Times Are Desperate, So Democrats Study, Plan, Procrastinate & Adjourn: the Same Approach that Brought Us to the Verge of Civil War

Today, we use a News In Brief to critique the tepid actions taken by national and state Democrats during 2021. Rural America, small farmers, the working poor, the unemployed are facing evictions, homelessness, and hunger, yet in DC they adjourn for a week and in NM we study and plan.

Stacey Abrams and Ben Jealous in Conversation. At the bottom of today’s post is an inspiring conversation between Ben Jealous and Stacey Abrams. The message is that it isn’t superheroes that make change, it is you and I, it is each of us rolling up our sleeves and taking action, it is each of us not lamenting defeats, not abandoning the project, but learning from defeat and moving forward. There are so many inspiring turns of phrases and examples in this video. It is 53 minutes long, but there are 3 or 4 “introductions” that consume 9 minutes and so you can skip those. But if you are looking for a source of motivation, if you are looking for inspiration, take 45 minutes and hear from Stacey Abrams, truly one of our national leaders who can help us migrate from a desperately difficult today, to an inspiring tomorrow.

News In Briefs:

From The Daily Poster: “We’re Living In A Movie About Fascism.” I got this first piece from a local supporter, Eduardo Krasilovsky, and it should set off alarms in all of your brains. The piece opens with the following comment.

“If you’re serious about preventing the rise of fascism in an advanced society, there would be two things you’d really want to do: You’d want to hold accountable those who incite authoritarian violence, and you’d want to make sure that desperate people get immediate help during an economic and public health emergency. You would want to do these things not just because it’s the moral thing to do, but also because such actions can tamp down the possibility of radicalization, insurrection, riots, social unrest, and chaos.”

The Daily Poster: “We’re Living In A Movie About Fascism.”

So, let’s examine what we’ve done to “tamp down the possibility of radicalization.” The short answer is nothing. The Senate exonerated Trump, and the Democrats, after promising “immediate $2,000 relief checks” have reduced the amount to $1,400, described a willingness to reduce the number of Americans eligible for those checks, floated plans for tax cuts to the wealthy, and failed to call for a single vote on the relief…in a month. Not only that, the Democrats have now adjourned the Senate for a week. That is not exactly immediate relief and it is not as if they are forcing the GOP to be the cause of the delay or the reduction.

What’s more, Schumer’s plan to remove the $10,000 cap on State and Local Tax deductions only benefits tax payers who pay more than $10,000 in state and local taxes, i.e. it benefits high income tax payers and does nothing for the essential workers or those who right now are desperate. In NM, you would need to earn over $150K to pay more than $10K in state taxes. Everyone else can already take the deduction. Beyond the horrible messaging, removing the $10,000 cap further reduces national revenues. So, why in a time when rust and farm belt Americans are desperate would the Dems propose tax relief for the wealthy?

Let’s be clear: we are playing with dynamite. The Daily Poster cites two national polls: one reporting that 40% of Republican voters think political violence is justified, and another reporting that two-thirds of Republican voters think Trump behaved appropriately after the election. There are millions of Americans out there who are mad as hell, and while there was probably nothing the Democrats could have done to have secure a guilty verdict, there is a whole lot more they could be doing to expose the Republican efforts to block relief checks. And offering up the idea of tax deductions for the rich just before adjourning for a week’s vacation is not exactly tamping down the conditions for insurrection.

A legal precedent offering authoritarian right-wing politicians impunity for inciting violence. Effete liberals in the capital promising a few crumbs of aid to a starving nation, then languorously delaying the aid while threatening to reduce it. You know the part in a sci-fi film when the scary music is building, and things are about to get downright dystopian? That’s the point it feels like we have reached right now. The weird thing, though, is that we are all in the audience, yet it feels like relatively few see the big picture. 

Sure, there is — rightly! — outrage at the insurrectionist Republicans who have defended Trump. But it feels like few see or care about how this isn’t an isolated incident, but part of a societal trajectory.”

The Daily Poster: “We’re Living In A Movie About Fascism.”

The Daily Poster goes on to assert that at least some Democrats see how black and white the situation is, quoting Jamaal Bowman, one of those incredible new Working Families Party Democrats just elected to the House: “You either voted to convict Trump or you are a fascist.” The article ends by speculating that it is not too late for Democrats to take bolder action, but that we are facing a fork in the road — to take bold action, call out clearly Republican Senators who approved insurrection, and get checks to the desperate. Or do what Democrats have done for 30 or 40 years — fail to address the needs of essential workers, small farmers, rust belt workers, and rural America, and wait for their fury to boil over. Very interesting piece.

While In NM We Study & Plan

Besides being supported by Retake Our Democracy, what do the seven bills below have in common? They propose only to plan, and include no actions and no funding for actions. Yes, they could result in proposals in the future, but after reading the piece above, I was thinking about messaging, and the messaging I am hearing is that the legislature and the Governor understand that vast segments of NM are suffering and that they plan to study the hell out of it….at a time when we have the largest tax surplus in state history.

Didn’t the state just complete 7 months of Interim Committee hearings where there was time to gather research, expert and constituent input, and put together well-conceived plans to fund solutions to problems that we are now convening task forces and committees to study? What if the express purpose of the Interim Committee process was to produce those plans with specific strategies and budgets to address NM problems and then in the legislative session that follows, fund those plans with robust appropriation proposals and directed investment of the billions in our state coffers, instead of proposing still more study?

People are desperate, thousands of rural New Mexicans have no running water, no internet, and a food system that leaves them hungry and/or unhealthy. Based upon a Farm to Table study, in Mora County, the average drive for groceries is from one to four hours round trip. And yet, our legislature is mirroring the behavior of national Democrats: be deliberate, take your time, do a study.

It is worth noting that the study cited above was conducted in 2006. The studies and plans proposed in HB 207 Food Hunger and Farm Act and HB 16 Rural Opportunities Interim Hearings cover largely the same scope of study and planning as covered in the 70+ page Farm to Table study which was conducted in 2006. Based upon observations of hearings on these bills, the recommendations that conclude the 2006 study mirror the aspirations experts and legislators expressed as being possible outcomes from these two bills. See 2006 recommendations below.

On a different front, the Health Security Planning and Design has been studied three different times and while conclusions varied somewhat due to the different national health policy context in which each study was conducted, all pointed to significant state cost savings over the projected costs of healthcare going forward. And yet, knowing the legislative caution that pervades the Roundhouse, advocates for Health Security took the cautious approach of seeking a far more detailed planning process that would examine every facet of how Health Security plan would be implemented, not a variety of possibilities with a range of outcomes.

As today’s News in Brief describes, this cautious approach is what landed us on the verge of a successful insurrection. We can no longer develop and implement policy as if the house weren’t on fire. Rural communities, those experiencing food insecurity and poverty, those lacking infrastructure, and those having to choose between paying for a life preserving prescription and their rent, do not have the time for more studies. You can’t eat a plan recommendation. While Retake supports every one of those bills, we will be working hard to ensure that this time, NM does more than study and plan, but uses those plans and task forces to garner support for hundreds of millions of dollars of appropriations needed to move from thinking about problems to solving them.

We are at that fork in the road. It is time for action, not study.

Another Hectic Week & We’ve Got Some Important Posts to Review

Have you noticed how nice it is not to hear from or read about Donald Trump? It’s possible to watch the news and not throw up or throw things. This past week we had a series of intense days consumed with committee hearings, updates, action alerts, and Zoom Conversations. But we also published a number of really important posts. So as always, I’ll make some brief comments on what you might have missed.

  • The Monday post includes an interesting perspective on advocacy and sustaining the effort in the face of defeat, A Hut in a Field of Riches. If you missed it, take a moment to review it as it is short.
  • The Wednesday post is worth saving as it has tremendous resources for envisioning a bold future.
  • Thursday’s post takes a look at the pervasive role of industry lobbyists….worth reviewing if you missed it. Read On!!!

What a Ride: Acquittal in DC, Tabled ETA Amendment in the Roundhouse, Plus a Hut in a Field of Riches 

Monday, February 15. While we report on the continuing Legislative Session and offer reflections on the past week, in between we share a lesson learned from a powerful Upaya Zen discussion that put in context the bitter legislative defeat from SB 155’s tabling.

Click here to read this post.

Some Big Wins & Stunning Defeats, Plus a Look at Democracy Collaborative’s Transformative Vision

Wednesday, February 17. After a review of how things are going in the legislative session, we offer an array of learning opportunities from the Democracy Collaborative, one of the single best sources for bold transformative change. This is a post you should save for a time when you have a bit of time. The resources at the end of this post are important for envisioning a new vision for the future. Read on and save this post.

Click here to read this post.

Industry Lobbyists Are Right:
The Sky Is Falling & They Are To Blame!

Thursday February 18. After a legislative update, we focused on the multi-billion dollar cost we will pay this decade for NM’s failure to regulate the gas & oil industry. This post points to the critical need to pass transformational environmental regulation in 2021.

Click here to read this post

Why Bills Sometimes Go Sideways or Die, Tools & Actions to Prevent That, Plus 30 Minutes with Speaker Egolf

Saturday, February 20. This legislative update is packed with new information and calls to action that are still germane. The post also includes an update on the legislative process to date, commentary on lessons learned at the midpoint of the session, and 2 videos, one with Speaker Egolf and one with Public Bank leader, Angela Merkert. If you missed this, it is a must view post as it identifies some of the reasons bills have died.

Click here to read this very important post.

So worth your time. Skip the first 9 minutes if you have limited time, but then enjoy a conversation about everyday people can use some of their time to move from being frustrated with our social fabric to building a new one. This is empowering.

In solidarity and hope,

Paul and Roxanne

Categories: Economic Justice, Community & Economic Development

Tags: , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. I am similarly disappointed (actually pissed off) that much of the Democrats’ bills in the NM Legislature “kick the can down the road” with studies and other delay approaches. It is important to note, however, that there ARE a number of bills that would provide tangible, real-world benefits in the immediate term for our most disadvantaged citizens and those bills appear to be moving (at least for now). HB110 would raise the minimum wage to $12/hour (65% above the federal min. wage) next January and then $15/hour by 2024. HB 20 would require all businesses and other employers to provide over 40 hours/year of paid sick leave to employees (a benefit most lower paid workers currently don’t have) this year. HB206 would immediately prevent 10s of thousands of low income families from having their electric, gas and water utilities from being disconnected due to being in arrears on their bills and would authorize the PRC to require utilities to establish special discounted utility rates for low income families. It would behoove all of us to make sure those bills make it out of the session.

  2. Just a couple of comments: 1. relief checks are now $1400 because they already sent out $600 checks.
    Higher income pepople do not need this money, ( I donate mine to charities) what is more important is extended unemployment benefits and refundable child care credits. 2. I completely understand Schumer’s wanting to allow deductions for property taxes. If you know people who live in NY or WI ask them about their $14,000 property tax bills! 3. A word about eliminating tax a SS benefits; this is a reublican scam. Only people who have AGI over $60K pay NM income taxes on SS benefits.

  3. Hi Paul and Roxanne and volunteers. I love and admire you all.

    Why sometimes bills go sideways or die? – somebody puts a knee on your neck, and keeps it there.

    Or, someone (name unknown), makes you an offer you cannot refuse.

    Ignorance of reality is an excuse almost every human being makes when someone else’s ox is being gored.

    The Catch 22 conundrum of every human in a position of influence – My values are more important than your values, and unless your values have more value than my values, go suck wind.

    The Catch 22 conundrum of Every human who has NO influence – ‘How fast, how high, how far, how often, and how much do I have to screw myself and my neighbors to keep you off my back?’

    This is and has been the political strategy of the Roman Empire, and later the Huns, to keep the few leaders of the masses in line.

    That was 2300-1700 years ago, when the human Earth population was estimated to be between 300-350 million.

    The entire non-human biota of Earth then outnumbered humans by 100 million to one, excluding microbiota. Add another 60 zeros for that contribution. Non-microbial life was at least 3 million species.

    Human population when NM achieved statehood – 1.8 billion worldwide. NM human population was circa 200k. Now, 2.1 million. There are circa 125k small businesses, and less than 125 businesses with more than 100 employees in NM. The largest is a security company.

    There are less than 200 citizen-selected state political representatives in NM, less than 1 per 10,000. There are 516 registered lobbyists.

    The ENTIRE process of human governance, since 1400, has DECREASED the population of thirty nonillion (30, followed by 30 zeros) non-human living beings by 85 percent. Meanwhile, the human population has increased 20x.

    Why would ANYONE, outside of coercion, mind-numbing ignorance of all context, hubris or greed, spend one minute trying to be a political appointee or elected representative of NM? Or anywhere in the human world outside of Bhutan?

    No direct professional pay, no professional paid staff, little or no non-partisan volunteer staff, a 30-60 day marathon to earn a PhD in 100 subjects, and do a dissertation on the latest version of those subjects, with parasites attached to your skin or eating out your guts 24/7. No professional vetting, no on-going professional training, no ethical transparency, no financial transparency, no conflict-of-interest transparency, no mandated and monitored personal dialogue between politician/appointee and 50 percent of the citizenry statewide or in their district.

    This is not progress, or justice, or discernment, or quality. It is not living.

    This is sado-masochism. This is Eyes Wide Shut. This is Perihelion disguised as a Mission to Mars in search of intelligent life. This is bleeding out via a thousand cuts.

    This is sad, tragic and humiliating.

    QAnon has nothing on this mess. Just a different confusion.

    Mick Nickel

  4. Re; research and committees: We have the data and we have the solutions; we just have no political will to implement those solutions.


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