GSC 2023 November Newsletter

EDITION 19 November 2023




Chair’s Corner

Let's talk about what world peace means. I don't mean the kind of manufactured peace that comes once a year for New Year, Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Hijra, etc. I mean real world peace:

  • when people come together to celebrate each other and their differences;
  • when enemies face each other and learn mercy and forgiveness;
  • when violence to solve problems becomes a thing of the past;
  • when we can celebrate an Earth that we are caring for rather than an Earth we are destroying on a daily basis;
  • when guns will be replaced with flowers;
  • when holy books will be studied for their interesting omissions rather than as rules of living;
  • when all people can believe in any god they want or not believe in a god at all and
  • when children will learn from parents that kindness is better than cruelty.

As an older person, this is my hope for the world in which we live, and I invite all DA Seniors to consider what they envisage for world peace. 

— Betsy Ettorre, Chair of the Seniors Caucus


from the Editor

I must begin with tragic news. Seniors Caucus Steering Committee member Dan Smith and his wife Gaia received word that her brother and his wife, Lilach and Tari, were missing after the attack on Berri Kibbutz on 7 October. A few days later word reached them that Paul, Lilach’s Pilipino caretaker, was found at the kibbutz, his body had been identified by an Israel forensic teams. On Tuesday, 17 October, with the help of the Italian Embassy in Jerusalem, Gaia received news that Lilach’s body was also located among the dead. They await news of Tari from her family. 

Light a candle to dispel the darkness, and whatever your spiritual practice, say a prayer for peace for citizens. The world longs for visionary leadership. 

On October 1st we celebrated President Carter’s 99th birthday! That lead me to take a look back on a life well lived. He was a controversial President in that he said what he thought, cared more for people than politics, and did what he thought was right,  not what he thought was politically advantageous. He was future looking, a visionary, but far ahead of where the press or corporate America was ready to be. 

If you haven’t seen this wonderful documentary Jimmy Carter - Rock and Roll President, please do. The trailer can be found on the film website or on YouTube.

Writer of more than 29 books, carpenter, painter, peanut farmer and businessman, Naval officer, Nobel laureate and President of the United States, he continues to inspire. 

In researching his life I found a treasure trove of videos on YouTube. I hope you all take some time out of your busy lives to enjoy watching this history, and enjoy this reminder of what a good human he truly is. A few selections: 

Interview with Jon Snow - not to miss - Jimmy talks candidly about the Middle East

Why I Believe the Mistreatment of Women is the Number One Human Rights Issue

Truth Be Told - A Jimmy Carter Mini Documentary 

In Their Own Words: Jimmy Carter Discussion

The Virtues of Aging 

There are many more, including a virtual tour of the Carter Center in Atlanta Georgia. I encourage you to listen to them all. 




Repeating from our previous newsletter, in 2024 we have a historic opportunity to fight back against the rise of GOP extremism and keep four critical Senate seats blue.  Forward Blue started the $4 for 4 Fund. By chipping in just $4, you can help us elect to keep the Senate Blue! 

Also, by donating to Democrats Abroad you will help us reach more voters overseas and encourage them to vote. Speaking of reaching voters….. 

Phonebankers needed!

Thank you for the enthusiastic response to the Voter Assistance Trainings. So far, 77 people have taken at least 1 of the 2 modules.

And we've added more training sessions for October. If you'd like a training session at a specific date and/or time, please let us know and we'll set it up.

To sign up, please go to:

Training is for both new and experienced volunteers as voting information has changed considerably over the last few election cycles. We have two sessions:

  • "Voter Registration & Ballot Request" -- all the information a voting assistance volunteer needs to help voters with filling out and submitting their FPCA forms using, and how to find answers to voting questions.
  • "Ballot Receipt & Return" -- training on how to help voters with common problems receiving and then returning their voted ballots by the deadline.

Every volunteer who completes both sessions is tagged with "2023 VAT Volunteer”.

And if you haven't done so already, please take a look at Voting Basics. Please take 15 minutes to refresh your voting knowledge -- and you may learn something new!

Please let us know if you have any questions. And if you want to set up your own training sessions for your volunteers, get in touch and we'll get you the materials you'll need.

On behalf of the Voter Assistance Training Team,

Heidi, Linda, Randi, Ellie, and Andrew

New Jersey voters

Seniors Caucus Steering Committee member and New Jersey voter, Brendan Read, shared his thoughts in this important message about voting this year and saving Democracy. 

Ohio Issue 1

“No in August, Yes in November”. That’s the mantra for Ohio voters this November on reproductive rights for Ohio women. 

In August, Ohio voters rejected a measure with a 60% NO vote that would have changed the simple majority rule to pass state constitutional amendments to a 60% supermajority. Ohio legislature boasts a 67-32 Republican majority. A Yes vote would have given them unprecedented powers over voters. 

Reproductive rights is on the ballot again this November. Ohioans for Reproductive Rights is the group advancing November’s reproductive rights amendment. A YES vote on this measure would establish “a fundamental right to reproductive freedom” with “reasonable limits.” Issue 1, the proposed constitutional amendment that would ensure reproductive rights in Ohio, is explained in this short article. 

State Teams

DA’s State Teams continue to have huge impacts on laws and legislatures back home. Last year New Jerseyans won back the right to vote downballot.

Have you signed up to help out our State Teams? We’re building from the ground up, and taking on issues of importance state by state. You can join a team, or if you have questions, email the organizers.

Facebook State Groups

For the past 10+ years, volunteers from Democrats Abroad have run groups for each U.S. state on Facebook. They post state-specific voting deadlines and “how to” information on all aspects of voting. If you’re curious about your voting state group, you can read about them here, and find you state group here



California Governor Newsom announces the Right to Safety Constitutional Amendment - an Amendment to end our nation’s gun violence crisis

“California just became the first state in the nation to officially propose an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to end our nation’s gun violence crisis. See the article.

The future is not something to experience, it's something to manifest. It's decisions, not conditions, that determine our fate and future.

The other side is counting on us to give up and give in. They want us to believe that it doesn't matter what laws states like California or even Congress pass, that the courts will just throw them out. So why even try?


We have the capacity to go on offense and change the course of history for our kids. Because guns are the number one killer of our kids, and we have the capacity to turn that around. 

That is what the Right to Safety Constitutional Amendment does.”

President Biden created a federal Office of Gun Violence Prevention

It couldn’t have come at a better time or been announced by a better person. David Hogg of March For Our Lives, Leaders We Deserve, and Democratic Values had this to say:

“I’m (almost) at a loss for words sharing this announcement with you,

President Joe Biden just announced the creation of a federal Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

This win couldn’t have happened without the non-stop work of young leaders and activists across the country, including everyone at March For Our Lives. After four long years of protests, registering thousands of young voters, meeting after meeting, and MANY Zoom calls…we did it!!!

Here’s why we can draw a direct line from our work to the Biden administration’s new Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

When we talk about electing the “leaders we deserve,” we’re talking about folks like Maxwell Frost, one of our Advisory Board members and the first Gen-Z Member of Congress.

And when we talk about leveraging the power of the youth vote, we’re talking about years of record-breaking youth voting turnout that led us to this announcement.

In the last five years, we went from having the most pro-NRA president in American history to the most pro-gun safety president in American history. Young people were critical in electing Biden.

Our voices and votes matter. But we need to elect more young people to make sure we build power on the inside and outside of politics

Help us carry this momentum and get more life-saving sh*t done by splitting a donation of $5 between Democratic Values and Leaders We Deserve.

We should celebrate this momentous victory — but it doesn’t mean we can slow down or stop anytime soon.

There is still so much work to be done, from tackling the climate crisis to expanding abortion access to building a country that isn’t run by the rich and powerful few.

There is a long road ahead of us, and we need your help if we’re going to score more wins, elect more young people to office, and stop the fascist takeover of our country.”

Ed. We MUST ban AR’s and all other military gear from our streets and neighborhoods!



Tell Congress: Hands off Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid!

Republicans have released their budget proposal, which they plan to pass before September 30th as the only option for averting a government shutdown. While it doesn’t cut Social Security and Medicare immediately, they do plan to slash nearly $2 trillion from Medicaidand create a closed-door commission empowered to cut Social Security and Medicare.

President Biden has rightly called such a commission a “death panel for Medicare and Social Security.” We must make our voices heard to save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security!

The only reason to make changes to Social Security via a closed-door, fast-track commission is if you’re trying to cut benefits and blame someone else. The American people love Social Security, and even 73% of Republicans want it to be expanded, not cut. Instead of cowering in a closet, politicians should listen to the people and expand benefits.

Republicans desperately want Democrats to provide cover for Social Security cuts, which are rightfully unpopular with voters of all parties. That’s why their budget calls for a 'bipartisan' commission. Democrats should refuse to cooperate, and Congress should drop the idea altogether.

Tell Congress: Hands off Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid!

Thank you,

Michael Phelan
Social Security Works

Senator Ron Wyden (OR) Introduces Bill to Protect Social Security Benefits from Garnishment

2 September 2023

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today reintroduced legislation that would restore federal protections of Social Security benefits to prevent the federal government from garnishing them for the repayment of all non-tax federal debt —such as student loans.

“It is plain wrong to take away the Social Security benefits seniors earned through a lifetime of work because of the increasing burden of student loan debt,” Wyden said. “It’s past time Congress protects seniors and the Social Security benefits they have earned with every paycheck. That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce legislation that shores up protections for Social Security benefits and allows seniors in Oregon and nationwide to retire with the dignity they deserve.”

According to a Government Accountability Office report, at least 114,000 Americans have had their Social Security garnished because they could not make their student loan repayments. The same report found the number of retirees and people with disabilities whose Social Security benefits were seized by the government to pay off student loans increased more than five-fold between 2002 and 2016, driving many into poverty.  

Read the article

Biden Administration Proposed Nursing Home Regulations

The Biden Administration recently released a regulatory initiative that would, if finalized, be a historic first step in improving working conditions and the quality of care in nursing homes. This crucial healthcare initiative, which would set minimum staffing standards in nursing homes that participate in Medicaid and Medicare, is long-overdue. So many of the health complications people experience in nursing homes could be prevented with better staffing. This Administration is trying to tackle that. 

But there is a huge political fight. For-profit nursing homes and private equity investors are mobilizing to ensure that this rule is not finalized. For decades, they have resisted a staffing standard to protect their own bottom line— prioritizing profits over the health and safety of residents and workers. 

We know that a strong show of support from seniors and their families will ensure that the rule is finalized. We need to show that there is more support for improving nursing home quality than there is for the status quo.

To learn more about how safe staffing standards will save lives, for both residents and workers, click here.

We have to make our voices heard, and in order to win this fight, we need your help. Please go this website to submit a comment by Nov. 6, 2023, to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). We need HHS to know that you support safe staffing in nursing homes. For easy step-by-step instructions on how to comment, click here

All you need to do is say you support safe staffing standards and add a sentence or two about why that is important. Nothing fancy – just a simple comment from voters like you can make a big difference. Let your voice be heard!

Please feel free to share this information with your leaders and activists.

Thanks for your help,

       Steve Regenstreif, Chair

       Seniors Council, Democratic National Committee

Social Security recipients to receive COLA adjustment 

More than 71 million Americans will see a 3.2% increase in their Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments in 2024. Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) notices will be mailed throughout the month of December to retirement, survivors, and disability beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and representative payees.

Starting in early December, you will be able to securely view and save your Social Security COLA notice online via the Message Center inside my Social Security. Make sure you are signed up for notifications from the my Social Security Message Center by choosing email or text under "Message Center Preferences."

Benefit amounts will not be available before December. With convenient access to your COLA notice by mail or online, you don’t need to contact us to get your new benefit amount.

Log in to your personal My Social Security account today!

US judge refuses to block Medicare from negotiating drug prices

The U.S. government's Medicare health insurance program can begin negotiating prices for some prescription drugs this fall under a new program, a federal judge ruled on Friday, vindicating one of President Joe Biden's signature initiatives.

The order by U.S. District Judge Michael Newman in Dayton, Ohio, comes in a lawsuit brought against the Biden administration by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The nation's largest business lobbying group argues that the program violates the U.S. Constitution by allowing the government to force drugmakers to accept unfairly low prices, and would stifle innovation. Read the article.

JOIN Social Security Works!

Have you joined yet? You’ll receive updates on their work, take direct action, and sign petitions to protect Social Security. Watch our webinar here



Brendan Read, Chair of our Seniors WEP Committee has been extremely busy this month interacting with the national GPO/WEP group state-side. He has also written this op-ed piece which we are sending to the Boston Globe and The Springfield Republican. 

Brendan's letter

We feel we are so close to getting something passed to improve our standing vis-à-vis WEP, but we are still waiting for a vote on HR.82 as well as other legislation before Congress. With 298 co-sponsors, you’d think this would be easy to pass.

But with Congress in a shambles, leaderless, in chaos, we don’t know when normal work will begin again. 

Before McCarthy was unseated, Garrett Graves (R-LA 6) had a letter prepared to present to McCarthy requesting to convene a hearing on HR 82. Now, of course, that can't be done, and we are in limbo until there's a new speaker. So Graves is asking us to continue working to get more cosponsors - we are at 298 for HR.82, and 46 for S. 597. He wants to surpass the 305 that this bill had in a previous congress. 

If you feel like writing a letter to your local paper back home, please let us know about it if it gets published, and share it with us so we may inspire other members to write to their newspaper editors and legislators. 

Meanwhile, we are sharing a letter from the Bipartisan Policy Center  calling on Congress to improve the our global fiscal standing as well as the program’s fairness. 



U.S. State Department open comment period

The U.S. State Department is hosting an open comment period to reduce the citizenship renunciation fee from $2,350 to $450. This is a great opportunity for your voice to be heard about the tax problems forcing Americans abroad to renounce their citizenship in the first place (aka the tax compliance nightmare suffered by Americans abroad).

Here’s all you need to do: 

  • Click on this link to go to the State Department page.
  • Click the big green button on the right side that says “SUBMIT A FORMAL COMMENT.”
  • Leave a comment! See the template below - personalize it to make your comment stand out!

Comments close November 1, so be sure to submit before the deadline.

Thanks for your help!! 

DA Global Taxation Task Force

P.S. Please forward this to any friend or family member that might be interested in submitting a formal comment!


Asking Americans to pay $450 to renounce their citizenship is still exorbitant (compared to other consular fees that are substantially lower), but at least it’s an improvement. 

The real tragedy is that so many Americans feel that they have to cut ties in the first place. The fact that more Americans renounce their citizenship than any other nationality is deeply embarrassing -- instead of penalizing Americans on their way out the door, the State Department should be asking itself why they’re leaving in the first place. 

The obvious answer is the uniquely unfair tax system to which the U.S. subjects its citizens living abroad. The State Department’s mission includes “shape[ing] an international environment in which all Americans can thrive.” Surely that involves helping guide the government toward policies that don’t massively complicate life for Americans abroad. 

Instead of charging Americans forced to renounce their citizenship to escape double-taxation, the State Department should push Congress to bring the U.S. into line with the entire rest of the world in the way it taxes its expats — with Residency Based Taxation. 

Americans Overseas

If you’ve just moved overseas and want to learn about tax filing, Americans Overseas created a FAQ section at the bottom of this page that will walk you through the basic information



Accidental Americans Launch Lawsuit to Refund Cost of Renouncing Citizenship

The price of being an American who lives abroad is often an accent that sticks out, jokes about culinary inferiority, and sometimes even issues when opening a bank account or buying a home.         

But for some former citizens, the price to renounce that status has long been steep. Now many of them want refunds, filing a class-action lawsuit Wednesday to try to get their money back. Read the article

What They Don’t Tell You About Getting Old

I recently turned 83, and while there are many joys to getting older, getting out of taxis is not one of them.

What you don’t want to do is get your left foot caught under the front right seat before you try to swing your right foot toward the door; otherwise, you’ll topple over while attempting to pay the fare, possibly injuring your ankle, and causing the maneuver to go even more slowly. If you make it past the taxi door, there is still the one-foot jump to the street. You’re old. You could fall. Happens all the time.

And that’s when it’s just you in the taxi. Read the article

Ed. I find it sad that we are losing so many potential voters due to the difficulty and cost of filing tax returns.



Quick Links

Friday - 27 October - Coffee Chat

Don’t miss our Seniors and Disability Caucus monthly chats from 9 to 10:30 am Eastern Time (US & Canada). Everyone is very welcome!
RSVP to get the Zoom link, and add it to your calendar. Next month: 24 November.



Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. You can find the list of positions DA is looking to fill on DA’s Volunteer page

  • The Global Seniors Caucus is always looking for volunteers. Email us for details on our volunteer opportunities.
  • The Global Black Caucus is searching to fill more positions. Get in touch here.
  • The Global Communications Team is also looking for volunteers as they ramp up for the 2024 election! Do you have a communications background? Are you interested in helping? If so, please fill out the Global Communications Team Interest Form.


Final Thoughts

“The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness

of our fears and prejudices.”

“To be true to ourselves, we must be true to others.” 

“Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries.”

- President Jimmy Carter

Read more quotes here


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