We must pressure our congresspeople and the White House on progressive budget priorities

10 mins read

The direction of a nation—its very soul—is ultimately determined neither by verbal rhetoric nor written declarations but rather by what it spends its money on. Unlike most legislation that our deadlocked Congress will not pass, our federal government will eventually be funded by appropriation bills or continuing resolutions (CRs). It will be a long, arduous, complicated process with victories and defeats. It might well continue into next year. But eventually one or more appropriations bills or CRs will be enacted. The question for us is what priorities and policies will those bills or resolutions advance—or cripple? Last Thursday, President Biden released his proposed budget. The New York Times cogently summed up its chances this way: 

[It] has no chance of driving tax or spending decisions in Congress this year, but instead will serve as a statement of political priorities…. [It is] an attempt to advance a narrative that the president is committed to investing in American manufacturing, fighting corporate profiteering, reducing budget deficits, and fending off conservative attacks on safety-net programs.
The Trumpites who now control the Republican Party and the MAGA base they hold in thrall are already on the attack against the president’s proposals. So too are the K-Street lobbyists and think-tank minions of the CEOs and billionaires. All of them are writing, calling, meeting, cajoling, and bribing members of Congress and administration officials to further increase defense spending, continue slashing the social safety net, and further reduce (rather than modestly increase) taxes on the giant trans-national corporations and the obscenely wealthy. If progressive Americans like us fail to speak up now to save Social Security and defend the already frayed safety net, reduce the bloated Pentagon budget, prevent climate catastrophe, and insist that the rich and powerful pay their fair share of taxes—who will? It is not enough for us to cast a ballot every other year. It is also essential that we raise our voices in support of vital national priorities and oppose provisions that endanger or diminish us. In any democracy, Silence equals assent.” Indivisible exists to mobilize and enhance our voices so that we have some say in what kind of nation we are—and will become. Now is the time for us to begin contacting the White House and our members of Congress about spending decisions and to continue doing so over the coming months. Because if we remain silent, the only voices Washington will hear are those of greed, militarism, hate, bigotry, climate denial, willful ignorance, and deliberate disinformation. It’s up to us to keep our elected officials accountable when it comes to how Congress spends our money. Tell the White House and our members of Congress: stay true to our progressive priorities during budget negotiations! 

TODAY: Public comment on proposed additional spending on SFPD

Mayor Breed and several City supervisors are advocating for an ordinance to spend an additional $27 million on our police department, which already was allocated $713.9 million in the original FY2022–2023 budget.

Proponents of the measure want to use the money to hire even more cops. Analysis by Mission Local showed no clear correlation between police staffing levels over the past decade with either arrest rates or case clearance rates, leaving open the question of just what this spending would actually get us. In fact, given the record of SFPD hiring over that period, it’s not even clear the money would actually add any additional officers.

As reported by the Chronicle, this proposal comes in lieu of a previously planned safety ambassadors program, which has been “abruptly delayed” on the premise that without this money, the police will come under a hiring freeze that would block hiring the ambassadors. The police department has more money than ever, and is at a ten-year low for staffing levels—so where is the existing money going? Rather than answer this question, they’re holding up the safety ambassadors program.

The ordinance will be heard in the Budget and Appropriations Committee this afternoon. It’s item #2 on the agenda. The hearing starts at 1:30 PM, though public comment will open sometime after that.

Remember that the full board will not take public comment on this after it’s been heard in committee, so now is the time to make your voice heard. For information on how to make your public comment virtually or in person, see our webpage.

Public comment to end penalties on SSI beneficiaries receiving food aid

Currently, around 5 million people who are impoverished, disabled, or seniors rely on the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) administered by the Social Security Administration. This income amounts to $914 a month, but can be reduced by about a third if a beneficiary is receiving food aid. This is because food aid is considered “in-kind support and maintenance” (ISM).

The Social Security Administration is proposing a rule change that would remove food from ISM, so that SSI beneficiaries are not penalized for getting help with food.

Submit a Public Comment Directly at the Federal Register. Comments are due by April 17, 2023.

Lawyer and advocate Matthew Cortland made a blog post on Patreon explaining the details of this rule change and how to most effectively comment on it. Remember, comments written in your own words are the most effective.

Public comment on privacy rights in California

As required by the California Privacy Rights Act passed in 2020, California will implement and enforce regulations on businesses and organizations regarding the use of consumers’ personal information. Areas of regulation include cybersecurity audits, assessing the risk to consumers’ privacy, potential for algorithmic discrimination, and more. You can participate in the process of regulation by submitting your ideas in a public comment.

The California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) has issued an invitation for public comment and a description of the areas on which the public is asked to weigh in.

Comments are accepted by mail or email through 5 PM on Monday, March 27, 2023. See the CPPA website for details. 

If you’re interested in participating in activities like drafting letters to our Members of Congress and developing our strategy for influencing them, the Indivisible SF Federal Working Group is where it happens.

Indivisible SF Federal Working Group: Thursday, March 23, 7:30–9 PM. Planning meeting where we discuss strategy to influence our Members of Congress and the Biden administration to enact a progressive agenda. Meeting starts promptly at 7:30 PM. All are welcome. Register here!

Swing Left East Bay Writes Letters to Wisconsin Voters at POMELLA! Wednesday, March 15, 5–8 PM at Pomella. Join Indivisible East Bay in person at Pomella to write letters to Wisconsin voters! RSVP on Mobilize.

Swing Left East Bay Virtual Letter Writing Parties for Wisconsin: Saturday, March 18, 2:30–4:30 PM. Vote Forward is launching its letter-writing campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court election the week of February 20, so we’ll be springing into action. Join Swing Left for a letter-writing party, where we’ll be writing letters using this award-winning, proven tactic to reach potential voters. RSVP on Mobilize.

Virtual Phone Banks to Flip the Wisconsin Supreme Court with Call 4 Change: Sunday, March 19, 3–5 PM. Phone Bank with Call 4 Change and help us flip the Supreme Court election Wisconsin in April. RSVP on Mobilize.

About this week’s photo

If you’ve seen our newsletter posts on Twitter and Facebook, you might have noticed that we include a photo or graphic with each issue.

Today’s image is a screengrab of the front page of the White House budget proposal for fiscal year 2024.

Keep Fighting,

The Indivisible SF Team

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Since the January 2017, more than 4,000 San Franciscans have united as Indivisible SF to march in the Women's Marches, protest the Muslim Ban, meet regularly with our Members of Congress, and make thousands of phone calls to their offices to pressure them to do everything in their power to counter the policies and politics of Trumpism. There is much work in progress and many actions to come.

Members of Indivisible SF are defined by our action and find solidarity in our shared opposition to Trump and Trumpism. Each of us explicitly reserves our individual stances on specific issues for other forums as we believe resisting Trump is more important than any single issue. We adhere to a Code of Conduct that welcomes and respects everybody.

Members of Indivisible SF come from all kinds of backgrounds and political persuasions. Some of us are first-time activists and others have been at this for decades. We are citizens and non-citizens. Most importantly, we are all patriots that want the best for our country and are willing to work for it.

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