This article on creative community education appeared in OpEd News on 12/15/17.
Calling All Good-Hardworking-Americans, People Who Won't Lift a Finger to Help Themselves, Spendthrifts, and Takers!
Talk about adding insult to injury. Just over a year ago, we were - briefly - Good Hard-Working, By-the-Rules-Playing Americans (GHWAs) -- real salt-of-the-earth people.
That was then ... For the last year, Republicans in Congress have pushed to shrink or kill the ACA, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Meals on Wheels, SNAP, financial assistance for college/grad students, HUD, deductions for teachers who buy classroom supplies*, and more.
Not content to strip us of both our hard-earned money and the social safety net, Republican leaders have insulted Good-Hard-Working-Americans' work ethic. And money management. Now (e.g. December, 2017), we are people who won't "lift a finger" to help ourselves (Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah), " spending every darn penny ... on booze or women or movies." (Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa). We're back to Taker-status.
Here's the great, big, gorgeous holiday gift I dream of: Over the coming year, we "Good-Hard-Working-Americans" (sometimes labeled, "Takers") call public attention to every insidious aspect of the "tax relief" bill promoted by Republicans in Congress (let's call these folks, "Fakers"). We also call attention to plans to relieve us of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. We do this as often as possible, so that by November 2018, angry voters turn out in full force to tell them, "You're fired!" (And so that lawmakers will have done some "soul searching," like Ryan's allegedly doing***, and retire.) People in blue places raise money so their friends in red places can hire staff to coordinate the work necessary to showcase the grief caused by proposed tax and other "relief." Just for fun, imagine what a week of "relief" resistance could look like:
Janesville, WI - home to Republican House Speaker Paul - "Makers-Not-Takers" - Ryan. (Some background: Ryan has championed "relief" from more than taxes; he has long advocated "relief" from government assistance for low- and middle-income people. Fun fact: When the ACA was enacted, Ryan was one of the Republicans who chose a Congress-only health insurance plan saving him up to $12,000 per year via premium subsidies funded by taxpayers....and then he pushed to end insurance premium subsidies for taxpayers.****)
Sunday: Ryan is paging through the Janesville newspaper " Next to the calendar section is an ad:
" Tax 'Relief' Survival Strategies! January's Topics:
- DIY Surgery Clinic -- Learn to sew yourself up post-op and save on doctor fees!;
- Roasted, Toasted, Fried, and Dried -- Roadkill Recipes for Every Palate;
- Top-10 Places to Sell Your Plasma.
Meetings are Tuesdays, noon, in the Community Room by Representative Ryan's district office..."
Monday: Several hundred constituents deliver an eviction-and-past-due notice to Ryan. It says:
" For 12 years, you have mooched off of GHWAs, using your D.C. office as government-subsidized housing. We estimate that 12 years of rent for a three-room apartment (same as your office) plus fees for utilities, gym, internet, cable, and daily cleaning service would add up to over $200,000," and tells him to pay up and get out.
Tuesday: Constituents hand Mr. Ryan a petition with lots of signatures -- lots and lots " more than anyone's ever seen -- believe me - to introduce legislation that tells members of Congress:
" If you chose a health insurance plan with taxpayer-subsidized premiums and later voted for 'tax relief" that would effectively deny millions of taxpayers even subsidy-free health plans, you are no longer eligible for Congress-only marketplace plans and low-and no cost care through both the Office of the Attending Physician and local military clinics."
Salt Lake City, UT -- home to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (who recently said during a debate about CHIP, " I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won't help themselves, won't lift a finger** and expect the federal government to do everything..." ):
Sunday evening: Senator Hatch is paging through the neighborhood newspaper, looking for his weekly column/report to constituents. On the page facing his column is an ad with his "won't lift a finger" statement in large print, above pictures of constituents who work 60 hours per week and rely on CHIP for their kids' healthcare: a home health care aide, a preschool teacher, a waitress, and so on. Underneath in large print is this: The Senate is in session about 135 days per year. Senators annually make over $174,000 per year. And you think we work too little and expect too much of government?"
New Hartford, Iowa -- home to Senator Chuck Grassley (the "spending every darn penny ... on booze or women or movies..." guy):
Constituents challenge Grassley to a public budgeting-throw down, whereby Grassley gets in front of several hundred constituents and shows on a large poster how, for example, Iowa's single moms (over one-third of who live in poverty) can manage with better budgeting. In turn, constituents will show Grassley how a multi-millionaire can survive without a six-figure tax relief break.
Everywhere, USA -
*In this context, "supplies" includes clothing, shoes, and food for students.
** Senator Hatch, I would stay away from remarks about constituents lifting a finger if I were you, unless you want to see demonstrators demonstrating their finger-lifting skills outside of your office window.
*** Ryan has a soul?
**** Another fun fact: If you google "Paul Ryan Janesville WI," you'll find 25 Google reviews of Ryan, a rating (1.1 of 5 stars), and maybe the reason behind his potential "retirement."