Action Alerts – Week of December 10, 2017


Quick contact guide:
Sen. Feinstein: DC Office: 202.224.3841 – L.A. Field Office: 310.914.7300 – E-Mail
Sen. Harris: DC Office: 202.224.3553 – L.A. Field Office: 213. 894.5000 – E-Mail
Rep. Cook: DC Office: 202.225.5861 – Apple Valley Office: 760.247.1815 – E-Mail

Trump Tax Scam Is NOT a Done Deal!

Updates on the Trump Tax Scam:

There will be another rally this week at Rep. Paul Cook’s Apple Valley office.  Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 10:30 a.m.   Contact IMB for carpooling.  Facebook Event page hereplease share!  14955 Dale Evans Parkway, Apple Valley, CA 92307.

Last week’s rally was loud and energetic, with over 100 people attending.  View video of the protest, and read about it in the Daily Press.  Thanks to everyone who came out!  Let’s do it again this Tuesday!

Hard-hitting ads targeting Rep. Cook’s support for the tax bill are running on-line, sponsored by Americans Against Double Taxation.  Like and share the ad on Facebook!  Learn more about the ad campaign on Politico.

Southern California is currently experiencing catastrophic loss from wildfires, but by voting for the Tax Scam, Rep. Cook voted to end the deduction for wildfire and earthquake victims (though not recent hurricane victims). The L.A. Times has the story, and MSNBC calls out the California Republicans who voted for it – including Congressman Paul Cook.

Rep. Paul Cook defends his vote on the opinion page of the Victor Valley Daily Press, claiming the “House Tax Plan is good for working-class Americans”.  Join hundreds of others in responding to Rep. Cook with a different view on his Facebook page.

Finally, somehow we missed this the first time around, but when the House was preparing to pass their version of the tax scam back in mid-November, the L.A. Times wrote that Cook was “praying on how to vote” and added this quote:  “’We’re still talking about; that’s all. I’m just still talking about it. I have to say my prayers and get divine guidance,’ Cook said. ‘And if I’m right, I’m going to vote the right way and go to a race track right afterward.’”

Call to support S.1400, The Safeguarding of Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act

Efforts to repatriate tribal property are hitting roadblocks within the Trump administration.

The Trump administration is refusing to take a position on a new cultural protection bill that expands on the legislation calling for the return of tribal items to their rightful place.

“These cultural items are continuing to leave and go across the seas to be sold”, says Governor Kurt Riley, a tribal leader, of the Pueblo of Acoma. Members of the Trump administration want to wait for the results of further study as tribal leaders are calling for immediate action. Given the ongoing sales of sacred cultural items in international markets, Governor Riley could think of no good reason to wait for the Government Accountability Office study, a process that could take many months to complete.

At the same time, Secretary Zinke has put a hold on a key advisory panel that was established by Congress to ensure compliance with the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act. The NAGPRA review committee is in limbo while the Interior department conducts their own review.

But Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) said the freeze in hindering efforts to return sacred items to their rightful place. Without clear U.S. law or policy, officials in France, where tribal items are regularly picked up for auction, have refused to return such items.

In hopes of addressing impasses at the international level, Udall and other lawmakers are pushing for passage of S.1400, the Safeguarding Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act. The bill bars the export of items that are otherwise covered in the U.S. by NAGPRA and other cultural protection laws.

Repatriation is extremely personal for tribes and their citizens. They are able to utilize NAGPRA to reclaim ancestors that were removed — sometimes inadvertently but in many cases, not — from their resting places. Items used in ceremonies and other practices can also be repatriated under the 1990 law. But once any items leave the U.S., it’s virtually impossible to get them back.

The STOP Act enjoys bipartisan support — six of the nine co-sponsors are Republicans. While the Trump administration’s silence on the bill might not hinder passage, it isn’t helping either, advocates argue.

Script:

Call our Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris and call Representative Cook and say,

Hi my name is (NAME) and I am a constituent from (city,zip) I’m calling today to ask (SENATOR OR CONGRESSMAN) to support S.1400-The Safeguarding of Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act. The bill bars the export of items that are otherwise covered by NAGPRA and other cultural protection laws.

 

I am concerned that the Trump administration is refusing to take a position on this bill and that Native American cultural items are continuing to leave the U.S and go across the seas to be sold.

Indivisibles Alert Community On Potential Impacts Of Tax Reform Bills

Our Tax Scam Action Team got out the word on the Republican tax bill in Yucca Valley on Sunday Nov. 26.  Team member Gayle reports back:

Seeking to inform, alert and raise awareness on tax reform bills currently wending their way through Congress, members of Indivisible Morongo Basin, a nonpartisan citizens’ group advocating for integrity in government, gave motorists a crash course on the potential impacts of the tax plans on Sunday morning at the busy intersection of Highway 62 and Old Woman Springs Road.

Motorists slowed to read messages printed on signs held aloft by organizers who urged residents and visitors alike to “Get the Facts” and  “Call your Senators.”

“We want to alert the community that many of the programs we depend on are in serious jeopardy,” said one of the organizers, Beth Sheffield.  “The fate of Medicare, Social Security, education, the environment, healthcare, California, and even our way of life are all hanging in the balance,” she said.

Unfolding in a sequential fashion, like retro Burma Shave signs planted by the side of country roads in the 40s and 50s, the signs cautioned “Beware the Washington Tax Scam’ and declared the so-called tax reform will cut taxes for the rich and raise taxes for the middle class.

“We had a very good, interested response,“ said Sheffield, noting honking, waves, questions, and even cheers coming from vehicles waiting at the stop light.

The sequence ended in an urgent call to “Get the Facts” and offered more information on the group’s website at indivisiblemb.org.

On the Highway, Burma-Shave style!

Washington Tax Scam: Bad for You, GREAT for Corporations!

Join us to protest Paul Cook’s Tax Scam this Sunday, Nov. 26 in Yucca Valley!

Republicans in Congress are pushing a tax bill that is BAD for the people of the desert and of California.  With this Tax Scam, families making $75,000 or less each year will end up paying MORE taxes to fund tax cuts for people making $500,000 and up.  Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security will take big hits to fund permanent corporate tax breaks.  “Trickle-down economics” didn’t work the last time they tried it, and it won’t work this time, either.

Non-Partisan Analysis Shows The Tax Scam Will Overwhelmingly Benefit The Top—And Raise Taxes On The Middle Class.

The Senate Republican tax bill is being sold as a “gift to the middle class”—but it actually raises taxes on 94 million American families, all to give its biggest tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations.  Incomes below $100,000 essentially get nothing or face a tax increase by 2027.  (Analysis based on data from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation, which is the neutral referee on tax legislation the way the Congressional Budget Office is for other legislation.)

Tax Cuts For The Middle Class Are Temporary.  Tax Cuts For Corporations Are Permanent.

Republicans are passing the Tax Scam through the Senate using a special process called reconciliation, and to meet the requirements of reconciliation Republicans have chosen to let the tax cuts they say are good for the middle class expire. When they do, families will see their taxes go up – so the tax cuts they’ve planned for corporations can be permanent.

Don’t believe Congress would ever let cuts for the middle class expire?  They’re doing it right now with funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  This program insures nearly 9 million children from low-income families who otherwise would not have health insurance.  It expired on September 30, 2017, and Congress has done nothing to fix it.

The Tax Scam Adds $1.5 Trillion To The Deficit.

After years of decrying deficits as an existential threat to our country, Republicans are now changing their tune and letting their tax cuts for the rich add to the deficit. They say these tax cuts will magically pay for themselves by spurring new economic growth. But there’s no evidence to suggest that that’s true. In fact, when the non-partisan Tax Policy Center took into account new growth—a “dynamic” analysis that Republicans consistently say is missing from the debate—TPC found that the bill still adds $1.3 trillion to the deficit.  And as the deficit grows, Republicans will then insist on cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to make up for it.

When Kansas experimented with a similar tax plan it crashed their state’s economy. Revenue plummeted—counter to the expectation that tax cuts would “pay for themselves and then some”—and the state was forced to close schools early to close the budget gap. The legislature eventually reversed the tax cuts, all while Kansas lagged behind the rest of the country.

Donald Trump And His Family Will Be Some Of The Biggest Beneficiaries Of The Tax Scam.

Trump has been claiming for months that he won’t benefit from the Tax Scam, but we know for a fact that isn’t true. Two of the biggest changes Republicans want to make—repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and repealing the estate tax—would give Trump, Ivanka, and Don Jr. billions of dollars in benefits.

 

The Republican tax bill is designed to allow the wealthy to avoid paying taxes on their income now, and avoid paying taxes on their wealth later. There is no other reason that Republicans would spend over $800 billion of taxpayer money to repeal the AMT and the estate tax.

P.S.:  Our own Representative Paul Cook also personally benefits!

Paul Cook’s Congressional salary is $1754K, so he also directly benefits from the tax scam that he voted for!

Resist Unreasonable Fee Increases in National Parks – including Joshua Tree

The Trump administration just proposed massive fee increases in 17 national parks — increases that could see entrance fees jump from $25 to $70. And they’re only giving the public 30 days to comment.

The administration claims this fee hike will help address the $11.3 billion maintenance backlog in national parks, but Interior Secretary Zinke estimates that the new fees could raise around $70 million annually. That’s just a tiny fraction of the maintenance backlog!  The solution to the parks’ repair needs should fall to Congress, and cannot and should not be shouldered by its visitors. There is a bill, the National Park Service Legacy Act (S. 751 and HR 2584), pending in Congress that addresses the National Park Service maintenance backlog and it deserves the Department of the Interior’s support. This bipartisan legislation would provide a more substantial — and sustainable — investment in our parks.  They could also use revenue from oil, gas, coal and other mining revenues and/or extend the Land and Water Conservation Fund to allow off shore oil and gases lease revenue to help maintain public lands.

Finally, the Administration is also considering to reduce NPS annual budget from $400 million to $300 million, which will further reduce America’s commitment to our precious National Park System.

Call Rep. Paul Cook using this sample script.  And submit your comment to the Department of the Interior here!

March With Us In the Palm Springs Pride Parade!

Our sister group Courageous Resistance Palm Springs and Other Desert Cities has invited Indivisible Morongo Basin to join their contingent in the Pride Parade on Sunday November 5.  Let’s carry our IMB banner and show we’re proud to join our brothers and sisters in resistance!

Meet in front of Joshua Tree Health Foods at 9 a.m. to carpool to Palm Springs.  Bring hats and water and wear tee shirts and/or bandanas.  Individual signs are welcome.  More info:  323-493-2257.

If you’re already in Palm Springs:  The parade begins at Tachevah and ends at Amado traveling on N. Palm Canyon Dr. The parade staging area goes from Vista Chino to Tachevah.  Courageous Resistance is the 180th out of 200 units. Therefore, it is likely that this unit will not start marching till about 11:30 am. Therefore, we will assemble in the staging area 11:15 am; look for group number 180.   If you want to watch some of the parade stand south of Tachevah and walk north when it’s time to assemble.

The worldwide theme for 2017 is VIVA LA VIDA. Live Life…and celebrate that you live life as you please. Parade details here.

REMEMBER:  Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday 2 a.m. on November 5th!

ACA Sign-Up Starts Wednesday!

Healthcare sign-ups start this Wednesday, Nov. 1. It’s important to check your plan and make sure there are no unpleasant surprises!  Plus, help others in your community take advantage of open enrollment.  Links:

Don’t let Trump’s shenanigans interfere with your healthcare!  Stay informed and share the news.

Hard-Won Victories! Refugee Caravan & Adelanto Hunger Strike

Yesterday, our Immigration Issues Team delivered newly released Adelanto hunger-striker Luis to the airport in Los Angeles, a free man.  But first, Yolanda drove him for an interview with Undocumedia, than to the Santa Monica Pier and a long walk on the beach.  So much to celebrate!  Here’s the inspiring updates from coalition member Alex Mensing (en Español):

Good Evening! Buenas Noches!

 

Thank you, to each and every one of you. Here’s the news:

  • Mateo’s bond reduced!
  • Luis is free!
  • Aaron is free!
  • Jonathan won!
We have several victories to celebrate, but I’ll start with Mateo, since I just got off the phone with him. Keep reading, though, and you’ll see there’s lots to celebrate today.

 

Mateo, one of the #Adelanto9 hunger strikers, just called me from Adelanto Detention Center. Today his immigration bond was lowered from $30,000 to $5,000, and he was literally on the brink of tears, bursting with joy and gratitude for everything that has been achieved in this struggle.

 

“I have no words to thank you all,” he said. “I never imagined we would get this far.”

 

Mateo joined the Refugee Caravan in Chiapas, Mexico in April. He joined 250 other Central Americans on an organized, self-defended journey north to the US border, where he crossed, was detained by US immigration officials, and sent to Adelanto in Southern California’s high desert. Despite repeatedly stating that he feared for his life in El Salvador – both verbally and in writing – on May 30th, ICE attempted to deport him, denying him the right to seek asylum. After a flurry of early morning phone calls & emails, Mateo was literally pulled out of line for a deportation plane and returned to Adelanto. A volunteer prepared him for his credible fear interview, which he passed, but ICE told him only $30,000 would get him out of jail.

 

On June 12th, Mateo and 8 other Central Americans launched a nonviolent hunger strike to protest abysmal conditions and impossibly high bonds. They immediately suffered brutal repression by GEO’s private prison guards, who beat and pepper sprayed them before sending them to solitary confinement. Mateo was drenched with pepper spray, especially in his crotch area, leaving him with skin problems that he still suffers from. Never to be deterred, in the following weeks they joined forces with Haitian detainees to launch even larger hunger strikes.

 

Despite all the hardship Mateo has faced, he and his companions have supported each other, encouraged each other, helped each other call their families when they don’t have any phone credit, and stayed focused on their goal. Today, with the help of a great many of you, Mateo took a huge step towards that goal. Bond reduced from $30k to $5k. With a few more bond fund donations (wink wink) he’ll be free in no time!

 

Today, we won a victory. That’s real teamwork. Special thanks to Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab and UC Irvine law students.

 

And what else?

 

Last night, Luis, another of the Adelanto hunger strikers, walked free!!! Here he is:

 

 

Thanks to generous donations, Luis’ entire $10,000 bond was paid. That means he did not have to resort to evil bond companies like Libre By Nexus who put a GPS ankle monitor on you and charge you 20% + $880 fee + $420/month – an amount that doesn’t even go towards paying your bond. Luis is free, and he’s really free. No ankle monitor. No monthly payments. Just court. In other words, just due process for an asylum seeker, as it should be. Well done, everyone! Luis’ first meal as a free man was two carne asada tacos and a coke! Special thanks to Mark Kleiman, Undocumedia, Human Rights Alliance and Indivisible Morongo Basin.

 

Also last night, Aaron, a well-loved member of the Refugee Caravan, also walked free!! Here he is with Maria Elena. Hi!

 

 

And the good news for Aaron doesn’t stop there. He walked free because HE WON HIS ASYLUM CASE!!! With pro-bono legal representation while detained in Theo Lacy (a notoriously horrendous detention center in Los Angeles) and then James Musick detention facility, Aaron fought his asylum case and won. He will have permission to live and work in peace, he will not be deported, and in a year he can apply for legal permanent residency. Special thanks to Friends of Orange County Detainees, LA Public Counsel, Mayer Brown LLP,

 

And last but not least, Jonathan, another Refugee Caravan member, won protection under the Convention Against Torture! That means that while Jonathan doesn’t have a path to citizenship (at least not yet! we’ll keep fighting…), he will not be deported to Honduras, where he faces grave danger, and he will be able to get out of immigration detention and hopefully be reunited with his beautiful little boy, “el colocho,” who was everyone’s favorite trouble-maker on the Caravan. Here are his little boy and him on the Caravan:

 

In conclusion…

 

You are part of something extraordinary and unusual that is growing, a hopeful effort to develop new ways to stand in solidarity with migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, brothers & sisters from all over the world for justice & freedom and against border imperialism. Black & Brown solidarity has flourished in this movement, grassroots support has been key, and migrant leadership has been constant. I really hope that you share this good news with your friends, family and colleagues, because we’re not hearing enough of it these days! I wish I could individually thank everyone who was involved in this effort, but there are too many – truly an army.

 

And if you’d like to get more involved or donate, please take that step! To find out how you can help, shoot me an email at mensing.alex@gmail.com. To donate to pay for Adelanto hunger strikers’ bonds, go to this website. Also, there’s another caravan taking place right now! The Viacrucis Guadalupano. Check it out here.
 
CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU!!!