Newswire : The GOP plan is the biggest tax increase in American history, by far

By: Ryan Grim, The Intercept,

The tax bill moving its way through Congress is routinely referred to as a $1.5 trillion tax cut. And, in some ways, that’s true: on net, it would reduce the amount of taxes collected by the federal treasury by about $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
But that figure masks the eye-popping scale and audacity of the GOP’s rushed restructuring of the economy. Most immediately, the plan will take a large chunk out of state and local revenue that isn’t factored into that total. But more broadly, the bill cuts taxes by a full $6 trillion over a decade.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Friday afternoon before Senate Republicans voted to pass the plan, which gets referred to as only a $1.5 trillion cut because it raises $4.5 trillion in taxes elsewhere. But the key question is who gets a tax hike and who gets a tax cut. Put simply, the bulk of the tax cut is going toward the rich, while the tax increases go to everybody else.
And so the bill, properly described, is two things: the largest tax cut — and also the biggest tax increase — in American history.
Republicans have spent years describing the Affordable Care Act as the largest tax increase in U.S. history, ignoring the fact that the tax increases were balanced out by subsidies to pay for health coverage. In that respect, the ACA was a significant transfer of wealth from the top to the middle and bottom, which earned it the ire of the GOP. But all told, it raised less than $1 trillion in taxes over 10 years to pay for all that. The relative stinginess, in fact, is what fueled its unpopularity, as premiums and deductibles remained too high. But what Republicans lambasted as a historic tax hike represents just one-fifth of the tax increase of the new GOP bill.

WHERE’S THAT MONEY GOING?

The Tax Policy Center estimated that about 80 percent of the benefit of the tax plan will go to the top 1 percent, who will enjoy the following elements of the tax cut:
A full $1.5 trillion alone is going to slash the corporate tax rate. CEOs have said repeatedly they plan to pocket that money rather than invest it or give workers higher wages.
The alternative minimum tax, paid almost exclusively by the rich, is also eliminated. That’s a $700 billion giveaway.
Another $150 billion goes to repealing the estate tax, which currently exempts the first $11 million of the deceased’s estate, so nobody even remotely middle class pays it. The repeal benefits so few people you can practically list them out.
More than $200 billion in cuts goes to a provision that allows a greater deduction for dividends on foreign earnings. That’s not for you.
Roughly $600 billion goes to reducing taxes on “pass-throughs” and other businesses not set up as corporations, which law firms, lobby shops, and doctors’ offices often benefit from. Poor and middle-class people do not tend to set themselves up as pass-throughs.
Under current law, many tax credits phase out at low-income thresholds. The GOP plan changes that by raising the threshold so richer people can also claim the credit. That provision alone is, by definition, a $200 billion tax cut for the wealthy.
Individual and family tax rates are cut by about $1 trillion, and some regular people will indeed see some of that money as a tax cut — but not much. As the New York Times noted, by 2027, people making between $40,000 and $50,000 would see a combined increase of $5.3 billion in taxes. Where would that money go? Folks earning more than $1 million would see their taxes collectively cut by $5.8 billion a year.
The list above brings the total well close to $5 trillion in tax cuts almost exclusively for the wealthy. The last major element of the bill, the doubling of the standard deduction, would benefit a broader range of people, but it comes at the expense of states, cities, and towns.

WHERE DOES THE MONEY TO PAY FOR ALL OF THIS COME FROM?

While Obamacare was a transfer of wealth from the top to the bottom, this bill sends money back the other way.
Even some of the ways the plan “raises” taxes on the rich wind up being a tax cut. Some $300 billion is raised by allowing companies who stashed profits offshore to repatriate it at a much lower rate. That repatriated cash will go straight to dividends for shareholders and stock buybacks — but it gets counted as a tax increase, which then allows the GOP to give an equal $300 billion cut on the other side of the ledger. It’s neat how that works.
The bill raises $1.6 trillion by repealing the personal exemption everybody gets on their tax returns. Getting rid of it across the board is extraordinarily regressive, since it gives the same benefit to the likes of Jared Kushner as it gives to people who have much less money than he does, so they’re hit much harder.
It raises another $1.3 trillion by going after deductions for state and local taxes, mortgage interest, charitable contributions, interest on student loans, medical expenses, teachers’ out-of-pocket expenses for paper and pencils for students, and a bunch of other nickel-and-diming of the middle class. No change drawer in the car, couch cushion, or plastic piggy bank is going untouched in the hunt for money to pay for the tax cut.
(The state and local deduction is effectively a subsidy for state and local spending on things like schools, roads, and police departments. Removing that will pressure states and cities to cut spending, so future teacher layoffs at your neighborhood school will be used to pay for the tax cuts, but because that happens at the state and local level, it isn’t factored into the Congressional Budget Office or Joint Committee on Taxation analyses.)
The plan gradually raises $128 billion in taxes by changing the way inflation is tabulated, so that your taxes slowly creep up over the years as the brackets come down.
And then, of course, the plan adds about $1.5 trillion to the debt over 10 years. That gets you most of the way to $6 trillion, with a handful of smaller tax hikes thrown in, some of which won’t obviously hurt the middle class. The domestic production deduction, a $96 billion boondoggle, is repealed, for instance, and $54 billion is saved by ending the credit for testing cures for rare diseases.”

EDITORIAL : Alabama voters have a clear choice in December 12 Special Election – Vote for Doug Jones

1200px-Doug_Jones_Flag                                                              Doug Jones

Alabama voters have a clear choice in the December 12 Special Election for U. S. Senator. Doug Jones, Democratic candidate, is the best choice for a future of justice and progress in our state.
Doug Jones has a clear record of service to people in Alabama, including successfully prosecuting two Klu Klux Klansmen who bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four little Black girls in 1963; prosecuting Eric Robert Rudolph, for bombing a women’s clinic in Birmingham and representing low income people and their organizations in his legal practice.
Doug Jones supports a legislative agenda that is built around ‘kitchen table’ issues for Alabama. He favors the continuation and expansion of healthcare, raising the minimum wage to a ‘liveable wage’, strengthening public education for all students, making college education more affordable and many other issues that will provide a progressive and prosperous future for Alabama families.
Doug’s extremist right-wing opponent, Republican Roy Moore, is a self appointed and self-anointed religious zealot who was dismissed twice from his position as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for unethical and unconstitutional acts, which undermined the rule of law. Moore opposes civil rights for homosexual people, Muslims and others. Moore fully supports the Trump agenda for America, including ending the Affordable Care Act, tax cuts that favor the rich and opposing immigration. Moore and his family have also received lavish compensation from a foundation established to support their Constitutional views.
We were opposed to Roy Moore before the recent revelations of his sexual misconduct with teenage girls in Gadsden in the 1970’s. However, now that we know of these blemishes on his character, we are more certain that he will be an embarrassment to Alabama in the United States Senate. Alabama needs a Senator we can trust and believe will represent us honestly and with genuine concern for all people, especially those who have been neglected, mistreated and discriminated against.
The decision is clear, Doug Jones is the best choice for the future of Alabama on December 12.

Newswire : States notify parents of 9 million children they will lose their health insurance unless Congress acts

By Colby Itkowitz and Sandhya Somashekhar, The Washington Post

Doctor examining a child
Doctor examining a child

Officials in nearly a dozen states are preparing to notify families that a crucial health insurance program for low-income children is running out of money for the first time since its creation two decades ago, putting coverage for many at risk by the end of the year.
Congress missed a Sept. 30 deadline to extend funding for CHIP, as the Children’s Health Insurance Program is known. Nearly 9 million youngsters and 370,000 pregnant women nationwide receive care because of it. There are 83,000 children in Alabama that will be affected by these cuts.
Many states have enough money to keep their individual programs afloat for at least a few months, but five could run out in late December if lawmakers do not act. Others will start to exhaust resources the following month.
The looming crunch, which comes despite CHIP’s enduring popularity and bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, has dismayed children’s health advocates.
“We are very concerned, and the reason is that Congress hasn’t shown a strong ability to get stuff done,” said Bruce Lesley, president of Washington-based First Focus, a child and family advocacy organization. “And the administration is completely out, has not even uttered a syllable on the issue. How this gets resolved is really unclear, and states are beginning to hit deadlines.”
Others paying close attention to the issue remain hopeful that Congress will extend funding before January, but states say they cannot rest on hope.
“Everybody is still waiting and thinking Congress is going to act, and they probably will, but you can’t run a health-care program that way,” said Linda Nablo, chief deputy director at Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services. “You can’t say ‘probably’ everything is going to be all right.”
Most CHIP families, who earn too much for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance, are not aware lawmakers’ inaction is endangering coverage. They’re about to find out, though. Virginia and several other states are preparing letters to go out as early as Monday warning families their children’s insurance may be taken away.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the program at the federal level, issued a notice to state health officials on Nov. 9 detailing their options if CHIP funding does run dry. States forced to end the program will need to determine whether enrolled children are eligible for Medicaid or whether their family will need to seek insurance through an Affordable Care Act marketplace, the guidance said.
Longtime physician William Rees remembers the years before CHIP’s safety net, when families without coverage would put off bringing a sick child to the doctor until symptoms were so severe they would end up in a hospital emergency room.
“Pediatrics is mostly preventive medicine, it’s so important what we do,” said Rees, who has practiced in Northern Virginia since 1975. “It’s about trying to keep up with routine visits. If [children] don’t have insurance, that often doesn’t happen, so CHIP keeps them in the system and they get their vaccines when they’re due.”
The program, which is credited with helping to bring the rate of uninsured children to a record low of 4.5 percent, has been reauthorized several times over the years. And under the ACA, the federal government sharply boosted its match rate. It now provides 88 percent or more of every state’s CHIP costs.
Congress has been unable to agree on how to pay for the $15 billion program moving forward, however. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed to cut billions from CHIP over two years and limit eligibility for federal matching funds.
The uncertainty has states scrambling. Arizona, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon and the District of Columbia will run out of CHIP money by Dec. 31 or early January, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Children and Families. At least six more plan to take some sort of action to address the potential funding loss, including notifying parents their children are at risk of losing coverage.
Some states operate CHIP as an independent program and would have to shut theirs down if federal dollars dry up. In Virginia, resources are expected to be exhausted by late January. Nablo said she has no choice but to send notices Dec. 1 to the families of the 66,000 children and 1,100 pregnant women in the state who are covered.
“We don’t want to act too fast if Congress is going to restore this, but we also want to give families enough time,” she said. “We have kids in the middle of cancer treatment, pregnant women in the middle of prenatal care.”

Texas plans to notify families in January that the program could end. Funding problems there were exacerbated by Hurricane Harvey because the state asked the federal government that it be allowed to waive co-pays and enrollment fees for CHIP children in counties declared disaster areas. With less money coming in, funds could be exhausted even sooner than the state first projected, according to Christine Mann, spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
In West Virginia, where CHIP funds are expected to run out in March, officials overseeing the program voted this month to shut it down Feb. 28 if Congress hasn’t acted.
Other states, including Maryland, developed their CHIP program as an extension of Medicaid and so are required by law to find a way to keep it going. The same applies to the District, which will need to come up with as much as $12.5 million in local funds to cover the approximately 14,000 children enrolled, the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance said. The agency will begin looking next month at where money can be diverted.
“It’s pretty chaotic out there,” said Joan Alker, executive director at the Georgetown center. “What really troubles me about it is [CHIP] is successful. Everyone should feel good about it. There’s no reason for this to be lagging on like this. This should be an easy win for Congress.”
CHIP has become a political issue in the gubernatorial race in Maryland, where funding would run out in March. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has pressed for Congress to pass a reauthorization. A potential Democratic opponent, Ben Jealous, has criticized him for not having a backup plan to protect the 140,000 children who would be left uninsured.
In Washington, lawmakers in both parties agree on the program’s merits but are at an impasse over how to pay for it. The House passed a bill this month along largely party lines to extend CHIP funding for five years in part by cutting an ACA prevention fund and raising Medicare rates for wealthier seniors.
That measure is unlikely to be taken up by the other chamber. Senators, led by Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), are working to find a bipartisan solution. Hatch was one of the authors of the original CHIP legislation in 1997. The other was Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who died in 2009.
“I am working with my colleagues to advance this bill in a fiscally responsible manner so we can ensure coverage is maintained,” Hatch said in a recent statement. Yet during a heated exchange last week in a committee meeting on the GOP tax overhaul, he voiced little urgency.
Back up your concern for the poor by starting with an extension for CHIP, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told Hatch. Hatch responded angrily, “I’m not starting with CHIP.”
Andy Slavitt, who was acting CMS administrator under President Barack Obama, can’t believe there is anything to debate. That Congress would hold up popular legislation that has never before been subject to politics speaks to the “very fragmented culture of lawmaking,” he said.
“It’s a core program that many low-income families rely on. It’s widely acclaimed to be a success,” he said. “We’re operating in a mode that we don’t do anything until it’s an absolute crisis, and we’re creating more crises that don’t need to happen.”
When Congress failed to extend funding in late September, CMS was able to provide several states and U.S. territories with emergency money to keep their programs going a bit longer. The agency has used about $542 million in leftover funds from previous years, but it has limited resources to assist much longer.
As families hear that their children could lose health insurance, they’re shaken. Marbell Castillo learned about the possibility during a recent checkup with her granddaughter Maia Powell at Burke Pediatrics in Fairfax County, Va.
The appointment, in an exam room decorated with “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo” decals, covered the gamut. A nurse practitioner asked about what the 16-month-old was eating and when she slept. Maia got her height, weight and temperature taken. She also got her chubby thighs stuck once, twice, three times with vaccinations for diphtheria and other illnesses.
Castillo walked out with Maia balanced on one hip and worries on her mind. She often takes the little girl to appointments so her 23-year-old daughter, who works two jobs, doesn’t have to take off.
Without CHIP, Castillo wondered, what would they do for affordable health insurance for Maia? “They can’t leave people without this program,” she said.

Rev. William Barber questions the Biblical basis of Roy Moore’s extremist Christian views and urges Alabamians ‘to vote like never before in Dec. 12 Special Election’

 

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Rev. William Barber speaking at Mass Meeting in Birmingham.
Faya Rose Toure holds “Vote Or Die” sign in background.

Rev. William Barber II was in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend to conduct training for people interested in joining the ‘Poor Peoples Campaign – A National Call for Moral Revival’.
Barber took time out of a busy schedule preparing for a season of protest activities in 2018 to recognize the unfinished work of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign, to join local religious leaders in denouncing Senate candidate Roy Moore’s extremist religious views and “unbearable hypocrisy”.

Over 100 Alabama pastors, half from mainline Protestant denominations, have signed a letter stating that Moore is “not fit for public office”. Rev. Barber signed and endorsed the letter at a press conference at Tabernacle Baptist Church in the Smithville neighborhood of Birmingham in the shadows of Legion Field.
“We have been concerned about Roy Moore’s policy positions long before his recent transgressions endangering Alabama’s young children, came to light” said Barber. “We ask Moore and others who share his views to show us the Scriptures, where it says that we need more tax cuts for the wealthy! There is nothing Christian about Moore’s beliefs and his twisted view of Christianity. He is preaching a gospel of lies and greed that is not what Jesus and the Bible are all about.”
“Moore wants to go to the U. S. Senate to vote against the Affordable Care Act and we know that thousands of Alabamians have been denied coverage and hundreds will die because they do not have health insurance. If the Bible teaches anything about Jesus, it shows he was a man who provided free health care. Ask if he charged any of the lepers or invalids for healing and caring for them,” said Barber.
Moore’s position against living wages, his support for discrimination against Muslims and homosexual people, his opposition to public education, all show that he is opposed to justice and well being for poor people in Alabama.
“There are two thousand verses in the Bible, New and Old Testament, that speak about loving and caring for the poor, treating your neighbor as you want to be treated, having mercy for the poor, sick and oppressed; how can people like Moore stand for public policy decisions that oppose all of these basic tenants of the Bible,” said Barber.
“My advice to people in Alabama, Black and White, is that you get out and vote like you never have before to defeat the views and policies of a man like Roy Moore,” said Rev. Barber.

Poor Peoples Campaign

Rev. Barber, who previously served as the head of the NAACP in North Carolina, is the primary lecturer of the Repairers of the Breach, which has joined forces with the Kairos Center at the Riverside Church in New York City to develop the ‘Poor Peoples Campaign-A National Call for Moral Revival’.
“This will not be a 50 year commemoration of the original Poor Peoples Campaign of 1968, but a re-engagement and a re-consecration of the campaign to bring justice and a moral revival to the people of our nation,” said Rev. Barber.
“Our campaign is organized around five; major themes, 1. Ending and confronting systemic racism, especially as manifested in the suppression of voting rights; 2. Ending poverty; 3. Stopping the endless war economy; 4. Ending ecological disasters and their effects on people and communities; and 5 Creating a new morality and concern for all people.
“We are planning to recruit 1,000 people in Alabama and in each of 25 states and the District of Columbia, who are willing to commit civil disobedience, around a common set of demands, over a forty (40) day period next Spring from Mother’s Day – May 13 until June 21, 2018, in state capitals and Washington, D. C. The campaign will come out of community study and political education around the issues, which concern poor, low income and working people,” said Barber.
All of the details of the campaign have not been worked out yet and will flow organically in a movement way from the participants, issues and circumstances of the struggle as it unfolds in communities and states from the bottom-up.
At a Mass Meeting on Sunday night at Tabernacle Baptist Church, over 300 pledge cards were collected from people agreeing to support the Poor Peoples Campaign including 138 people who say they are ready to commit civil disobedience in support of a national moral revival.
Persons interested in joining the campaign can contact: http://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org to get more information and sign a pledge card on line.

Newswire : Democrats, Black candidates win historic victories on election night

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

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Melvin Carter was elected the first Black mayor of St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday night, Nov. 7, 2017. (Screenshot/MelvinCarter.org)
The blue wave that swept the country last week wasn’t just a victory for Democrats, but a resounding win for African American candidates, who defied the odds—and Trumpism—to make history.
In Charlotte, N.C., voters elected the first female African American mayor in the city’s history, choosing Democrat Vi Lyles over Republican Kenny Smith.
In St. Paul, Minn., Melvin Carter became that city’s first Black mayor, earning slightly more than 50 percent of the vote in a field that featured 10 candidates and a write-in opponent.
In Virginia, Democrat Justin Fairfax trounced Republican challenger Jill Vogel in the race for lieutenant governor. In January, Fairfax will become only the second African American to hold statewide office in Virginia. Doug Wilder was the first, serving as lieutenant governor from 1986-1990, then as governor from 1990-1994.
Fairfax said his and other Democratic victories could “be the match that sparks the wildfire of progressive” change all across the country.“All across the world. This is a battle for the nation’s soul,” Fairfax said. “Since I announced my candidacy, this campaign has been about the future, about building a Virginia where all of us have the opportunity to rise.”
Most saw victories by Democrats as a referendum on President Donald Trump, whose record low job approval rating has shrunk to 39 percent according to various reports.
Republicans lost races for governor in Virginia, where Ralph Northam easily beat Trump-backed Ed Gillespie, and in New Jersey, where former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy won election as governor, defeating Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
Also, in Virginia, attorney general Mark Herring, a Democrat, won reelection over Republican John Adams while Democrats gained at least 10 seats in the House of Delegates.
The party also won key mayoral races in New York, Charlotte, Stamford, Conn., and St. Petersburg and, in a direct rebuke of Trump and Republicans who have tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, voters in Maine approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid under former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
On Twitter University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato wrote that the results were a “backlash to Trump and Trumpism, pure and simple.”
Results may have been helped by a strong get out to vote campaign launched by the NAACP. The legendary civil rights organization and its approximately 500,000 adult and youth members around the country were on the frontlines committed to raising awareness for political, educational, social and economic equality of minorities in the electoral process, the organization said in a statement posted on its website.
“The NAACP is actively engaged in increasing the African American responsiveness of citizens to be fully engaged in the democratic process,” the statement read.
Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s outgoing Democratic governor, told reporters that the election night victories were indeed a springboard for future elections, including the 2020 presidential race.
“This was a spark plug,” McAuliffe said. “This is the revitalization of the Democratic Party in America.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden said voters clearly sent a message to Trump. “A resounding defeat tonight for President Trump,” Biden tweeted. “Voters across the country rejected the ugly politics we have seen this past year. Instead, they chose candidates who unite and inspire us.”
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus also engaged voters. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), urged everyone to vote. “The vote is precious, almost sacred,” Lewis said. “It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society [so] use it.”
And, if that admonition wasn’t enough, the legendary civil rights leader reminded voters why participating is so important. “I was beaten, left bloody and unconscious so that every American has the right to vote,” Lewis said. “Friends of mine gave their lives. Do your part. Vote.”

Newswire : Rep. Sewell statement on start of 45 day open enrollment period for healthcare insurance

terri-sewell
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, November 1, the national health care open enrollment period began, enabling people who buy health insurance through the individual marketplace to shop for coverage for 2018. The federal open enrollment period runs from November 1 through December 15. During this time, constituents have the opportunity to enroll in or change their health care plan.

Alabama residents can visit EnrollALA.com for more information or call (844) 248-7698 for free assistance. A full list of Alabama’s local navigators, who can provide fre­­e guidance on signing up for health care through the individual marketplace is available at that website.

“The Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “The open enrollment period is a great opportunity for my constituents to shop for new coverage with the help of premium assistance. Enroll Alabama and the free support provided by Alabama’s local health care navigators makes it easy for families to find insurance that fits their needs. Whether you already have coverage through the individual marketplace or you are looking to get covered next year, I encourage everyone to check out their health care options during the open enrollment period.”

“As hospitals in my district face financial challenges and families struggle to afford doctor’s visits, I am deeply disappointed by the Trump Administration’s decision to cut advertising for the open enrollment period. Too many Americans do not know how to navigate the insurance enrollment process and I believe we have a responsibility to raise public awareness about how to sign up for affordable health insurance. We must do everything in our power to increase coverage, reduce costs, and stabilize the insurance marketplace for all Americans.”

The Trump Administration has purposefully taken actions to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Administration has made sharp cuts to advertising for the ACA’s open enrollment period and funding for health care navigators who help Alabamians enroll.

The enrollment period for the federal marketplace has also been cut in half, to 45 days, with little publicity by federal officials. In addition, the Administration’s announced plan to cut cost-sharing subsidies for low-income families has created confusion among many Americans enrolled in the insurance marketplace and millions more who remain uninsured.

Newswire: Disability advocates forcibly removed from Senate protest

Republican leaders pull Graham-Cassidy bill before vote
By: Katie Reilly, Time Magazine

Stephanie Woodward and protestor being removed from Capitol Hill protest

At press time, the Democrat learned that Republican leaders pulled the Graham-Cassidy proposal before a vote in the U. S. Senate, after five Republican Senators indicated that they would vote against the bill, which seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with block-granting reduced Medicaid funds to the states. This is the legislation that disability activists were protesting.

Stephanie Woodward, a disability advocate who was forcibly removed from the U.S. Capitol while protesting the controversial Senate health care bill on Thursday, said it was worth it because “the lives of millions of people with disabilities are on the line.”
“I genuinely believe that thousands, if not millions, more people in our nation now know about the crisis that people with disabilities are facing with these cuts,” said Woodward, director of advocacy at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, N.Y. “And if being arrested and carried out is what needed to happen in order to get people to pay attention to this issue and get angry about it and start calling their Senators, then it was completely worth it.”
Woodward, who has spina bifida, got out of her wheelchair to participate in a “die-in” organized by the disability rights organization ADAPT outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office. Protesters chanted against the bill’s significant proposed cuts to Medicaid — which could affect the community services available to people with disabilities.
Woodward, who was arrested along with several dozen other protesters, said officers who broke up the demonstration initially put her back in her wheelchair, but they struggled to wheel her out and ultimately carried her out instead.

“They at first were reluctant to touch me because they had seen I was wearing leg braces, so I think they thought I was extra fragile, so they waited to carry me out last from the office,” said Woodward, 29, who was charged with incommoding, or obstructing. “And I was not actively being aggressive or resisting, but I certainly wasn’t going to help them in the process. I acted more like a sandbag that just kind of flopped.”
Dawn Russell, who was born with cerebral palsy, also participated in Thursday’s protest. She said one of the most concerning parts of the current health care debate is a lack of public understanding about how the proposed legislation could affect nearly every part of disabled people’s lives.
“We have a perception of people with disabilities in this country, and we have a mindset that somehow our lives aren’t valued. And I can promise you, with the home and community-based services that I receive, I would dare put my life up against anybody without a disability,” said Russell, 51.
“Without those services — without the home and community-based services — I am just what people think about me, as a person with a disability. But with these services, I live a life. I live independently, interdependently, in the community just like everybody else. These services allow me to do that.”
She said had it not been for Medicaid, she would have entered a nursing home when her husband died in 2015. Instead, she receives daily attendant care in her home, helping her to get ready for work in the morning and go to bed at night.
“We have the right to live,” Woodward said. “And by live, I don’t mean just breathe. I mean be a part of the American dream, be in the community, raise a family, go to work. These Medicaid cuts will force people into institutions who don’t need to be there.”