Week in review
Week in review compiled by:
Shalin M, RepMD Volunteer, Baltimore City, Laura H, RepMD Volunteer, St Michael's,
Lisa M, RepMD Volunteer, Baltimore City & Cristi D, RepMD Chair.
local elections will be held in several Maryland cities
If you live in Frederick, Takoma Park, Greenbelt, Laurel, Bel Air, Annapolis or a number of other independent Maryland Jurisdictions, you have an election tomorrow! Don't forget to go vote and make your voice heard!!
Leading up to these elections, RepMD send out a survey to ask candidates how they feel about the issue of big money corrupting our political process. At the end of the survey, we gave candidates and opportunity to endorse us and our work and five did!
We sent our survey to over 60 candidates for office and only 6 replied. Sadly this was not unexpected and means a few things:
1) as an org, RepMD has more work to do to spread awareness about our group,
2) we have a lot of work to do to educate candidates (incumbents and other) about this important issue, and
3) we all need to work together to demand that elected officials represent the people, not their highest campaign donors.
Help us with all three by joining us as a volunteer! Our next volunteer intro call is on Nov 20 at 8p. Click to RSVP.
FEDERAL NONSENSE ROUND-UP FOR WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 28 2017.
Senate GOP votes to repeal consumer rule
About: Consumer rights in relation to the banking industry
"The vote reflects the effort of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans to undo regulations that the GOP argues harm the free market. The measure now moves to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president applauded the vote.
“The rule would harm our community banks and credit unions by opening the door to frivolous lawsuits by special interest trial lawyers,” Sanders said.
Democratic lawmakers said the CFPB’s rule would have given consumers more leverage to stop companies from financial wrongdoing. They cited the sales practices at Wells Fargo and the security breach at credit company Equifax as examples of misdeeds protected through forced arbitration."
The Consumer Federal Protection Bureau was set up in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse/crisis. It is effectively an effort to protect consumers by setting up certain rules that financial companies are to abide by to serve said consumers.
This is certainly an anti-consumer move and really takes a hatchet to existing rules rather than a scalpel. Something to follow up on would be any less than altruistic interests to "protect" small/community banks and financial institutions...
Unsealed Documents Show That Kris Kobach Is Dead Set on Suppressing the Right to Vote
The ACLU has found evidence that the investigation on voter rights is really a ruse to take away said rights primarily from non-Trump supporters.
"The unsealed materials confirm what many have suspected: Kobach has a ready-made plan to gut core voting rights protections enshrined in federal law. And he has been covertly lobbying Trump’s team and other officials from day one to sell them the falsehood that noncitizens are swinging elections.
Here are three big plays from Kobach’s voter suppression playbook.
Play 1: Disenfranchise new voters with severe registration restrictions
Play 2: If the law doesn’t let you suppress the vote, pull some strings to get rid of the law
Play 3: Cover your tracks"
This investigation began as a result of, basically, a tweet from Trump in which he declared some three million illegal immigrants voted against him in the 2016 Presidential election.
This "investigation" is clearly showing its true colors in favor of the Trump administration *and* against millions of would be legal voters. This is a corruption of the people's voice by suppressing votes.
FEDERAL NONSENSE ROUND-UP FOR WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 21 2017.
Shalin M., Represent Maryland Volunteer, Baltimore City
and Cristi D., Represent Maryland Chair.
**President Trump says 'massive' campaign spending fuels rise in drug prices.**
President Donald Trump renewed his attack on the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. He complained that drug prices are too high and said campaign contributions to Congress are partly to blame. In an informal press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump said the drug industry's political contributions helped explain the high costs of prescription drugs.
"They contribute massive amounts of money to political people — I don't know, Mitch, maybe even to you," Trump told reporters. "But I have to tell you: Me? I'm not interested in their money. I don't need their money."
-McConnell was among the top 10 biggest recipients of contributions from drugmakers in the last four campaign cycles, according to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks campaign finance.
-Other top recipients include Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.
-In the 2016 presidential race, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton received $990,338 in contributions from drugmakers. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who ran as a Democrat, took in $128,140. Trump received $127,505.
Another set of evidence that the pharmaceutical industry is simply too cozy with our politicians who are supposed to represent us. Pubic financing would put an end to corporate influence like this. Thank you President Trump, for bringing this issue to light.
**Democrats plan to name lobbyists, operatives as super delegates.**
The Democratic Party plans to name 75 people including lobbyists and political operatives to leadership posts that come with superdelegate votes at its next presidential convention, potentially aggravating old intraparty tensions.
"They include lobbyists for Venezuela’s national petroleum company and for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., according to a list obtained by Bloomberg News. At least three of the people worked for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in 2016 while also casting ballots as superdelegates."
The appointment of corporate lobbyists to superdelegate positions undermines the principle of one person one vote. We oppose this decision fully.
**Your Tax Dollars Support Troops of Defense Contractor CEOs**
Weapons manufacturers who are cashing in on taxpayer money are more concerned with their bottom line and profit shares than national security.
"much of it is then wasted on useless overhead, fat executive salaries, and startling (yet commonplace) cost overruns on weapons systems and other military hardware that, in the end, won't even perform as promised. Too often the result is weapons that aren't needed at prices we can't afford. If anyone truly wanted to help the troops, loosening the corporate grip on the Pentagon budget would be an excellent place to start.
And remember: the Pentagon buys more than just weapons. Health care companies like Humana ($3.6 billion), United Health Group ($2.9 billion), and Health Net ($2.6 billion) cash in as well, and they're joined by, among others, pharmaceutical companies like McKesson ($2.7 billion) and universities deeply involved in military-industrial complex research like MIT ($1 billion) and Johns Hopkins ($902 million).
The real question is: How much of this money actually promotes the defense of the country and how much is essentially a subsidy to weapons makers and other corporations more focused on their bottom lines than giving the taxpayers value for their money?"
Cost of defense systems is complex issue, but what isn't complex is that, much like other industries, the defense sector has a long history of influence over politicians. At times, politicians encourage the purchase of products or services that even the DoD says they do not need or want, in order to secure votes by "providing jobs"! And average taxpayer get stuck with the bill.
Congressmen Sarbanes calls for public campaign funds
Report by Becca F, Represent Maryland volunteer
Edited by Cristi D, Chair
Represent MD was in good company at the Campaign Finance Reform talk hosted by Together We Will Howard County on Sunday night. The panel included Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD), Valerie Ervin from Working Families, Jenifer Bevan-Dangel from Common Cause, Charlie Cooper from Get Money Out of Maryland and representatives from MD PIRG and Progressive Maryland. Though distinct in their tactics, every panelist has the same end goal as Represent MD- making elections fair and representative for voters.
The concerns of the audience members and the panelists reflected the issues addressed in the Anti-Corruption Act. Attendees were concerned that they have been ignored while politicians have been yielding to wealthy special interests. Federal politicians are concerned that they are unable to go a day without making calls asking for donations, and that they cannot use that time to effectively do their jobs. The cycle of money is pervasive.
One audience member asked how someone should support politicians when they are getting 20-30 emails a day asking for money. Congressman Sarbanes responded that, “I would support organizations you trust who inform you on where candidates fall on the issues.” On the issue of campaign finance reform, Represent MD is looking to do just that. Be on the lookout for our Clean Money Campaign and our Political Endorsees campaign to see which politicians are endorsing our goals from the Anti-Corruption Act, and which ones are running citizen funded small-donor campaigns to earn your votes.
Change can happen if we demand it.
Sign up to volunteer with us, or make a donation at RepresentMaryland.org to join the movement that’s bringing democracy back.
FEDERAL NONSENSE ROUND-UP FOR WEEK ENDING October 14 2017.
Shalin M., Represent Maryland Volunteer, Baltimore City
and Cristi D., Represent Maryland Chair.
**Trump keeps making a misleading claim that the US is the 'highest taxed nation in the world'**
President Trump repeated false claims that citizens of the United States of America pay more in taxes than any other nation in the world.
"Even looking at the top marginal tax rate for the highest-income earners, the US ranks in the middle of the pack among OECD countries, with the 18th-highest marginal statutory rate.
But the most comprehensive measure by which to judge Trump's claim, combining corporate and individual taxes paid, is tax burden as a percentage of gross domestic product. It compares how much money in a country is put toward taxes with the economic output of the country.
By this measure, the US has the fourth-lowest tax burden of any OECD country, with only South Korea, Chile, and Mexico ranking lower."
Mr. Trump's false claims are not only misleading, but inflammatory and divisive.
**The little red pill being pushed on the elderly: CNN investigation exposes inappropriate use of drug in nursing homes.**
Increased and unwarranted prescribing of 'Nuedexta' in nursing homes, the expensive "little red pill" that's meant to treat one very rare condition, at the expense of taxpayers.
"There has to be a diagnosis for every drug prescribed, and that diagnosis has to be real ... it cannot be simply made up by a doctor," said Kathryn Locatell, a geriatric physician who helps the California Department of Justice investigate cases of elder abuse in nursing homes. "There is little to no medical literature to support the drug's use in nursing home residents (with dementia) -- the population apparently being targeted.
At another facility in 2015, also in Southern California, an employee admitted to inspectors that a resident had been given a diagnosis of PBA to "somehow justify the use" of Nuedexta, even though its intended purpose was to control the resident's "mood disturbances" and yelling out.
The federal government foots the bill for a big portion of the money being spent on Nuedexta in the form of Medicare Part D prescription drug funding, for people 65 and over and the disabled. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, this Medicare program spent $138 million on Nuedexta -- up more than 400% from just three years earlier."
Read the full story:
-Pharmaceutical companies should not be allowed to grow richer by duping the system for more Medicare payouts.
-The relationship between agency and industry is too cozy when nursing homes can become the de facto testing laboratories of loved ones of US citizens and taxpayers.
-It seems to be a strong indictment on regulatory agencies no longer doing the job that they were created to do.
**Democrats Appoint an Anti-Minimum-Wage Lobbyist to Finance Committee.**
Reports that the Democratic National Committee has appointed Dan Halpern, Atlanta Native and lobbyist with a record suggesting "a hostility towards [...] worker-friendly policies" to the parties finance committee.
"In Halpern’s home state of Georgia, according to Politifact “Senate Bill 314 called for raising Georgia’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but it didn’t get so much as a hearing.”
Why? Halpern’s people—the Georgia Restaurant Association—claimed that there would be a potential loss of 21,000 jobs, ignoring the increased possibility for consumer spending, for new jobs, for giving hungry people a hand up. Everything must benefit the boardroom, you see, or it’s not worth doing. As Politifact helpfully reminds us, “Georgia’s minimum wage is technically $5.15 an hour (Georgia Code 34-4-3) and has been since 2001. But the vast majority of Georgia employers (some say more than 99 percent) must comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which means they have to pay their employees the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.” If given god-like sway over the business, Halpern and his GRA would probably prefer to keep this amount even lower.
Hardly surprising. When a guy is described by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as a “Georgia Democratic moneyman,” it’s safe bet he couldn’t give two hoots in hell for a single mother making minimum wage at McDonald’s."
Read the full story:
This choice by the Democratic party could impact working people negatively if it leads to continued policy that put's corporate profit before people.
We will update as we learn more.
Learn More about Mr. Halpern:
Laura H: Music loving, Corruption Fighting Super Volunteer!
Laura is one of our most active volunteers! She found us through Facebook about three months ago and quickly became the co-leader for the Talbot County Action Team. As co-leader, she coordinates educational outreach actions in her county at least twice per month in order to help grow our network of anti-corruption voters!
Read more about Laura below!
Name: Laura H.
City: St Michael's, MD
I wanted to be involved with politics in a way that addresses a core issue, and getting corrupt money out of politics fits the bill. I was drawn to the logic and sound philosophy behind this movement. I also like that Represent Maryland is non-partisan- it is inclusive, and encourages everyday people of all ideologies to get involved and be heard. I also appreciate that RepMD isn't "out to get" any group or political leader. Instead, it addresses systemic change. It's really about making the rules of the game fair so that it's easier for elected leaders to work for their constituents, rather than super-wealthy special interests.
Why do you think getting big money out of politics is important?
I think the voice of the everyday citizen is silenced by the system we currently have. As long as the super wealthy corporations and mega donors have the undivided attention of our leaders, decisions will be made that only benefit those who already have great wealth. We need viable, citizen-funded candidates and more say for the typical American in the election process.
What is your favorite provision of the AACA and why?
I like ranked choice voting. I want to be able to show support for the front runner of my choice, without giving up the chance to support smaller independent candidates, because we need more choice, not less, in our elections.
Besides fighting corruption, what else do you like to do?
I'm a caregiver, psychologist, and music-lover, in both my work and my personal life. I love to travel, read, and spend time with loved ones.
What do you think the biggest problem our country is facing is?
I think the biggest problem we face is that people don't think they have any power to change things for the better. But the truth is, a dedicated group of individuals, acting in good faith, can make a big difference. It's time to ask for what we want clearly and persistently, which I think should include reducing the unfair advantage that super wealthy corporations and mega-donors have in influencing legislation.
Anything else you'd like us to know?
Some people say it's a pipe dream to believe we can reduce government corruption, but nothing happens unless someone tries. This type of grassroots organizing may be "the long game," but Represent Maryland and Represent.US have already made progress, and there are new goals each month that are achievable. With a network of passionate and engaged citizens, anything is possible.
Federal nonsense round-up for week ending Sept 30 2017.
"Opinion" by Cristi D, Represent Maryland Chair.
**Tom Price, Who Once Railed Against Government Spending on Private Jets, Spent $60,000 on Private Jets**
Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services
"Of all these myriad tasks, one that I did not expect him to somehow complicate is "booking business travel at a reasonable cost." Yet Price, ever the innovator, somehow found a way, apparently spending an incredible $25,000 last week to charter a private jet that ferried him from Washington to Philadelphia and back. (Have these people never heard of Kayak?) Politico reports that this is only one of five charter flights that Price took last week during a spate of public appearances, and that charter operators conservatively estimate the total travel bill at around $60,000."
Tom Price should lose his job and pay taxpayers back.
Tom Price has resigned as of Sept 29 2017. We believe this does not excuse him from his obligation to refund taxpayers for his exorbitant spending. We also assume Mr. Price will be just find and soon be offered a number of top/C level jobs in the private sector so he can continue spending tons of money.
Read more about Mr. Price: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Price_(American_politician)
All Action Alert Annapolis MD Baltimore County Big Banks Candidate Endorsment Corruption DNC Scandal Drugs Elections EPA FCC Federal Nonsense Get Big Money Out Greenbelt MD Imran Awan Maryland Politics Military Money Laundering Monsanto Net Neutrality President Trump Prison For Profit Public Election Funds Puerto Rico Represent Maryland Sexual Harrasment Sinclair Broadcasting Small Money Certification Takoma Park MD Tax Payer Money Trump Volunteer Spotlight Voter Suppression Wall Street Week In Review