GSC May 2023 Newsletter

EDITION 14 May 2023




Chair’s Corner

Thank you all for attending the WEP Global event “Americans Abroad - How to Stop it Hurting Retirement Plans” with Nancy Altman on April 1st. It was successful, and we all learned a lot about the workings of Social Security and WEP. 

During the past 2 weeks we have learned that Representative Abigail Spanberger (Democrat, Virginia, 7th District) launched a survey to hear from folks impacted by the WEP and GPO. The reason that Rep. Spanberger is putting out this survey is to collect hardship stories from those affected by WEP/GPO that she can use when she speaks on this bill to Congress and to the press. 

She is looking for real life examples of who is affected. These stories are an effective tool for her. They will give her leverage. They also help everyone understand who is affected. 

We have written to her legal advisor to say that we will be asking you, our DA members, to complete her survey, and to add your stories. (When they ask for information, you can add your voting district’s zip code, etc.) 

So please, everyone fill in her survey and say you are from Democrats Abroad at: 

Have the WEP and GPO affected your Social Security Benefits?

— Betsy Ettorre, Chair of the Seniors Caucus 


from the Editor…

22 April - Happy Earth Day! What are you doing to combat climate change? 

Joe’s trip to Ireland

What a reception! With a welcome like that, you’d not to want to leave Ireland. We’re glad to have him back at the White House to continue doing great work. Now let’s give him a Congress so he can do what he came to do! 

Petition to the AARP

In case you didn’t sign this petition last month, it’s still active. We are asking members to ask the AARP to help us get rid of WEP/GPO once and for all! Sign the Petition. Thanks!


U.S. taxes are due on April 18th, but Americans abroad don't have to file until June 15th. (We assume this is due to a law made before airplanes.) DA's Taxation Task Force created this page with myriad of information about filing taxes with links.


Your advocacy counts! Legislative offices have repeatedly informed us that the national grassroots effort to repeal the GPO & WEP is significantly responsible for growing the massive number of cosponsors early after the bill was introduced and raising awareness of the problem in both chambers of Congress. 

You can check who has cosponsored at If your legislators are not on the list , please write to ask that they sign on. Scripts can be found here. Thank you! 

Do you like our work?

Please consider making a donation to Democrats Abroad, or buying merch from our store. It all goes to helping DA Get Out The Vote for American expats. 

— Lauren Hakulinen, Editor 



It’s the Guns


Fox News lawsuits, update

On Tuesday 22 April the trial began and I’m glad of it. But instead of letting the court decide, Dominion settled, letting Fox sweep their filth under the rug. Although Tucker Carlson "severed ties" with Fox, we must keep an eye out to see where he goes, to watch for the havoc he causes at his next job.

On Tuesday 22 April the trial began and I’m glad of it. No more settling, letting them sweep their filth under the rug. They need to be brought out into the open. 

Cereal Liars

Spelling is important, especially as we process this, the latest outburst from our former president. 

Falling into the same category is “Justice” Clarence Thomas who has been shown to be unable to correctly report income on his tax returns, outlined in this excellent article in the Washington Post, Clarence Thomas’s explanations fail the laugh test

Are we laughing? 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Saga Is a Very Public Example of a National Crisis

Why are the GOP picking on Dianne Feinstein? The political reasons include her position on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, her decades long battle to keep ARs off of our streets along with other military grade hardware, her fight for marriage equality, and much more

But now Democrats have joined them, as she has been on medical leave for over a month, with no indication when she might return. She’s missed Senate votes, and her absence is causing delays for President Biden’s much needed judicial nominations. 

At 89, her cognitive decline has become increasingly noticeable to her colleagues on the hill. Read the article about the effect dementia is having on millions of Americans back home. 

GOP advances bills that could let it throw out future election results in Texas' largest blue county

“Republicans, however, want to try to turn back the clock. One of the GOP's bills, first reported by Talking Points Memo, would empower Republican Secretary of State Jane Nelson to invalidate a county's election results and order a do-over if she "has good cause to believe"—not necessarily hard proof—that at least 2% of the county's polling places "ran out of usable ballots during voting hours" and "did not receive supplemental ballots." This vaguely worded provision would, as one voting rights advocate put it, set "really low thresholds" for overturning election results.” Read the article.

U.S. takes Texas abortion pill case to the Supreme Court

The biggest blow to women’s health is this case. Mifepristone has been in use for 20 years. It’s well known to be effective in stopping pregnancy. In spite of this, “on 7 April, Texas court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled the FDA had violated federal rules that allowed for the accelerated approval of some drugs, and had erred in its scientific assessment of the drug. While keeping the drug on the market, the appeals court had barred patients from receiving it by mail and shortened the window for Mifepristone's approved use, from up to 10 weeks of pregnancy to seven.“

In its appeal to the Supreme Court, the DOJ says the Texas court's ruling would lead to "regulatory chaos." It has urged the country's top court to restore the status quo, effectively cancelling the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeal's additional restrictions. 

Read the article.

Mike Pence wants to privatize Social Security

My first thought - what an idiot! He is old enough to have heard that seniors were eating dog food from cans to survive, before SS began. My second thought is, does he want us to suffer?

Actually no. He wants to “privatize” it - like 401Ks, that went bust during the last economic collapse, thanks to the “leadership” of our previous President. 

I want to sit down with him, remind him of all of the Wall Street recessions and People who lost their savings, homes, and lives. I want to see if a shadow crosses his face, if a light comes on his in eyes, if a sense of reflection can be seen. Is he really this obtuse? 

As we heard from Nancy Altman of Social Security Works, the Social Security program will not become insolvent - not unless Republicans end the payroll tax (that corporations want) that pays for the program. 

There will be many competitors in the race for the Republican nomination for President for 2024, including Nicki Haley. So to my mind, there’s little fear of Pence being the nominee. But he’s not the only one to espouse these ridiculous notions. 

Speaking of Presidential candidates and their unhinged ideas, in 2011, Herman Cain proposed the flat tax - a 9% personal income tax, 9% federal sales tax, and 9% corporate tax to replace the country's current tax system. It sounds good - corporations and billionaires would lose their loopholes. - until you factor in that Florida, for example, does not have a state tax, but many states do. 

JOIN Social Security Works!

After last month’s webinar by Nancy Altman of Social Security Works, we should all join this fantastic organization to receive updates on their work, take action, and sign petitions to protect Social Security. If you missed it, you can watch the webinar here

The 2023 Trustees Report Shows that Social Security Remains Strong, Despite Republican Attacks

“This year’s report announces that Social Security has an accumulated surplus of approximately $2.8 trillion. It projects that, even if Congress took no action whatsoever, Social Security can pay all benefits and associated administrative costs until 2034. It is 89 percent funded for the next quarter century, 83 percent for the next half century, and 80 percent for the next three quarters of a century. 

At the end of the century, in 2100, Social Security is projected to cost around 6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). That end-of-the-century cost is a substantially smaller percentage than most other wealthy countries spend on their counterpart programs today.

Social Security Works has released a fact sheet that puts the report into further context, including the context of the ongoing fight over raising the debt ceiling.“ Read the article.

Social Security Works’s Executive Director Alex Lawson 

Alex was on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, debunking myths and shedding light on the TRUE threats to our Social Security system.

Over 45 minutes, Alex Lawson took calls from people who mainly repeated talking points from Wall Street’s decades-long “Leninist Strategy” to undermine Social Security. Lawson displayed an unusual degree of patience as one business owner who claimed to make over $7 million a year challenged him on whether his 16% effective tax rate is too high.

And when the host played a clip from Koch-funded anti-Social Security talking head Charles Blahous, Alex answered as straightforwardly as you can: 

“with all due respect to Chuck, the man is a paid liar.” 

Watch the opening of Alex’s appearance, then chip in $7 to keep fighting to get the media to report the TRUTH about Social Security!



Kaiser Health News: Being ‘Socially Frail’ Comes With Health Risks for Older Adults

Using data from 8,250 adults 65 and older who participated in the national Health and Retirement Study from 2010 to 2016, the researchers found that the index helped predict an increased risk of death during the period studied in a significant number of older adults, complementing medical tools used for this purpose.

“Our goal is to help clinicians identify older patients who are socially frail and to prompt problem-solving designed to help them cope with various challenges,” said Dr. Sachin Shah, a co-author of the paper and a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“It adds dimensions of what a clinician should know about their patients beyond current screening instruments, which are focused on physical health,” said Dr. Linda Fried, an internationally known frailty researcher and dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

Chair Yoga

Have you heard of chair yoga? It’s very healthy to get at least 30 minutes of “blue light” (sunlight) each day. But if it’s raining outside, or you’re not able to get out due to mobility issues, or the snow and ice on your doorstep makes it dangerous to go out, chair yoga is a great alternative. It’s soft, gentle, and brings a sense of peacefulness. 



April 4th was the first big election night of this cycle—and Democrats won big, not just in Wisconsin! Some highlights:

  • In the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, Judge Janet Protasiewicz flipped the balance of power of the Court to Democrats, after a 15-year push by our Party and allies to take back the Court and make sure Wisconsin remains a democracy. It’s highly likely that the new liberal majority will strike down gerrymandered congressional and state legislative maps, protect abortion rights, and impose more scrutiny on recent GOP voting restrictions.
  • Also in Wisconsin, Democrats defended mayoral seats in Green Bay, Madison, and Racine, despite heated campaigns.
  • In Chicago, County Commissioner Brandon Johnson won the contest to succeed Mayor Lightfoot and will serve as the next Mayor of Chicago.
  • In Anchorage, Denver, and Tulsa, Democrats and progressives made inroads or have set the stage to win big in runoff elections.

All of these critical state and local wins would not have been possible without the hard work of volunteers like you. Thank you to everyone who helped make yesterday’s wins possible!

Now, it’s time to turn our attention to Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia for their statewide races this fall. Next up is outreach to New Jersey for their primary on June 6, an election all New Jersey voters abroad can now vote in thanks to the legislative work by our NJ State Team in 2021. Phone banking campaigns will get started later this month. You'll be hearing more from the NJ State Team shortly about them. I hope you'll keep plugging in, not just to make the wins but the needed progress in our country a reality! 

— Candice Kerestan, International Chair, Democrats Abroad 


What’s up Tennessee??? 

On April 6th, two young Black state legislators, Justin Pearson and Justin Jones, were expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives for breaking a decorum rule by joining a protest against gun violence; the vote to expel Rep. Gloria Johnson, who joined the Justins in their protest, narrowly failed. The protestors, largely students, were pushing gun reform legislation after another TN school shooting. If you didn't see these two powerful speakers, watch Rep. Jones and Rep. won't regret it.

But just as quickly as they were expelled, both Jones and Pearson were reinstated. A big GOP miscalculation? Yes, according to many in the party.

This shameful episode reminds us of past undemocratic attacks on civil rights leaders and related moves by other states with Republican supermajorities to strip rights from Black citizens. This includes states under Republican rule in the North, like Michigan, which under Gov. Snyder deprived half of Black residents of their democratically elected local governments--ultimately resulting in the crimes behind the Flint water crisis--and Wisconsin, whose current racist political maps starve Black Wisconsinites of political representation. This saga has been a painful reminder that protecting democracy is a constant battle.

In another big win, Wisconsin voters just toppled the right-wing majority on the state's Supreme Court by electing Judge Janet Protasiewicz over Dan Kelly. This landslide victory could pave the way for fair congressional district maps in Wisconsin, which has some of the most unfair maps in the country. A big focus of Protasiewicz's campaign was abortion rights, which would've been in serious jeopardy if Kelly had won.

- Cheney Orr for Reuters 



Quick Links



Fridays - 28 April - 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!
Suggested topics for this months discussion will center on Biden's first veto, the “caring” economy, and new bills from the House on Trans folks and school funding which is sure to lead to a lively discussion!

RSVP to get the Zoom link, and add it to your calendar.

7- 11 June: Democrats Abroad Annual Global Meeting & Door Knock

Every two years DA leaders travel to Washington DC to discuss the functioning of DA, and to meet with members of Congress to discuss our issues. Before they go, they meet to approve DA’s Delegate Selection Plan, which will be the guiding document as we play our part in nominating our Party's 2024 nominees for President and Vice President of the United States. You can review a copy of the plan, and submit comments.  The meeting is open to all DA members.



Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. DA is looking to fill on DA’s Volunteer page.

  • The Global Seniors Caucus is looking for someone who loves to post onTwitter. Visit our website 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

“Several years ago, I asked our executive editor Adrienne LaFrance to report on the fringe phenomenon known as QAnon, which was spreading quickly but at the time wasn’t understood. The result of this reporting was her prescient and chilling cover story “The Prophecies of Q,” which drew on themes— technology, conspiracism, and political violence—that Adrienne has covered for many years. Soon after that, she came to me with an idea for a follow-up. She wanted to discover how a nation that is so divided, and is in many ways so deluded, can chart a path back to peace without violence and wholesale societal breakdown.

To find the answer, she looked overseas, and across history, and found lessons for our nation that are both deeply complicated and crucially important. Adrienne’s latest cover story, “The New Anarchy,” is the result of that effort. It also represents a larger interest of The Atlantic’s at this moment.

I’ve asked our journalists to focus on political extremism with singular intensity, particularly as we approach the 2024 presidential election, and as conditions for further political violence ripen. Our commitment to this coverage area is nonnegotiable because extremism threatens the American experiment, and The Atlantic was founded to advance the American idea and to help bring about a more perfect union. 

Our coverage of extremism runs in a straight line from Frederick Douglass’s case for impartial suffrage to our first feature documentary, White Noise, which brought viewers an unfiltered look at powerful alt-right extremist groups, to Adam Serwer’s essay “The Cruelty Is the Point” to Adrienne’s “The New Anarchy.” The Atlantic has a long and proud history of advancing the causes of truth and justice through its journalism, including our focus on the forces that aim to radicalize and divide Americans.”

- Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor in chief, The Atlantic 


If you like our work, please consider making a donation to Democrats Abroad. 

Need some merch? Get it here

It all goes to helping us Get Out The Vote for American expats. 

Thanks to Karen Lee
for contributions to this month’s newsletter!

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