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Issue 47.0: Tax plan, Consumer Protections, National Parks
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re:act is a weekly list of a few concrete things you can do to take action during the Trump presidency.

From Bob Corker to Jeff Flake, more elected Republicans are starting to speak up. Their words do go far beyond the “deep concerns” of months past: Corker said that “the debasement of our nation will be what [Trump will] be remembered most for.” Flake wrote that he “can no longer remain silent, merely observing this train wreck, passively, as if waiting for someone else to do something.”

Of course, their words would be more powerful if paired with concerted action (and votes). Their retirement shouldn’t be required to do the right thing here. And they must also face a wider truth, that Trump is not an anomaly, but a natural symptom of a political party that embraced birtherism and Palinism and disenfranchisement and tea parties and government shutdowns. These stands could have been taken years ago.

But this is progress. And if the GOP tax cut plan fails, Corker and Flake could have a lot of company. Speaking of:

1. Trump tax plan benefits rich, companies, AP poll indicates

What’s happening: (USA Today)
“Most Americans say President Donald Trump’s tax plan would benefit the wealthy and corporations, and less than half believe his message that “massive tax cuts” would help middle-class workers, according to an Associated Press-NORC poll.” Despite Trump saying there will be “NO” changes to 401(k) retirement plans, the top Republican tax writer said the new plan could affect retirement account rules. The bill has a $1.5 trillion deficit problem. A Tax Policy Center Analysis finds that “over time, the plan would increase the tax burden on about 28 percent of the middle-class workers Trump has pledged to help.” The aim is to have a bill by November 1.

What you can do:
Use this form to submit a letter to the editor to your local newspapers on the so-called tax reform. Includes tips, samples, and more. (Click to tweet)

Call your house rep on the budget resolution that is being voted on today (Thursday). It "proposes deep cuts to the federal budget totaling roughly $5 trillion over 10 years," targeting Medicare and Medicaid, to offset the costs of the upcoming tax cuts that disproportionately go to the rich.

✓ Read and share: “GOP tax plan favors the richest, analysis shows” (Click to tweet)

✓ Share this Orrin Hatch quote: “I don’t know why it’s such a big problem. They think that the rich are going to benefit?” Hatch said. “Well, the rich are going to always benefit.”

2. Pence casts tiebreaker vote to make it more difficult for consumers to sue banks and credit card companies

What’s happening: (Business Insider)
“The Senate has voted to nullify a consumer-oriented rule that would let millions of Americans band together to sue their banks or credit card companies … Many consumers must go through an arbitrator to resolve financial disputes, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized a rule that bans most types of mandatory arbitration clauses. The rule exposed banks to large class-action lawsuits. Supporters say that possibility would help ensure banks, credit card companies and other lenders treat consumers appropriately. Democrats said before the vote that nullifying the rule would be a victory for Wall Street.”

What you can do:
✓ Call.
Go to Senate.gov to see a full list of how every senator voted. If you are represented by one of the 50 Republican Senators who voted “Yea,” then call them to register your disapproval. Use ContactingCongress.org to find their info. Here’s a starting point:

“Hello, my name is [NAME] from [PLACE]. I’m calling to let the senator know how disappointed I am in their vote on Tuesday to overturn the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule on arbitration. The senator voted to protect big banks over constituents like me. Banks like Wells Fargo need to be held accountable, and the senator made it harder for common people to have their day in court. I’ll remember this during the next election.” (tweet)

3. You may have to pay $70 to visit the Grand Canyon and 16 other national parks

What’s happening: (CNN)
“The National Park Service proposes more than doubling the entrance fees at 17 popular national parks, including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone, to help pay for infrastructure improvements. Under the agency’s proposal, the entrance fee for a private vehicle would jump to $70 during peak season, from its current rate of $25 to $30. The National Park Service said the increase would help pay for badly needed improvements, including to roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms and other visitor services at the parks. The fee hikes could also boost national park revenue by $70 million per year, it said.”

What you can do:
Leave a public comment on proposed the rate increase with the National Park Service. As the NPS writes, “the public is encouraged to comment about the National Park Service’s proposal to implement peak season entrance fees at 17 national parks. A 30-day public comment period will open on October 24, 2017 and close on November 23, 2017.” (tweet)

4. Three Weeks After Las Vegas, Legislation to Ban Bump Stocks Has Stalled Out in Congress

What’s happening: (Daily Beast)
“Three weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, efforts to pass even scaled-down gun-control legislation have effectively stalled on Capitol Hill. Congressional aides and issue advocates say they see no viable path for passing even the most promising bill: an effort to ban the manufacturing and sale of bump stocks, which were used by the Las Vegas shooter to essentially turn his semi-automatic weapons into fully automatics ones … Days later, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) echoed the [NRA’s] line, all but stating that he would not bring a bill to the floor.”

What you can do:
✓ Don’t allow your reps to move on.
Call on them to ban the sale and manufacture of bump stocks. Use ContactingCongress.org to find your senators and house rep. Here’s a starting point.

“Hello, my name is [NAME] from [PLACE]. I’m calling to ask [REPRESENTATIVE X] to support the recently-introduced bipartisan legislation that bans the sale and manufacture of bump stocks. Inaction after what happened in Las Vegas should not be an option. Does [REP X] plan on supporting these efforts?”

5. Betsy DeVos calls for another delay of Obama-era protections for students defrauded by for-profit colleges

What’s happening: (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
“Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is proposing another delay of an Obama-era overhaul of rules to erase the federal student debt of borrowers defrauded by colleges … The rule, which dates to the 1990s, wipes away federal loans for students whose colleges used illegal or deceptive tactics to get them to borrow money to attend. The Obama administration revised the regulation last year to simplify the claims process and shift more of the cost of discharging loans onto schools. Those changes were slated to take effect July, but DeVos suspended them for a year and said she would convene a new rulemaking committee to rewrite the regulation entirely.” DeVos also slashed 72 rules protecting students with disabilities.

What you can do:
✓ Run for local school board
! I know this action is a little indirect to what DeVos is doing, but it’s important and timely: a complete database of the more than 80,000 elective school board positions was just made accessible online at RunforOffice.org

Elections

Read “100 Million Americans Have an Election This November”, then:

✓ Support Doug Jones for Senate in Alabama. You can do so by signing up to volunteer or contributing to his campaign. His opponent, Roy Moore, is unfit to serve. Election is December 12. 

Donate to flippable to support candidates in Virginia and Washington state. You can also contribute to Ralph Northram for Governor.

Learn about Eric Holder and OFA’s efforts on redistricting.

Meet RunforSomething’s newest group of candidates.

And a final bit of good news: Democrats’ early money haul stuns GOP (POLITICO)


Other Actions

Tell your Members of Congress to sign a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of ACLU clients Charlie and David, and the future of equality.

Become a friend of EMILY’s List.
 



Additional Reading

  • Roughly 79% of Puerto Rico still doesn't have power (Vox)
  • The FCC plans to roll back some of its biggest rules against media consolidation (Washington Post)
  • Pelosi calls for DACA deal ahead of spending debate (The Hill)
  • Bill O’Reilly Settled New Harassment Claim, Then Fox Renewed His Contract (New York Times)
  • Record-High Support for Legalizing Marijuana Use in U.S. (Gallup)
  • With business booming under Trump, private prison giant gathers at president’s resort (Washington Post)
  • 10-Year-Old Girl Is Detained By ICE Officers After Emergency Surgery (NPR)
  • Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Faces Another Money-Laundering Probe (WSJ)
  • Trump wants to replace birth control with the dubious ‘calendar method’ (Newsweek)
  • The Trump campaign is scrambling to distance itself from Cambridge Analytica amid Assange-Hillary Clinton email flap (Business Catalyst)
  • Breakdown in North Korea Talks Sounds Alarms on Capitol Hill (NBC)
  • Small Montana firm lands Puerto Rico’s biggest contract to get the power back on (Washington Post)
  • Majority Of White Americans Say They Believe Whites Face Discrimination (NPR)
  • Donald Trump Is Rush-Shipping Condolences to Military Families (The Atlantic)
  • Trump sends $25,000 check to fallen soldier’s family on same day as Washington Post report (Washington Post)
  • E.P.A. Cancels Talk on Climate Change by Agency Scientists (New York Times)
  • ‘Let us do our job’: Anger erupts over EPA’s apparent muzzling of scientists (Washington Post)
  • Congress: Trump Won’t Implement Russia Sanctions — and He Won’t Tell Us Why (The Daily Beast)
  • Security costs skyrocket at ‘lightning rod’ EPA (CNN)
  • U.S. Clears Bill Browder to Enter, Rebuking Russia (New York Times)
  • Senators Demand Online Ad Disclosures as Tech Lobby Mobilizes (New York Times)
  • Undocumented Teenager Obtains Abortion After Court Victory (New York Times)

Here’s the link to share this week’s #reactletter and get others involved: 
http://eepurl.com/c83H0b (Click to tweet) (Share on Facebook)

I appreciate you.
- Derek

Editor's note: This list is not meant to be authoritative, exhaustive, or even expert. I'm just a guy letting you know some things I am doing every week.  I'd love for those with more legislative experience to recommend better levers to pull. I'd love for you to point out what I missed, because I will definitely miss things. 

Please send ideas or stories of your involvement ​my way at derek@reactletter.com
Follow @derekcnel for updates
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