Our Wisconsin Revolution Stands Against the Medicare Direct Contracting Program.
January 12, 2022
OWR Calls on Elected Officials to Stop the Privatization of Medicare
The United States is currently the only industrialized country that does not guarantee healthcare to all of its citizens and the only country that has medical bankruptcies. As a result, over 45 thousand people die per year. That is why OWR fully supports Medicare for All. Everyone in this country deserves quality healthcare regardless of age, race, or economic status. Despite not having a universal healthcare system, we must protect our current Medicare system.
Under the Trump administration, the Department of Health and Human Services launched a pilot program known as Medicare Direct Contracting, or DCE. This program has continued under Biden appointee Xavier Becerra. DCE can automatically enroll Medicare beneficiaries into a third-party commercial insurer and other for profit companies to manage care for seniors. If this program is left unchecked, more than 30 million seniors could be enrolled into this program without their knowledge or consent, since DCE is not overseen by Congress. DCE could lead to higher cost for taxpayers, and less freedom for seniors to manage their own care. Right now Medicare spends 98% of its budget on patient care. Commercial insurers are only required to spend 60% of their revenues on patient care and can keep the rest for their own profit. Medicare is clearly more efficient than any private insurer who profits off our aging and illness.
Our Wisconsin Revolution stands firmly against this blatant attempt to privatize Medicare. This is a clear attempt to pad the pockets of wall street and others for profit entities. We will not allow their greed to take down the most popular program that exists in the United States. We are calling on Wisconsin’s elected congressional delegation; Representatives Bryan Steil, Ron Kind, Gwen Moore, Scott Fitzgerald, Glenn Grothman, Tom Tiffany, Mike Gallagher, Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson, as well as the Biden administration to put an end to this program immediately.
Corporate Democrats Killed Build Back Better.
December 20, 2021
On Sunday, Senator Joe Manchin announced on Fox News that he would not vote for the Build Back Better Act, ending a long, painful, and revealing process about Joe Biden’s economic agenda. Many blame Manchin for engaging in bad faith and sabotaging months of negotiations. But the defeat of Build Back Better is the only logical conclusion of the politics of “nothing will fundamentally change.”
The White House insisted on splitting the economic agenda from the desperately-needed investments in infrastructure, allowing the “bipartisan infrastructure bill” to be corrupted with corporate language and handouts. Corporate Democrats worked overtime to strip this legislation on behalf of Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry, while leadership hid behind absurd procedural obstacles like the “filibuster,” the “CBO score,” and the “Parliamentarian,” because Big Money is calling the shots.
Senator Joe Manchin is not solely to blame. By prioritizing the positive press of “bipartisanship” over the needs of the American working class, the White House and Corporate Democrats jeopardized these policies from the very beginning. This defeat also lies at the feet of Pramila Jayapal and all but six members of the Progressive Caucus, who at the last minute abandoned their pledge to tie Build Back Better and the Infrastructure Bill together, surrendering all of their leverage to Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. And it would be remiss not to also blame the far-right Republican Party, who stood in lockstep opposition to every single component of this bill, denying support to their own constituents on delusional claims of “socialism” or “wokeness.”
This entire charade is the end result of a party that has no real interest in governing. This is the end game of the neoliberal Democratic Party. Now more than ever, this nation needs a political revolution, because when Big Money calls the shots, working people lose.
OWR Statement on The Justice Department’s Jacob Blake Decision.
October 9, 2021
Yesterday, we learned that the Justice Department will not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against Kenosha Police Department officer Rusten Sheske for his involvement in the Aug 23, 2020 shooting of 30-year-old Jacob Blake. Not only is this a slap in the face to the Blake family, but to all who stood and protested nationally, for weeks on end, in the name of justice. Despite the massive protests following the death of George Floyd, and despite campaign promises of many opportunistic politicians; we continue to see police commit heinous human rights abuses with complete impunity across this nation. This is not only a failure of the police departments themselves, but the failure of a system that refuses to hold power accountable. Communities of color are supposed to look to the justice system for protection. How can this be possible when time and time again the system proves the protection of institutions is more important than the protection of black lives? Agree with the wording or not, calls to defund the police were born of these continued injustices. The system was built not to protect and serve communities of color, but to conquer and control them. It is clear that this system cannot be reformed. A fundamentally broken system leaves no other option than being torn down and built anew. America requires a justice system that puts human life first, not property, not capital, not profits. It is time for the justice system to reflect the constitutional value that all are created equal. Until there is justice for all, there can be no true justice.
Our Wisconsin Revolution calls for an end to qualified immunity and broken windows policing, and for police, who are involved in violent cases, to be independently investigated and prosecuted. We stand firmly behind the Blake family and the activists who continue to fight for a justice system that treats communities of color with respect and dignity.
Our Wisconsin Revolution Appoints New Executive Director.
Today Our Wisconsin Revolution, an independent social justice organization, announced that it has appointed Andre Walton as their new Executive Director. Andre graduated from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, where he majored in General Management. Andre is a committed activist that has worked to get money out of politics, worked on Mike McCabe’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign, as an organizer, and has fought for social reform in this state. We are proud to have Andre as our new Executive Director, and look forward to seeing him bring a fresh new perspective to this organization.
On his hiring, OWR’s new Executive Director Andre Walton had this to say. “All my life I’ve struggled socially and economically to get by in life. As I grew older I learned a lot of what I went through was directly tied to politics and the unjust nature of the system that we live in. I will use this opportunity to fight against the system that holds people down, and will continue to hold politicians accountable who do not adequately represent their constituents. It’s time we put the power back where it needs to be, and that’s in the hands of the people.”
Adding Insult to Injury.
Republicans who control both houses of Wisconsin’s legislature have signaled they intend to gavel in and immediately gavel out of a special session called by Governor Tony Evers on Medicaid expansion without debating or voting on the proposed legislation. This childish response of state legislative leaders to the governor’s call to action is a classic example of adding insult to injury.
The injury is foolishly turning down $1.6 billion in available federal funds, denying insurance coverage to 91,000 people who stand to be covered if the funds are accepted, and causing state taxpayers to pay more to insure fewer. Adjourning without debating the issue is the insult.
Our Wisconsin Revolution is one of more than 40 groups that are part of the Coalition for a Just Wisconsin Budget working together to advocate for Medicaid expansion among other things. The coalition is committed to continuing to work to expose the folly of decisions being made by legislative budget writers and keep the pressure on for Medicaid expansion and other fiscal measures benefiting working class residents until the very end of the budget process.
Citizens applaud Milwaukee County Board approval of resolution supporting Medicare for All.
MILWAUKEE COUNTY, WI – The Milwaukee County Board passed a resolution today in support of the Medicare for All Act of 2019.
The County Board consideration of the resolution sends a strong message to Wisconsin’s federal legislators that the residents of Milwaukee County are demanding an end to for-profit health care in favor of a universal system without copays or out-of-pocket costs.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, 30 million Americans lacked health insurance, and an additional 57 million had health insurance but were still unable to afford needed health care. The record levels of unemployment in the past year increased those numbers, as millions lost their employer-sponsored health insurance along with their jobs.
Today’s resolution by the county board acknowledged that the pandemic further exposed the dangers of our fragmented, profit-driven health care system, which left far too many people in Wisconsin more vulnerable to diseases like Covid-19.
Ryan Clancy, supervisor for District 4, said, “As both someone who has gone most of the pandemic without health insurance, and as an elected who has seen the disaster that befalls households who are hit with unexpected health emergencies, I was proud to champion this resolution. Medicare for All should be a human right and it is long overdue.”
Andre Walton, southeast regional organizer for Our Wisconsin Revolution, said, “The passage of this resolution shows the power of organizing and activism. Change doesn’t come from the top down, but from the bottom up. And we will continue to fight for change until Medicare for All is guaranteed to all Americans.”
Rachael Steidl, DSA regional organizer, said, “I am happy to see our Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors stand together to support the health of all Milwaukee residents.”
Milwaukee County is part of a growing movement of city and county boards across the United States that are calling for Congress to pass Medicare for All. More than 300 local efforts are under way with more than 55 local resolutions passed in cities and counties as diverse as Los Angeles, Knoxville, Philadelphia, South Bend, New Orleans, and Kalamazoo.
Information about the growing grassroots movement demanding that Congress pass the Medicare for All Act of 2021 can be found at medicare4allresolutions.org.This resolution was passed thanks to the hard work of everyday working class people, who care about the health of the people. Supporting organizations include Our Wisconsin Revolution- Milwaukee, Milwaukee DSA, and Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
Tell Gov. Evers to appoint indigenous leaders to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board.
This year saw one of the most horrific environmental disasters in Wisconsin history: a wolf slaughter during the height of breeding season, at the behest of an out-of-state hunting group, with the blessing of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board.
It started on February 2 when an Kansas group called Hunter Nation filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County, demanding that Wisconsin immediately hold a wolf hunt. A judge ordered the hunt to proceed, and the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board complied – even though there were just a few days of hunting season left.
The board set a quota of 200 wolves to be killed, out of a population of just over 1,000 — or about 20% — during a time when many female wolves are pregnant.
They then sold 4,000 permits to kill those wolves — meaning 20 people were gunning for each wolf.
Unlike most states, Wisconsin allows night hunting and trapping of wolves, and is the only state to allow the cruel practice of using dogs to run down prey.
Also unlike other states, Wisconsin allows a hunt to go on for 24 hours after a quota has been reached — practically guaranteeing it will be overshot.
And that’s exactly what happened. In two days, mostly out-of-state hunters slaughtered 218 of Wisconsin’s wolves that we know of — it’s likely more were killed than reported.
Of the 200-wolf quota, 81 were alloted to the Ojibwe tribal groups of Wisconsin. The Ojibwe consider wolves sacred. Only 119 wolves were supposed to actually be killed.
That means hunters slaughtered almost twice their allotment, including all of the wolves belonging to the Ojibwe.
Tribal groups are supposed to be consulted before any wolf quotas are set. But the lone tribal biologist left the Natural Resources Board meeting to discuss the quota when the board ignored his input.
“It’s so disappointing, the hurried plan to kill ma’iingan,” said John D. Johnson, chairman of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Voigt Intertribal Task Force, which advises the commission on natural resources policy. Ma’iingan is the Ojibwe name for the wolf.
“It’s an extreme disappointment on many levels,” said GLIFWC public information officer Dylan Jennings. “I think it really full-on demonstrated the lack of respect and the lack of commitment to co-management on the state’s part.”
There is a solution to prevent this from happening again: Appoint tribal members to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board. By statute the board has seven members, appointed by the governor for six year terms. No current members of the Natural Resources Board are indigenous — but two have terms that end in May.
Grassroots activists seek $15 minimum wage.
Members and supporters of Our Wisconsin Revolution have sent nearly 100 letters to Wisconsin Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson demanding their elected officials support a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
These grassroots activists asked the senators to tell Vice President Kamala Harris to overrule the Senate parliamentarian and keep the $15 minimum wage provision in the American Rescue Plan covid relief bill, as well as to abolish the filibuster, a procedural relic used in the past to block civil rights legislation and now threatening other progressive programs.
“A recent study found that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would lift 32 million workers out of poverty — including 843,000 in Wisconsin,” the letter stated. “Of these Wisconsinites, the majority are women and people of color working on the front lines during a pandemic.”
The American Rescue Plan providing $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief passed the U.S. House on a mostly party-line vote of 219-212 on February 27. Included in the House version was a provision to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.
Now the American Rescue Plan is headed to the Senate, where the $15 minimum wage is in jeopardy because the relief package is going through a process called reconciliation, which allows the bill to be passed by a simple majority rather than a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes.
Under Senate rules, only items relevant to the federal budget can be passed through reconciliation. However, an unelected Senate parliamentarian found that the minimum wage increase is not related to the federal budget and shouldn’t be in the covid relief bill.
“We disagree with the parliamentarian’s decision,” the letter stated. “Giving workers a much-needed raise would allow them to get off federal assistance, saving billions of dollars in taxpayer money and letting people spend more at local businesses, revitalizing the economy for everyone. The minimum wage has not been raised since 2007 – this is long overdue.”
The parliamentarian’s decision is not binding. It is an advisory position that can be overruled by Vice President Harris, and has been overruled by vice presidents in the past. Grassroots activists are asking their senators to tell Harris to ignore the parliamentarian and keep the $15 minimum wage in the American Rescue Plan.
A related issue is the filibuster — an arcane procedure that allows any senator to speak for hours or even days to hold up any piece of legislation unless at least 60 other senators vote to close debate. That’s why legislation not passed through reconciliation needs at least 60 votes.
“In a Senate divided 50-50 along party lines, with only a tie-breaking vote from the vice president, that just won’t do,” the letter stated. “We will never be able to pass our progressive agenda that the vast majority of Americans support — Medicare for All, Green New Deal, student loan forgiveness, criminal justice reform, and more — as long as these programs can be filibustered by a single senator.”
Our Wisconsin Revolution’s letter campaign to Sens. Baldwin and Johnson continues through the weekend.