News

Unprecedented Crowd Turnout Confirms Clear Demand For Immediate U.S. Expat Tax Reform

May 28, 2018

MELBOURE—With enormous local interest in navigating the labyrinth of U.S. taxes from abroad, Democrats Abroad Australia’s Victoria (DAA-VIC) chapter was pleased to host a tax seminar Sunday evening with university lecturer and U.S. tax attorney, Karen Powell. A graduate of Stanford Law School, Ms. Powell has extensive experience in tax matters ranging from federal and state courts to regulatory tax matters, and nowadays exercises her tax expertise in academia.

Karen Powell explaining a complicated aspect of expat taxation.

Held at the Jika Jika Community Centre in Northcote, Sunday’s event drew over fifty attendees. Topics covered by Ms. Powell included the basics of understanding taxes, the historical perspective of U.S. taxation, the tax implications of dual U.S.-Australian citizens who file in both countries with the Internal Revenue Service and the Australian Taxation Office, the tax differences on the state level between the U.S. and Australia, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (commonly known as FBAR), the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), and how individuals should calculate the risks involved in deciding to not comply with U.S. tax obligations.

Many questions were asked by attendees to the evening's key speaker. “The new tax law made sweeping changes to the U.S. tax code – the most significant since 1986,” Powell said. “But for individual expat filings, the overall structure generally remains unchanged. Although every expat should carefully consider their own unique situation, such as determining whether to claim the Foreign Tax Credit versus the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, it’s probably worth it to seek advice from a tax accounting professional who specializes in expat taxes.

Many US citizens living abroad have difficult taxation situations, only made more difficult by a complicated system.

Ms. Powell also touched on the impact of the updated tax code for American small business owners. In its haste to include Territorial Taxation for Corporations in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in 2017, Congress created two new “transition taxes” known as the Repatriation Tax and the Global Intangible Low-Tax Income (GILTI) Tax. While the likes of Google and Apple are able to sustain such revenue hits after hoarding billions of profits in overseas subsidiaries, American small business owners abroad are scrambling in fear over how to comply with the new law while surviving financially. Despite extensive lobbying from Democrats Abroad and other pro-expat interest groups, the GOP-led Congress chose to neglect fairer tax reforms for the estimated 9 million Americans living abroad.

Michael Ramos, who also serves on Democrats Abroad’s Taxation Task Force, was present at last night’s seminar. Praising Ms. Powell for her expertise on expat taxation, he offered take-action options for local Americans fed up with the latest changes to the tax code. “If you loved the unfair tax code and job-killing revenue measures for Americans living abroad beforehand, you’ll love the new hand-scribbled tax law passed solely by congressional Republicans. For years, so many overseas Americans have been subject to double-taxation, and many Americans have suffered financial discrimination so badly that they’re seriously considering renouncing their U.S. citizenship, if they haven’t already. To make matters worse, Republicans just hammered the final nail in the coffin for many overseas American business owners with the Repat and GILTI taxes,” Michael stated. “Fortunately, several members of Congress have shown great interest in assisting the Americans overseas community. Whether you’re retired in Melbourne or are doing a temporary study abroad, virtually all Democrats Abroad members want some sort of tax reform, so contacting your U.S. senators and representative demanding action is the best path we can take as their constituents.”

Michael Ramos, DA Taxation Task Force member, telling attendees what they can do to support fair taxation.

In response to attendees’ questions related to expat tax reform and voting absentee from Australia, DAA-VIC chair, Thomas Lopez, offered his thoughts. “I’m really glad Karen touched on the new tax law and how it hurts American small business owners overseas. Every American abroad who earns income locally should be demanding tax reform from our congressional officials.”

Lopez went on to state, “It all starts with voting. As overseas residents, we aren’t bombarded with TV commercials and daily reminders to vote like we experienced when living in the States. Voting from abroad doesn’t take much effort, and true tax reform that benefits ordinary working Americans – or the 99 percent of us who aren’t millionaires and billionaires – begins by electing Democrats.

American citizens residing overseas hold a unique view on U.S. taxation. With the expat perspective in mind, Democrats Abroad has taken several actions to inform members of Congress of the unintended consequences of the FATCA, the damage caused by the recently-passed “transition taxes” creation, the urgent need to switch from the current practice of citizenship-based taxation to residence-based taxation, among numerous other tax initiatives.

Following on the success of the last year’s Resistance Summer” campaign, the Democratic Party has unveiled its new “A Better Deal” campaign to fight the Trump-Republican agenda. The Democratic proposal includes rolling back the enormous GOP tax breaks and special-interest loopholes for the richest one percent, and instead invests that money in America’s teachers and other essential jobs. The current push for tax reform for Americans abroad is consistent with A Better Deal, and Democrats Abroad will continue to fight for a level playing field for tax fairness of U.S. citizens around the globe.

Yesterday’s tax seminar with Ms. Powell coincides with Democrats Abroad’s full representative body passing a resolution in support of abolishing citizenship-based taxation and moving to the more fairer residence-based taxation. The resolution also urges the Democratic National Committee to formally recognize the serious tax issues Americans abroad face, and calls on Congress to take action to rectify the current practice of unfair expat taxation. Although Sunday’s tax seminar was not video-recorded out of respect for privacy requests, DAA-VIC members can still review essential expat tax information from a Democrats Abroad-held webinar from 2017 by clicking here.

To learn more about Democrats Abroad’s tax advocacy efforts, or if you would like to sign up to receive e-mail updates from the DA Taxation Task Force, please click here.

DAA-VIC Vice Chair Marybeth Yarosh contributed to this article.

###

Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia is an active and dedicated group of members whose primary focus is exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, in addition to raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.

+

Use your voice: VOTE

VICTORIA – With two special elections behind us and primaries right around the corner Victoria Members of Democrats Abroad Australia (DAA) met via phone conference to ensure equal opportunity for all Victorian members to contribute to the Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaign planning. Now more than ever every vote, every voice, every person counts. The win and loss in Pennsylvania and Arizona highlight the importance of every vote. Trump carried both districts by almost 20 points. Conor Lamb (D) was able to beat out the Republican candidate but by a narrow margin of just 755 votes. In Arizona, even though Hiral Tipirneni (D) eventually lost to the Republican candidate she fought a hard battle and showed that the Republican tide was starting to turn blue as she closed the margin to just 5 points.

Recognizing the importance of every person DAA-Victoria Chair Thomas Lopez organised the first of monthly GOTV phone conferences. Joining voices from, not just Melbourne, but across Victoria as far as the Peninsula. Lopez stated, “Democrats living in rural areas gave a valuable perspective on our GOTV planning. By utilizing internet conferencing we’re able to reach further easier. It’s about reaching the largest amount of people possible.”

After ramping up the crowd Chair Lopez outlined important upcoming events in the DAA – Victoria calendar including the State Chapter AGM in June, monthly Politics and Pint sessions, and an expat tax seminar. DAA members expressed excitement about being able to learn more about the American overseas taxation policies.

DAA-Vic. is currently ramping up efforts to boost its social media outreach for GOTV and DA recruitment purposes. Efforts include the development of a strategy that will help lead the chapter going forward to increase both membership and awareness of GOTV events. A lively debate ensued about the pros and cons of varies social media outlets. A decision was made to focus energy on Facebook over other platforms.

The question was raised as to whether DAA– Victoria should get involved in other American themed groups or events to spread understanding of the GOTV campaign. “It’s about targeting people who may not already be politically engaged.” Vice Chair Marybeth Yarosh agreed with the suggestion, saying “It would be good to get more creative in how we engage people. Go to them instead of hoping they come to us.” Areas to explore include events during American holidays, USA themed meet-ups, and viewing parties for large US sporting events. Members with links to any events should contact Chair Lopez with their suggestions.

The floor opened to a discussion about the GOTV campaign. Ideas flowed in from across the state. Suggestions were made to improve voting amongst university students. A member suggested a movie viewing party; the airing of a US political themed movie with a topical guest speaker. University spaces, community halls and libraries were all listed as potential locations. “It could be a fun event, something out of the ordinary, to open ourselves to new people.”

Chair Lopez took the opportunity to announce that DAA – Victoria is joining the other Australian chapters in a hunt for a university outreach volunteer. Updates of the role will be posted to Facebook. Stay tuned for more information.

Members left feeling excited about the upcoming elections and with a more focused understanding of their role in GOTV.

Upcoming events save the date:

  •  4 to 6pm, Sunday 27 May 2018: U.S. expat tax seminar

  • 2 to 4 pm, Saturday 16 June 2018, Victoria Chapter AGM

  • Monthly GOTV phone conference. All DAA – Victoria members are urged to attend to keep the momentum moving forward. Request your ballot.

  • 4 July: The next Politics and a Pint will also be our first holiday-themed event of the year. 

+

As Primaries Inch Closer, GOTV Efforts Become the Priority

February 13, 2018

MELBOURE—With Texas and Illinois being only weeks away from holding the first primaries, this past weekend Victorian members of Democrats Abroad Australia (DAA) began the election season with one goal in mind: Democrats re-taking control of Congress. The Republican leadership of the current Congress has proven to be deeply unpopular, and the recently-passed Republican Tax Scam has only added fuel to the already-raging fire burning within Americans across the globe.

Meeting at the Pg.2 cafe in Richmond, DAA-Victoria members pounced on the momentum of recent Democratic victories on the state and federal level, and enthusiastically gathered to discuss several items to “take back Congress.” The agenda focused primarily on getting-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts.

“Make no mistake, we’re in full campaign mode,” said DAA-Victoria Chair Thomas Lopez. “The time to ramp up efforts for overseas Americans with voter registration, in addition to pounding the phones with reminders for DA members to vote, starts right now.” Indeed, DAA members in Victoria are absentee voters from almost every state and the chair’s emphasis on reaching out to these voters had the unanimous backing of the members present.

Chair Thomas Lopez begins reviewing the agenda of the day.

During the meeting, Lopez stated, “With Presidents’ Day fast approaching, it’s hard to not think of the severe damage that the current president and the Republican agenda have inflicted on everyday citizens and America’s global reputation. Our members realize this which is why our get-out-the-vote mission will be our number one goal from now until Election Day. This essentially translates into a three-step process: getting Americans in Victoria registered to vote, getting them to request their ballots, and getting them to mail their ballots back.

A remarkable amount of volunteerism was seen at the chapter’s GOTV meeting. Chris Stueckle, the former DAA national secretary with formal U.S. election officer training, offered her assistance to any member with absentee voting questions. New member Chelsea Deng contributed heavily to the discussion and indicated interest in helping the leadership with its online presence. With letters-to-the-editor already published, Kenn Feldman committed to continuing his efforts to get the Democratic message in print media.

A motion by former DAA national vice chair Dr. Ersie Burke to increase chapter efforts to meet with members in regional Victoria was seconded by Liz Maasen. A regional chapter meeting in the northern part of the state is likely on the horizon for the weekend before the Easter holiday. Once confirmed, details of the event will be made available on the DAA website, DAA-Victoria Facebook group, and via e-mail to all members from Chair Lopez.

DAA-Victoria member Bill Cook recently highlighted the importance of voting in the upcoming mid-term elections and spoke with Mr. Lopez about the best avenue for all

Americans abroad to request their ballots. His “progressive talk” podcast can be heard at the 00:07:35 mark here.

Chair Lopez also announced his recent appointment of chapter member Marybeth Yarosh as DAA-Victoria vice chair. “Marybeth has been intricately involved with our chapter for a while now. She has more than earned her spot with a leadership position and with this being an election year, I look forward to working with her in strategizing to help and encourage Victoria-based Americans to get their ballots sent in.”

Moreover, members were reminded to keep an eye out for attempts to fire or undermine the Trump-Russia investigative efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller. If Mueller is fired because of “politics” and not, say, professional misbehavior, Democrats Abroad has called for the House of Representatives to begin impeachment hearings immediately. As a reminder from DA’s international executive committee, all members are discouraged from protesting or demonstrating directly in front U.S. embassies and consulates – under the name of Democrats Abroad – in the possible event of a Mueller firing. Instead, all members are strongly urged to contact their elected congressional officials demanding action.

The “Take Back Congress” initiative is the chapter’s highest priority for the time being; however, DAA-Victoria members should not neglect to vote in state and local races whenever possible. A list of key electoral dates for all members to review can be viewed here.

For the next Melbourne-based chapter meeting, members are encouraged to submit ideas for a new meeting venue. Any location recommendation should consider a reasonably quiet space for member discussion, an ideally wheelchair-accessible venue, and preferably a site with little to no cost associated with using it.

Vice-chair Yarosh contributed to this article.

###

Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia is an active and dedicated group of members whose primary focus is exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, in addition to raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.

+

Democrats Demand Fairness and Gender Equality in Second Global Women’s March

22 January 2018

MELBOURE—One year ago, the day after the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, record numbers of protesters hit the streets of every country around the globe to demand long-overdue fair and equal treatment of women in society. In Washington, D.C. alone, it was estimated that the 2017 Women’s March was the largest protest demonstration in recorded U.S. history. Since then, the movement has only grown in intensity and drive. Amplified by the voices of millions of women who have come out publicly, sharing their experiences and demanding action from a nation that finally started listening. Despite these calls for gender equality, the White House and Republican lawmakers have – shockingly – rejected the American people’s overwhelming call for pro-women and pro-equality reforms.

Members of the Women's March on Melbourne showing their passion

As a result, yesterday in the highly-visible downtown area of Melbourne, members of Democrats Abroad Australia-Victoria (DAA-Vic.) joined with other Melburnians, union members, environmentalists, and other women activists to reiterate the message that overseas Americans refuse to be silenced on issues affecting women.

With chants booming through streets, the scene from Alexandra Gardens to Flinders Street Station was an impressive one. Among the vocal demonstrators were some expatriate Americans clearly dissatisfied with arguably the most anti-women’s rights president and Congress of the modern era. Participants of the second Global Women’s March called for a halt in ongoing sexual harassment, the need to respect the lifestyle of those identifying as LGBT women, a review of policies seen as biased against women, and an encouraging message for increased female candidates to all elected office positions.

DAA-Vic. member Melissa Goffin was a lead organizer of the Melbourne event. Major news outlets such as The Age, SBS, and The Guardian all took notice of Goffin’s dedicated involvement. Goffin and other organizers received additional planning assistance coming from fellow DAA-Vic. members Anne Webb and Brigette Relyea.

Recent online trends such as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continue to make waves on social media, in reference to the number of women who have had to endure unsolicited sexual advances, sexual harassment, and even rape at the hands of people who, in most cases, faced little or no punitive repercussions in response to their criminal behavior. “It’s a shame that in the twenty-first century we still have to fight for the respect and equality deserved between men and women. And sadly, not enough is being done to prevent or prosecute sexual assaults. Until these injustices are corrected, Democrats will continue to stay vocal in demanding reform from U.S. lawmakers,” stated Marybeth Yarosh, an active member of the DAA-Vic. chapter. Goffin added, “It’s a new era of feminism.

Reports of the 2018 Women’s March in Melbourne range from 500 to 1,000, although these numbers are disputed by those who were in attendance. They argue the number was likely closer to 2,000 participants.

As 2018 is an election year in the United States, all DAA-Vic. members are reminded to immediately request ballots for all 2018 elections in which you are eligible to vote. Chair Lopez also announced that the next meeting of the Victoria Chapter will be announced within days after confirmation of venue location, date, and time. Items expected to be discussed include details on the chapter’s upcoming efforts for getting out the vote, or GOTV, in addition to notifying members of recent DA leadership changes.

###

Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia is an active and dedicated group of members whose primary focus is exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, in addition to raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.


+

Holiday Gathering Brings Local Democrats To Focus On 2018

MELBOURE—With the year winding down and Americans across the globe spending the holidays with their loved ones, the Victorian chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia (DAA) met for the final time last Saturday before the new year commenced. The chapter chair, Thomas Lopez, conducted a year-in-review and shared his vision for 2018.

DAA-VIC Chair Thomas Lopez introducing Martha McDevitt-Pugh

The event was not without excitement and enthusiasm as native Californian and current U.S. expatriate in the Netherlands, Martha McDevitt-Pugh, paid a visit to Melbourne and eagerly joined the Victorian chapter to provide an update on several initiatives within the Democratic National Committee (DNC). McDevitt-Pugh is a trusted voice within key circles in the Democratic Party, and a titan among the advocates fighting for the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons.

In addition to co-chairing DA’s Global LGBT Caucus and formerly chairing DA-Netherlands, McDevitt-Pugh was also elected by DA to be part of its eight-person delegation as members of the DNC. During her hour-and-a-half-long conversation with DAA-Victoria members, McDevitt-Pugh provided invaluable input to the chapter’s discussion and offered her thoughts on upcoming DA and DNC efforts.

During the roundtable discussion with McDevitt-Pugh, chapter members were given the opportunity to express concerns about both the direction of the DNC and their hopes for the direction the party will take them in the future. When asked by local member Terry Huddy if the DNC is making any changes in response to the 2016 presidential contest, McDevitt-Pugh was able to give insight on the shifting focus of the party through its new leadership elected in early 2017. Moving forward, the DNC will aim for strong Democratic candidates in every election. While the overall goal will be to present voters with the choice of Democratic candidates at every level, she highlighted the particular importance of electing Democratic governors in 2018 to fight for fair census redistricting and voter rights legislation.

“If you want something to happen in the world, you’ve got to step up,” urged McDevitt-Pugh. “In 2017, Germany, Malta, and Australia all finally recognized gay marriage—this isn’t an accident on any account, it was achieved because you and I and millions of others spoke out about the unfairness of LGBT discrimination,” she added.

At the most recent DNC meeting, McDevitt-Pugh spoke with U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and other key lawmakers about upcoming items on the congressional agenda. Carrying on the momentum of Doug Jones’ mid-December Alabama Senate victory, Democrats plan to continue running candidates in every possible race on the federal, state, and local levels in every U.S. zip code.

McDevitt-Pugh also spoke of her role as a DNC member in fighting for grant funding to assist DA with its overseas get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts. Local member Chris Stueckle stated, “I’m thankful that even in Australia I could genuinely help individuals having problems wanting to vote but not knowing how—like an overseas woman I knew who tried to vote in Michigan and was rejected, but only through DA assistance was it determined that she was, in fact, eligible to vote in Oklahoma. I would love to see DA having more resources to help overseas Americans with voting assistance.” According to McDevitt-Pugh, all eight of DA’s DNC members are pushing the party leadership for full grant funding to assist with overseas GOTV phone calls, online discussions and other uses of necessary technology which makes it easier for Americans abroad to learn about candidates, the direction of the party, voting, and corresponding with U.S. elected officials.

DAA-VIC members engaged in a lively Q&A


Chair Lopez summed up the importance of the guest visit. “I believe we all gained valuable insight on what the party is doing globally and domestically because of Martha’s heavy involvement and I applaud her for the tremendous efforts she’s put in over the years. Martha has never once wavered in her commitment to pushing for LGBT rights even when facing enormous political challenges and living over 5,000 miles away from her hometown. We should all be inspired to take more action after hearing Martha speak. I hope if she visits Melbourne again that she re-visits us,” he stated.

Having recently transferred DA membership from Japan to DAA-Victoria, Brigette Relyea expressed her deep appreciation for McDevitt-Pugh’s tireless work and perspective in creating the kind of change many Democrats felt was long overdue.

Both Lopez and McDevitt-Pugh strongly emphasized the point for all DAA-Victoria members to double-check their voter registration status in their home state and to request a ballot for upcoming primary elections. Members are now eligible to do so here (or here).

Chapter members discussing our plans for 2018

The chapter meeting also touched on the 2017 success of the DNC’s “Resistance Summer” initiative. McDevitt-Pugh stated that Democrats both stateside and overseas have pledged to fight to preserve the Obama legacy, reject harmful policies brought forth by Republican officials and the Trump Administration, and demand attention on those issues willfully ignored by conservative policymakers such as U.S. mass shootings and the expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Moreover, in a move supported by all in the party, the DNC’s Unity Reform Commission recently proposed major changes to the party’s internal structure. The report from the DNC meeting, held in Las Vegas in October, can be viewed here.

As 2018 promises to usher in more chaos within the White House and likely more unpopular measures brought forth in the Republican-led Congress, DA members can be sure of at least three special elections for congressional races happening where members can be involved in GOTV efforts.

The chair announced the next meeting of the Victoria Chapter to be tentatively set for mid-February 2018. The exact date, time, and location will be posted on the DAA-Victoria web site once confirmed.

Marybeth Yaroush contributed to this article.

###

Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia is an active and dedicated group of members whose primary focus is exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, in addition to raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.

+

Congressional Candidate Makes His Case in Unseating GOP Incumbent

November 13, 2017

MELBOURNE—In a rare opportunity for Americans living overseas to hear directly from a congressional candidate challenging an incumbent, the Victorian chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia (DAA) earlier tonight hosted Brian Forde, a Democratic candidate running for the U.S. House of Representatives in California’s 45th Congressional District for an hour-long discussion on several hot-topic issues. Less than an hour’s drive southeast of Los Angeles, the 45th District includes the Irvine, Tustin, and Mission Viejo urban centers along with several other notable Orange County communities.

Forde, a former senior White House official specializing in telecommunications and technology issues, is one of a handful of Democrats running in 2018 to oust the Republican incumbent, Rep. Mimi Walters. Mr. Forde joined DAA-Victoria during his visit to Australia.

The DAA-Victoria Chair, Thomas Lopez, welcomed Forde to Melbourne and offered gratitude for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with local Democrats. Other members also expressed appreciation for Forde’s willingness to learn more about the concerns of Americans living abroad.

With a robust discussion on how lawmakers could be doing more to include, monitor, test, and utilize information technology (IT), Forde spoke at length on his vision for the next Congress to consider more the role of IT in crafting U.S. policy. According to Mr. Forde, “People think autonomous vehicles are science fiction. In reality, the IT wave is already here, it’s happening now. Practically every aspect of modern life includes technology whether it’s the exponential increase of drone usage or analyzing algorithms of systems determining if a parolee is likely to fall into biased recidivism monitoring.”

Forde was asked by DAA members how his candidacy differs compared to the other Democrats running for the CA-45 seat. “I think I bring diversity in several ways. For instance, the average age of a member of Congress is 72. I bring youth, enthusiasm, expertise in the IT sector, the living abroad experience, and I’m the only candidate who has significant business experience that can relate to the everyday American worker -- something incredibly important in my district as there are many small business owners and operators.” Forde continued, “If I have the privilege of being elected, I’d love to serve on the Science, Space and Technology Committee, or the Education and the Workforce Committee to become more involved in promoting S.T.E.M. [science, technology, education and mathematics] education.”

Not all conversation was IT-infused. DAA member Josh Bendat, a local university student, stated, “I’m really glad Brian spoke about gun violence in America. This is a conversation that needs to keep happening until Congress does something about it. Brian said he’d receive an 'F' from the NRA [National Rifle Association]. And it was interesting to hear about California’s firearms database compared to other states.”

After the meeting, Chair Lopez offered his thoughts. “Brian is a formidable congressional candidate. He certainly brings a unique perspective to the race from his time in the White House and living in different countries, not to mention his business-related experience. We were fortunate to have Brian willing to speak to us especially since congressional candidates don’t often take time away from their busy campaigns to speak to their overseas constituents. I’m confident that our members in Victoria who vote in California’s 45th District will consider Brian’s and other candidates’ credentials and vote accordingly,” Lopez stated.

According to the Election Assistance Commission, the state of California led the nation in voting by mail in 2016, with absentee ballots representing more than 50 percent of the total ballots cast there.

CA-45’s incumbent, Rep. Walters, most recently won re-election but district voters favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Rep. Walters has also battled ethics inquiries in the past during her time in the state legislature, and since her time in Congress has received petitions calling for her to hold in-person town halls with constituents. Her voting record has been closely watched and has received even more scrutiny after her unpopular May vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Many political experts and observers view this seat as completely “flippable” in Democrats taking back the House of Representatives if voter outreach and resources are readily made available. Indeed, Democrats have targeted Walters’ seat and intend on hammering the congresswoman for her pro-Trump agenda voting record.

As California’s election primary is still several months away, as a standard policy, Democrats Abroad does not endorse any candidate when there is more than one Democrat running in the same race for any U.S.-based elected office as per its by-laws, thereby giving every Democratic candidate an equal opportunity to campaign on a level playing field.

FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY: To learn more about Brian Forde and his campaign, see here.

###

Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia is an active and dedicated group of members whose primary focus is exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, in addition to raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.

+

Chair’s Report: Congress Ripe For Democratic Takeover

GEELONG—In a room consisting of Americans from the Geelong and Melbourne areas, Democrats Abroad Australia’s (DAA) Victoria chapter heard from several members on matters ranging from expatriate taxation to registering voters on college campuses to congressional hearings. A larger-than-expected turnout led to higher participation among members in soliciting ideas and volunteering for chapter initiatives.

The Chair of DAA-Victoria, Thomas Lopez, opened the meeting with a discussion on why he and others remain involved with U.S. politics while living thousands of miles away from the homeland. Responses included reasons such as regaining America’s reputation lost to President Trump’s ill-advised policies, reforming the U.S. tax code to improve the financial well-being of Americans abroad, and several other reasons cited.

The dialogue then evolved to a reminder for members who vote in Virginia, Utah, Alabama, or New Jersey to cast their ballot in upcoming special elections. Meanwhile, the Republican majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives appear to be on edge stemming from their controversial votes supporting the repeal and replacement of the highly popular Affordable Care Act. As Democrats move forward in spreading a populist message on improving American policies, Republicans in Congress are scrambling in disarray and showing vulnerability in leading up to Election Day in November 2018. Only 24 House seats need to be flipped from red to blue in preserving a Democratic majority and thus halt the misaligned Trump agenda.

Chair, Thomas Lopez, explaining the Victoria Chapter's strategy for increasing and engaging membership.

Heading the DAA-Victoria task force on voter registration, Melburnian Marybeth Yarosh brainstormed several suggestions in getting local college students from the U.S. registered to vote and participate in DAA activities. With several ideas worth pursuing, members interested in assisting with the Task Force should contact the chapter’s Chair.

Lopez also reiterated the importance of Democratic get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts in 2018 in the chapter’s “take back Congress” goal heading into the mid-terms.

“Working toward a high voter turnout is our top priority, especially from U.S. citizens in Australia. But there’s so much more we as Americans abroad can do besides simply casting a ballot,” Lopez said. “We can encourage as many Americans in Victoria as possible to ensure their voter registration status is up to date back in their home state. We can make phone calls to voters in any U.S. district to remind them to vote. We can talk to our friends and family who are still undecided on who to vote for. We can donate to GOTV efforts in several capacities. With the Trump-McConnell-Ryan agenda slowly destroying everything great about America, I can assure you Victorian Democrats are fired up and eager to repeal and replace Republicans.”

Additionally, local members from the Geelong region expressed high interest in becoming more involved with DAA activism. Mr Lopez spoke of his desire to reach out to more Democrats outside of the Melbourne region and ensuring their inclusion in the chapter’s efforts. “One of the things I promised our members back when I was running for chair was that I wanted to do everything I could to bring into the fold those Democrats who aren’t able to regularly attend meetings in Melbourne. Today is only the first of hopefully many other face-to-face meetings around Victoria. I look forward to meeting all of Victoria’s members and encouraging them to become involved, volunteer, and ultimately, vote.”

Lopez hinted at a surprise special guest speaker at a chapter meeting shortly. The membership was reminded to save November 13th on their calendar as a potential meeting in Melbourne’s CBD area upon confirming details. With the American winter season inching closer, DAA members in Victoria approaching summer are scorching hot and motivated to take action and continue growing its membership.

###

Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia is an active and dedicated group of members that primarily focus on exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, in addition to raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.
+

Support Universal Health Care in America by Sharing your Overseas Experience Stories

It was late at night, and we were rushing to the emergency room. We didn't have time to think about things, so we took our baby to the closest children's hospital. We entered the emergency room, quickly checked in and were seen by a nurse right away. After being checked over by a doctor, she determined that we had nothing to worry about, that it was a false alarm. As we left the hospital, the nurses gave us smiles. We checked out quickly and drove home, tired but relieved. What we did not have to worry about was “how are we going to pay for this?”, or “does our insurance cover those tests?,” or ”was that hospital in our network?” because I'm an American living in Australia, where healthcare doesn't bankrupt people or force them into making major life decisions between health and finances.

Study after study shows that an emergency room visit in the United States can cost an uninsured person thousands of dollars. Thousands of Americans living homeless on the streets are there because of having to declare bankruptcy after paying skyrocketing medical bills. This means if your family is uninsured and something happens, you have to make the heart-breaking decision to take someone to the emergency room knowing it will ruin you financially. Choosing between health and money is a decision no one should have to make. Luckily the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) has shrunk the level of uninsured in America to historic lows. 

But the 60+ efforts of the Republicans to repeal the ACA will shrink back the level of insured in America by at least 30 million people according to the several independent reports. Millions of more Americans will have to go to the emergency room knowing it cost them dearly. As independent experts have confirmed over and over, Republican plans to repeal the ACA would leave tens of millions of Americans without essential health coverage, regardless if they call it the Better Healthcare Reconciliation Act, the “skinny repeal,” Graham-Cassidy, or any other disguise.

Having lived in the United States and Australia, I've experienced and experienced both healthcare systems. In Australia, health care is purely a decision about health, what is best for you or your family, how we can treat and prevent illness, and how we can all live better lives. In America, where health care is a for-profit industry, the decision is about health and money. The two have to be made together and often compromises the hard choices that must be made such as:

We need to see our General Practitioner; can we afford the deductible right now?

Our insurance premiums have gone up; can we risk being uninsured for a few months?

This procedure isn't covered by my insurance; can I go without it?

No one should compromise necessary health care due to the amount of money they make. No one should be forced into these decisions any longer.

Democrats Abroad want to hear about your overseas healthcare experience. Please go to http://www.democratsabroad.org/healthcare_stories to share your story. Our stories will be shared directly with members of Congress to show the importance of Universal Health Care

+

No Signs of Slowing Down in Victorian Democrats’  ‘Resistance Summer’

August 19, 2017

MELBOURNE—In preparation for the 2018 congressional mid-term elections, members of the Victorian chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia (DAA) met Saturday afternoon at The Kingston Hotel with a full agenda up for discussion. Fresh off a chapter protest of the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United v. FEC campaign-finance reform case, those in attendance were clearly motivated to continue resisting Republican policies and taking political activism to the next level as evidenced by the numerous members in attendance.

After taking a moment of silence for the victims of recent violence by white supremacists, Klansmen, and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, members descended into spirited dialogue on what local Democrats could do to continue the Party’s “summer resistance” to the Trump administration.

Thomas Lopez, the state chair, laid out a strategic vision for what actions the members should engage in to improve their chances of Democratic victories in next November’s elections.

"I’m not at all surprised that our members like Marybeth and Liz immediately volunteered to participate in leading the newly-created local task forces in addition to others wanting to contribute to the Women’s Caucus 2018 calendar creation of noteworthy women in American history. I am proud to work alongside Democrats in Victoria who are always prepared to step up when called upon," stated Mr. Lopez.

Among the key points stressed by Mr. Lopez was a reminder to have every American living locally to vote in all eligible upcoming U.S. elections, and the importance of the chapter doing everything possible to regain a Democratic majority in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Longer-term goals discussed by Lopez included fighting President Trump’s anti-American policies and continuing to urge federal legislators to enact residency-based taxation, and initiative which was well-received. Democrats Abroad encourages all members to review its “RBT Campaign In A Box” (http://bit.ly/2rgYUSY) to become familiar with this popular issue among Americans abroad.

Also discussed were the various initiatives currently undertaken by Democrats across the globe including effective communications with legislators and issues important to the U.S expatriate community.

The next meeting of the Victorian chapter is tentatively scheduled for mid-November, with a possible in-between date in a regional Victoria location in committing to member outreach outside of the greater Melbourne area. The dates, times and locations will be posted on the DAA-Victoria web site once confirmed, Lopez said.

###

Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia is an active and dedicated group of members that primarily focus on exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, in addition to raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.


+

Welcome to the Democrats Abroad Victoria chapter!


Welcome to the Democrats Abroad Victoria Chapter!

The Victoria chapter is a dedicated group of Democrats living in Victoria.  We work with Democrats of all stripes to further the principals of the Democratic Party.

Be sure to visit the Events section for upcoming events in Victoria. Upon joining Democrats Abroad, you'll receive information about our Facebook group. Please join our facebook group at our Democrats Abroad Australia Victoria Chapter Facebook page.

New voting legislation requires that you register to vote every election. To register and request an absentee ballot, use the handy portal at www.votefromabroad.org, which outlines deadlines and requirements for each state. For answers to specific questions, it is best you contact your local Board of Elections. The US Consulates in Australia also have voter assistance - see http://canberra.usembassy.gov/voting.html

To see how you can help out with events and Get Out the Vote calling campaigns, contact the Chair, Thomas Lopez


+