#GOPTaxScam Targets Disabled Veterans

The Republican Tax Scam will have serious, even devastating, consequences for the nearly 20% of Americans who have disabilities-- greater tax burdens and decreased opportunities.

As Robyn Powell explained last week to Rewire readers,

"People with disabilities already have massive expenses and far less income, on average, than their non-disabled counterparts. Many of their medical necessities-- such as long-term care and certain wheelchairs-- are not covered by some insurance plans, including Medicare, and can cost an individual tens of thousands of dollars. These services are not just about one’s health; having access to a power wheelchair or in-home care can be the difference between living in an institution or a private residence. Right now, taxpayers may deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses if they exceed 10% of their adjusted gross income. Notably, 8.8 million people-- primarily people with disabilities and seniors, as well as their caregivers-- benefited from this important deduction last year." But to make life a tad more bearable for overburdened private jet owners, Trump's and Ryan's Tax Scam eliminates the out-of-pocket medical expenses deduction.

Los Angeles area Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA), a veteran and an Air Force colonel is the West Coast regional Vice Chair for the DCCC. He told us that "The GOP tax scam will be a disaster for our veterans and our country. It is particularly disgusting that Republicans have proposed repealing tax credits to hire disabled veterans while at the same time giving billionaires and corporations a huge tax cut. Tax policy is ultimately a statement of priorities-- and Republicans like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are showing us what their priorities are, and it isn't our veterans." 

And Lieu is exactly right: the Tax Scam falls especially hard on disabled veterans. Blue America talked to some of the progressive veterans running for Congress, in light of the passage of the Tax Scam in both Houses. 

I wonder if all those self professed Christians in the Republican Party ever think of Jesus' admonition: “That what you do to the least of these, so do you do to me." This morning, Randy Bryce texted us that he had been going over parts of the GOP Tax Scam and one of the parts that infuriated him was how it penalizes veterans wounded in the line of duty. "After serving in the Army I returned home to Southeast Wisconsin," he told us. I saw fellow veterans without homes and I worked hand in hand-- through my union and with the Democratic Party and state government to bring needed assistance their way. That is the best of America and is the America I was proud to protect and serve. Targeting disabled veterans who served their country is especially cruel and unAmerican. Seeing this tax scam try and rip needed services away from my brothers and sisters who served sickens me. We didn't serve to protect a billionaires ability to fly a Learjet on the cheap. We served to protect the best of our American values. These frauds are shameful, and we will repeal and replace their leader in the house, Paul Ryan-- a man who appears to truly enjoy hurting those in need in order to see his billionaire buddies smile."

Doug Applegate, the progressive former Marine colonel running for a a San Diego/Orange County seat held by Darrell Issa: "Once again Veterans get the short end of the stick. The problem lies with the decline of Vets sitting in Congress and voting Veterans’ interests. Don’t just “thank a Vet for their service”; that doesn’t come close to paying the bill. We need to thank Veterans with our votes!"

As Pennsylvania's Tom Prigg put it: "We fought for our country. Some returned home wounded. All we want is the ability to live a good, normal, productive life. To take care of our families. But now Keith Rothfus and the Republican’s new  tax bill will eliminate the Disabled Access Credit and the Work Opportunity Credit  tax credits for businesses who hire disabled people like our vets. This heartless bill not only takes away our wounded warrior’s ability to work and take care of their families, it also takes away their dignity by undermining their livelihood. Keith Rothfus, a congressman who never misses an opportunity for a veteran photo-op, supports this bill that will hurt tens-of-thousands of American Veterans and their families."

Tom's concerns were echoed by all the veteran candidates we talked with. James Thompson is running for the Wichita, Kansas seat, held by Ryan rubberstamp Ron Estes. "Ron Estes is a hypocrite," he told us. "He gives lip service to supporting veterans by showing up to some high profile events to get free media coverage. Yet when the rubber meets the road, and he is given a real opportunity to help veterans, especially disabled veterans, he didn't have their six. He voted in favor of the Republicans’ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which will give massive tax breaks to the wealthiest of Americans, like the KOCH brothers here in my district. This is not tax reform, it is tax robbery paid for by robbing disabled veterans to pay the privileged princes of Wall Street. Ron Estes and his ilk, at the direction of these modern day robber barons, removed the Disabled Access Credit and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Simply put, the Work Opportunity Credit incentivizes companies to hire disabled veterans, while the Disabled Access Credit allows them to actually hire disabled vets by making it possible for those same companies to afford special accommodations like ramps. Ending these two credits, harms veterans. PERIOD. Veterans need representatives to watch their six, not use it as an opportunity to stab them in the back. I promise every veteran out there, regardless of party, I will have your six, and will lead the way in making sure our countries heroes are taken care of when they go to war and when they return from it. I hope everyone will call and encourage their Senators and Representatives to vote FOR VETERANS by voting no on the #GOPTaxScam."

Jared Golden is the Maine House whip. He told us that: "Bruce Poliquin and his corporate allies in Washington are intent on funding their tax cuts on the backs of our children and disabled veterans. By adding over $1 trillion to the debt, future generations will be on the hook for tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Where the tax plan does make up costs are on the backs of the disabled including our wounded fighting men and women. These tax credits are designed to create an incentive for businesses to hire disabled veterans and others with disabilities, I find it morally reprehensible that these laudable and effective tax credits are where Rep. Poliquin and the Republicans in Congress want to find 'savings' so that millionaires and billionaires can buy an extra yacht, or a corporation can move more jobs overseas." 

Please consider helping these military vets with their congressional campaigns by contributing what you can at this link.



Big Democratic Win Against Trumpism In Delaware Last Night

Last night voters decided to make Delaware the first state to turn a local special election into a referendum on Trump and his incompetent and extremist regime. Democrats won back the majority in the Delaware state Senate by convincingly winning a suburban district in New Castle County. Democrat Stephanie Hansen beat Trump fanatic John Marino by a much wider margin than anyone expected-- or that history predicted. Marino's campaign slogan was "Make Delaware First Again."

Hillary had won the district 54% to 41% and the last time Marino ran for the state Senate seat there he nearly won-- 51-49%. But with both sides focusing on Trump, Hansen benefited from a turn out over double what is normal for a special election. She built on Hillary's win and annihilated Marino 7,314 (58.13%) to 5,127 (40.75%).

There are special elections coming up in Los Angeles, Georgia, Kansas, Montana and South Carolina. In L.A., proven progressive state legislator Jimmy Gomez is running in a wide open primary with 23 candidates, many of whom are decent enough but none of whom have the experience to craft and pass cutting edge progressive legislation like he has. And two of the best-financed of the 23 are shills for the Charter School billionaires. In deep blue districts like CA-34, Republicans aren't a factor-- Charter School shills are the stand in for the GOP.

The other 4 special election districts are all in deep red territory where Trump has given the local Representatives jobs Last night voters decided to make Delaware the first state to turn a local special election into a referendum on Trump and his incompetent and extremist regime. Democrats won back the majority in the Delaware state Senate by convincingly winning a suburban district in New Castle County. Democrat Stephanie Hansen beat Trump fanatic John Marino by a much wider margin than anyone expected– or that history predicted. Note: Marino’s campaign slogan was “Make Delaware First Again."

Current polling shows Jon Ossoff with the most support of any of the candidates in the jungle-style primary coming up April 18. He is likely to wind up in a June 20 runoff against one of the very radical right Republicans, either anti-Choice fanatic Karen Handel, former state Senator Judson Hill or crackpot Trump crony Bruce LeVell. Ossoff, a former congressional staffer for civil rights icon John Lewis, who has endorsed him, is benefiting from a wave of enthusiasm from Georgians and other Americans who oppose Tom Price's and Paul Ryan's plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and debilitate Medicaid and Medicare.

Blue America has enthusiastically endorsed Gomez in CA-34 and Ossoff in GA-06-- as well as 4 progressives running for winnable Republican-held districts in 2018-- Tom Guild in Oklahoma, Geoff Petzel in Illinois, Tom Wakely in Texas and Doug Applegate in California.

Please consider helping us keep up the momentum from last night by contributing to the campaigns of these progressive Democratic candidates today.



History Will Remember The Voices of Resistance

As you know, millions of ordinary Americans in every part of this country-- red states, blue states-- are resisting the authoritarian, even fascist, impulses of the new Trump-Bannon-Pence regime. And, so far, that resistance has scored some remarkable victories-- above and beyond February 12th’s planned event in Chicago where hundreds will show up to “moon Trump Tower” at 4pm-- Operation "Kiss Our Asses, Release Your Taxes."

Ordinary people-- even more than the media or elected officials-- forced the Trump Regime to reverse the announced federal hiring freeze for the Veterans Administration. In the last few days several federal judges halted the Trump/Bannon unconstitutional travel ban aimed at Muslims. The massive airport protests last weekend resulted in several Trump cabinet members pointedly overriding #PresidentBannon's horrifying scheme to deport legitimate American residents, including Green Card holders and even Iraqis who fought alongside American soldiers.

An effective boycott coupled with widespread protests led to Uber's CEO dropping out of a Trump advisory council and pledging $3 million and immigration lawyers for its drivers (after 200,000 Uber users dropped the app) and Lyft responded by giving a million dollars to the American Civil Liberties Union to help fight the illegal Trump/Bannon immigration ban. The Resistance made a massive difference to the ACLU, which normally raises 3-4 million dollars a year and took in $24 million in just one weekend of protests!

Meanwhile Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) has become more popular and respected than ever before, enrollment ads are airing despite Trump's initial orders to take them down and despite ugly Republican efforts, Obamacare had enrolled 9.2 million people before this year's application deadline.

The Health and Human Services, EPA, US Department of Agriculture gag orders were lifted due to tremendous protests and pressure from the public and from members of Congress standing up to Trumpist bullying.

So far, 800,000 scientists have signed up for a march in support of science and against the dangerous “climate change” denial-ism led by crackpots like Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Trump himself. Renewable energy is growing despite Trump-- and is likely to continue to do so.

Reports have been flooding in from everywhere that more and more people of different career/religious/economic/ethnic/gender backgrounds are considering running for political office than ever before. And Reproductive rights activists are pushing for protection at state level.

Trump's approval ratings are the lowest of any president in history at this point in his term. An unprecedented 40% of Americans would already like to see him impeached! And efforts are underway! Governors, state attorney generals, mayors and local officials are standing up to Trump and his toxic agenda and authoritarian policies. Please consider showing the real leaders in Congress that we have their back when they do the right thing and RESIST.

This week, two reporters from entertainment-oriented magazines called to ask me about the effectiveness of popular culture protests against Trump and his policies. Expectations are building for The Grammy Awards shows. More and more artists have been  writing and recording anti-Trump songs. High profile athletic teams-- and many others-- are joining the effort to boycott Trump hotels and his other businesses. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus dropped Ivanka Trump's fashion collection, citing the brand's poor performance. And this weekend, theaters are absolutely packed with viewers of the just-released and  extraordinary documentary on James Baldwin, the must see film, I Am Not Your Negro, which is the latest asking us to face the racism that continues to plague the heart of America.

Yes, these are dark times and, don't let anyone tell you that the threats aren't colossal. While more resistance and creative forward-moving strategies will be needed, sometimes we have to celebrate our wins. We have to stay vigilant, and seriously take care of ourselves and each other. Activist burnout is a real thing. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Give thanks for all the others-- known and unknown-- who are shoulder to shoulder with us in this fight. This weekend Blue America has put up a new ActBlue page dedicated to members of the Senate and the House who have been most forceful and effective in their resistance to Trumpism— from Luis Gutierrez, who started the move to boycott the inauguration, something that almost 80 Members of Congress did—- to Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Lieu and Jerry Nadler challenging Trump's and the GOP's attempts to push their disastrous agendas in Congress. If we've missed anyone, please let us know.



Join The Resistance

A few days ago I flew back from Beijing on Air China and they had a very limited English-language movie library for the 11 hour flight. I watched Roman Polanski's award-winning 2002 film with Adrien Brody, The Pianist, and a less well-known new movie set in Prague, Anthropoid. Both films dealt with the resistance to the Nazis. There was an especially chilling moment in The Pianist in which 3 middle-aged Jewish men are about to be loaded onto a train bound for the Treblinka extermination camp. One says the Jews shouldn't just march to their deaths without a fight and an argument ensues about practicalities and difficulties in mounting such an operation. They and their families all die in the camp. Eventually the Warsaw Ghetto does organize and rise up against the German deplorables.

Anthropoid is about how fiery Czech nationalists murder the Butcher of Prague, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the 3rd-ranking Nazi, a Steve Bannon-like character.

A few weeks ago Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) kicked off a kind of symbolic resistance to Trump when he announced he wouldn't be attending the inauguration. "I really don't feel comfortable standing next to a man as he swears allegiance to this country and president of the United States of America, after he said that Mexicans are murderers, rapists, drug dealers and that that's all we are. I just can't un-hear the despicable, terrible things he said about women, about Muslims, so I won't be standing... When I went to George Bush’s inauguration I didn’t feel he was a threat to my presence in America, to my daughter's presence in America. I want to look at my girls in the face and say, I didn't normalize that kind of speech."

Katherine Clark (D-MA) soon followed and now there are over a dozen members of Congress who have publicly stated that they are not going to be at the inauguration, most notably, civil rights icon John Lewis, who told Meet the Press why he doesn't see Trump as a legitimate president. (Trump struck back yesterday morning by claiming Atlanta is "in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested)" and accusing John Lewis of being "all talk, talk, talk-- no action or results." When John Lewis was on the front lines of the civil rights movement, getting his head bashed in by a KKK thug (like Trump's father), Trump was beginning his lifelong criminal behavior of systematically denying housing to prospective tenants based on race.

As progressives, we must resist. We must prepare ourselves for the sacrifices it will take to rescue our country from the gaping maw of fascism it's fallen into.

A growing number of courageous congressmen and congresswomen boycotting the Trump inauguration this week is a symbolic step in that direction. Blue America wants to offer our members an opportunity to show the participants that we support them. Please consider making a symbolic contribution to the reelection campaigns of the members who are taking an early stand against Trumpism.

Two weeks ago, Congresswoman Clark told her constituents that she "had hoped the President-elect would use the transition period and his appointments to change course and fulfill his promise to be a President for all Americans; however, this has not been the case. After discussions with hundreds of my constituents, I do not feel that I can contribute to the normalization of the President-elect’s divisive rhetoric by participating in the Inauguration."

Similarly, Earl Blumenauer told Oregon Public Broadcasting that "Here is a person who ran a campaign that is the antithesis of everything I’ve worked for in public service" and that that attending "not a productive use of my time."

The list of members not attending the Inauguration of hate keeps growing. We're keeping a running tally here.



Why It's Not All Gloom And Doom Around Here


A few years ago Blue America's list of endorsed candidates had the biggest success rate of any PAC recruiting and endorsing candidates. We beat NARAL, the Sierra Club, the Human Rights Campaign and the League of Conservation Voters that year-- not to mention the NRA and Club for Growth. I laughed when I read the stats. Blue America isn't about picking candidates who will make the PAC look good. Blue America is about endorsing and working with the candidates-- like unlikely winners Donna Edwards, Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren-- who will fight for the legitimate aspirations of working families.

Last year, for example, we worked hard to elect Eloise Reyes to Congress in the Inland Empire. The DCCC had their own candidate, corrupt conservative Pete Aguilar. Aguilar won-- and promptly joined the New Dems and ran up one of the worst voting records of any Democrat in Congress. ProgressivePunch-- whose CEO argued with me when I told him how terrible Aguilar would be before the election-- gave him an "F" this year and, according to their algorithm, shows his crucial vote score for his one term to be less progressive than all but 10 Democrats, 2 of whom (reactionary Blue Dogs Gwen Graham and Brad Ashford) are leaving Congress in January.

Meanwhile, Eloise took stock of her loss, learned the appropriate lessons from it and one week ago absolutely clobbered one of the most corrupt conservative Democrats in the California state legislature, Chevron Cheryl Brown, beating her decisively and spectacularly catapulting herself into a position where she can do a lot of good for the working families she represents (who Brown had ignored). We count that as a big Blue America win, even though it isn't something you'll read about in the Washington Post or NY Times or hear about on MSNBC.

Eventually, all the progressive groups came around and endorsed state Senator Pramila Jayapal for an open seat in Seattle and we all worked to raise her the money she would need to win a tough primary and then the general election. Blue America was the first to endorse, and encourage her compelling leadership style, and emphasize it to other national progressives, some of whom whined about how it was "unfair" to take sides because the other candidates were good too. Last week Pramila made history, as the first America with South Asian roots to win a congressional seat.

When Nanette Barragán, a small town mayor and environmental activist, decided to take on the entire stinking California Democratic Party establishment by challenging their handpicked conservaDem candidate to fill a deep blue seat in one of Los Angeles' poorest congressional districts, Digby, John and I invited her to dinner, got to know her and Blue America became one of the first national PACs to endorse her and help make her case and raise her the money she needed to beat the "impossible" odds she faced in beating the establishment-- impossible odds she overcame to win a jaw-dropping victory last week.

Blue America didn't look for candidates who were likely to win; we looked for candidates who had a reasonable chance to win-- with help-- but who would likely be great legislators. We look forward to seeing Ruben Kihuen (NV), Jamie Raskin (MD), Carol Shea-Porter (NH)-- along with Nanette-- and possibly Doug Applegate (ballots in his tight race against arch-villain Darrell Issa are still being counted today) take eventual leadership roles in a House Democratic minority that sorely lacks cohesive and inspiring leaders.

And this was a good year for Blue America in terms of helping build a progressive, activist Democratic bench on the state legislative level. Aside from Eloise, we helped elect Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and Mike Connolly, both of whom beat powerful, entrenched corrupt Democrats to win seats, respectively in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Stanley Chang-- like Eloise, a 2014 Blue America congressional candidate-- came roaring back this year and beat the last remaining Republican in the Hawaii Senate-- and in the reddest district in Hawaii! Justin Bamberg, our Berniecrat candidate in South Carolina, was reelected and Wenona Benally, another 2014 congressional candidate, introduced to us by Raul Grijalva, won a hard-fought Arizona congressional seat last week. And our Berniecrat legislator in Colorado, Joe Salazar, not only won his state House seat but was already leading the Denver mass anti-Trump protests this weekend.

But before we say thanks for helping make this possible with your generous contributions, I want to point to one more victory-- an old one. When Sheldon Adelson suddenly struck in 2014 in the open CA-33 seat, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into a last minute sneak attack, then-candidate Ted Lieu went to Steve Israel at the DCCC for help in responding. Israel flat out refused-- not one dime, not one nickel to answer Adelson's half million dollar SuperPAC. So Blue America did it instead. Ted won, was elected congressional freshman class president, has been one of the most outspoken and successful bipartisan advocates on a series of crucial issues, from cyber-security to peace and climate change, and this weekend was in the news again, standing up against Trump’s "crazy shit", urging concerned Americans to follow him in becoming a supporter of the ACLU, while other congressional Democrats just cower in fear or plot personal career advancement. Ted Lieu-- one of Blue America's best ever investments!

So, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank the mind-boggling generosity of the Blue America members who gave-- and then gave again and again-- and helped progressive champions get into office where they are needed more than ever. And, fyi, right now we're busier than ever recruiting progressive candidates to run for what could be a really good 2018 cycle.



Progressive Veterans Running For Congress

Unless you live in his district, you probably never heard of Ohio teabagger Warren Davidson, the Trumpist nut who won Boehner's seat when GOP extremists forced their own Speaker out of office. Last week Butler County's Journal-News reported Davidson told a room full of veterans that one way to clean up the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system is to get the "moochers" out of it. "Part of the problem," he said, "is there are some vets that are moochers and they’re clogging up the system. And we do as taxpayers want to make sure the VA filters out these folks that are pretenders." A spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars responded that "Honorably discharged veterans with service-connected wounds, illnesses and injuries, or who are indigent due to circumstances beyond their control, are not moochers."

If you feel, like we do, that the real moochers we have to worry about are careerist conservatives in Congress, please check out a new Blue America ActBlue page we just started to support progressive military veterans.

Recently Veterans For Bernie founder and National Director, Tyson Manker, announced his group's endorsement of U.S. Marine Colonel Doug Applegate, the Blue America-backed progressive running for the CA-49 seat (Orange and San Diego counties) that Darrell Issa operates out of.

"Colonel Applegate deployed to Ramadi, Iraq in 2006," said Manker. "He shouldered the burden with the 2.5 million Americans who laced up their boots and headed down range after September 11th. I know the Colonel will ask the right questions and ensure we are only sending our forces overseas when it is the last choice, not our first option. Veterans swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic... We must elect Representatives with proven leadership. We must elect those that have the skills to reach across the aisle to end the paralysis that has brought our Congress to a stand-still. Colonel Applegate’s opponent, Darrell Issa (U.S. Army veteran), voted to authorize the Iraq war, voted to cut an increase to military benefits, and dismissed 9/11 as 'just a plane crash'. That is why we endorse our brother, retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate to be the next Representative of California’s 49th Congressional District."

I came away from my long interview with Doug Applegate with a feeling that part of why he's running for Congress is because he felt that 95% of Congress who never served in a combat zone, has sent our sons and daughters to endless wars without any real strategy since 9/11. He told me clearly that he knows we "can't kill our way out of the world’s problems." He has experienced the realities and trials of war and learned firsthand how decisions to use our military impacts our all-volunteer force and everyday Americans. An infantry officer and a military lawyer since 1980, Doug already understands and stands ready to provide the type of leadership Congress so sorely lacks. I asked him in which areas specifically he felt he could make a difference in Congress. He talked about Congress' being lacking in what he identified as “4 critical areas:”

  1. sexual assaults in the military
  2. defense contracting that wastes trillions of American taxpayer dollars
  3. restructuring of the Veteran Administration that is inadequate, underfunded, overcrowded, and ill-prepared
  4. renewable energy program repeatedly needed and requested by the Defense Department

Doug doesn't sound anything like Warren Davidson.

Neither does Tom Wakely, a Blue America-backed candidate in the Austin-San Antonio area of Texas (TX-21, a seat held by Trump-fanatic Lamar Smith). "Simply put," he told us this week, "I've always put my country before politics. It's not hard to do. Though I was a noncombatant, I signed up with the Air Force right after I graduated high school. I understood that when your country needs you, it's important to answer that call. Our country's in dire need of elected officials who understand the most basic concepts of duty and compassion. I'm ready to answer the call again in District 21." He got right into the issue that separates him immediately from Davidson, Smith and the other Trumpists-- support for the V.A. 

As a veteran, I receive all my healthcare through the VA. I've seen the lines. I've experienced the service (or lack thereof). We've come a long way in reforming the VA but we must go much further. Our veterans deserve so much better. I've met with many veterans across the district who are ready to see real change. The media is happy to cover the return of our troops from overseas but oftentimes once those same troops become veterans, they become afterthoughts. We must keep them in our hearts and minds if we're going to progress as a nation. It must be all of us, together. That's why I'll be urging Congress to provide for the VA to cover full vision and dental. What good are we as a nation to our veterans if they can't see or incur serious periodontal disease?  It's why I want to work with various veterans and medical policy institutes to develop a new comprehensive mental health program at the VA which focuses on behavioral therapy and counseling as the true first line of defense. I'm personally a believer that healthcare is a human right and as this country moves toward that direction, we can learn a lot from what we are able to do in the VA. All too often our veterans become over-prescribed and misunderstood.

Lamar Smith is always ready to send our troops into harm's way, but votes against raising combat pay and properly insulating our barracks abroad. Being pro-war doesn't grant you the mantle of being pro-vets, pro-troops, or even pro-country. That hasn't stopped Smith from claiming a right to all of the above despite a record that proves otherwise. I'm ready to tackle the issues veterans face because I live it. I'm ready to listen. I'm ready to answer that call.

Our candidate on the South Shore of Long Island (NY-02), DuWayne Gregory, is the Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. A native Long Islander from a military family, DuWayne enlisted in the Army right out of college. He served as a lieutenant in the field artillery and he told us that his time in the Army taught him the importance of working together and refusing to back down in the face of any challenge-- lessons he brings to politics.

"My service in the military," he said, "was the greatest honor of my life. I saw great acts of bravery; I saw displays of courage and conviction. But I also saw firsthand issues that need to be addressed, such as men and women working over forty hours a week living in poverty.

I learned many important life lessons while serving in the military, the most important of which is the importance of leadership. Peter King's leadership has fallen short when it comes to important issues pertaining to our veterans. He and Congress have failed those in our military who are living on public assistance. They have failed when it comes to reforms in the VA. They have failed when it comes to the high unemployment rate for returning war veterans. I will use my military experience to lead on these issues and to demonstrate the commitment our veterans deserve. When there is a job to do, partisan politics shouldn't get in the way. I will provide the leadership that Congress needs to get the job done."

Please consider helping us make sure that when Congress considers military matters, not all the voices come from the far right, like Issa's and Davidson's. Let's make sure there are more progressives with military experience, like exemplary Blue America alumnus, Ted Lieu, in Congress.



Ted Lieu's New Bill To Prevent A Pres. Trump From Using Nukes

When Digby, John and I were first getting to know Ted Lieu, back when he was still a state Senator, we asked him why he was willing to leave the young family he's so devoted to in L.A. and spend so much time in Washington, D.C. He told us it actually had a lot to do with his two sons-- a compulsion to help turn Congress towards solving the accelerating problems around Climate Change. And, sure enough, last month when Ted was named the freshmen Democrats MVP, his unrelenting work-- with members on both sides of the aisle-- for climate change was first and foremost in everyone's mind. That and... cyber-security, equal rights, criminal justice and marijuana legalization. Yeah, he's been busy.

But last week, hot on the heels of his promotion to full colonel in the Air Force Reserve, Ted, along with two other freshmen military vets in the House sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to withdraw his endorsement of Donald Trump. "As veterans who previously served on active duty," they wrote, "we are horrified by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's slander of parents whose son died serving our country. Mr. Trump has already made a series of racist and sexist statements. But the profound disrespect Mr. Trump has shown toward Gold Star parents is a new low. Your continued endorsement of Mr. Trump's hateful, bigoted and sexist vision threatens the integrity of the House of Representatives in which we serve. We respectfully request that you follow what we believe your heart is telling you and withdraw your endorsement of him now."

Thursday, Ted announced he is introducing legislation to make it more difficult for a president to launch a nuclear attack.

“The erratic and impulsive behavior of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has highlighted the structural dangers of America’s nuclear weapons launch protocols. Having taught the Law of War when I served on active duty, and as a graduate of Air War College, it is clear to me that the traditional checks and balances on the Executive branch do not apply when it comes to nuclear weapons. This process needs to be fixed.

“The President does not need approval from Congress or the courts to launch nuclear weapons. All the President needs is the concurrence of the Secretary of Defense, who is appointed by the President.

“When Congress comes back into session, I plan to introduce legislation that requires the concurrence of leaders in Congress-- who are not beholden to the President-- before a nuclear strike can be launched. We can no longer have the fate of civilization depend on just two people in the Executive Branch.”

FieldGuideLiesBook.png

This week Blue America is helping Ted raise funds for his reelection campaign. As a thank you we are giving away 6 advance copies of the next book by neuroscientist Dan Levitin (author of the massive NY Times best seller, This Is Your Brain On Music.) Dan, a big admirer of Ted's, autographed half a dozen advance review copies ofA Field Guide To Lies-- Critical Thinking In The Information Age for half a dozen randomly selected contributors. There is no minimum contribution; everyone is equally likely to be picked to "win" one of the signed books.

Dr. Levitin told us Friday that: "My wife and I had dinner with Ted Lieu recently and it was one of the most fascinating conversations we’ve ever had. He has a deep knowledge about a wide variety of topics, and shared many insights with us. He is exactly the kind of person we need to have in government: smart, empathetic, honest, and eager to devote his considerable talents to public service not for his own personal gain, but to help make the world a better place. He's committed to clearing the logjam that congress has become, using his intelligence and creativity to move forward policies and legislation that will benefit all of us."

Just contribute any amount by Tuesday evening at midnight at this Blue America ActBlue page to be eligible.



Best Progressive Investment of 2014 Is Ted Lieu

4627536636_173e3ef782_b.jpg
Credit: Ted Lieu Campaign Site

Last cycle we asked you to chip in and help Ted Lieu win the Los Angeles congressional seat from which Henry Waxman was retiring. With your support, Ted won a convincing victory. So, how do we know what's going to happen after someone gets elected? In Ted's case, his record of accomplishment as a state legislator was so overwhelming that we had a powerful feeling he would make an exceptional Member of Congress. We were right.

We think he's worth supporting again. Can you pitch in to help him make his quarterly goals?

He's been more than we could have hoped, getting elected freshman class president in his first week on the job and working effectively on one tough issue after another. The easy stuff is never where Ted puts his tremendous energies. Just as he did in California, Ted introduced the first federal ban on LGBT conversion therapy, which applies to adults as well as the transgender community. And, again, as he did in California, Ted introduced the Climate Solutions Act of 2015, which takes California's successful approach to climate change and takes it nationwide. Last week he introduced and passed an amendment that cut the federal marijuana eradication/suppression programs in half and his amendment redirected the funding to help child victims of domestic violence and child abuse.

Ted isn't taking cautious nibbles around the periphery of problems. He was the first Democrat to oppose the proposal to send US ground troops back to Iraq. At the same time, he has been one of Congress' loudest and most effective voices against granting Fast Track Authority to the White House on the TPP, a principled position that hasn't endeared him to the Establishment.

"One of the main reasons I ran for Congress," he told us, "was to take on the NSA and our out of control spying-industrial complex. From bipartisan letters I have written to the NSA to my public speeches and comments to my advocacy in the press (such as on MSNBC with Chris Hayes), I have worked across the aisle inside Congress to reign in the NSA for the first time in decades. Although I don't think the reforms went far enough, at least it is a good step in the right direction. And there is more to come."

And that was just the beginning. "Another reason I ran for Congress," he told us, "was to accomplish comprehensive immigration reform. I am also passionate about combatting poverty and am fighting to increase funding to poverty programs." Below is from an OpEd Ted wrote with Hugh Evans, CEO of the Global Poverty Project:

This year, almost 60 million primary school-age children will have no access to school. While the world has made progress to get more kids to school since 2000, the severe lack of financing for global education continues to waste global talent and inflicts a lifelong sentence of poverty for those without an education.

...[I]mproving education worldwide actually helps American security. An uneducated child grows up to be an uneducated adult, and large adult populations that are uneducated and impoverished are destabilizing for countries and regions. With this in mind, our nation's security increases when there is more stability in the world.

Improving education worldwide also boosts the American economy. Just one year of primary school increases the future earning potential of a boy in a developing nation by 5% to 15%. The increases for a girl are even greater. Millions more educated children growing up to be educated adults would have a sizable impact on economies in the developing world, which means greatly increased global economic opportunity for America.

This year is a historic opportunity for the movement to end extreme poverty. In September, world leaders will approve the Sustainable Development Goals, which we expect to target education with the objective to give every child 10 years of free quality education. Investing in education is a clear prerequisite to achieving all other sustainable development goals and ending extreme poverty by 2030... The United States must do more to help empower communities to lift themselves out of poverty. It's good for children and good for America.

Ted, in fact, has been so busy doing the peoples' business that he hasn't spent the time the Leadership insists on raising money for reelection. Would you help Blue America help Ted make sure he closes out the fundraising quarter with a decent amount? You can contribute to his campaign here.



Pushing Back Against Sheldon Adelson Flood Of Slime

Vegas-Macau gambling kingpin Sheldon Adelson, who fronts for organized crime and launders money from China into American politics, has decided to try to win Henry Waxman’s congressional seat on Los Angeles’ west side— from Malibu down through Santa Monica, Venice, El Segundo and Manhattan Beach to Redondo Beach, Torrance, Rancho Palos Verdes and Harbor City— for a Republican stooge he can easily control, Elan Carr.

First the good news: the last publicly-available polling— by Democratic firm, GarinHartYang Research-- showed Ted Lieu, the state senator from most of the district, leading Carr 55-36%, nearly 20 points. Party registration in the district is 44% Democrat, 33% Republican and Obama beat Romney 61-37%. The PVI is D+11.

“Ted Lieu,” writes Garin, “maintains a healthy lead over Elan Carr in the initial trial heat and Senator Lieu’s support expands slightly, even after we assume attacks from our opponent. Senator Lieu’s strong position in the race is due to his legislative experience, better alignment with the values and priorities in this district, AND the tarnished GOP brand.”

They no longer have to “assume” attacks. Carr’s biggest supporter, the Sheldon Adelson family and his crooked circle, came roaring into the district Friday with 4 mailers, one of which is an ugly racist piece trying to paint Lieu as not sufficiently pro-Israel— and appeal to the district’s huge Jewish population. And now the Adelson front has reserved several hundred thousand dollars on broadcast TV to saturate the airwaves with anti-Lieu smears.

Blue America is the only group coming to Ted’s aid— and we need help.

Our independent expenditure committee is running ads in South Dakota’s Senate race, Maine’s Senate race, the Michigan congressional race pitting Paul Clements against Fred Upton... and now Ted Lieu’s race. This is Digby’s and John’s home district and we’re finishing up a full page ad for the Los Angeles Times that emphasizes 4 examples of national leadership by Ted:

the first successful bill to protect consumers from predatory mortgage bankers

  • the first successful legislation to end conversion therapy for LGBT minors
  • the first successful bill to take serious statewide action against Global Warming
  • the first successful bill to end state cooperation with the CIA, NSA and any other federal agencies engaging in unconstitutional domestic spying

Ted Lieu isn’t just another politician making sweet-sounding promises. He’s running on a solid platform of accomplishments and leadership. And, on these issues, the 3 other candidates our I.E. Committee is trying to boost— Paul Clements, Shenna Bellows and Rick Weiland— all agree 100%.

Every cent contributed on our Independent Expenditure Committee page between now and election day will go right into these 4 campaigns.

Please help us make Congress more progressive, more productive and more responsive to the needs of ordinary working families. Every dollar counts.



Domestic spying? Ted Lieu already wrote a law against it.

One of the most critical primaries coming up next week is for Henry Waxman's House seat on the Westside of Los Angeles-- Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Redondo Beach… Blue America did a dual endorsement for a jungle primary that will yield two finalists for the November general election, hopefully two stalwart progressives. Our picks are state Senator Ted Lieu, a proven progressive leader and champion of working families, and Marianne Williamson, an independent progressive and cutting-edge thought leader.

Ted has been the California legislature's top leader in several areas, including mortgage bank reform and protecting citizens from unconstitutional domestic spying. I spoke to him yesterday and asked him about the phony NSA "reform" the House passed last week. They voted on the so-called USA Freedom Act, a watered-down, pale excuse for reform of the NSA that passed overwhelmingly, 303-121. 51 Republicans and 70 Democrats voted no. I noticed that one of the Democrats working with the Republicans to pass it was Adam Schiff, who is also working to elect Wendy Greuel, one of Ted's opponents. Most of the congressmembers who are working to elect Ted-- solid progressives like Mark Takano, Mike Honda, and Alan Lowenthal-- fought the bill and voted against it, as, of course, did Henry Waxman. I asked Ted a simple question-- Had you been in Congress last week, would you have voted with Adam Schiff and the others who wink and nod at domestic spying or would you have voted the way Henry Waxman, Barbara Lee, Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva and your own backers did?

His response was clear and unambiguous. "I'm disappointed Congress gutted significant provisions of the USA Freedom Act. Our privacy rights and our Constitution are not watered-down, neither should legislation that upholds our fundamental values. If I were in Congress, I would have voted NO on the watered-down 'reform.'"

Lieu comes from a military background and he doesn't take national security lightly. He's also an attorney and he doesn't take the U.S. Constitution lightly either. "I agree with the National Security Agency that the world is a dangerous place," he told us. "That is why America’s founders enacted the Bill of Rights. They understood there are few things more dangerous than an Orwellian government that overreaches, invades our privacy, and monitors our everyday lives. The NSA’s bulk collection program-- which seizes the phone records of every single American for seven years-- has been described by a federal judge as Orwellian. One of the reasons I am running for Congress is to stop this program and reign in the NSA’s invasions of our privacy and constitutional rights."

Other than Matt Miller, a DC-centric kook who publicly admits he supports bulk collection of personal communications, all the candidates running pay some kind of lip service to privacy rights. In Ted's case, it goes beyond posturing and promising; he's already taken action.

I am proud to author bipartisan legislation, SB 828, that prohibits California officials from supporting or assisting the NSA’s blanket spying on Americans unless the NSA has secured a specific warrant for a specific individual. The Fourth Amendment is clear: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated” unless the government upon probable cause secures a specific warrant. The NSA’s blanket dragnet is flat out unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment and it is time we stop this mass violation of our privacy."

Regardless of whether we have a President Bush, a President Obama, a President Clinton, a President Cruz or a President Orwell in the White House, we need principled, capable, independent-minded Members of Congress willing to stand up against the herd. That will never be a Wendy Greuel, an Elon Carr or a Matt Miller. It will certainly be Ted Lieu.

Blue America is helping Ted, who is leading in the polls, raise money for his Get Out the Vote efforts this week, and for his tough campaign against whoever comes in second next Tuesday. Please consider contributing here.




Paid for by Blue America PAC, blueamerica.crooksandliars.com, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.