- Chair's Corner
- from the Editor
- Report from DA’s AGM June 2023, Washington DC
- WEP News
- Stories from Home
- Final Thoughts
This month a lot is happening. DA's AGM/election was held in Washington D.C. during which DPCA Leaders elected a new slate of officers to the Executive Committee. See GSC Vice Chair Jim Dobson’s AGM report below.
At the AGM it was noted that DA Seniors are an important group of voters, as our caucus had the highest percentage of voters during the last midterm. Well done Seniors! Let’s keep up the good work. Please also watch the video presenting our Seniors Caucus to attendees at the AGM, created by our newsletter editor, Lauren Hakulinen.
We are also celebrating Pride Month. As Seniors, we join with our LGBTQ+ Community in rejoicing in our well-deserved visibility and victories. Onward, upward, and forward!
— Betsy Ettorre, Chair of the Seniors Caucus
from the Editor…
Happy 4th of July!
We hope you’re able to connect with Americans wherever you are in the world to celebrate our Democracy.
“No matter what happens in Trump’s upcoming legal proceedings, it’s obvious the Republican Party remains firmly in the hold of Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans.
We will continue to hold Trump and all Republican candidates accountable for the extreme MAGA agenda that includes banning abortion, cutting Social Security and Medicare, and undermining free and fair elections.” - The DNC official statement
What do we do? What is our purpose?
This is what is possible when people decide to cooperate:
“Common Cause members generated over 6,000 comments to the Federal Communications Commission opposing corporate media consolidation -- and on May 22, 2023, TEGNA and Standard General dropped their bid to merge!”
Thank you Common Cause!
Want to DO something? Here are a few ideas…
The DNC has created this program called the Best Practices Institute (BPI). Their current training is mid-way, but you can sign up for their monthly newsletter to stay updated on all BPI trainings, news, and events!
Do you enjoy sharing posts from the DNC to Facebook or Twitter? Download the Greenfly app and begin sharing and posting their messages using your iPhone/Android device.
Basic Twitter Skills for Social Storming with Field Team 6!
Join Field Team 6 Wed, Jun 21 @ 11am PDT for this training. Lovely upbeat people run these trainings online from California. You will feel welcome.
Tell us your story
We would love to hear stories from our members. Each is unique, and we can learn so much from you. Best of all, our stories about Medicare, SS, WEP, taxation woes, and more have such power when used as testimony during Congressional hearings. Send an email to us here.
Do you like our work?
— Lauren Hakulinen, Editor
Report from DA’s AGM June 2023, Washington DC
By Jim Dobson, Vice Chair GSC
The Annual Global Meeting (AGM) of Democrats Abroad was held on June 10 and 11 in Washington, DC, and online via Zoom. New officers were elected for 2023—2025, and reports were presented by the outgoing officers, Country Committees, and Global Caucuses.
However, despite extending the Sunday meeting by one-and-one-half hours, not all scheduled business was conducted. Only one of the 23 proposed resolutions was considered and new business was not presented. The meeting was adjourned with a commitment to have a continuation of the meeting within 90 days.
My personal and subjective comments on that meeting are as follows:
Will Rogers reportedly said, “I am the member of no organized political party; I am a Democrat.” The AGM was in keeping with that tradition. The best aspect of the meeting was seeing the engagement and commitment of the leaders from numerous countries to the joint mission of getting out the vote and influencing Senators and Representatives on issues of importance to Americans living abroad. In particular, from the standpoint of the Global Senior Caucus, the issue of Medicare Portability is top-of-mind and well supported across DA.
The most concerning aspect of the meeting was the existence of a rift between two sizeable factions within DA—one supporting the outgoing officers and distrustful of the newly elected officers, and one supporting the incoming officers and distrustful of the outgoing officers. Each of the incoming officers was elected by a significant majority on the first round of balloting. Let us hope that this signals the possibility of the future unity of our organization.
AGM Note by Lauren Hakulinen, Editor
I’d like to share a few things that stuck out in my mind.
Candice in her statement as outgoing Chair recommended to the new ExCom that the DA Charter be amended.
Katie Solon in her report on GOTV gave us a brilliant list of what is needed to make GOTV efforts truly effective.
Sharing my own observations, DA’s social media teams need a Team Manager to help Communication between countries, caucuses, and task forces. Management could help with timely messaging, cross-posting across platforms, and sharing events. We also need to align our Events Calendar with our NL deadlines to maximize messaging impact.
Rebecca Lammers of DA’s Taxation Task Force (TTF) stayed in Washington DC after the DA AGM to meet with our new Americans Abroad Caucus leader Rep. Dina Titus. On 14 June the Americans Abroad Caucus hosted “Lunch and Learn” - an opportunity for members of Congress to meet in a casual setting to hear about our issues. Thanks go out to Rebecca for leading the charge on this vital issue!
A word from Senator Bernie Sanders
It may shock you to learn, but there was once a time when the inventors of life-saving drugs were not first obsessed with making huge sums of money, but were instead obsessed with making people well.
Dr. Jonas Salk, who invented the vaccine for polio, could have chosen to patent his work and made billions of dollars. But he did not.
The inventors of insulin sold their patents in 1923 for just $1 to save lives.
But today in America, despite what drug company TV ads say, the primary function of the pharmaceutical industry is not to come up with new drugs that will save lives and alleviate pain. And it is certainly not to make sure that all Americans can afford the drugs they need.
Simply stated, the function of the major drug companies is to charge the highest prices they can get away with in order to enrich their investors.
As a result of their greed, 1 in 4 Americans cannot afford the cost of the medications their doctors prescribe.
As a result of their greed, there are millions of people who are sick, go to a doctor, get a diagnosis of their medical condition, but cannot get the medicine they need to treat it.
As a result of their greed, people die because they cannot afford the medications they need while the pharmaceutical industry makes much higher profit margins than any other industry.
It is truly a horrifying, barbaric and dysfunctional system.
And what is even more perverse about it all, and what many Americans don't know is just how much taxpayers subsidize the research and development enjoyed by pharmaceutical companies.
Through the funding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), other government agencies, and grants to universities and research institutes, the taxpayers of this country are paying billions of dollars for the research that has created some of the most important life-saving drugs on the market.
Unfortunately, the results of that research are simply given over to the drug companies with no strings attached.
In other words, the American people have paid to fund the research that sets the foundation for virtually all new prescription drugs, and in exchange pay the highest prices for medicine of anywhere in the world.
The American people have paid to fund the invention of many life-saving medicines, and in exchange 1 in 4 people can't afford the drugs they need to stay healthy or alive.
The American people have paid to scale up manufacturing of prescription drugs, and in exchange the top pharmaceutical companies made over $112 billion last year.
The American people have paid to advance clinical trials of medicines, and in exchange drug companies reckless profiteering are bankrupting Medicare and the federal government.
I heard a lot of my Republican colleagues moaning and groaning about the deficit for the past few weeks, but I didn't hear a single one of them talk about how if we are serious about reducing the national debt, we must substantially lower the price that Medicare pays for prescription drugs.
No. Not at all.
But what I do hear all over this country is the American people asking how many people need to die, how many people need to get unnecessarily sicker, before Congress is prepared to take on the greed of the prescription drug industry?
I hear them asking how is it that U.S. taxpayers almost always pay more than people in other countries for treatments that NIH scientists help to invent?
I hear them asking how is it that drug companies are allowed to charge $200,000 for a treatment for a product that costs them a few hundred dollars to manufacture?
I hear them asking how is it that while 1 in 4 Americans can't afford the drugs they need, the 50 top executives in ten pharmaceutical companies took home over $1.5 billion in compensation and stock awards?
That is what I hear. Now I am asking my colleagues to hear you on this issue:
Drug researchers tell us that innovation has the potential to cure or, at the very least, alleviate the worst impacts of terrible illnesses — cancer, heart and respiratory disease, COVID, strokes, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and Parkinson’s, to name just a few. Americans know millions of lives can be saved.
But to do that, this country needs a pharmaceutical industry that is 100 percent engaged in research and development to discover those cures, not one that spends billions on lobbying, campaign contributions, and advertising in order to maintain huge profits and CEO compensation packages.
Thank you for joining me in that fight.
The Illinois and Louisiana state legislatures are considering measures that call on the U.S. Congress to repeal both the WEP and the GPO. Why?
The CRS in its annually updated report “Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)” notes that there are pro and con arguments concerning the WEP:
Stories from Home
Home modification offered; O’Neill Center selected for pilot senior program
The O’Neill Center (Marietta, Ohio) announced in a press release it has been selected as one of three agencies across the state of Ohio to provide minor home modification projects funded by the Ohio Department of Aging’s pilot program supported by the Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In addition to O’Neill, the Wood County Council on Aging and United Senior Services of Clark County were selected for pilot programs.
The release said that for more than 37 years, the O’Neill Center has served thousands of older adults providing many important services and life enrichment activities. The center also partners with the City of Belpre for management of the Belpre Senior Center, which is an extension of the offerings at the Marietta location, ensuring services throughout the entire county. Read the article.
Says it all!
Fridays - 28 July - 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: 25 August.
Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. You can find a 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.
This morning, a Richmond mother woke up to the yawning absence of her teenage son and husband, men whose lives were snuffed out by bullets in a mass shooting right after Huguenot High School’s graduation ceremony in downtown Richmond Tuesday afternoon.
That son and brand-new graduate, Shawn Jackson, was just 18 years old when his life was snatched away from him. Shawn’s father, 36-year-old Renzo Smith, was also killed in the shootout. Five other people were shot and several others were injured in the mayhem. A 19-year-old suspected gunman was arraigned this morning on two counts of second-degree murder.
As I watched the police briefings on this tragedy last night and again this morning, a bitter anger burned in the pit of my belly. Here we are, not halfway through the year, and in the U.S. we have experienced our 279th mass shooting so far in 2023.
Why is this acceptable to us? How many more youth have to die before we wake up and make some serious changes in our cities, states and nation? Why do we, the American people, keep accepting politicians who dispense thoughts and prayers like Pez candy after each bout of mass death born of bullets, but then go right back to their offices and their legislative agendas and do nothing to curb the violence?
Will it ever end?
“You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you cannot face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.” — Malcolm X
If you like our work, please consider making a donation to Democrats Abroad.
It all goes to helping us Get Out The Vote for American expats.
Thanks to Jim Dobson, Karen Lee, and Brendan Read
for their contributions to this month’s newsletter!