INSIDER THREAT from Sen. Max Cleland ~ Vet Voice Foundation


Vet Voice Foundation

Please read this important message below from U.S. Senator Max Cleland (ret.) and then sign our letter demanding a full reauthorization and full funding of LWCF.

Thank you for making your voice heard.

Garett Reppenhagen
US Army OIF Veteran
Vet Voice Foundation


Many veterans, like me, find a source of our patriotism in our protected lands. America’s outdoors, and its citizens’ ability to explore them, is surely a part of our values worth protecting – from iconic places like the Grand Canyon to our ballfields and local parks are where we bring our families to share precious moments.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has provided funding for conservation and recreation for decades. It’s been used to protect places from National Parks to local playgrounds in every state since in its inception in 1964. LWCF is funded by oil and gas revenues generated by energy companies paying to drill for oil and gas offshore and uses zero taxpayer dollars. But, If Congress does not act, LWCF will expire this fall.

Unfortunately, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, a veteran himself, who oversees the program, has become an insider threat to its future.

Secretary Zinke served his country as a Navy SEAL with honor, and his patriotism to our country is unimpeachable. However, when I see an ideological threat to American values, I believe it’s my obligation to name it. As chief steward of our wondrous public lands and waters, Secretary Zinke has acted to severely undermine LWCF by calling for enormous cuts to the program in his budget proposals.

Secretary Zinke, who has defended drastic cuts to LWCF in his budget plans and who has been silent on the program’s impending expiration, has become one of the greatest impediments to its future.

As a Vietnam veteran and a retired U.S. Senator, I’ve stood beside brave patriots to challenge America’s enemies, foreign and domestic. We the people can ensure LWCF will continue to provide benefits to future generations.

Please join me, U.S. Senator Max Cleland (ret.), to fight for LWCF by letting Secretary Zinke and our members of Congress know that this is one program the government has a moral obligation to protect.

Sign this letter that will be delivered to key members of Congress and the Department of Interior demanding a full reauthorization and full funding of LWCF.

Gettysburg. The 9/11 Memorial. These iconic sites are funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of the nation’s most successful conservation programs. Unless Congress acts, the LWCF will expire this September, eliminating funding that protects American military heritage.

For more than 50 years, the LWCF has provided critical grants that protect and enhance national treasures like American battlefields, our national parks and forests, and over 40,000 state and local park projects across the country.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, America’s most important conservation and recreation program, a program that has saved places in nearly every state and county in the United States, will expire this September 30 unless Congress moves to renew and fund. For fifty-two years, this fund, at no taxpayer cost (funded by offshore oil and gas royalties to the federal government), has improved the lives of countless Americans and foreign tourists – all of whom generate considerable profits in the surrounding communities where the LWCF has created value.

The LWCF exists because of Teddy Roosevelt’s vision to start protecting our recreational opportunities, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s instinct for conservation action, John F. Kennedy’s commitment to the outdoors, and Lyndon B. Johnson’s creation of LWCF that we as Americans now have the most extensive network of open spaces in the world to hunt, fish, hike, swim and play.

By allowing the LWCF to expire, Congress is jeopardizing the preservation of American military heritage and the monuments to those who sacrificed. Congress should immediately fund and reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund at its full amount to ensure beneficial investment in management of America’s battlefields, monuments, and all public lands.

Will the Next Congress Cut Medicare?


Doctor talking with a patient

GETTY IMAGES

The midterm elections could influence whether lawmakers strengthen the program or make beneficiaries pay more

Medicare today provides benefits to 60 million older adults and people with disabilities. Those numbers are expected to grow in the coming years.

Last year, Congress and President Trump made clear their fiscal priorities: Cut taxes, grow defense spending and don’t worry for now about the rising federal budget deficit.

Problem is, Washington always comes back to worrying about the deficit. And when it does, Medicare, which accounts for 15 percent of the federal budget, inevitably comes to mind. So when trimming the deficit again becomes an issue, “It’s quite possible that Medicare will be back on the chopping block,” says Tricia Neuman, Medicare expert at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

If and when this happens, some elected officials are likely to turn to a familiar refrain: Ask beneficiaries to pick up a larger share of health costs than they already pay. That could mean higher premiums, copays and cost sharing. It could also mean tightening up on what Medicare covers and renewed calls to raise the Medicare eligibility age. “Medicare is a program that’s growing both in numbers of enrollees and total costs,’’ says David Certner, AARP legislative policy director. “The concern we have is meeting the benefit promise.”

Medicare today provides benefits to 60 million older adults and people with disabilities. But the number of Americans 65 and over will double, and the number of those 80 and over will nearly triple, between 2010 and 2050, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report. At the same time, health care costs will keep rising above the rate of inflation, predicts the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The more these costs grow, the more strain that puts on Medicare, the country’s largest spender on health care.

This year’s elections could decide whether politicians try to strengthen or cut Medicare.

One fundamental change that’s favored by some in Congress is to convert Medicare into a voucher or “premium support” program. Today, Medicare basically pays the bill for most of a beneficiary’s medical care. Under a voucher system, each beneficiary would get a flat amount of money each year to buy health coverage. If the care they need costs more than the voucher, the beneficiary would pay the difference.

The biggest proponent of a voucher system, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., is retiring from Congress at the end of this term. His absence will make a serious discussion of such a change less likely.

Four questions for candidates regarding Medicare for the midterm elections.

AARP

Others continue to promote raising the age of eligibility for Medicare to 67 or higher, leaving people in their 60s who do not have employer coverage to self-fund their health care for two or more extra years.

The Trump administration has proposed expanding the availability of short-term, limited-benefit insurance policies for people who don’t get coverage through an employer or government program. But because insurers don’t have to cover individuals with preexisting conditions and can charge much higher premiums for older adults, experts say expansion of these plans could shut many 50- to 64-year-olds out of the insurance market.

“These people will age into Medicare with poorer health than if they had continued access to affordable health care,” says Lindsey Copeland, federal policy director for the Medicare Rights Center. And that will mean additional costs for Medicare, which will have to pay to treat neglected illnesses.

There are some measures before Congress that would improve the program. The Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification Act would require Medicare to notify individuals approaching 65 of their eligibility. The Medicare Rights Center developed a proposal that inspired the legislation after learning that many new members didn’t know they had missed the deadline for enrolling in Part B.

There also is agreement to fight waste and fraud, which eats up roughly 10 percent of Medicare’s budget each year.

And greater efficiency could allow Medicare to fill some of its coverage gaps, such as hearing, vision and dental benefits — coverages that advocacy groups like AARP support.

But the bottom line, Copeland says, is for voters to “get as many candidates on the record as possible in support of doing no harm to Medicare.”

“Sh*thole countries”. “Animals”. Trump’s Xenophobia Cannot Be The New Normal


Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, Color Of Change

Demand Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham take a public moral stance against Trump’s hateful rhetoric. Join us.

Rubio and Graham chumming up to Trump in Black and White. Text says Trump's Immigrant's aren't people they're animals is a new low. Tell Rubio and Graham to denounce Trump's racism

Friends,

Rencently at a White House meeting with local California leaders opposed to “sanctuary city” policies, Donald Trump made one of his most offensive comments yet. In front  of countless sheriffs, cameras, and members of the press, he said that immigrants “are not people, they’re animals.”1 Thats right–the President of the United States referred to millions of human beings as animals. 

This isn’t the first time Trump has glibly insulted marginalized communities. From calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” to African nations “sh*tholes”, Trump has rarely missed an opportunity to categorize Black and Brown people as less than human.2 To make matters worse, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio—who have famously supported DACA and claim to care deeply about immigrants have remained mum on Trump’s latest attack.3

Enough is enough. Tell “pro-immigrant” Republican leaders to denounce Trump’s statement now!

Rubio and Graham have had plenty of time to take to Twitter today to insult other world leaders—but have refused to denounce Trump’s dehumanizing attack on immigrants. This deafening silence as millions of people are insulted by the Commander-In-Chief is yet another indicator of how Trump’s disgusting rhetoric has become normalized on the public stage. After all, both Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio were vehement anti-Trumpers; first claiming he was unfit to be President, then falling into line after he was elected—bragging about playing golf with him and proudly endorsing his damaging policies.4

If Graham and Rubio remain silent and refuse to reject the characterization of immigrants as “animals”, they are complicit in upholding a hostile political climate. Their silence enables violence that we see being enacted now on a policy level. Since Trump’s election, the immigration gains activists made in previous administrations have been massively rolled back with several attempts at a Muslim ban, the expansion of ICE agents’ abilities to detain and deport  any undocumented immigrant, and the appointment white nationalists to ICE.5 Just this week, Trump’s administration just announced that they’re gearing up to tear immigrant children away from their parents and hold them alone on military bases.6

Tell Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham to stop playing the middle and denounce Trump’s attack on immigrants now!

We know that Trump’s public attacks on marginalized communities have disturbing real-life consequences. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported the second straight year of hate crime increases—largely due in part to “The Trump Effect: with a tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups since 2016 and surges of hate crimes nationwide.7

Now more than ever, leaders must take a stand against the status quo and defend the most vulnerable among us.

Tell Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham to denounce Trump’s statements now.

Until justice is real,

–Jade, Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Evan, Johnny, Future, Angela, Corina, Chad, Mary, Saréya, Eesha, and the rest of the Color Of Change team


References:

  1. Trump calls some unauthorized immigrants “Animals” in Rant. 17 May 2018. New York Times. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/50361?t=11&akid=13201%2E1174326%2EBCDhnc
  2. Trump doesn’t need to explain which immigrants he thinks are “animals”. 17 May 2018. Slate. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/53137?t=13&akid=13201%2E1174326%2EBCDhnc
  3. More than 30 senators join push for immigration deal. 24 January 2018. The Hill. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/53138?t=15&akid=13201%2E1174326%2EBCDhnc
  4. Lindsey Graham offers details on Trump’s round of 73. 11 October 2017. Golf Channel. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/52224?t=17&akid=13201%2E1174326%2EBCDhnc did Marco Rubio say in Spanish in front of Trump? Let him tell you. Miami Herald. 16 May 2018. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/52243?t=19&akid=13201%2E1174326%2EBCDhnc Trump should lead, Congress should act on DACA. 5 September 2017. Politico. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/52226?t=21&akid=13201%2E1174326%2EBCDhnc Immigration debate “has turned into an s-show”. 16 January 2018. Politico. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/50682?t=23&akid=13201%2E1174326%2EBCDhnc
  5. Trump doesn’t need to explain which immigrants he thinks are “animals”. 17 May 2018. Slate. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/53137?t=25&akid=13201%2E1174326%2EBCDhnc
  6. Trump administration preparing to hold immigrant children on military bases. 15 May 2018. Washington Post. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/52221?t=27&akid=13201%2E1174326%2EBCDhnc
  7. Hate crimes rise for second straight year; Anti-Muslim violence soars amid President Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric. 13 November 2017. Southern Poverty Law Center. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/53139?t=29&akid=13201%2E1174326%2EBCDhnc