Backbone for Tuesday, January 31, 2017
By Congressman Lacy Clay (D) Missouri
“Progressive politics, positive leadership
for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District
Welcome to this special edition of “Backbone.”
Backbone question of the week:
To Speaker Paul Ryan:
How many innocent Americans will die as a result of your break-neck drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act with nothing more than a “tweet” to replace it?
Answer: According to two esteemed professors at Harvard University Medical School, 43,000 Americans will die each year. (more on that a little later)
IT’S NOT ABOUT A STUDENT’S PAINTING; IT’S ABOUT DEFENDING THE 1st AMENDMENT
No doubt that you’ve heard a great deal about my fight to defend the 1st Amendment Rights of my young constituent, David Pulphus, the winner of the 2016 Congressional Art Competition in Missouri’s 1st congressional district.
His winning entry, a painting entitled “Untitled #1” was accepted and approved for exhibit in the U.S. Capitol Complex just like the other 400+ entries from across the country. It remained on public display for more than six months until an alt-right blogger objected to it, and an ethically challenged Republican Member of Congress decided that removing the painting without permission would be a good way to divert press attention away from his own alleged improprieties.
With the strong support of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Arts Caucus, I rehung the painting and thus began repeated instances of Republicans taking it down and me putting it back up.
Ultimately, Speaker Paul Ryan caved in to the alt-right media and the intolerant voices in his own caucus and he forced the Architect of the Capitol to retroactively disqualify the painting and remove it in an act of vigilante censorship.
This is now about so much more than just a student’s painting, its about defending the fundamental 1st Amendment right of free expression which the U.S. Supreme Court considers protected speech.
So as I appeal this arbitrary, insulting and unconstitutional action, here are two important opinions that I want to share with you:
LAWMAKERS’ MISPLACED ANGER OVER PORTRAIT MISSES THE POINT
As this remarkably honest op-ed by awarding-winning artist David Pulphus and his co-author Etefia Umana noted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (1.13.17):
The unanimous winner for 2016’s competition in Missouri’s 1st district was David Pulphus, a quiet, gentle, unassuming student. David’s painting, “Untitled #1,” hung for six months in peace.
Art imitates life, but no critic has asked the fundamental question the painting begs: Why would a young student with hope, promise and purpose perceive our community and the police in such a manner
David’s expression is not the serene setting one might observe in a Monet. There are no sunscapes and lily pads but rather an accurate portrayal of this young achieving American’s experiences with police. His work is a constitutionally protected expression of free speech. The recent incidents send a message to African-American youth to not bother with pursuing excellence because even if their work is recognized, it will be removed by those who cannot understand it and who see themselves as the exclusive arbiters of Americanism. This is sad because history has proven the mark of a declining civilization is the persecution of intellectualism and art.
To read more from this talented young man in his own words, please go to:
And there’s more…please check out this exceptional editorial from the Washington Post (January 17, 2017)
THE HOUSE UNCEREMONIOUSLY YANKS DOWN A STUDENT’S ARTWORK
It reads in part: It is pretty clear that the student-artist’s work was sacrificed to political pressure and vigilante censorship — in the U.S. Capitol of all places. That should alarm anyone who thinks the First Amendment, unlike art, is not a matter of personal taste and choice.
It won unanimous approval in the Congressional Art Competition in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District last May and, like the more than 400 other entries accepted and approved, was displayed in the U.S. Capitol. For more than six months, the painting hung in the underground tunnel between the Capitol and the Cannon House Office Building and was viewed by thousands of visitors without incident.
That changed when an alt-right blog and other conservative commentators started a campaign against it, objecting to its imaging of police as animals. Congressional Republicans got in the act, taking it upon themselves to remove it from the wall and give it to Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), who, in turn, joined with other members of the Congressional Black Caucus to have it rehung. Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers ordered the artwork removed on Tuesday, saying it violates House rules that include a prohibition on subjects of contemporary political controversy. If that determination had been made when the painting was first reviewed (and approved), it might have carried some credibility. But other paintings can be seen as dealing with political themes, and the architect’s revelation came only after a mean-spirited political campaign.
Young Mr. Pulphus, for his part, has acted with restraint and dignity. His only comment: “The art speaks for itself.” So does the unseemly stampede in Mr. Ryan’s House.
For the full editorial, please go to:
PRESIDENT TRUMP’S REALLY “YUGE” WEEK
After occupying the Oval Office for just a week, President Donald J. Trump has already compiled a remarkable list of executive actions that if fully implemented would deprive over 20 million Americans of healthcare coverage; ban the entry of refugees based on their religion; infringe on the free speech rights of federal employees; foul the air and water with the dirtiest oil in the world and threaten to start a trade war with Mexico.
Mr. Trump’s “Top-Ten List” for week #1 included:
(1) Ordered all federal agencies to do everything possible to impede and minimize the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act, without any plan to replace it.
(2) Referred to the absolutely vital free press as the “opposition party.”
(3) Insulted the memory of fallen CIA intelligence officers by focusing on the size of his inaugural crowd instead of their brave sacrifice.
(4) Made it harder for potential homeowners by reversing Obama administration orders to cut mortgage fees for FHA borrowers.
(5) Reversed two Obama administration decisions by approving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which will threaten the environment
and put sacred Native American lands at risk.
(6) Silenced federal employees and forbid them from talking about climate change.
(7) Ordered the construction of an unneeded wall on our southern border that will cost U.S. taxpayers at least $18 billion (no… Mexico will not pay for it.)
(8) Insulted Mexico and threatened to impose a 20% tariff on all Mexican imports into the USA which would cost Mexico nothing, but would hit American consumers with what amounts to a huge tax increase on many consumer products.
(9) Turned his back on at-risk refugees to satisfy the voices of bigotry and intolerance who helped elect him.
(10) Continued to “tweet” incessantly from an unsecure cell phone.
These are not “alternative facts” he actually did all of this.
For more on President Trump’s first week in office, please go to this story by Michael Grunwald in POLITICO (1,27,17):
REPEALING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT COULD COST 47,000 AMERICANS THEIR LIVES EACH YEAR
The out of control Republican obsession to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no viable replacement in sight will not only cost jobs and drive up the deficit…it will cost lives too.
According to this Washington Post op-ed (1.23.17) authored by David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, both of the Harvard University School of Medicine, the impact of the war against the Affordable Care Act on real people will be disastrous.
They note in part:
Now that President Trump is in the Oval Office, thousands of American lives that were previously protected by provisions of the Affordable Care Act are in danger.
For more than 30 years, we have studied how death rates are affected by changes in health-care coverage, and we’re convinced that an ACA repeal could cause tens of thousands of deaths annually.
The story is in the data: The biggest and most definitive study of what happens to death rates when Medicaid coverage is expanded, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that for every 455 people who gained coverage across several states, one life was saved per year. Applying that figure to even a conservative estimate of 20 million losing coverage in the event of an ACA repeal yields an estimate of 43,956 deaths annually.
For the full op-ed, please go to:
MISSOURI WOULD TAKE A HUGE HIT IF ACA IS REPEALED
According to a just-released study by the highly respected non-profit Missourians for Healthcare Now, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have a widespread and very damaging impact in Missouri, including:
- 301,000 individuals who have gained coverage since the ACA was implemented could lose their coverage if the ACA is entirely or partially repealed.
- 252,044 individuals who purchased high quality Marketplace coverage now stand to lose their coverage if the Republican Congress dismantles the exchanges.
- 225,878 individuals who received financial assistance to purchase Marketplace coverage in 2016, averaging $315 per individual, are at risk of having coverage become unaffordable if the Republican Congress eliminates the premium tax credits.
- 44,000 young adults in the state who were able to stay on a parent’s health insurance plan thanks to the ACA now stand to lose coverage if the Republican Congress eliminates the requirement that insurers allow children to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.
- 2,778,803 individuals in the state who now have private health insurance that covers preventive services without any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles stand to lose this access if the Republican Congress eliminates ACA provisions requiring health insurers to cover important preventive services without cost-sharing.
- Women in the state who can now purchase insurance for the same price as men are at risk of being charged more for insurance if the Republican Congress eliminates the ACA’s ban on gender rating in the individual and small group markets. Before the ACA, women paid up to 31% more than men for their health insurance. •
- Roughly 1,090,000 individuals in the state who have pre-existing health conditions are at risk of having their coverage rescinded, being denied coverage, or being charged significantly more for coverage if the Republican Congress eliminates the ACA’s ban on pre-existing conditions.
- 107,008 seniors who have saved an average of $962 each as a result of closing the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” gap in coverage stand to lose this critical help going forward.
- 580,049 seniors who have received free preventive care services thanks to ACA provisions requiring coverage of annual wellness visits and eliminating cost-sharing for many recommended preventive services covered by Medicare Part B, such as cancer screenings, are at risk of losing access to these services if congressional Republicans go forward with their plan to repeal the ACA.
To let President Trump and congressional Republicans know that the Affordable Care Act works and you want to keep it, please go to: www.mohealthcareforall.org
ARCHBISHOP CARLSON’S PASTORAL MESSAGE ON IMMIGRATION AND RECONCILIATION, BE KIND TO THE STRANGER
As President Trump signed a misguided and totally un-American executive order to ban refugees from entering this country for a period of time…my Church’s faith leader in St. Louis, Archbishop Robert Carlson, published this wonderful guest column in the St. Louis American (1/26/17) on how our faith requires us to continue opening our arms, our hearts and our communities to all those who are fleeing oppression.
He wrote in-part: As a people of God and citizens of this great nation, we have remained attentive to the immigrant history, culture and identity that binds us together as a striving, welcoming and flourishing society. We know that our former immigrant generations and relatives also faced hate and discrimination. Yet, our core values as Americans have reflected the best of who we are and who we desire to be.
Similarly, in our faith journey, our gospel values have never been far from our individual and institutional practices, even when we have fallen short. Through the gift of faith, we have come to experience God’s compassion and reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:14-20). And, through this same gift, we have learned to live as one human family under God.
As a pilgrim Church, our walk in and with the Lord has always compelled us to a more visible compassion: “Come you that are blessed by my Father…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (Matthew 25: 34-35).
This compassion for those who are hungry, thirsty and perceived to be strangers among us is a priority for us as a people of faith and Church. In our archdiocesan and parish ministries, charitable organizations and initiatives we will continue to work hard to ensure that we are reaching out to those in need, especially our immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers.
To read the full op-ed by Archbishop Carlson, please go to:
PRESIDENT TRUMP’S PHONY VOTER FRAUD INVESTIGATION IS REALLY ABOUT VOTER SUPPRESSION
Instead of supporting a special bipartisan investigation into Russian tampering in our democratic process, which I strongly support, President Trump has decided to launch a phony investigation to satisfy his overwhelming obsession with the fact that Hillary Clinton received almost 3 million more votes than he did.
That predicate is not about finding fraud, it’s about bolstering the long-held Republican fantasy that too many minorities have finally found their way into the polling place. It’s about solidifying Republican voter suppression measures across this country.
So with that in mind, here are the facts about vote fraud…not alternative facts…just the truth.
According to a just-released summary by my great friend and colleague, Assistant House Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn of South Carolina:
THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF WIDESPREAD VOTER FRAUD
More than a dozen recent investigations & studies all show voter fraud to be virtually nonexistent.
A 2007 Brennan Center study found voter impersonation rates to be between 0.00004 & 0.0009 percent.
A comprehensive 2014 Washington Post investigation found 31 credible instances of voter fraud from 2000-2014, out of more than 1 billion ballots cast.
A special DOJ unit formed with the goal of finding voter fraud in the 2002 & 2004 elections found just 0.00000013 percent of ballots to be fraudulent.
Voter fraud is a serious crime. Falsely claiming to be a citizen on a voter registration form is a felony that violates three different federal statutes, punishable by a fine & up to a year in prison.
VOTER REGISTRATION INACCURACIES ARE NOT THE SAME AS FRAUD
A 2012 Pew report found that 24 million (1 in 8) voter registrations were no longer valid due to inaccuracies, death & folks being registered in more than one state.
A number of key advisors, family members & associates of President Trump are registered in multiple states.
There are no allegations, however, that any of them actually voted twice. Doing so would be a crime.
The Pew report urged states to expand online registration & modernize their systems. Democrats have long supported legislation to do so, which would save millions of dollars over costly & error-riddled paper systems.
The authors of the report have also since noted that none of the inaccuracies equate to fraud & that many states have updated & improved their systems since then.
ANY INVESTIGATION MUST BE OPEN, TRANSPARENT & NONPARTISAN
Instead of focusing on the myth of voter fraud, President Trump & Republicans ought to establish an independent commission to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, which seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies agree actually occurred.
WE MUST STRONGLY OPPOSE ANY ATTEMPT TO USE THE VOTER FRAUD LIE AS COVER TO FURTHER RESTRICT VOTING RIGHTS OR DISCRIMINATE
Republicans have used the voter fraud lie to restrict voting rights for years.
Since 2010, twenty states have restricted voting rights by enacting discriminatory voter ID & proof of citizenship laws, illegally purging thousands of proper voters from the rolls, cutting back early voting, limiting voter registration & engaging in other suppressive tactics.
IN MEMORIUM: DELORES CLAY, REMEMBERING MY AUNT DEE
I’m blessed to have a remarkable family and they mean everything to me.
Recently we said goodbye to Delores Clay, my “Aunt Dee” a grand and gracious lady who was always there for me when I was growing up.
She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, friend, neighbor, community leader, public servant and a faithful member of my family’s home parish…St. Nicholas’ Catholic Church.
I give thanks to God for her remarkable life and I am certain that her memory will continue to inspire us for generations to come.
As we face the Republican assault on the 1st Amendment and their misguided and mean-spirited drive to undue all the good that President Obama achieved over the last eight years, I need your help more than ever before.
I’m counting on you to step up with your donation today to help me defend our values, our essential freedoms and the future of this country against those who are trying to take us back in time.
Your financial support not only helps me, it also allows me to help other progressive Democratic voices across this country.
If you’ve already stepped up, thank you.
If you haven’t helped out yet, your donation to my campaign today would be greatly appreciated at this secure link. Thanks again for all your friendship and support.
Please remember to follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lacy.clay.3
And on Twitter @LacyClayMO1
Paid for by Clay Jr. for Congress, Willis Lloyd, Treasurer