Julie Oliver, in TX-25, is running one of the most inspiring campaigns of 2018

After years of establishment Democrats running rote, indistinguishable TV ads and peddling cautious, focus-group-tested messaging, a wave of fresh, progressive candidates have decided to communicate like actual humans. Fresh faces such as Randy Bryce and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have produced a series of especially moving digital ads that have gone viral, and this week, even amidst the Kavanaugh calamity, a new progressive star was born.

Julie Oliver, who is running to represent Texas’s 25th district in Congress, narrates her own life story in the ad; she grew up in near-poverty and ran away from home as a teenager, squatting in abandoned buildings until she got pregnant at 17. Shunned by her boyfriend’s family, she returned home, where her mother agreed to help her — on the condition that she get back to school.

The rest is the sort of up-from-your-bootstraps American Dream success story that seems to only happen in movies or very hypothetical conservative scenarios: Oliver worked and raised her family while attending college and law school, and now at 45-years-old, she’s an accomplished lawyer and community leader running for Congress. Her experience makes her uniquely empathetic to the needs of working people, a quality in short supply in Washington today.

“We have a president who keeps me in this fight because we’re given reasons every day to fight or to stand in a fight with somebody,” Oliver told Progressives Everywhere last week. “Whether it’s immigrants, it’s kids who deserve a fantastic, great public education, or our veterans, I’m standing in the fight with them.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Julie Oliver via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

Oliver felt compelled to run in the summer of 2017, during the heat of the GOP attempt to overturn Obamacare. She spent years working in healthcare finance and law and was intimately familiar with the issues facing both the system and individual patients — the cost of being uninsured, the stress on rural hospitals and clinics, and the still-too-high uninsured rate, which sits at 16.6% in Texas. The Republican obsession with exacerbating all those issues spurred her to action.

“A year ago when Congress met to repeal the ACA and didn’t have a plan to replace it, they just wanted to yank the rug out from under millions of Americans,” Oliver explained. “I said, this is so ludicrous that they would do this. Millions of people benefit from having healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and even though it’s not perfect, it works for a lot of people.”

She has personal stake in the ongoing fight, as her son has an immune system issue that would qualify as a pre-existing condition under any insurer. Her family would have been yet another to fall victim to medical bankruptcy had the ACA not guaranteed coverage. Having spent so much time in the healthcare industry, she is strongly in favor of moving to a Medicare for All system and suggests that should she win, she’d sponsor a House version of the Choose Medicare Act, which would create a public option and be a big first step toward a single-payer system.

After winning a close Democratic primary settled in a run-off election, her GOP opponent in the long, gerrymandered district is Rep. Roger Williams, who has been in office since 2011. Williams has accomplished little more than taking some photos with Donald Trump and collecting lobbyist donations. Oliver has sworn off all PAC donations and has an innovative proposal for creating a public campaign finance system, which would be funded by using Congress’s broad authority to levy taxes to tax Super PACs. It’s not a pipe dream, legally speaking — Oliver worked for years in tax law, and so she is intimately familiar with the ins and outs of our complicated system.

CLICK HERE to donate to Julie Oliver via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

“Not taking PAC money really is so I can say that I want to be a representative for the district and for me to be able to talk to somebody who might not see eye-to-eye with me politically,” she said. “That’s a game-changer, when I say that I don’t take PAC money.”

Being in Texas means that there will be plenty of voters who are not immediately predisposed to voting for a progressive Democrat, if only due to years of fear-mongering by Republicans and half-hearted efforts by local Democrats. Oliver laments the toxicity of the current political climate and has resolved to overcome hurdles inherent to Democrats in Texas one voter at a time, even in a district that stretches over 400 miles.

While Williams has been criticized for being relatively absent from the community he represents, Oliver has dedicated herself to door-to-door campaigning, town halls and senior center visits, trying to create “the human-to-human touch that has been missing” over the last decade or more. The district, which stretches from Fort Worth to Austin, is a +11 Republican district, which is red, but not nearly as red as some of the other districts that have flipped already this year. And there is hunger for more change.

Watching the Kavanaugh hearings, as painful as they were, reminded her of just how different 2018 feels, of how the furor being experienced by women and anyone with a conscience has become so overpowering that no level of obstruction or institutional unfairness can stem the rising tide of rebellion.

“I believe that women are going to going to get woke, for lack of a better term, and they’re going to come out and vote,” Oliver, who has two adult daughters, said. “The misogyny and the patriarchy that we see that has been going on for a long time and coming down from the highest levels of office — we’ve got to smash it, smash the patriarchy.”

And no matter what happens in her race, she’s already doing her part to advance the cause of working people and inspire women with her action and her story.

“A dad reached out to me on Facebook yesterday and he said, ‘Your story is so eerily similar to my daughter’s. She’s pregnant now and she’ll be raising the baby by herself as a single mom. She didn’t think that she had a future,'” Oliver recalled. “And he said, ‘I started talking to her about you about a month ago, and then she saw your video and she texted me today and said that she had enrolled in her first college course.’ I just started crying.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Julie Oliver via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

Medicare-for-All can happen, but maybe not how you’re expecting

What’s the largest medical bill you’ve ever received? OK, I don’t want to make you sick thinking back on it, so I’ll tell you mine: Back in 2012, I was slapped with a hospital bill for half a million dollars, which is more than most Americans pay for their house. This wasn’t some elective procedure, either — open-heart surgery very rarely is.

It’s important to note that this happened after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare was a nice upgrade to a fundamentally flawed system. More people got health insurance, but it’s often still uber-expensive (and getting worse) and still fully unavailable to tens of millions of Americans. Medicaid is being throttled, Republicans are sabotaging protections, and big pharma is colluding with middlemen to rip-off patients and states. Even people with “good” insurance get screwed — personally, I just got a $500 bill for a ten-minute checkup.

Democrats are finally beginning to realize that continually trying to patch up a ship built to sink is futile. And after years of it being considered a far-left radical idea, single-payer healthcare — or Medicare for All — is becoming the mainstream position of national Democratic leaders.

To take a closer look at the momentum behind the single-payer campaign, I spoke with Dr. Carol Paris, the president of Physicians for a National Health Program. For years, PNHP has been at the forefront of advocating for universal healthcare; during the Trump administration, it has worked to both save Obamacare and educate Democrats and lobby nationally for a more complete overhaul of our still-broken healthcare system. She spoke some hard truths about the state of our politics and party, but they’re important ones for us to understand and accept as we push forward for truly comprehensive universal healthcare.

Note: Because it’s a 501(c)(3), PNHP cannot endorse any political candidates. So, I’ve separately made this list of candidates who support Medicare-for-All — CLICK HERE to donate to them!

Medicare for All has more support amongst Democrats than ever. Why do you think that’s happened?

It really began growing as the reality of the failure of the Affordable Care Act to control costs and insure everyone became clearer… I don’t think that moved the legislators, I think it moved their constituents to put pressure on them to endorse single-payer.

The Affordable Care Act did extend care for a lot of people, but costs still go up. Were you expecting that?

I was not optimistic. The best thing about the Affordable Care Act was the Medicaid expansion. We could have done that with so much less effort and expenditure of resources and just forgotten about the rest. The best part of it and what helped the most people was the Medicaid expansion. With the marketplace and the subsidies, there’s so many problems, because the private for-profit insurance industry is baked into it. That’s a big part of it.

The industry says it can do things more efficiently, but that hasn’t been borne out. What kind of tricks is it still able to pull, despite new regulations?

The individual mandate created a whole market for new customers. Then there was the requirement that insurers can no longer deny coverage to people who are either too sick to be profitable or too old and therefore more risky. Eliminating those but adding the mandate put the insurance industry in a precarious situation of having to figure out how to work around the guaranteed issue and community rating while still drawing in the mandated younger members.

So what they do is they make narrow coverage networks. So you can get a plan with a subsidy or plan on the marketplace that will bring down the cost of your premium, but they do it by requiring you to go on a plan that has a very narrow network. There was a study and it found that in New York, none of the marketplace plans included the number one cancer hospital in the city, Memorial Sloan Kettering.

As far as pharmaceuticals, they’ll just put the expensive pharmaceuticals into a higher tier so that they’re just shifting more and more of the cost of care to the consumer.

So how do you envision a full Medicare-for-All system working?

The only way to actually implement it in a way that will be cost-effective over time is specifically to do it as a single-payer strategy. All single-payer means is instead of multiple insurance companies providing insurance as well as Medicare and Medicaid and Tricare and all the others, everyone is in a single risk pool.

It really is only going to be feasible if it’s done on a national level. when you’ve got 325 million people and everyone working is contributing to the tax base that is paying for our healthcare. You’ve got a big enough tax base then to actually cover everyone’s needs for all medically necessary care — including dental, vision, and long-term care.

The problem people get hung up on is, “Oh my God, my taxes are gonna go up?” This is a situation where your taxes go up modestly and your net income goes up as well, and the reason is because when your taxes go up, it’s for covering the things that you’re now not paying for out of your after tax dollars, premiums, copays, deductibles, out of network costs. All of that goes away.

One thing I can never answer is what happens to all the jobs in the insurance industry?

Written into the House’s Medicare-for-All bill, HR 676, is funding to provide unemployment for a year and retraining for anyone who makes $100,000 a year or less in the insurance industry. And remember that we’re going to need some of those people to administer the Medicare for All plan. So the number of [of workers] isn’t going to go to zero.

I was actually just having dinner last night with a surgeon from Nashville who told me a great story. She’s a 67-year-old general surgeon and she was just saying she was so fed up with trying to get the care for her patients that they need. She does a lot of breast surgery and there’s a particular kind of breast cancer called BCRA 1 and 2, where if you have those genetic markers, it is a reasonable option for a woman to have prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, without having breast cancer.

Blue Cross Blue Shield denied the patient’s claim, her preauthorization to get this done. And what the doctor told me was that she finally remembered that a colleague of hers had quit the practice of medicine and was now working at Blue Cross Blue Shield doing preauthorization. So she called him up and he finally agreed that this was reasonable and authorized it. I’m telling you the story to say there are a number of doctors and nurses who are licensed clinicians in this country who have stopped practicing clinical medicine because they burned out and are now working for the insurance industry. These are people that could go right back into the delivery side of healthcare.

So if Democrats take back Congress and then the White House, how do you make the push for this, after the Affordable Care Act was what they mustered last time?

You’re talking to a person who is not easily persuaded that the Democratic Party is our friend. Remember that in 2009 we had a majority in the House and the Senate and we had a Democratic president and we couldn’t even get single-payer included in the discussion of health care reform. I’m actually of the persuasion that we need to have our grassroots organizing working on Republican members of the House and Senate, too. You get them to co-sponsor single-payer legislation. I don’t think that’s impossible. I think if the grassroots makes it toxic for any member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, for them not to get on board, then they’ll get on board because they want to hold onto their seat.

I think it’s great if people want to put their time and energy into Democratic candidates who say that they will support. But corporate Dems are still in control and I am not convinced that just getting more Democrats elected to office is going to turn the tide. I think what’s going to turn the tide is what we saw last week, with a new Reuters poll that showed 84.5% of Democrats and 51.9 percent of Republicans now support Medicare for All, and 70% overall.

That’s how we’re going to get Medicare, in my opinion, by also having moderate Republicans who are absolutely being screwed by the rising cost of healthcare. I think they’re going to get on board with this and say, “I’ve got to do this for myself and my family and stop listening to Fox News and astroturf groups like the Partnership for America’s Healthcare Future.”

So let’s say we do get Medicare-for-All. What happens when a president or Congress who hate it take office, as we’re seeing right now with the GOP sabotaging the Affordable Care Act?

I actually don’t want to pass Medicare-for-All legislation if it’s done the way the Affordable Care Act was passed, through reconciliation and no bipartisan support. If we do it that way, then they’re just turning it into a hot potato, just like the ACA is, and it’s just going to get beaten back and forth between parties and never have the opportunity to become the beloved program that Medicare became. What I really would hope is that we passed this legislation because there is such a groundswell of support among the American people that members of Congress simply get on because they don’t have any alternative.

We’re seeing more buy-in from the business community, especially small businesses that are beginning to realize that the Chamber of Commerce is not their friend and that it’s in their best interest to support Medicare-for-All, that it would be so much better for their bottom line. And look at the teacher strike in West Virginia, there was actually a picture of a teacher holding up a sign that said, “We’ll work for health insurance.” So I think we need to be just continuing to grow the movement among our own citizens who are day in and day out being beaten and beleaguered by the profiteering healthcare system.

J.D. Scholten is taking on the biggest racist in Congress

It doesn’t seem like the obvious career path for an aspiring congressman, but J.D. Scholten, who is running to unseat uber-controversial GOP Rep. Steve King in Iowa’s 4th district, thinks that his time as a pro baseball player was ideal preparation for working as a lawmaker.

“I didn’t care where my shortstop came from, whether he was Puerto Rican or from Texas,” Scholten says. “We worked together to achieve that common goal. I didn’t care who my left fielder voted for, we worked our tails off for a common goal and I feel that one thing that’s lost a lot in government.”

That anecdote has the polish of a stump speech bit, a response prepped for skeptical voters who may have never heard of the 38-year-old candidate, even though he was a standout high school athlete in Sioux City and later played pro ball there, too. But the story also functions as a criticism of the man he is trying to unseat, whose most notable accomplishments in 16 years in office are being named least effective member of Congress and earning a national reputation as a divisive bigot.

Rep. Steve King also tends to get labeled a “populist,” because the word has somehow become synonymous with right-wing neo-fascists (and he is definitely a right-wing neo-fascist). But it’s Scholten whose life and policy positions — he’s in favor of Medicare for All and against agricultural monopolies — are more in line with the traditional, Midwestern progressive roots of the term.

This is where the career in baseball really begins to matter. Because during his years in professional baseball, Scholten never played in the Major Leagues. Never even really came close. Most of his time as a ballplayer was spent throwing his sinking fastball for independent league teams, taking the mound in small stadiums in even smaller towns. You don’t often think of professional athletes as working class Americans, but like everywhere else in the modern economy, most of the riches in pro sports go to the very few at the top.

CLICK HERE to donate to J.D. Scholten’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

I know this because I worked for years in a similar independent baseball league, and other than the occasional presence of a washed-up former big leaguer avoiding retirement, it couldn’t have felt further from the Majors. Players making far below the minimum wage subsist on fast food and PB&J sandwiches, sit on old couches in dingy clubhouses, and stay either in motels or in the empty guest rooms of community members who trade room and board for free tickets. Long bus rides take them through small towns that all start to blend together after a while (my words, not his), leaving a collective impression of an increasingly left behind America.

“The most I ever got paid was $1500 a month,” Scholten says, laughing ruefully at the misconception that being a pro ballplayer always means making millions. “In the primary, one of my opponents kind of hinted at that and I made sure it was very clear that I was no bonus baby.”

When his playing days ended, Scholten began a career as a paralegal, working for firms in Minnesota and then Seattle. He got his first taste of a political campaign when he helped out a colleague who ran for state legislature in Minnesota, and after the 2016 election, like so many other dismayed Americans, he resolved to get more involved in the process. Activism wasn’t foreign to him, as he had attended protests in the lead-up to the Iraq War and was personally progressive, but the truth was that he had felt a bit disconnected in recent years.

He knew that had to change, but at the time, actually running for Congress wasn’t anywhere near his radar. But then came a series of revelations that set his life on a very different course.

First, Scholten returned home to Iowa shortly after the election, taking time over Thanksgiving to visit his ailing grandmother, who had always acted as his conscience. She continued to play that role until the very end. “The last thing my grandmother said to me was that I should move back to Iowa and take care of our farm,” Scholten remembers, his reverence for her apparent in his voice.

He would be the last person to feed his grandmother, who died a month later. Scholten gave the eulogy at her funeral, but it was her words that stayed with him. It was time to come home.

CLICK HERE to donate to J.D. Scholten’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

So he began looking for jobs in the local Sioux City paper — his family was renting the farm to a friend, so he needed supplemental income — but couldn’t find anything much above the minimum wage, and none of the positions came with benefits. The scarce job market may have given him pause, but the Women’s March, the day after President Trump’s inauguration, erased any doubt about what he needed to do next.

“I knew in that moment of clarity that the most meaningful things to me were my roots and my family and everything was around Iowa,” he says. “So that’s when I started realizing, you know what, I’m going to come back and I’m going to fight.” He moved back to Sioux City, and though he still didn’t plan to run for office, things changed when King’s 2016 opponent ultimately announced that she wouldn’t seek a rematch. “That’s when I decided I couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore,” he says, marking the beginning of an unlikely journey.

Scholten had little political experience, but plenty of stamina. Long road trips as a ballplayer meant that driving the three hours across his mostly rural district hardly registered. He bought a Winnebago RV (manufactured in his district, he points out), painted a campaign logo on its side, and then hit the road with some staff and volunteers. He’s put 35,000 on his personal vehicle alone, driving on highways and rural back roads alike to visit the small towns and communities that dot the far-reaches of the district.

For many years, Democrats have hewed to the right in these kinds of rural districts, convinced that sounding like Republicans would inspire voters to vote for them instead of just voting for Republicans. That centrist strategy has largely failed in the Midwest, and as local Democratic parties collapsed over the last two decades, Republicans were able to consolidate power in the region.

The truth that national Democrats miss is that progressive policy solutions never became unpopular. The GOP — and especially King — merely shifted the focus so thoroughly and corrosively toward identity politics that a decent economy made technocratic debate seemingly unnecessary. His progressivism helped him win the Democratic primary in June, and with farmer income down 74% in Iowa since 2013 and Trump’s trade war now further pummeling local soybean and pork producers, Scholten sees King’s inaction on agriculture as both egregious and a weak spot.

“Even before the tariffs, farmers were struggling with consolidation and low commodity prices,” Scholten says. When Trump began threatening a trade war, King signed on to a letter sent by Iowa’s congressional delegation asking him to rethink the matter, but has not been vocal about it on his infamous social media feeds or in major public speeches. As the volley of tariffs has intensified over the last few weeks, putting Iowa farmers at risk of losing billions of dollars, King has gone silent.

CLICK HERE to donate to J.D. Scholten’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

“He signed that letter, which is just slightly above of not doing anything at all, and you see at how he doesn’t care,” Scholten says, his even-keeled optimism shifting to what sounds like authentically aggrieved. “He endorsed Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican primary, and Ted Cruz is trying to get rid of ethanol. The renewable fuel standard that is the bread and butter of the district, the top ethanol plants that are in my district.”

Scholten is laser-focused on the working economy, despite King’s dreadful national reputation. King was one of the Republicans who made Donald Trump possible, through years of inflammatory and racist remarks about immigrants and a vicious social media presence that openly and defiantly retweets Nazis. But voters in the district know all about King’s bigotry, he says, and it’ll be pocketbook issues that convince them to make a change.

Along with local agricultural concerns, Scholten says he plans to zero in on healthcare, a national issue with major local resonance. Iowa experienced one of the largest upticks in uninsured rates in the country last year, from 3.9% to 7.2%, leaping back towards the nearly 10% rate before Obamacare was passed. Scholten openly supports Medicare for All, and has a knack for reaching voters who have developed a skepticism toward government. In rural Iowa, he’s had plenty of practice explaining progressive policy in common sense terms, starting in his own backyard.

“I talked to them about Medicare for All and my neighbor hates that it is a government thing. And I go, well, listen, we’ve had decades for the health insurance industry to figure this out and this is where we’re at,” Scholten says. “I might not want it to be a government thing, but we can’t have a society with so many millions of people not covered. America is 4% of the population of the world, yet we’re 41% of the wealth. And of all the western developed countries we’re the only one not have some sort of universal healthcare? We can definitely pay for it.”

It’s this kind of one-on-one appeal that Scholten thinks can help him pull off the upset against King. He’s outraised King the last three campaign cycles, but he’s not throwing the money at consultants and broadcast spots.

“I’m convinced that the old school style of politics of getting out to the people is the way to go,” he says. “That last decade of politics where you just stay home and fundraise and do TV commercials, that’s not going to do anything here to change people’s minds. It’s when you get out there and talk about issues that are very important to you and talk about the reasoning behind them. Medicare for All might turn some people away, but when I talk about the path to get there and how it’s gonna benefit us and, and reason with them, they see the light and we can come together.”

CLICK HERE to donate to J.D. Scholten’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

A note about our crowdfunding campaign: Progressives Everywhere will always be a free newsletter. But as the midterm elections draw near, we want to up our game, and that costs money. We want to do more candidate interviews, develop a new website, and even launch a podcast. So we’re asking for donations via Patreon, as little as $2 a month. There are perks, too. Thank you for reading, and now back to the activism!

Stick it to Nazis and help expand access to healthcare

Ignore Trump. Progressive activists are making real progress.

It’s increasingly hard to remember a time before Donald Trump’s demented id hovered over all facets of American life, blocking out the sun with a thick, gold foil-wrapped cloud of sexism, racism, and corruption. But even just a few years ago, Americans could enjoy a relatively quiet July 4th week, celebrating a very imperfect nation that seemed to be slowly progressing toward a more just and fair democracy.

That idea of America was probably a delusion, given the vicious policies we’ve seen the GOP pursue over the last decade, but still, the evil being wrought by the US government this past July 4th, ostensibly a time to celebrate our higher ideals, puts the urgency of our reality into deep relief.

Human rights abuses. Republicans in Russia. Trade wars. Healthcare developments. Scott Pruitt trying to steal the Declaration of Independence (probably). News from last Monday feels like it happened forever ago. Which is really part of Trump’s “plan,” if he has any: overload us until we crawl to our couches, turn on Netflix (the new season of GLOW is great!) and let him live-tweet Fox News in a froth while his cronies loot America.

Turns out, though, that the week was filled with news about the candidates and causes we (and by that I mean you, generous reader) are supporting here at Progressives Everywhere. And in fact, there was even some good news! So this week, let’s check in on the progress of the leaders and movements we’ve boosted with over $45,000 thus far, and try to help them even more.

Let’s start with some good news: Medicaid expansion looks like it will be on the ballot in Nebraska!

Last month, we spoke to an organizer at Insure the Good Life, the non-profit that was leading the campaign to bypass GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts and give voters the power to expand healthcare access for 90,000 working people across the state. Last week, they delivered 133,000 signatures to the Nebraska Secretary of State, far surpassing the required 85,000. Once they’re validated by the state, there will be a question on the ballot in this November’s election, and should it pass, Nebraska will become the 35th state to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

There will also be a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in Idaho and Utah, and all three are polling well right now. This is in line with the massive shift in public opinion in favor of Obamacare — and directly contrary to ongoing Trump and GOP efforts to sabotage the law and take away healthcare from millions of people (Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin just took dental and vision benefits from Medicaid recipients, simply because he’s an asshole). This should be THE biggest issue in the midterm elections, especially if progressives continue to press and play offense, working to expand access instead of punishing people for getting sick.

Click HERE to support Medicaid expansion ballot initiatives in Nebraska and Idaho!

Hate has always run America. It’s just that over the last 30 or so years, the bigotry has been the more subtle and insidious kind, inspiring discriminatory policy couched in platitudes about opportunity and freedom.

Thanks to Donald Trump and his embrace of the alt-right, both rhetorically and in public policy, the false niceties have fallen by the wayside. As Democrats run their most diverse slate of candidates in history, literal Nazis are running wild, trying to intimidate the progressives that are going to sweep them from power.

Rick Neal, an openly gay candidate running in Ohio’s 15th district, found a sticker for the Neo-Nazi group Patriot Front on the campaign sign on the lawn of his Columbus home.

Via NBC 4 in Columbus:

He lives with his husband and their 2 daughters who are both African American. He said he expected opponents to take shots at his personal life. “I’m the first openly gay nominee running for federal office in Ohio’s history. I mean it was bound to get some attention, right,” asked Neal.

But he never expected to see what he found Monday night. A sticker placed on his campaign sign in his front yard promoting the group “Patriot Front.”

Neal said he would have preferred it if the person who left the sticker would have simply had a conversation with him. “Neo-nazis. Or just the Nazis. Do you know what that’s all about? Do you know what they did? Do you know your history?” he said.

And though he filed a police report, he said he’s not overly worried and that if anything the incident reinforces his decision to run for office in the first place. “There’s too much at stake in this election to be intimidated,” he said.

His reaction to the situation is inspiring, but not surprising. Neal has spent his entire adult life giving himself to the cause of helping and progressing humanity. He joined the Peace Corps. out of college and then went into nonprofit work, traveling the world to work on issues like access to clean water, the Ebola epidemic, and refugee camps.

He’s running against Steve Stivers, who will have all the resources in the world as the head of the NRCC. He’s got a 99% Trump score — meaning he’s voted with Trump 99% of the time. He’s supported this paragon of hate over and over again, helping prop up his indecent presidency. Taking him down would be absolutely huge.

If you want to help support to Rick Neal, while defiantly sending a message that hate groups have no place in our politics and that we will not be intimidated.

CLICK HERE to donate to our ActBlue page supporting Rick Neal’s campaign.

On the immigration front, there has been slow, halting progress in reuniting families so cruelly ripped apart at the border by Trump and Jeff Sessions’ violent “no tolerance” policy. It’s become clear that the Trump administration had absolutely no intention on reuniting parents and children when it began this evil operation; because they kept such terrible and incomplete records, it’s been a mad scramble to identify children, locate their parents, and reunite the families.

There are some 12,000 children in government custody right now, and about 3000 of them have yet to be reunited with their parents. About 100 of them are under five years old — and it turns out that the government already deported 38 of their parents.

Immigrant rights organizations are working night and day to help families be reunited and get their fair day in court; right now, the administration is often forcing toddlers to represent themselves in front of a judge. (That is not a joke.) The conditions these families face are deplorable, and the entire ordeal has been devastating to the development of these innocent children. The sooner we can end this immediate catastrophe, the better.

CLICK HERE to donate to our ActBlue page supporting nonprofits working to assist abused immigrant families.

Even as the GOP attacks healthcare, red state activists are working to expand it

Medicaid_Mobile_Lookout

Donald Trump’s tweets make clear that he is a terrible egomaniac and likely a criminal. But his administration’s legal maneuvers are what really mark his presidency as an assault on the well-being of average Americans. On Thursday evening, the White House announced that it joined a GOP lawsuit that seeks to fully dismantle the Affordable Care Act.  While the Trump administration is only seeking to have some of the Affordable Care Act thrown out, it is targeting the most popular provision: barring insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

This is a particular danger to low-income Americans, who historically have been in worse health — the link between economic and medical hardship is very direct. That the House of Representatives this week also voted to cut $7 billion from the massively successful and universally popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers 9 million kids nationwide, makes it more clear than ever that we are in an all-out class war.

Healthcare is shaping up to be the number one issue in November’s election, with the power to shape electorates. This week, we want to look at the great campaigns that are going on the offensive, working to expand Medicaid in states that have refused to do so thus far.

Initially, the Affordable Care Act required states to expand Medicaid, the public health insurance program for low-income Americans. Another lawsuit filed by heartless conservatives who hate poor people turned it into a voluntary initiative, and thus far, 32 states have followed through with the expansion, the most recent being Virginia and Maine. The expansion in Maine was triggered by a very successful ballot initiative, and this year, there are several more states with campaigns working hard to get a Medicaid expansion on the ballot.

These are not typically Democratic states, but they have strong grassroots community leaders who are reaching across partisan lines to promote a public good. And so far, it’s looking good.

Click HERE to support Medicaid expansion ballot initiatives in Nebraska and Idaho!

In Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts has not only actively worked against Medicaid expansion, he’s also tried to gut funding to the existing program with vetoes. With little hope of a legislative expansion, the nonprofit Nebraska Appleseed kicked off the Insure the Good Life campaign, which is trying to get the issue on this November’s ballot.

“A majority of Nebraskans support Medicaid expansion,” Meg Mandy, the program director for Insure the Good Life, told Progressives Everywhere. “That is why we decided to bring this directly to voters, and why we feel we are in a strong position to qualify the measure and win in November.”

Mandy says they began collecting signatures in April, and as of early last week, they were halfway to the number needed to qualify for the ballot. The signatures are due on July 5th, and Mandy says they’re on target to beat the deadline. Nebraska ranks 27th in the US in access to healthcare, so victory in November would provide a major boost.

“Expanding Medicaid will give 90,000 hardworking Nebraskans access to critical, life-saving care,” Mandy said. “We know that regular visits to the doctor and preventive care leads to better health outcomes. It’s especially beneficial for earlier diagnosis and treatment of conditions like diabetes, cancer, and mental health issues.”

Click HERE to support Medicaid expansion ballot initiatives in Nebraska and Idaho!

In Idaho, the campaign is truly a bottom-up, grassroots effort. The progressive group Reclaim Idaho decided last summer that they’d barnstorm the state in a 1977 RV, turning their campaign to expand Medicaid into a grassroots event. Volunteers collected signatures on both the ballot petition and the RV itself, earning tons of statewide attention and ultimately doing what was said to be almost impossible: securing over 60,000 signatures from voters 18 of the 35 districts in Idaho, qualifying for the ballot this November.

The achievement itself is a major one: Idaho Republicans had made the already difficult requirements for getting an initiative on the ballot even more onerous after a 2013 citizen vote on a simple education matter didn’t go their way. This marks the first initiative to even get on the ballot since those changes. Idaho faces 27% premium increases this year, making this a very attractive option to both Democrats and Republicans.

Click HERE to support Medicaid expansion ballot initiatives in Nebraska and Idaho!

The third Medicaid expansion ballot initiative is in Utah, where things are a bit different.

After years of being shut down by a far-right state legislature, a partial expansion of Medicaid was approved earlier this year. But it’s unclear whether the federal government, even under Trump, will accept its controversial provision that limits coverage to people who make poverty wages — just $12,140 a year — and below. The Affordable Care Act provides help for people making up to 138% percent, which is not great, but far better than Utah’s bill.

Unwilling to accept a half-measure, a coalition of activists collected signatures to get a full Medicaid expansion on the ballot this November. Utah Decides rounded up support from 140,000 people and last month qualified for the ballot, bringing the state one step closer to providing medical care to 150,000 new people — double the amount the legislature’s bill would cover.

Here’s what’s so significant: two-thirds of Utahns support Medicaid expansionThat’s two-thirds of a very, very red state supporting a policy that Republicans have blocked for years and advocated for by Democrats. Yes, the governor there wants to expand it to some degree, but this is a much more substantial expansion that people support — and it helps to show them that Democrats aren’t lib’rul monsters, but people who are compassionate and want to help their families.

Click HERE to support the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative in Utah!