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

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work