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.
- HB 16 Rural Opportunities Interim Committee
- HB 203 Health Security Planning and Design
- HB 207 Food, Hunger and Farm Act
- SB 112 Sustainable Economy Task Force
- HB 9 Climate Solutions Act
- HB 51 Environmental Database Act
- HB 95 Water Administration Changes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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