At Trump Campaign Fundraiser, a Scene from the Gilded Age

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

In what can only be described as a scene out of the Gilded Age of American history, millionaires and billionaires dined next to the president inside his own hotel while dozens of people protested outside. They chanted phrases like, “healthcare is a human right!” and yelled “shame!” at every guest who walked through the hotel doors. All of this, as President Trump is seeking to push through a health care that would cut $800 billion from Medicaid and cause 15 million Americans to lose Medicaid coverage.

The protest, organized by Public Citizen, Every Voice, Americans for Tax Fairness, and Working Families Party, occurred during Trump’s first campaign fundraiser. The fundraiser had it all, really: conflicts of interest, pay-to-play politics, and self-enrichment. It cost at least $35,000 to attend ($110,000 if you want to be a member of the host committee).

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) attended the fundraiser while disability advocates from his state are participating in an over 24 hour long sit-in at his office, sleeping on the floor and in the wheelchairs, urging he come out against the Senate bill. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) also made an appearance, despite having already come out against the bill.

While protesters expressed outrage outside, fundraiser attendees waved from the hotel windows.

“I knew racism, misogyny, and xenophobia was expensive, but I didn’t know it could run $35,000 a plate. This is what’s wrong with our country and our system as a whole,” said Delvone Michael, senior political strategist for Working Families Party. “Very wealthy millionaires and billionaires are inside, they’ve paid for access to make the case that the president that they deserve tax cuts and they want to pay for those tax cuts by taking healthcare away from 22 million deserving Americans.”

$35,000 is more than a household of 4 would need to make in order to qualify for Medicaid; it’s more money than 99 million Americans earn in a year. This deeply concerned the protesters, some of whom arrived in wheelchairs or with photos of their children.

“My husband is disabled, he receives social security, and we rely on that income, as well as Medicaid for his care,” said Stephanie Silvero, a New Jersey mother who brought her two young children to the protest with her. “I think these people at the fundraiser are disconnected. They clearly have no empathy for people who are in need. I don’t know how you teach someone empathy if they don’t have it.”

The Senate bill may not receive a vote before the July 4th recess, but it is not yet dead. The House went through a similar process and ultimately passed a version after some slight adjustments. Just yesterday, Trump promised a “big surprise” on health care, a “great, great surprise.”

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Reposted from Think Progress.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work