who blessed our ancestors bless and heal those who are injured. May the Holy One of Blessing send them compassion, to restore them, to heal them, to strengthen them, to enliven them. May the One who is Blessed send them, speedily, a complete healing: healing of the soul and healing of the body, along with all the ill among all humankind.

And permit me to offer a prayer in memory of those who were killed:

May the One who blessed our ancestors send wholeness to the families of Heather Heyer, H. Jay Cullen, and Berke M.M. Bates, who now suffer at their losses. May God send them loved ones, family and friends, to comfort them and console them, so that they are not alone at this time of grief. And may their memories become blessings in this world.

May all innocent victims from yesterday’s events in Virginia, they and their families, know that good-hearted people from across the world stand with them and with their cause, that of discovering the true spirit of this country and its values of equality, justice, and peace.
I ask us to spend a few moments in silent prayer to remember those who have fallen, and those who will yet rise again in furtherance of these goals.

The struggle continues. May we be successful. Thank you and good night.

We, Too, Have to be Better

By Mike Persley

A few hours before I began to write this piece, President Donald Trump, speaking in a combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower in Manhattan, equated the violent white nationalist groups and neo-Nazis that overtook Charlottesville on Aug. 12 with the protesters who showed up to fight against them.

The struggle led to one counter-protester dying and 19 others being injured, but both sides shared some blame for the violence, Trump told reporters. “I think there is blame on both sides. You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”

Abhorrent statements like this one are nothing new from Mr. Trump.

He’s spent much of his time in or running for public office insulting every group imaginable, and there’s no evidence to suggest that these statements will subside anytime soon. This particular statement, while once again stirring outrage among many, received the praise of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke who quickly took to Twitter, thanking the President “for your honesty and courage.”

Fighting against such outward bigotry is very clearly important and should continue. But I’d like to suggest that it’s just as important that we, la résistance, search within ourselves to find the silent bigotries that we hold and remedy them.

After all, our opponents are watching us very closely, searching for hypocrisies to exploit, pointing them out to their peers and saying, “You see, these fools think they’re so great. But they’re no better than we are.” We give them plenty of evidence for their claims. We cannot do so any longer.

To many outsiders, Madison epitomizes the white privilege many of its residents rail against. It’s largely white and affluent. Its highly developed downtown and posh surrounding neighborhoods are also predominantly white, while the poorer minority neighborhoods are on the outskirts of the city.

Dane County’s 25.2 percent Black unemployment rate in 2011 was significantly (and surprisingly) higher than the national African American jobless rate of 18 percent. The median household income of Dane County’s African American families was $20,664 that year, less than 1/3 the median income enjoyed by White families ($63,673), according to the lauded 2013 Race to Equity report.

There are many other racial inequities throughout Madison and Dane County. These inequalities didn’t develop overnight and won’t be changed overnight, either. But they did happen in a majority White liberal city that is supposedly opposed to such inequities. Somehow Madisonians became comfortable with such disparities.

Last Sunday I attended the vigil at the Capitol building to show solidarity with the anti-racist protesters from Charlottesville. An incredible, large, crowd formed outside of the capitol and, by all appearances, everyone there seemed sincere and outraged at the state of affairs.

As I walked away from the event, however, I was struck by an image. Outside of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, a group of Black homeless people sat lined along the wall of the building with a collection of clothes and other belongings. They’re there almost every day, and people generally ignore them, so much so that a Black friend of mine who recently visited from Chicago saw them and pointed out, “Those are practically the only Black people I’ve seen since I’ve been here, and people just walk by them. It’s a little weird.”

It was my friend’s first time in Madison. While here, we frequented some of the downtown bars and he was struck by the number of restaurants filled with mostly White, seemingly well off families and students who ate and laughed together while a crowd of homeless Black people were footsteps away.

Many of those homeless people stay in a nearby shelter. Fair enough. But giving them shelter is putting a Band-Aid over a gaping wound.

All of the low-income housing and community organizations and police initiatives and government programs the city designs to address racial disparities will not change a social structure that’s been built from distorted minds.

Make yourself uncomfortable. Face hard truths and be willing to change. I will. Because the best way to win a battle is to stand tall against your adversaries with no flaws in your armor.

30% is Not a Passing Grade

submitted by Maya Williamson Shaffer

Madison Gas and Electric aims to supply 30% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. This will be too little too late. 30% right is still 70% wrong, and as any high school student like myself can tell you, that is not a passing grade.

Clean energy does more than protect the environment; it creates jobs and would save the average family hundreds of dollars a year.  The people of Madison should demand that MGE work towards 100% renewable energy. Why should MGE aim for an F when Madison deserves an A?

RTT Update: 08-22-2017 (notes)

Notes – Indivisible Madison visit to Senator Chris Larson’s office on August 22, 2017

The group met with the Senator and his staff.


Five Facts About Foxconn:

  1. The Foxconn deal would be one of the largest economic development packages in the country–the third largest in U.S. history and the largest in Wisconsin history.
  2. Nothing in the agreement with Foxconn guarantees that Wisconsin jobs will be created. Residents of Illinois could be employed, and there has been talk of building dormitories on the Foxconn campus.
  3. There is no minimum salary specified in the agreement. Foxconn would forego some tax advantages if they didn’t meet certain salary requirements, but other aspects of the agreement would remain in place.
  4. The jobs that will be created at the Foxconn plant are the kind of jobs that are at high risk of automation. The agreement has no provisions for how jobs would be preserved in the event of automation.
  5. It will be almost impossible for Wisconsin to recover the money that is being put into the deal. Estimates that costs could be recouped in 25 years assume that all jobs created will be Wisconsin jobs and that the maximum number of jobs will be created.


Other things that are missing from the Foxconn deal:

  • No expectations or requirement regarding job duration/longevity to receive tax benefits
  • No requirement to follow environmental laws. (Wisconsin state and local laws tend to be more strict than federal regulations around issues such as wetlands and watershed protections because of our unique environment. These would be waived for Foxconn.)


What would be an agreement that Senator Larson would vote for?

  1. Any agreement should fit into the spirit and culture of Wisconsin. Follow the law. Protect the environment. Protect education.
  2. We would need to feel good about offering the same deal to the next corporation to look at Wisconsin or to corporations already in state seeking a similar deal.
  3. We’ve been told for seven years that the state is broke, and areas such as education and roads have made deep cuts. If we have the funds for a Foxconn deal, we should make good with those areas that have sacrificed first.
  4. WEDA oversight would need to be improved. So far, WEDA has not shown itself to be very adept at measuring job creation or enforcing clawbacks when job creation falls short.


Have these ideas been articulated by the Democrats?

  • Yes. Many of these ideas have been expressed but the gubernatorial candidates in particular.
  • However, we should understand that he does not speak for others in making these remarks.
  • Progressive consensus can be difficult sometimes, because there are nearly infinite ways to go forward, but when conservatives say they want to go back, we already have a shared idea of what that would look like.


Does the Senator have any insights into the development of the Progressive Caucus?

  • There have been discussions, but nothing has formed yet.
  • The Wisconsin media may be a barrier to an effective caucus. They may not be interested in a minority party caucus.


Will any Republicans vote against Foxconn?

  • 2 Republican representatives voted against it, so it is possible.
  • Republicans who believe in local control, transparency, ending corporate welfare, etc. might be motivated to vote No.
  • In Milwaukee, people are excited about the prospect of jobs, but no one is on board with the costs.
  • When discussing the lack of benefits to rural areas of the state, it was noted that Foxconn may be wooing such areas with promises of supporting ginseng farming.


Would the Senate put out a Resolution on Charlottesville?

  • Possibly, when they come back in session.


Could the Foxconn deal die in Committee?

  • Not with this much money at stake.
  • However, the longer the deal is delayed, the more time people have to contemplate the deal’s flaws.


What can we do to influence legislators from other districts?

  • Constituents will have the most influence.
  • Citizen Action has been doing some phone banking to districts to make sure that constituents are informed. This is an opportunity.
  • Elected officials will also pay attention to out-of-district voices if there are many of them.


Is Paul Ryan using Foxconn?

  • He’ll use anything he can.
  • The deal is primarily a Trump-Walker deal. It’s not clear that Paul Ryan had much to do with it.


Have any of your bills gotten a hearing?

  • Not really. The only way to move a bill is to give Republicans full credit.
  • Republicans are starting to think that they can do no wrong.
  • Republicans have gone after Progressive constituencies with Act 10 and redistricting, so their majority is protected.


What can we do next year?

  • It’s not good.
  • There is a case with the Supreme Court, but that will not move until October.
  • And campaign finance laws have been weakened in Wisconsin.


Are there any areas where grassroots activists can make a difference?

  • The people experience the results of policy, and can bring their personal stories to elected officials.

RTT Update: 08-15-17 (notes)

Sen Wirch 8/15/17 Office Visit


Meeting with Chief of Staff

Senator did not attend. He was spending the day in his district.

The Senator holds office hours at Central Library on Fridays.



  • Waiting to see what the final deal is.
  • Supports “family-supporting jobs” in the district
  • Will be proposing amendments—has significant concerns regarding precedent.


Concern: Does Bob Wirch stand up for Kenosha enough? Particularly regarding Foxconn environmental concerns and payoff to Foxconn? Will this deal just end up helping Paul Ryan and Walker?

  • Republicans will decide if Foxconn passes.
  • Tonight the county board will be voting on Foxconn.
  • Wirch’s office isn’t hearing a lot regarding Foxconn. Maybe there have been 35 calls. Mostly they’ve been receiving form emails, which are deeply discounted by staff. Of the phone calls, most were anti-Foxconn.
  • They’re also not seeing a lot of letters to the editor.
  • The pinch is that Wisconsin has lost car manufacturing, and we need to revive the economy.
  • The Assembly put in an amendment that all jobs pay at least $30k to get the tax credits. Concern: the benefits required to be paid haven’t been specified.
  • Yesterday indicated that amendments are unlikely. They [i.e., the Foxconn] think they have the votes. No one from Foxconn has reached out to Wirch’s office. Ordinarily, there’d be at least a courtesy visit to the representative of the affected district.
  • The Fiscal Bureau memo has been useful, but perhaps not powerful enough. Conservatives are calling the memo biased and wrong.


How permanent is the technology that will be manufactured at the plant?

  • It’s all impermanent.


Re: environmental concerns, on what grounds can an impact statement be waived?

  • The need for an impact statement would simply be removed by the bill.
  • Waste water discharge regulations are being waived.
  • Existing regulations will not apply to this enterprise zone. There are concerns about the precedent being set.


What is the African American unemployment rate in the district?

  • Huge. Racine always has a high unemployment rate.
  • Kenosha is doing somewhat better.
  • “The box” (to indicate previous conviction on a job application) is a major contributor to unemployment.


Is there a commitment to hire Wisconsin workers?

  • On Friday a sub-amendment was added that states a preference for WI workers, but this is not a requirement.


What about the history of Foxconn in China?

  • Recommendation to check out the New York Times story from earlier this year about Foxconn’s history in China.
  • What appears to be catching on is that the jobs may not be good jobs and the break-even point for the state is so far in the future.


It does not appear that Foxconn would violate the Great Lakes Compact. The Army Corps of Engineers will have the final say, keeping in mind that we are under a Trump administration.


Regarding Charlottesville:

Will there be a party statement?

  • It’s not determined yet if the Senate Democrats will have a statement. This may be discussed Thursday in the caucus meeting.
  • There might possibly be a resolution.
  • The idea that Nazis are bad isn’t controversial.
  • The group expressed that they would appreciate a statement from the Senators.


Regarding the Progressive Caucus:

  • Sen Wirch may be involved. It’s not yet clear.
  • Thursday the Senate Democrats will caucus.
  • The group requested that Sen. Wirch stay connected to the grassroots and invite more dialogue.


Fun Fact: The budget will be a “historic” increase in Education funding in the sense that it will get us back to 2010 levels. It is an increase only in the context of many years of cuts; the messaging that teachers are bad has really stuck.


How does the office regard a group from outside the district?

  • District members matter the most to the Senator.
  • Facilitating discussions and developing staff relationships are also important.

Legislative Process 101—Budget Reconciliation

Reprinted from and edited/updated by Linda Kessel

Normally, the Senate requires a 60-vote majority to pass any legislation—a high bar that makes it hard for the Senate to quickly pass major pieces of legislation.Sixty is the number of votes required to stop a filibuster – when one or a group of senators take control of debate on a bill by talking endlessly for hours. Senate rules require 60 votes to end the filibuster. These days, just the threat of a filibuster is enough to stop a bill. If the Majority Leader knows he doesn’t have 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, he won’t bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. This is intentional. It’s supposed to prevent the majority party from jamming legislation through the Senate.

Budget Reconciliation, often referred to as just reconciliation, is a legislative maneuver that allows the majority to get around this 60-vote safeguard. Reconciliation lets the Senate majority bypass the filibuster process, allowing them to pass legislation with 50 votes, instead of the normal 60. This document reviews how Republicans are using reconciliation to attempt to “repeal and replace” significant elements of the Affordable Care Act.



Congress can use reconciliation only once in the two-year session of Congress and only for legislation which would affect the federal budget. The fiscal year (FY)17 reconciliation bill is being used to repeal the ACA. First, Congress passes a budget resolution, which specifies how much money each Congressional committee is expected to save—Congress did this in late January with instructions to repeal the ACA. Then, each of the specified committees act, and each chamber’s Budget Committee puts it all together and votes on it—that’s why the House Budget Committee held its own vote on the American Health Care Act in March. Then, the full House votes on the bill and it’s passed by a simple majority. In the case of AHCA, their first attempt at this phase of the process failed but prevailed by a razor-thin majority a month later. Note: Because the Constitution prohibits the Senate from originating legislation dealing with revenues, reconciliation measures must start in the House.



The Senate can take up a House-passed bill straight away or work its own bill through the Senate committee process. Reconciliation bills cannot be blocked through a filibuster (thus, why there is no 60-vote threshold) and have limited debate time. However, an unlimited number of amendments (as long as they don’t cost money) can be offered during that debate. That’s why Indivisible stressed to Democratic senators to prepare tons of amendments they could use to control and drag out debate. When time’s up, the Senate takes a vote which requires a simple majority for passage. If changes are made to the bill, it will then go back to the House for a final vote before being sent to the President for his signature or veto.



Because reconciliation is a budget procedure, originally intended to reduce the deficit, only policy changes directly impacting government spending or taxes may be included. This restriction, known as the Byrd rule, means the entire Affordable Care Act cannot be repealed through reconciliation—only the pieces of it that directly impact government finances. Before a reconciliation bill is voted on, it goes through a “Byrd bath” (Congress can be silly) to ensure that the bill does not contain any unrelated provisions, beyond those impacting taxes or spending.



Reconciliation is why GOP proposals to repeal and replace Obamacare contained provisions to lower taxes for the rich and cut federal health aid. At the same time, reconciliation kept the GOP from ending consumer protections, like the ban on insurance companies denying people with pre-existing conditions or mandating that health insurance covers birth control. If they want to do so, they will have to pass a separate piece of legislation which is subject to the filibuster in the Senate. But would they have the votes?

Healthcare’s Done, Right?

The unexpected defeat of the repeal/replace bill on July 27th was a relief. But many have unresolved issues with the ACA: some real, some purely partisan. I’m afraid we’ve only won a few months’ reprieve before our healthcare is at stake again.

What many take issue with is the individual mandate and the penalty associated with it. The mandate is an important part of the current system, and I support its goal: making sure everyone has health coverage. The decision to go without coverage, when made willingly, is shortsighted and puts an unfair burden on the rest of society. But I agree that the individual mandate isn’t the best way to achieve that end.

So let’s look at what we can do to improve the healthcare system.


Tell Governor Walker to expand Medicaid!

Wisconsin has willingly kept the “Medicaid gap” in place, leaving childless adults above, but near, the poverty line to face hard decisions and unaffordable options. We can pressure our governor to fix it by accepting federal funds. Most states already have, and I haven’t found any stories of regret.


BadgerCare Public Option

Citizen Action of Wisconsin has been pushing for a one-line change to state law that would allow the general public to enroll in BadgerCare and pay premiums into it. This would directly address the problem of dwindling choices on the marketplace. A revenue stream from a healthy subscriber base could also stabilize BadgerCare for those who need it most.


FAIR Drug Pricing Act

This bill was co-written by Tammy Baldwin and John McCain (“man of the hour”), and makes drug manufacturers accountable for rising prices.

One of the problems with the repeal/replace proposals were that, unlike the ACA, they included nothing to directly address rising healthcare costs themselves; they merely shifted the burden of those costs from one group to another. This legislation is one bipartisan step towards controlling costs themselves.


Baldwin-Price Plan

Before Tom Price moved to DHHS, he and Tammy Baldwin had proposed another bipartisan healthcare reform that would allow states to submit proposals to Congress to explore better ways to cover their populations. This bill even won praise from the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation.


Federal Reinsurance

In June, a group of senators sponsored the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act (needs a snappier name!). Reinsurance is basically insurance for insurers: they pay a premium, and when they have a high-dollar claim to pay, the reinsurance fund helps pay it.

There is an existing fund for this, but the threshold at which this “kicks in” has been too high in recent years; this has been cited as a contributing factor in rising premiums.

We’ve still got work to do!

For the bipartisan senate bills, we deserve to know whether both our senators support them, and why. And we can encourage Senator Baldwin to get out and talk about her bills, get in front of cameras, and raise the profile of these ideas.

A lot of people were shocked when, after years of the minority party advocating repeal and replace, it became apparent that there were no viable ideas for how to do that. Even if senators who listen to constituents over campaign donors are in the minority now, making these ideas long shots, we need to make it clear that there are viable policies out there, waiting to be put into law.


Courtesy of  Nicholas Davies is a local member of, and regular contributor to, Indivisible Madison.

The TrumpCare Timeline


March 6th: Republicans in the House introduce the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

March 13th: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) releases its score for the bill; estimating that the bill would result in loss of insurance for 24 million Americans.

March 16th: Without any public hearings, House committees approve the bill. It is scheduled for a House vote on March 23rd.

March 20th: House drafts are reconciled into a single bill and scheduled for a vote on March 23rd.

March 23rd: House vote is delayed when Speaker realizes there are not enough GOP votes to pass the bill.

March 24th: After consulting with President, Speaker Paul Ryan pulls the bill rather than have it fail in a vote. Ryan’s statements afterward indicate that the House will be moving on from healthcare in general.



April 25th: The MacArthur amendment is introduced, reviving consideration of bill.



May 4th: Before the CBO score is available for the revised bill, the House narrowly passes the AHCA 217-213. However, upon the passage in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell discards the House version and appoints a council of 13 men to write its own version of the healthcare bill.

May 6th: Only two days after the House passage, Indivisible Madison holds a Die-In protest at the Capitol to dramatize how the AHCA jeopardizes the lives of people who will lose health insurance under the bill.

May 16th: Resist Trump Tuesday makes a visit to Senator Tammy Baldwin’s office to ask that she vote no on the bill, to use unanimous consent to block the bill, and if all else fails, do what she can to introduce countless amendments to drag out debate and force the GOP to table the bill..

May 24th: The CBO releases its new score for the modified AHCA that passed the House. They predict the amount of Americans that will lose insurance would be roughly the same at 23 million.



June 6th: Resist Trump Tuesday makes another visit to Senator Baldwin’s office. Staffers assure those attending that engaging with your members of Congress works and that stories from constituents about healthcare killed the first draft of the AHCA.

June 7th: Tammy Baldwin, along with 5 other Democratic Senators, introduces S 1307, the Affordable Health Insurance for the Middle Class Act, to make more people eligible for healthcare tax credits.

June 13th: Contrary to his previous comments on the subject, Trump describes the House bill as “mean”

June 22nd: Senate introduces the council’s replacement amendment to the House AHCA, entitled Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA).

June 26th: The CBO finds the Senate bill as damaging as the House bill, estimating the number of Americans expected to lose insurance at 22 million.

June 26th: The New York Times publishes an op-ed from Senator Ron Johnson that’s highly critical of the BHRA. He also claims that he would vote no on the motion to proceed, along with 3 other Republican senators: Rand Paul (Ky.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Dean Heller (Nev.).

June 27th: McConnell postpones the vote to after the July 4th recess.

June 28th: Adapt, a disability rights group, staged a sit in at Senator Ron Johnson’s Milwaukee office.



July 6th: Indivisible Madison holds the “Get Your Hands Off Our Healthcare Rally” at the State Capitol. Wisconsin Progressive Alliance, Indivisible Stoughton, and Oshkosh Tuesday Rally Group stage a sit in at Senator Ron Johnson’s Oshkosh office in protest of the Senate bill.

July 13th: Senate Republicans amend the BCRA so it will meet Senate reconciliation standards. That makes eligible for passage by a simple majority rather than the usual 60. Republican Senators Rand Paul and Susan Collins issue statements that they will vote no on the revised bill.

July 15th: Senator John McCain announces he must undergo surgery to remove a blood clot his left eye (later discovered to be the result of a malignant brain tumor), further delaying the vote.

July 15th: Madison Socialist Alternative (along with the Four Lakes Green Party, Democratic Socialists of America, AFSCME local 125, Progressive Dane, Immigrant Workers Union, Wisconsin Bailout the People Movement, Student Coalition for Progress, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom) holds a rally at the State Capitol in opposition to TrumpCare.

July 17th: Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran add their names to those who would vote no on the revised plan. The bill appears to be dead.

July 18th: Indivisible Madison, Indivisible Tosa, Indivisible Milwaukee, and Bucking Badgers gather outside Johnson’s Milwaukee office in protest of the latest version of BCRA.

July 25th: Senator McCain returns to the senate after surgery and votes yes on a motion to proceed. Senator Johnson also votes yes, contrary to many of his indications. The vote passes 51-50 with Mike Pence breaking the tie and debate on the bill begins.

July 25th: Republicans develop a revised version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act that includes amendments which provide more funds to address the opioid crisis; lets people pay for premiums using pre-tax health savings accounts; restores $100 million for Medicaid funding; and adds the Cruz amendment which allows insurers to offer alternative cheaper bare-bones policies. Before the vote could begin, Senate Democrats use a procedural move requiring the Senate clerk to read the entire text of the amendment aloud in the Senate chamber. This is all part of the delaying tactics Democrats employ throughout debate of the BCRA to express their overall unhappiness with the bill. Then Democrats object to using reconciliation rules for the bill because it had not been officially scored by the CBO. Therefore, Republicans need 60 votes for passage. It fails miserably, 43-57.

July 26th: The Senate takes up the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act which would repeal Obamacare but would not be effective for two years. This is supposed to give them two years to craft a replacement before the repeal is implemented. This bill is almost identical to one passed by the Senate in 2015 but vetoed by President Obama. The 2017 bill failed passage, 45-55.

July 26th: The Senate then goes on to consider a bill which calls for complete repeal of Obamacare with no replacement. Seven Republicans join the Democrats to reject the bill.

July 27th: The Senate considers what they call the “skinny plan.” It would repeal the individual and employer mandates and the medical device tax, and possibly include defunding Planned Parenthood and eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund. None of the Republicans actually want this to become public policy. Rather, they see it as a step to reach a conference committee with the House and come up with yet another proposal to repeal and replace. In addition to the Democrats, GOP Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski announce they will vote against the bill. In a surprising move on the Senate floor, they are joined by Senator John McCain to defeat the bill. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addresses the press: It’s time to move on to tax reform.



August 2nd: Both the House and the Senate take a bipartisan approach to fixing Obamacare!!! Sen. Lamar Alexander announces that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions will hold bipartisan hearings on how to repair the ACA individual market. In the House, a group of 40 lawmakers from both parties endorses an outline of ideas aimed at making urgent fixes to the ACA. Bipartisanship – what a welcome surprise!

RTT Update: 08-08-17 (notes)

Rep. Pocan 8/8/17 Office Visit

Meeting with Melanie Conklin, District Outreach and External Relations

What’s the update on Health Care?

  • The details are too new.
  • There is no information on what was discussed between Trump and Walker.
  • The concern is that open enrollment is coming up fast.
  • There are concerns about appropriating the health insurance reimbursements.

What are the points of influence on health care?

  • Rep. Pocan is looking for areas of compromise, something that will stabilize marketplaces.
  • The key message is that the Affordable Care Act affects everyone.
  • Reinsurance is pretty black and white and reasonable. Congressman Kind is working on the “moderate” proposal. This is coming out of the “New Dems” (who may or may not be related to the Blue Dogs).



  • There is a possibility that there will not be further continuing resolutions. This would shut down the government.


Regarding the Mueller protest in the case of his firing:

  • There is nothing new about the Russia investigation that Rep. Pocan can share with his staff.


What about impeachment?

  • Nothing new since the articles were drafted.
  • Ryan is the key player, and he’s still loyal to the party so far.
  • Also, keep in mind that with a successful impeachment, we’d still be stuck with Pence.


Is anyone looking at enforcement on visa laws? What about the DREAM Act?

  • Not likely to go anywhere. Some people will stop it at all costs.


There’s a need for a unified progressive message.

  • “A Better Deal”
  • It’s hard to get the message out.


How do we influence the back-room catastrophes (e.g., the lines that get slipped into appropriations bills)?


What’s going on with the “Election Integrity” commission?

  • Rep. Pocan introduced a bill on interstate cross-check
  • The danger is that people will take themselves off the rolls to avoid having their data shared.


Student loan refinancing

  • Thank you to Rep. Pocan for introducing legislation.
  • The future of work panels will be ongoing. Mark Pocan and others are talking to experts in four congressional districts, and there will be a report and legislative package coming.


What about grassroots progressive events?

  • Target the 2018 governor’s race. That’s going to be critical, and will invite media coverage.