This weekend, many of us are voting in European and local elections. We also commemorate Memorial Day in the US, honoring those who gave their lives to defend the democracy that we so often take for granted. Last weekend, that democracy was in action, as Democrats Abroad held three days of global meetings in Washington, DC. Thanks to the DA Travel Fund, one our members, Annie Tanampai, was able to attend, and DA funded many more of us participating from afar via WebEx.
But fewer than 1% of DA members donate to help us defend this democracy. Please help us change this. Donate Now to Democrats Abroad on a global level. DA provides the resources for us to do what we need to do - from paying for phone calls to our members to social media advertising that helps us get out the vote among the millions of overseas Americans in Belgium and around the world. Our donations really do make a difference, as you saw in our Treasurer's Report at our March Annual General Meeting. So please make a donation now.
I also encourage you to join our Global Caucuses. You can read more about them on DA’s website, as well as meeting the newly-elected International Executive Committee. The Caucuses are open to all allies of the various groups so consider signing up, following them on social media, and even volunteering.
Here in Belgium, our events continue into June, thanks to our many volunteers!
- June 6th 6:30pm - Schaerbeek Pub Social - RSVP here
- June 12th 6:30pm - Brussels Film Night - Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9 - RSVP here
- June 27th - Extended ExCom Meeting & Debate Watch Party - pencil in the date and stay tuned for more details in our next email.
If any of you outside Brussels would like to organize a similar event and help us reach more Americans beyond the capital, please do get in touch with us! This is the time for us to raise awareness, ahead of our January 2020 voter registration drive.
A special shout out to the Leuven gang who helped register American exchange & graduate students at the university twice this year…they enjoyed a well-deserved drink on Election Night!
In Brussels, we watched Fox, CNN, and MSNBC until 5am in the same warm setting where we saw many a presidential debate in 2016.
DAB was proud to join the Lights 4 Rights group to mark the one year anniversary of our 2000-strong Brussels Women's March. The beautiful voices of Indigo Creative asbl led us in song (video on our Friends of Democrats Abroad Facebook page!) and we even able to give voting information to a few new Americans. If you haven't already requested your absentee ballots for 2018, be sure to go to www.VoteFromAbroad.org. See you at our next event, this coming Thursday!
We were very happy to welcome on November 6th Paula Jakub, the CEO of the AFSPA, which administers health insurance as part of the Federal Health Benefits program. Paula is also the Executive Director of the Senior Living Foundation and spoke to us of her learnings from running this non-profit organization that is devoted to helping elderly Foreign Service retirees and survivors. She also answered our questions on Medicare and Medicaid, Essential Health Benefits, long-term health insurance, pre-existing conditions, and the latest on the state of the Affordable Care Act. A special thanks to volunteer Sandra Keegan for having organized the comfortable venue, which helped soften the blow for some of us who realized we might never be able to move back to the US for a simple lack of affordable health care!
To all our members, please take part in the Tiny Action on Health Care - take a selfie in support of Universal Health Care - details on http://www.democratsabroad.org/healthcare_stories.
Thanks to the efforts of our determined GOTV Director, Tiffany Fliss, DAB was at KU Leuven's International Student Orientation Activity Fair on September 20th. Leuven DAB member Kevin Bardool and Chair Pauline Manos helped sign-up a dozen or so American citizens and encouraged all the other curious students (especially attracted by DA Germany's "Make America Gay Again" postcard!) to help us spread the word.
DA Belgium Chair, Pauline Manos, and Republicans Overseas Chair, Mike Kulbickas, spoke on a September 14th panel sponsored by the Université Libre de Bruxelles Extension Program at La Louvière: L' Amérique de Donald Trump....200 jours plus tard! It was a refreshingly civilized discussion (with even a few laughs) that covered a wide range of topics, from the values of each party to the history behind divergent views on issues from health care to foreign policy to immigration, with many thoughtful questions from the 70+ attendees. Our warm thanks to moderators Jean-Paul Renier and Salvatore Ribaudo for allowing us to move out of our "Brussels Bubble".
No pics, but we had a great Pub Social on August 16th - here's what our crowd looked like:
- age range: late 20s to 65+
- time in Belgium: two weeks to 40+ years
- political persuasion: self-proclaimed sort-of anarchist to fiscally conservative
- voting states: CA, FL, NM, NC, OR, and more
And our "Friends of DAB": Wallon, Flemish, Bruxelloise, British, and a couple of D.C. tourists and a vacationing American working in Senegal
THIS IS DAB, THIS IS AMERICA!!!!
Thank you, Paula Romanchak Cagli, for a great intro to Brussels' Art Nouveau treasures...a welcome reprieve from an intense political week!!!
This St-Gilles walking tour was guided by long-time DAB member, Paula Cagli, who holds a BA and an MA in Art History. After the tour, we moved on to a local pub for drinks and eats.
Half of all Americans are insured by the government via Medicare (for the elderly) or Medicaid (for the poor) - that was a surprise for many of us.
Nearly a third of Americans are covered by employer-based health plans, which the ACA mandated for companies of 50+ employees and which need to cover ten Essential Benefits.
20MM Americans gained access to insurance via the ACA; it is virtually the only way for an individual to purchase affordable insurance in the US's group-oriented/profit-driven market.
The AHCA (current House version) allows states to waive Essential Benefits, eliminates low-income subsidies for premiums, and cuts the taxes that were funding those subsidies and other parts of the plan.
The AHCA tax cuts are estimated to transfer $274 BILLION to the top 2% of US taxpayers…a reverse Robin Hood plan that shifts from the poor to the rich.
If we want to hold on to the more critical parts of the ACA, we’ll simply need a Democratic Congress….so stay registered to vote from abroad and make sure your American friends and family do the same ;-)
- Chair - Pauline Manos - email@example.com
- Vice-Chair - Jeffrey Edison - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Secretary - Simone Burger - email@example.com
- Treasurer - Sharon Bronzwaer - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Counsel - Natalie McNelis - email@example.com
- Member-at-Large - Tiffany Fliss - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Member-at-Large - Meredith Tandy-Spangenberg - email@example.com
We hope to see you on April 22nd at the Science March Brussels or at our May 16th US Health Care Discussion (details to follow but pencil in the date). And, given the time of year, you may also want to take a look at the DA Fatca Update that was recently posted on the global website.