The SC Progressive Network is leading a grassroots campaign, called the Truthful Tuesday Coalition, to educate the public about the ACA and Medicaid expansion in South Carolina, and to pressure lawmakers to quit grandstanding and start governing on the matter of health care for the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
On April 16, the 7:30 a.m. morning television news announced that there would be a “town hall meeting” … “open to the public” with SC’s congressional delegation at 4 p.m. The town hall meeting was to be a part of the day’s programming of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, the town hall meeting at 4 p.m., a part of “Washington night”, all to be held at the Columbia downtown Marriott. I phoned the Marriott which confirmed and read to me a schedule of the day’s activities.
Having experienced some of SC’s individual politicians’ past town hall meetings, it seemed beyond belief that the whole of the members of S.C.’s congressional delegation would ever expose themselves together “to the public”, to the people, at any time.
People, citizens, constituents, the congressional delegation “town hall meeting…” was NOT “open to the public”.
When we arrived, we walked down the corridor to where the business, corporate, and lobbyist games crowd attendees were mingling with members of the delegation before the 4 p.m. hour. I, and friend, Bill Kreml, were stopped at an entrance table and were directed to another table to “register” for the town hall meeting. There, we were asked if we were members of the chamber? I said, no, we were there for the town hall meeting.
The political elitists’ bomb was then droned on our ears that each would have to pay $125 to attend. I reminded the staff person that the town hall meeting was “open to the public”, that we were SC constituents and veterans and that we should be allowed to attend the “open to the public” town hall meeting. She persisted and I asked to speak with someone in charge. She crossed over to quietly talk with another staff. That staff then joined her to repeat that we each would have to pay $125 to attend.
I then asked for the name of the chamber’s president, that I would mention him in my report to media about their “open to the public” town hall meeting, but now, NOT open. She hesitated. I waited. She then gave me the name of the chamber’s president and CEO Otis Rawl, (803-255-2585). I assured her I would report their denial of our attendance. It was later reported that only Republican delegation members attended, and that three delegation members, Gowdy, Clyburn and Scott did not attend.
The “town hall meeting” … “open to the public” was NOT open to the public, but excluded the public for lack of paying what could be called a constituent charge of $125. The town hall meeting was a sham, a PR work of exclusion of the public, of the people. This sham and citizen exclusion seems no more than another example of plutocracy, corporate and elitist hypocrisy, of cover charge and denial of congressional delegation by non-transparency workings for special interests, and of the continuing politics of money and status quo non-representation in lieu of representation for the people.
We the people must not and shall not be silent. Money in politics, congressional and legislatures, must no longer be tolerated. Profiteering elitist moneychangers of non-representation and shame shall be held accountable. 2014, the people, we the constituents, workers, families, military, veterans, jobless, and seniors will vote out incumbents of Washington and states whom prey on dollars and power paid for by the taxpaying public, while avoided by non-taxpaying corporates and wealthy tax dodgers.
Cowardly members of congress and legislatures, of greed and arrogance shall be booted out. Non-representatives, sell out office holders, corporate cronies of economic and wars mayhem do not and will not ever represent the people, humanity, or nation. Slam out the shams. The town hall meetings will be “open to the public”, of, by, and for the people, 2014.
By Charlie Smith
There are between 200,000 and 300,000 gay people in the state of South Carolina. What we have learned as gay citizens in SC in the past two months is that we have no right to be present in the literature or even the policies of our own public colleges and universities. We are unfit for service on the Boards of Trustees (but not necessarily the presidencies) and the General Assembly has the right to cut off the funding of public institutions of higher learning if those institutions’ policies in any way allow their closeted LGBT students to come to new and positive understandings of themselves as human beings. It is amazing what positive outcomes can happen to people when they are removed from the stifling influences of those who have taught them to be ashamed of themselves, like Bright and Fair, who, by the way, are neither.
It is an important function of our colleges and universities to provide better tools for self-understanding than those provided by Leviticus. Believe it or not there have been a few somewhat more positive literary and scientific revelations about human sexuality than Leviticus since 1000 BCE. Christians like Bright and Fair were still riding dinosaurs then. Now dinosaurs like Bright and Fair are more apt to be riding the backs of gay people.
The real shame here is that the General Assembly has no means of bringing their own closeted gay members to the correct understanding of themselves, as hypocrites who use their closets for snipers’ nests of course. Perhaps Lee Bright and Mike Fair should turn their attentions to disclosing and discrediting their own closeted colleagues and leave our colleges and universities alone.
If they are that obsessed with rooting out homosexuality, why not start in their own backyard, the SC House and Senate? We could even include the executive and judicial branches if we really wanted to be thorough. There are lots of folks you can start with…and they are almost all in Bright’s and Fair’s own party. You can actually Google it. Let’s get started, Mike and Lee. Who’s going to be first?
SC Progressive Network • SC Progressive Voter Coalition
Spring strategy conference. Join us on Saturday, April 26, 10am – 5pm, for a day of talking shop.
Dinner and social 5-6pm
Teamsters Local 509 Union Hall
2604 Fish Hatchery Rd., West Columbia, SC
This statewide conference will be held at the spacious new Teamsters’ Hall in West Columbia. We will finalize plans for the Network’s ground game through the end of the legislative session, the primary elections and the November general elections. The agenda will include our nonpartisan voter education work on Medicaid expansion, as well as the plans for our engagement in Republican and Democratic races.
A full agenda is being developed, and will be posted at least a week before the conference. Please let us know your thoughts about items or issues you want to see included in the day’s agenda. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or attend an upcoming Network meeting near you.
Please confirm your attendance so we can have enough conference materials for everyone. Registration fee of $20 includes lunch and dinner. RSVP required for meals. Pay at the door. (But nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.)
Help grow the grassroots!
By Jeff Koob
We’re undoubtedly the most powerful nation on earth, and arguably the most prosperous. All of the other major industrialized nations recognize health care as a basic human right, not a privilege.
Republicans who oppose this principle are on the wrong side of history. They say they’re against the Affordable Health Care Act because it’s unworkable, but have no alternative plan to care for people who are too poor to get preventive health services, or too disabled to support themselves financially. The conservative hardcore doesn’t think that the government should be responsible for caring for our neediest citizens, even in times of relative prosperity.
Many Republicans in the SC legislature want to turn down Medicaid funds that would prevent illness and save lives, purely on ideological grounds. The federal funds SC turns down will go to other states.
What’s happened to Christian values like, “love thy neighbor as thyself”? When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” he told the story of the Good Samaritan. Legislators who profess to be Christians seem to be more wedded to the values of dog-eat-dog capitalism: “Every man for himself.”
They are like the priest and the Levite who passed by their injured neighbor, unconcerned with his plight. They need to put the welfare of the neediest of their constituents above their more-conservative-than-thou political posturing.
Jeff Koob (wearing blue hat) was among 17 people arrested on March 18 for blocking the road outside the SC State House as part of a sustained lobbying effort to pressure lawmakers as they debated the “Nullify Obamacare” bill. Read more about South Carolina’s Truthful Tuesday movement here.
SC Progressive Network Director Brett Bursey challenges Sen. Tom Davis outside Senate chambers before senators take up the “Nullify Obamacare” bill. Truthful Tuesday activists have been lobbying lawmakers since the legislature reconvened on Jan. 14.
The “Nullify Obamacare” bill was voted down in the SC Senate late Wednesday night, with a vote of 33 opposed to nine in favor of the House-passed version. It’s complicated, but here’s a breakdown.
Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) completely rewrote H- 3101, which expressly rejected Medicaid expansion and regulated federal ACA Navigators. (The Network was among the groups in South Carolina awarded a grant to help people navigate the insurance marketplace to be in compliance with the new health care law.)
The amended bill died after Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell ruled that Davis’ amendment was not germane to the House version. McConnell, who serves as president of the Senate, said of the House version, “I was having trouble understanding what that bill really did.”
Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) raised a point of order that the regulations placed on Navigators had nothing to do with the original bill. McConnell agreed, and ruled Davis’ entire amendment out of order.
In a move seen as disrespectful in the body that prides itself on being deliberative and cordial, Davis appealed McConnell’s ruling to the Senate floor. Twenty-eight senators, 14 from each party, upheld the decision to kill Davis’ amended bill.
With Davis’ version of H-3101 dead, the vote then was called on the original House version that even Davis had declared unconstitutional. Only nine Republicans voted to adopt the “Nullify Obamacare” version of the bill. In the end, 19 Republicans joined 14 Democrats to reject the bill on a 33 – 9 vote.
That only nine of 28 Republican senators took the rigid Tea Party stance against “Obamacare” is seen by SC Progressive Network Director Brett Bursey as “a rare victory for rational thought in the legislature.”
That said, Bursey cautioned that the damage has already been done, calling the time-sapping legislative posturing “bad political theater.” South Carolinians are already suffering from the state’s refusal to participate in the Affordable Care Act, with more than 1,000 deaths predicted here this year because lawmakers refused to accept Medicaid expansion money (which, we remind you, is OUR tax dollars.)
The death of H-3101 doesn’t mean that South Carolina lawmakers will stop obstructing the ACA. South Carolina is still refusing money for a state insurance marketplace and Medicaid expansion. The Davis bill would have added regulating state Navigators and blocking public bodies from helping people get insurance to the state’s anti-Obamacare campaign.
“A goal of our Truthful Tuesday protests,” Bursey said, “was to get people talking, change the dialogue, and reduce the Tea Party influence on Republicans. That is happening.”
On Tuesday, as the SC Senate continues debate on the nullification bill (amended to the ACA Anti-Commandeering Act), concerned citizens will again remind lawmakers that health care is a moral issue, not a political one.
Even lawmakers who oppose the Affordable Care Act don’t dispute that more than 1,000 people will die this year because South Carolina refused to expand Medicaid in 2013.
For the third week in a row, Truthful Tuesday activists will block the entrance to the SC State House garage at Pendelton and South Main beginning at 10:45am. As they have in weeks past, health care advocates, ACA Navigators and people “thrown under the ambulance” by the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid, will lobby senators as they enter the Senate chambers, beginning at 11:30.
Members of the Senate have been invited to speak to demonstrators in the upstairs lobby before the session. After noon, when the session begins, some senators will be called out to the lobby to answer questions from their constituents.
Join us! We need folks willing to step off the curb, others to support them by standing in solidarity on site, and others to help pack the upstairs lobby at 11:30. Call 803-808-3384 or see TruthfulTuesday.net for details.