Newswire : ‘Huge Victory’: Progressives Vow to Keep Fighting GOP Health Bill After Vote Delay

By: Adam Gabbatt ,The Guardian
health care demonstration
Health care protest

Progressive activists hailed a “huge victory” and a “giant step toward single-payer healthcare” on Tuesday, after Senate Republicans were forced to postpone a vote on their proposed healthcare bill.

Many warned, however, that the battle was not over, promising continued attempts to pressure Republican senators over the Fourth of July recess and beyond.
Thousands of activists from groups including Our Revolution, Indivisible and Planned Parenthood had spent the past week mounting frantic efforts to derail the legislation, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said would leave 22 million more people without health coverage over the next 10 years.

On Tuesday, after a number of GOP senators said they would not vote for the bill, the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, told his caucus he would delay the vote on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) until after the coming July 4 recess. There were five Republican Senators – Dean Heller, Susan Collins, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul.
“It’s beyond a victory,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, which encouraged members to pressure Republican senators to vote against the bill. “What people are saying is, ‘We want a society, we don’t want a market to protect our health.’”
The bill would have been a victory for insurance companies, DeMoro said, and senators’ apparent distaste for the legislation was a blow for both those companies and Republicans.
“I think this is a giant step toward single-payer healthcare – the fact that they defeated the Republicans – because ultimately, embedded in that is a defeat for free-market fundamentalism.” What people are saying is, ‘We want a society, we don’t want a market to protect our health.”
Indivisible, a progressive organization established after the 2016 election to oppose Donald Trump and Republican policies, mobilized activists from more than 3,000 chapters across the country to protest the bill. “It is a huge, huge victory,” said Ezra Levin, Indivisible’s executive director. “But it’s not a final victory.”

Levin said Indivisible’s ultimate goal was to defeat the bill outright, but the short-term plan had been to delay a vote until after the Senate recess.
House Republicans who voted for the first and second iterations of their own healthcare bill, which passed in May, faced angry receptions at town hall events during the April and May recesses.
“McConnell was trying to rush it through this week because he knew Fourth of July recess was coming up,” Levin said. “He knew senators would be heading back to their states and hearing from their constituents, so he knew it was going to get harder if the vote was delayed.”
It was “not a foregone conclusion” that the bill would be defeated, Levin said. “The challenge now is going to keep the pressure up. We cannot forget what happened on the House side. This is a huge blow against Trumpcare but in order to actually defeat this, pressure will have to continue.”
Winnie Wong, co-founder of People for Bernie, an independent activist group with more than a million supporters, echoed Levin’s concern but praised collaboration between dozens of leftwing groups in the weeks leading up to the delay of the bill.
“It’s an effort that is being held up by almost all progressive groups,” she said, “whether they have anything to do with the Democratic party or not, I think there is a unification between all progressives right now around making sure Trumpcare does not go through the Senate.
“All these Republican lawmakers are really feeling the heat from their constituents. They are not stupid. And in some states you see them doing the right thing.” Our Revolution, a progressive organization founded in the wake of Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, said supporters had made “almost 8,000 calls” to the Senate to oppose the bill.
“Today’s delay is a victory for the 22 million people who are at risk of losing coverage,” said Shannon Jackson, Our Revolution’s executive director. “As senators head back home for the Fourth of July holiday we will continue to demand they vote ‘no’ on this immoral and disastrous bill.”
The Working Families Party (WFP), meanwhile, organized weekly protests outside the offices of Nevada senator Dean Heller and a sit-in in the office of Susan Collins of Maine over the past few weeks. It also held a demonstration at Reagan national airport in nearby Arlington, Virginia, on Friday which targeted senators flying home for the weekend.
“An unprecedented resistance movement has knocked Trumpcare off course,” said WFP national director Dan Cantor. “But we will not stop organizing, protesting or speaking out until this immoral proposal is crushed, discarded and buried.”
With the threat of a vote after recess week, however, Richards warned that it was “now more important than ever for people to make their voices heard”.
“Republican leadership needs to hear over and over that the people of America will not stand to see healthcare stripped from millions, and they will not stand to see Planned Parenthood’s patients lose their access to healthcare,” she said.
“Now, as senators go home for recess next week, it’s time to send the message that we need to stop this harmful bill once and for all.”

Bernie Sanders would apologize for slavery if elected President

Written By NewsOne Staff

Bernie Sanders

 Bernie Sanders campaigning

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders became known for his work during the Civil Rights Movement and was the first candidate to explicitly declare that Black Lives Matter, but would he address slavery if elected president?
Well, yes. In fact, the Democratic candidate said Wednesday at an event in Philadelphia that he would issue a “necessary and overdue” apology about the horrific system, The Hill reports: “An American president has yet to muster up the courage to formally apologize for the 400 heinous years of rape, death and inhumanity that occurred during the enslavement of black people in this country that still impacts million of slave descendants,” an audience member told Sanders before asking whether he’d apologize for it.
“Want the short answer?” Sanders asked in response. “Yes.”
His response isn’t all that surprising. In July, Sanders said the nation should apologize for slavery. He later reiterated his statement, saying, “as a nation we have got to apologize for slavery, and of course the president is the leader of the nation.”

Campaign Challenge: Fix the African American student loan crisis

MARK PAUL, DARRICK HAMILTON, WILLIAM DARITY JR.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

This year’s presidential race has spotlighted an often-overlooked aspect of the student loan crisis: the disproportionate college debt burden shouldered by African American students. The average $71,086 price tag for higher education at a four-year public institution is already well beyond the reach of most middle-class families. But for African American students, the cost of college hits even harder. The average college debt for African American bachelor degree holders is $37,000, compared with just $28,051 for the average student who is white.
The problem stems from both and is compounded by racial disparities in wealth accumulation. The twin legacies of chattel slavery, when black people were economic assets, and discrimination—in particular the housing discrimination that for generations has denied African Americans access to the same generous mortgages that built so much of white wealth—have left black families with only six cents of wealth for every dollar held by the average white family. All this makes it harder for African Americans to finance their college educations and piles up student debt on black students—which, in turn, further exacerbates the racial wealth gap.
While nearly half of white students are able to fully cover college costs with their own earnings, family contributions, and federal financial aid, only 30 percent of black students are in the same boat. Among the relatively well-off students of both races who do enroll in college, black students are 25 percent more likely to accumulate student debt, and they borrow over 10 percent more than white students.
This added financial burden also makes the black students 33 percent less likely than their white counterparts to complete their degrees. Federal data show that 28.7 percent of black students who leave college after their first year do so for financial reasons. The upshot is that fewer black students begin college; even fewer graduate, and those who do graduate carry much heavier student debt loads than their white counterparts. Indeed, high college costs combined with low levels of wealth in black communities have helped push the four-year college completion rate of African Americans to less than half that of white students.
Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have proposed solutions to the African American student debt crisis, but from different starting points. Their contrasting plans reflect the stylistic and ideological divide between the two candidates. Clinton’s so-called College Compact appeals to education wonks with an arguably technocratic approach. Sanders’s far-reaching College for All Act, by contrast, expands both student opportunities and government’s role. There’s a predictable difference in the price tags, too: Clinton says her plan would cost $350 billion over a decade, mostly thanks to expanded grants to states and colleges. The Sanders plan would cost at least $750 billion over the same period, based on the campaign’s $75 billion-a-year estimate. He proposes funding it through a financial transaction tax overhaul that’s projected to create more revenue than is needed for his college plan.
The Republican candidates, for their part, have proposed plans that would actually exacerbate the student debt crisis by cutting or eliminating the Department of Education. Such cuts would hurt economic mobility for all students, particularly African Americans, and undercut national efforts to promote an educated and productive workforce.
Of the two Democratic proposals, the Sanders plan would do the most to help black students. Sanders’s College for All Act could be a selling point among African American voters, a bloc that until now has firmly favored Clinton. Clinton’s plan takes a modest step toward addressing the disproportionate student debt burden on low-income students, especially African Americans. But her approach follows the conventional model of making higher education more affordable by expanding Pell Grants to low-income Americans, awarding grants to qualifying institutions that meet federal criteria, and regulating predatory loan companies. This perpetuates the means-tested, competitive, accountability-based approach toward higher education exemplified by the now-defunct No Child Left Behind Act.
Sanders, by contrast, directly tackles persistent racial inequalities by making public colleges tuition, fee, and debt free. His plan would make higher education an American right, reopening access to public colleges and universities for all students. It would eliminate tuition and fees at all public colleges and universities, by default ending the federal government’s practice of raking in billions worth of profits from student loans. Sanders’s plan also would cut interest rates on student loans almost in half, saving more than $6,000 over four years for the average borrower seeking a bachelor’s degree.
Both candidates propose higher federal grants for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), but once again the Sanders plan would provide substantially more support. The College for All Act would direct $30 billion to private HBCUs and an estimated $1.5 billion annually to public HBCUs, compared with only $25 billion for all HBCUs proposed by Clinton.
Such institutions are key to helping break the cycle of disrupted education and poverty that high African American student debt perpetuates. In addition to offering African American students “stereotype safe” environments largely free of social stigma and racial animus, HBCUs have done yeoman’s work in educating black Americans constrained by limited economic resources.
HBCUs have accomplished this despite a long history of underfunding. In their mission to improve access to African Americans seeking an education, public HBCUs have kept their tuitions and fees to only 61 percent of the average cost of all public schools. These institutions play an essential role in making the higher education system truly inclusive.
Although black students are no longer barred explicitly from attending historically white colleges and universities, they still represent only a relatively small percentage of the student body at those institutions. For instance, about 28 percent of South Carolina’s population is black, yet black students make up only 10 percent of the student body at the University of South Carolina, the state’s flagship public university.
By contrast, the nearly 3,000 students enrolled at South Carolina State University, the state’s only public HBCU, are overwhelmingly (96 percent) black. Since more than three-quarters of students enrolled in Historically Black Colleges and Universities attend public (not private) HBCUs, a free public higher education plan will help ensure that no black student will be forced to forego higher education due to financial barriers.
Both Sanders and Clinton have helped spotlight the dire fiscal straits of African American college students. But in forwarding race-conscious plan that fulfills the a vision of college education as a right—a right that extends to all Americans regardless of income or wealth and regardless of race—Sanders has made an argument that will resonate directly with debt-burdened black students.