Tell Senators Feinstein and Harris to vote NO in the Judiciary Committee on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court




My name is ____ and my zip code is ____. I’m a member of Indivisible Yolo.

I am contacting the Senator to urge her to vote NO in the Judiciary Committee on Kavanaugh’s confirmation for the Supreme Court. His willingness to shield the President from prosecution and investigation is an insult to the separation of powers and checks and balances.

Thank Senators Feinstein and Harris for co-sponsoring S.3178, Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018




My name is ____ and my zip code is ____. I’m a member of Indivisible Yolo.

I am contacting the Senator to thank her for cosponsoring S.3178, Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018, which would make lynching a federal hate crime.

Thank Senator Feinstein for writing, and ask that Senator Harris co-sponsor, the Opioid Crisis Response Act (S 2680)





My name is ____ and my zip code is ____. I’m a member of Indivisible Yolo.

I am contacting the Senator to thank her for helping to craft a bipartisan agreement on the Opioid Crisis Response Act, S. 2680.


My name is ____ and my zip code is ____. I’m a member of Indivisible Yolo.

I am contacting the Senator to urge her to vote YES on the bipartisan agreement on the Opioid Crisis Response Act, S. 2680.

Ask Rep. Garamendi to support the Violence Against Women Re-authorization Act of 2018 (HB.6545).


Hi my name is ________. I am calling from ____, CA, zip code ______, and am a member of Indivisible Yolo.

The Violence Against Women Act expires on September 30 unless reauthorized by Congress. I urge Leader Pelosi to support HB6545, the Violence Against Women Re-authorization Act of 2018.

The Act has provided critical funding and support for law enforcement training, the protection, care, and treatment of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and the creation of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the DOJ Office on Violence Against Women. Without this support, these important programs and services will be endangered.

HB6545 expands the Act to offer protection to domestic violence victims living in public housing, provides law enforcement with more tools to remove firearms from domestic abusers who are not legally allowed to own them, increases funding for local rape prevention efforts and supports reform of current laws and policies for Native American reservations. Your support is needed to make sure this critical Act does not expire.


Ask Governor Brown to SIGN SB822, which will instate net neutrality in California

  • Sacramento Office: (916) 445-2841
  • Mailing Address: Governor Jerry Brown c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814
  • Email


Hello, my name is _______ and my zip code is _______. I am part of Indivisible Yolo.

I am calling to urge you to sign SB 822, which will reinstate net neutrality in California. Net neutrality is critical for consumers who use the internet every day, particularly underprivileged communities. Please sign SB 822 without delay.


​It’s been more than a week since California legislature passed SB822, the bill instating the most stringent net neutrality rules in the nation. Governor Jerry Brown still has not signed it.

Protecting net neutrality is important to our democracy – urge Gov. Brown to sign SB822.

One of the core goals of Indivisible is to influence policy by shaping the way that representatives get media attention, and a simple and powerful way to do that is by writing an op-ed in local or regional newspapers.

Tips for Writing

  • Keep it short and focused
  • Refer to a specific article or letter, if possible
  • Put the topic in the headline (bonus points for mentioning Indivisible Yolo) 
  • Be accurate and specific
  • Make the letter as personal as possible
  • Write like you speak
  • Avoid using bold fonts or capitalization for empahsis
  • Follow submission instructions carefully 
  • Don’t worry if your letter isn’t published! If many people are writing letters about one thing, you’re increasing the chance that the news organization will publish something with a similar viewpoint

Submission Guidelines

Davis Enterprise:

  • Include name, address, and phone number for verification (personal details will not be published)
  • Email correspondents should expect a confirmation call from staff
  • Limit letters to 350 words
  • Anonymous letters will not be accepted
  • Letters may be edited for “brevity and clarity”

Submit to the Davis Enterprise here!

Sacramento Bee:

  • Include your real name, address, and phone number
  • Include the headline of the article you’re responding to, the date it appeared, and the page number (if applicable)
  • Limit letters to 150 words 
  • If more words are needed, email
  • The Bee does not respond to all inquires about letter status
  • Letters may be edited for “clarity, brevity, and content”
  • Letters may be rejected if the author has been published within the last 30 days

Submit to the Sacramento Bee here!

Woodland Daily Democrat:

  • No posted submission guidelines
  • Rarely published

Call for more information (530) 406-6230

Winters Express:

  • Deadline is noon on Mondays for publication that week
  • Limit letters to 500 words 
  • Do not use all capital letters
  • Letters must be signed by the writer, but the Express will withhold names from publication for legitimate reasons

Submit to the Winters Express by email here!

This guide was made with help from the Dean Johansson for DA “Letter to the Editor Packet.”

Tell Senators to oppose Gina Haspel as head of the CIA

Hi, My name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [part of state] calling about Gina Haspel’s nomination as head of the CIA.

I want {PERSON} to immediately and publicly commit to opposing this nomination. Gina Haspel carried out torture and destroyed the evidence.

Haspel is an unacceptable choice and it’s important for the senator not just to oppose her, but to use their platform to increase pressure for other senators.

Torture was, and is, illegal no matter what. There are no exceptions and it’s a crime. “Following orders” is not a justification. Additionally, her cover-up of the crimes through destruction of video evidence is enough in itself for the Senator to oppose her.


Ask State Senator Dodd to to Hold Police Accountable

Hi my name is _____ and I am a constituent from _______.

I am calling in support of Senate Bill 1421. This would force law enforcement agencies to release the details of use-of-force investigations, as well as cases of sexual assault while on duty. The only way to restore trust in our police is to be as transparent as possible.
What is Senator Dodd’s position on this bill? [wait for answer]

I’ve called/written before on this issue and don’t understand why the Senator hasn’t taken a position on this good government measure.


Tell Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry to Fix Our Broken Bail system

Hello, my name is ____ and I am calling from zip code _______.

I’m calling today to ask the Assemblymember to support SB 10 which would reform our broken bail system. I’m in favor of eliminating the unfair cash bail system and replacing it with a system that truly enhances public safety.
What is Aguiar-Curry’s position on this? (wait for answer)

if no position:
Do you know when she will have a position? I want the release of those in jail based on public safety, not based on who has the most money. Bonus script: I also wanted to ask about her position on AB 931. This bill states that police should attempt to de-escalate situations before resorting to deadly force. Has the Assemblymember taken a position on this bill? [wait for answer]


Tell Rep. Garamendi to Protect Families from Getting Separated at Border

Hello, my name is _____ and I am calling from zip code ______.

I am devastated to hear reports that our country has separated more than 700 children from their refugee parents since October. That’s against my American/religious/human values. I urge Rep. Garamendi to co-sponsor the Help Separated Families Act of 2018 (H.R. 5414) to stop this inhumane practice. Can I count on the Representative to do that?


Thank Senators for Opposing Pompeo for Secretary of State

Hello, my name is ______, and I am calling from zip code ______.

It was very disappointing to see the Senate approved Pompeo for Secretary of State, but I was please to see that the Senator opposed. We win some and we lose some but please thank the Senator for putting up a good fight.


Tell Rep. Garamendi to oppose the Farm Bill

Hi, my name is _______ and I’m a constituent from zip code______ and a member of Indivisible. I’m calling to ask Rep. Garamendi to oppose the Republican Farm Bill, currently making its way through the House. It Is a disaster.

It’s one thing to help farmers. It’s another thing entirely to wage war on public health. The Farm Bill would not only impose work requirements on SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps), creating a bureaucratic nightmare and forcing hungry people to lose coverage. It would also loosen restrictions on pesticides, even going so far as to make it illegal for local governments to pass their own laws regarding pesticide use. This is a give-away to industry players at the expense of American lives. It must be opposed.

Will Rep. Garamendi oppose the Farm Bill?

Thank you!



We are not currently using Amplify, because we don’t have the resources to administrate. We may use it again in the future if we identify a person to run it.


Amplify is a tool that helps you contact Congressman Garamendi, Senator Feinstein, Senator Harris, and other Yolo representatives. Every week, we put up actions suggested by our membership, that pertain to current events. We research our representatives’ positions, and thank or ask accordingly.

Getting Amplify is simple!

Start by checking out the App Store (if you have an iPhone) or the Google Play Store (if you have an Android device). Unfortunately, Windows phones are not supported by Amplify at this time.

Open the App store by clicking the icon:

and then search ‘Amplify Civic Tools

It should come right up!

Go ahead and click on the icon (where the ‘open’ is, in the picture), and you should see a screen like this:

You can ‘open’ Amplify if you already have it, but more likely you’ll be choosing to ‘get’ Amplify. Don’t worry, it’s free!

Once you’ve downloaded Amplify, it should show up on your home screen

Open by tapping on the icon once. You’ll be prompted with your zip code.

Input your zipcode, and you’ll be asked to put in a team code.

Indivisible Yolo’s team code is 393-849-971

Congrats, you’ve joined Indivisible Yolo’s team! You’ll get a confirmation screen that looks like this:

Connect with facebook (clicking will prompt you to sign in), or join with email (recommended). When you join with email, you’ll put in an email and password to create an account.

Then, you can log in (if you can, confirm your email in the meantime).

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll see our team screen, where you can cheer on other folks making calls and showing up to events

To make your own calls, you’ll click on the ‘take action’ fist at the bottom, middle of the screen. It’ll take you to the action tab! There you can see actions to take this week, as well as a tally of all the actions you’ve taken – total, and this week. When you hit a multi-week streak, it’ll show up in your feed, and your friends and fellow activists can love it, cheer it on, and get inspired!

When you click on an action, you’ll see the numbers, a script, and some background on why the action is important, and why the call is directed at that representative.

You can click the ‘Call Office’ button to connect to the D.C. office, or you can choose ‘more offices’ to get more options. It’s recommended to call the office closest to you – especially if you’re calling after hours. Particularly – Dianne Feinstein’s San Francisco office takes messages, but her D.C. office does not.

When you’re done, you’ll be asked if you left a voicemail, talked to a staffer, or weren’t able to get through. It’s important to leave feedback so we know how many folks are calling, and if they’re able to get through. When we meet with our representatives, we take that feedback to them, so they know how many of their constituents are able to make themselves heard, and can adjust their staffing accordingly (i.e. Senator Feinstein hired more staff to take calls).

Then, when you choose an option, you’ll finish completing the action. You can choose to write a post and share it in your feed, which helps others know why that action is important to you, and encourages them to take that action.

And you’re all done! Now go like some posts in your feed, make a few more calls, and know that you’re making a difference!

Want to do more? Have an issue you’re particularly interested in? Know of a bill coming up that deserves attention? Send a call script to or come to one of our General Meetings to discuss with other members and our leadership team.

Tell Senators to stop the NRA’s top priorities

My name is ____ and my zip code is ____.

I’m calling the Senator to demand that Congress stop rubber-stamping the NRA’s Congressional agenda.

In the next few months, the Senator will be voting on two of the NRA’s priorities. First, H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which the House passed last year. Under this legislation, states would be required to recognize other states’ standards governing the possession of concealed firearms in public. This legislation is the NRA’s “number one legislative priority” and, if enacted into law, would cause a race to the bottom on gun safety standards.

Second, the Senator will consider the nomination of Howard C. Nielson, the NRA’s favorite lawyer, to a lifetime federal judgeship. Trump has nominated Nielson to a cushy seat on the United States District Court for the District of Utah. Nielson is one of the NRA’s go-to attorneys, who has made a career out of regularly representing the NRA and fighting against common-sense gun safety measures.

Urge Senators to protect Robert Mueller’s investigation

Hello my name is ____ and my zipcode is _____. I’m calling to urge the Senator to support the bipartisan S. 1735, the Special Counsel Independence Protection Act. It’s the duty of Congress to serve as a check on Trump and protect our democracy.

Call on Senators to say NO to Haspel for CIA and Pompeo for state

Hi, my name is _____ and I’m a constituent calling from zipcode _______. I’m calling to ask {PERSON} to reject Gina Haspel as CIA Director and Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State.

Haspel is a war criminal who personally helped torture detainees in a secret CIA-run prison in Thailand during the Bush administration.

Pompeo is a Trump clone who’s displayed anti-Muslim bigotry, spouted dangerous warmongering, opposed diplomacy with Iran, and denied climate change. We are all less safe if Pompeo and Haspel are confirmed.

Tell Mayor Steinberg to investigate the death of Stephon Clark

Hi, my name is _____ and my zip code is _____.

I am disturbed by reports that Stephon Clark was killed in his own backyard even though he was unarmed, and that, after being shot at with 20 rounds, did not receive emergency care for many minutes. We need to trust our police to follow laws and policies. An internal investigation conducted in secret will not reassure me. We need the District Attorney to conduct an independent, transparent, and public investigation.

Background from the ACLU of Northern California:

The ACLU Foundation of Northern California joins Sacramento community members in their outrage around the killing of 22-year-old Stephon Clark, who Sacramento police shot and killed on Sunday.

Clark appeared to be posing no threat when two Sacramento police officers entered the backyard of his home and fired 20 rounds at him. Though police initially said he was holding a weapon, he was actually holding a cell phone.

Being a Black man in a hooded sweatshirt should not be a death sentence. Trained police officers should use the least amount of force necessary.
We see stories like Clark’s again and again. Police for too long have used excessive force against communities of color, killing Black people without justification and without consequence. Racist policing is a systemic problem, not a series of isolated incidents.

We urge the Sacramento Police Department to release the body camera footage quickly as its own policies require, and the district attorney to conduct a swift investigation and bring all appropriate charges against the officers involved.

Unfortunately, California state law makes the investigations into police killings and any resulting discipline, or corrective action, completely secret. That must change. The public deserves to get a detailed account of the actual investigation. The community has a right to know what happened. The residents of Sacramento deserve to know how police, who act in their name, came to take the life of an unarmed father of two in his own backyard.

We demand accountability for the epidemic of police violence against Black people. We demand transparency from the Sacramento Police Department. We demand justice for Stephon Clark.

Tell Representative Garamendi to oppose the “PROSPER” Act

Hi my name is ____ and my zip code is _____.
I am calling to ask that Congressman Garamendi oppose HR 4508. This is the so-called ‘PROSPER’ Act which would make it harder for students to afford higher education and eliminate regulations that protect students from predatory for-profit colleges and career programs.

Fill out Representative Garamendi’s survey on priorities

Fill out the survey here.



This week Amanda Wilcox sat down with our podcast hosts to chat about the Brady Campaign, their legislative agenda – both in California and nationally – and to discuss the impact of the Parkland shooting on legislation and our national conversation about gun violence and sensible gun laws.

Amanda mentioned a wealth of resources for involvement, including a number of bills in Congress. Brady’s three main legislative goals, nationally, are to ban assault weapons, expand background checks, and to expand funding for gun violence restraining orders, which would allow courts to strip gun ownership from persons deemed dangerous to themselves and others by those who know them personally. Currently, California maintains a host of laws that achieve those ends, and has seen a 53% drop in gun deaths – homicide and suicide – since their implementation.

Nationally, there are bills in both the House and Senate, they are:

H.R. 4240 and S. 2009 would both expand background checks.

H.R. 5087 and S. 2095 would ban assault weapons.

H.R. 2598 and S. 1212 would expand funding for the gun violence restraining orders, or ‘extreme risk protection order,’ as it’s called here in California.

Representative Garamendi is a cosponsor of all three House bills, which certainly merits a thank you: (530) 753-5301.

Senator Feinstein is a cosponsor of the first, and authored the latter two, which definitely deserves a thanks: (415) 393-0707.

Senator Harris has cosponsored the first two, but not S. 1212. It’d be worth asking her why: (916) 448-2787.

Currently, all bills are in their respective Judiciary Committees. Both of our Senators serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, so while you’re on the phone, consider urging them to get these bills discharged to the Senate floor.

In California, Brady has two main goals: raise the minimum age for long gun purchase to 21, with AB3, and improve awareness of the Gun Violence Restraining Order Law, which was passed in 2014. The Law would allow courts to prohibit someone from owning a firearm or ammunition – removing what they already own and preventing them from buying more. Family members, domestic partners, or long-term roommates can ask the courts to issue a prohibition if they feel someone may be a danger to themselves or others.

To learn more about the Gun Violence Restraining Order Law, and to get involved, head to, or text ‘movement’ to 877877.

To get involved with the Brady Campaign here in the Sacramento Valley, check out the Brady Campaign website, or send an email to BradySacramento@gmail dot com to attend their next meeting on March 17th!

In addition, don’t forget to attend the March for Our Lives in Sacramento on March 24th. Indivisible Yolo will be carpooling and bussing over, so join us!

Tell Senators to End Our Unauthorized War in Yemen

My name is _____ and my zip code is _____.

I’m calling about the joint resolution introduced by Senators Lee and Sanders to end our unauthorized war in Yemen. It is essential for {PERSON} to support this resolution when it comes to the floor for a vote.

Congress has never authorized this war, and evidence shows that the airstrikes the U.S. is supporting are causing a humanitarian crisis and may amount to war crimes. The chaos has allowed terror groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliates to gain more power and land. It’s time for {PERSON} to exercise Congress’ constitutional power and end this unauthorized war.


Urge MoCs to Pressure Administration to Prepare Against Cyber-attacks in 2018 Elections

Hello, my name is _____ and I am calling from zip code _____.

I am calling to urge {PERSON} to pressure Trump and Secretary of Defense Mattis to authorize U.S. Cyber Command to prepare for potential Russian cyberattacks during the 2018 midterm elections. Can you please tell me what {PERSON} is doing to ensure the integrity of the upcoming elections? This is important to me.


Tell Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry  To Take a Stance on Gun Safety

  • Davis Office: (530) 757-1034

An important bill is coming up in the assembly: AB 2103, the law that will require in-person firearms training before a person can get a concealed carry permit. Has the Assemblymember taken a stand yet?

[if not] Why not? I don’t understand her failure to take a stand on this important issue that has the support of all the gun safety groups. I especially find it upsetting that, heading into the week that our teenagers will be standing up against gun violence, the Assemblymember fails to. Please let her know that I share political information online and in groups I’m a part of. I plan to post each week what her stance is on this issue.



Dr Mindy Romero, Director of the California Civic Engagement Project at UC Davis, joins our hosts on the podcast this week. Dr. Romero founded the Civic Engagement project to address a need for more research on civic engagement, particularly voting behavior, and particularly in respect to underrepresented groups, and disparity in both engagement and representation. The CCEP aims to understand why and how groups are underrepresented and disenfranchised, with the goal of aiding in the implementation of solutions to create a more representative democracy.

On CCEP’s website,, you can find a whole host of resources and all of CCEP’s publications. There you can find a number of tools, including a mapping tool that visualizes the findings of the Center’s research – down to a neighborhood level. It visualizes participation and voter turnout, and draws correlations between engagement and social, economic, and environmental outcomes.

Currently CCEP is working on projects pertaining to elections, both pre- and post-election. Before an election they look questions around policy and summarize what to expect in the election, and afterward, questions around what happened – who participated, how to make sense of the outcome, what, if anything, would have changed it, and how to increase turnout in the future. Another major focus is election behavior and voting reforms, like online voter registration and California’s new pre-registration program.

Beyond voting, CCEP does research around policy, including a project focused around a new bill called the “Ballot Initiative Transparency Act.” Currently, California does a lot of its legislating through the ballot box – some notable examples include legalizing recreational marijuana, or reforming the appeals process for the death penalty. CCEP is planning to track how this bill will affect the way that Californians vote on ballot initiatives, and if it changes voting behavior in the future.

CCEP also looks at voter disenfranchisement, and one of its current major emphases is the youth vote. Their website will soon host a new study on youth turnout and participation in California’s central valley, particularly focused on Latino youth. They ask why youth engage, what engagement means to them, what opportunities and barriers exist in their communities, and whether what we think of as civic engagement actually matches up with what’s available to young people, and what makes sense in their lives. As is true of any survey, metrics must match and reflect what they aim to study, and it’s not clear that traditional metrics always match or resonate with young people’s experience. The CCEP is interested in examining these metrics in an effort to better study young people’s engagement and motives.

In addition to ongoing projects, CCEP partners with any number of organizations and individuals to address any burning questions and help them better advocate or legislate for Californians. They also partner with dissemination groups in an effort to make sure that the research is heard and understood by as many people as possible. They do briefings at the capital, through the press office at UC Davis, through advocacy organizations and lawmakers offices, and hold talks and conferences throughout the state to help get the word out. That kind of outreach and “aggressive dissemination” is key to making sure the research has an impact – information is only useful if as many people know about it as possible. It’s also key to make sure that it is easy to understand and accessible for anyone who needs it, which is why CCEP’s website is full of data visualization tools and tables, and why all of their research is published there with open access to all. But CCEP knows that it can always do more to make sure its findings reach affected groups, and is constantly looking for education and outreach opportunities.

One of CCEP’s major studies, “As California Goes, So Goes the Nation?” looks at the changing demographics in California, how that’s changed the makeup of voters, and what that means for California and the nation. It’s no surprise that California’s demographics have changed significantly with respect to race, ethnicity, and age. Compared to 1980, a common marker for demographic research, the Latino population has grown from 19% to 39%, and currently is larger than the white population (38%). Asian Americans are currently about 13%, and African Americans are about 6% of California’s population. This means California is a much more diverse state than it was even 40 years ago, but raises questions of how that translates to the electorate – who is participating, who is eligible, and what the outcomes are as a result.

What CCEP has found is that the voting population – those who are eligible and who do vote – does not match up demographically to the makeup of the state. Both people of color and young people are drastically underrepresented in the electorate, and thus in government. Part of the reason CCEP does its research is to better understand why these trends exist, and how to get these demographics engaged and voting.

In an ideal democracy, there would be 100% voter turnout, but currently the U.S. has the lowest voter turnout rate for all established democracies across the world. And that has serious consequences. Policy makers are influenced by their voting base, particularly those who will hold them accountable during elections. When demographics don’t vote, it has a direct effect on what policies lawmakers will pursue, whether because they don’t have the information they need, or for more sinister reasons. Oftentimes, though, lawmakers want more data on their constituents, which is why they will partner with the CCEP.

The study also looks at how California compares to the rest of the nation in terms of demographic shift, and the power the Californians have over the presidential races. The bottom line is that Californian numbers represent a more national trend towards diversification, but illustrate how that doesn’t necessarily translate into better representation in government.

Another major area of research focuses on the youth vote – what kinds of roadblocks exist, in registration and engagement, and the culture around youth vote. There are a number that exist, and many are intentional. Oftentimes, we as a culture don’t want to see young people participate, and certainly don’t actively encourage them to participate. However, after elections, one of the first questions asked is “why don’t young people participate?” It’s easy to blame young people, but in reality, the system and our culture does very little to give any sort of support, encouragement, or education on how to participate. In fact, we often expect young people, when they turn 18, to magically know all the nuts and bolts of voter registration and elections, and also to be motivated to vote.

Even here in California, we have a culture where it is socially acceptable for young people to not participate in the political process. In addition, there are structural barriers that keep young people from voting. Voter registration is tied to an address, when we know that many young people are incredibly mobile, and often move every year or two. So, students at Davis, for example, have to figure out which address to use when they register to vote, which means they may not get their ballot in time, or must remember to re-register every year when they move.

There are also attitudes that discourage young people from voting, and discount their experiences. A commonly held notion is that young people don’t have enough worldly knowledge or experience to vote, and that they should wait until they pay taxes, have stable jobs, and ‘know more,’ before they participate. And this attitude is often internalized by young people – the CCEP often hears how young people don’t feel they know enough, or haven’t experienced enough to feel comfortable voting. This is a form of voter suppression. We have a long history in the U.S. of qualifying the right to vote – making people prove that they are worthy and ‘competent,’ enough to participate. This has taken the form of literacy tests, and poll taxes, but more recently looks like voter I.D. laws, a lack of civics education, and this quiet discouragement of young people.

But even though young people aren’t always voting, that doesn’t mean they aren’t involved. Often, they are volunteering and participating in their local communities, but don’t see how casting a ballot will affect tangible change, particularly when they grew up during a recession, and have witnessed gridlock and government shutdowns. Making the connection between casting a ballot and improving their communities will be key in engaging young people in the political process, as well as acknowledging and valuing the work that young people are already doing in their communities.

In addition to making the connection between voting and policy changes that affect communities, it’s important to impart how impactful every vote is. Particularly in state and local elections, we’ve seen one vote be the deciding factor, and local elections are arguably some of the most important, because they impact how policy will be implemented in a community. Even nationally, CCEP’s research has shown that, in the last presidential election, if more people had voted, we likely would have had a different outcome. As it stands, a little under 60% of eligible voters participated, and only a quarter of them voted for the winning candidate, which was a slightly lower than average year in terms of turnout. Recently, in Alabama, we saw an unexpected candidate win as a result of record levels of turnout by the African American community. Ultimately, every vote matters, even on a scale as large as the national and presidential level.

California is at the forefront of voter engagement policy, having recently enacted online voter registration and voter pre-registration. Online voter registration has changed the way people register to vote, and about 4 million people (about 40% of voters) are using the service – whether to register for the first time, or to re-register. It’s also changing the accuracy of voter information, because the forms don’t allow for incorrect addresses or typos, and there’s no issue with deciphering handwriting.

Despite its positive impacts, there are still groups that are underrepresented in their use of online voter registration – most notably Latinos, low income voters, and foreign born voters. So there is room for improvement in the implementation of the online voter registration system, and outreach to underrepresented communities. Overall, however, the system has been a success in the number of people who are using it, and a number of voter advocacy and registration groups have expressed their appreciation in the ease of registering voters. The Secretary of State is a big proponent of registration efforts, and there were a number of online campaigns – most notably on Facebook – where click through advertisements took eligible voters directly to a registration form. Often, spikes of voter registration occurred around key points in the election, such as super Tuesday, and CCEP infers that people were seeing developments in politics that they did or didn’t like, and were spurred to register to vote. Online voter registration is key in capturing that momentum, because it creates an instant connection, and removes barriers of time and space – it is no longer required to go out and pick up a form, fill it out, and mail or submit it, let alone leave the house.

If you’d like to check out some of the research done by CCEP, their findings are posted on the website: In addition, you can find Dr. Romero’s contact information if you or someone you know is interested in partnering for a study, interning as a researcher, or using some of the data to guide and implement policy.

Sarah Zimmerman, Program Director for Retirement Security for All, joins the podcast this week, to discuss the effects of the #TaxScam with respect to social programs, and her research into retirement security across the state of California.

Last year, in October, Congress passed a budget resolution that, along with $5.8 trillion ($5,800,000,000,000) in spending cuts, included a provision that allowed them to pass their tax resolution with a simple majority in the Senate, rather than a ⅔ majority. Although the cuts weren’t enacted, the resolution gives a pretty clear picture of which programs the GOP is planning to cut, particularly in the wake of the #TaxScam, and subsequent deficit increase.

A number of programs slated for the chopping block include those that benefit seniors, which is Sarah’s research focus. They’re coming after the housing assistance budget, they want to eliminate the legal services budget, and they want to eliminate state grants for emergencies – things like hurricanes and wildfires. In addition, they want to cut more than $1 trillion ($1,000,000,000,000) from Medicaid, even though approximately 6 out of every 10 people in a nursing home depend almost exclusively on it.

Sarah has been looking into what these types of cuts would look like, and how they’d manifest in counties across California. She looked at 10 counties in California that are in districts represented by vulnerable Republicans – meaning they represent a district that Hillary Clinton won. San Joaquin county, for instance, which is in California’s 10th district, represented by Jeff Dehnem, would see a $12 million ($12,000,000) cut to its budget through Trump’s $6 billion ($6,000,000,000) housing cuts. Currently, 9,000 senior headed homes pay more than half of their income in housing costs, and over 2,000 of these households could lose their housing entirely, as a result of these cuts.

Every county has numbers like that. In Yolo, there are 3,000 senior headed households that pay more than half of their income in housing costs. Because senior headed households are often older couples, that means that 6,000 people are vulnerable. In addition, about 1,000 households include a senior who relies on federal subsidies, meaning those households could also lose their housing. Sarah points out that the only way that people are surviving on Social Security benefits is that they have subsides from other government programs, like housing, Medicare, or legal aid. The average Social Security check is about $1,300 per month, which is comparable to what most one bedroom apartments cost to rent in Yolo county. Pulling these programs, and reducing payouts obviously puts a strain on these people and their households.

A strain will also be put on the local economy, through lost government revenue, and loss of consumer purchasing power. A tax break to seniors, that puts more spending money in their pockets, for example, means that money will be spent in their communities and taxed by the local economy. A tax break for a billionaire, on the other hand, doesn’t ensure that kind of local and widespread spending – one person simply can’t be spending little amounts everywhere the same way that a multitude of people in communities across the country can. This is called a multiplier effect: a senior who has an extra dollar in their pocket, and who spends that dollar in a local economy, will have an economic ripple effect, multiplying the value of that dollar.

Another program on the chopping block is SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more colloquially known as food stamps. Here in California, it’s known as CalFresh, and you can learn more by listening to our podcast with Don Saylor (episode 28). SNAP is another program that has a multiplier effect – roughly 1.79%. Moody’s, a fairly conservative economic analysis group, estimates that funding SNAP has a greater positive effect on the economy than tax cuts. SNAP’s multiplier of 1.79% means that for every dollar invested in SNAP, that generates growth in the local economy equivalent to almost double its original worth. For Yolo County, that means about $57 million ($57,000,000).

On an individual level, many people benefit from overlap of these programs. For example, a single parent, making $15 an hour, taking care of an aging parent, might head a household that receives Social Security, Medicare, and SNAP benefits, among others. This means that they can take time off work to take care of that aging parent, or can afford to have a caregiver for when they have to go to work. It means they can afford childcare for young children, so the parent can go to work. If the kids are older, they may be able to take advantage of federal grants and scholarships for college. The family might receive subsidies that allow them to afford their housing, electricity, or even their centralized heating and air, particularly if they live in dangerously hot places like California’s central valley. If these subsidies go away, this family could lose their housing, their heat, their child or elder care, and any hope of attending college. Sarah’s research has found that many families like this are only one or two paychecks away from losing their housing, or their cars, and any type of emergency or medical disaster can put them in financial ruin. It is a precarious and incredibly stressful situation.

One of the most dangerous cuts would be to the legal services budget. Many may not realize how important it is that low-income folks have access to legal services, but Sarah mentions a man who required medicine to control his high blood pressure, but through clerical error, was unable to register for MediCal. He couldn’t leave his home because his other medical supplies had run dangerously low, but he was able to call legal services and within a day they had re-established his MediCal. Without legal aid, he may not have survived, and certainly would not have been able to keep his dignity, yet the GOP budget aims to cut these services entirely.

Part of what we can do to fight back is to continue educating. For a long, and yet somehow still incomplete, detailing of the horrors in the tax bill, check out the Holiday Tax Scam Special, or read the blog. Educate proponents of the bill that a one time bonus of $1,000 won’t last long in the face of health insurance rate hikes, new expenses that were previously covered by social programs, or even new taxes. Make sure when 2019 rolls around, people understand that their taxes have changed because of that bill that was passed at the end of 2017. Keep reminding them. Major Republican donors like the Koch brothers have already pledged millions of dollars to try and put a positive spin on the bill, and they are rolling out an extended PR campaign. We can combat it by spreading information about what this bill actually does, getting out in the streets – like the graduate students Averyl Dietering and Breanne Weber did at UC Davis – and continuing to shame the GOP. Most importantly, the only way to change the situation is to take back the government in November 2018, which means registering and making sure folks are able to vote.

If you’d like to learn more about retirement security, and Sarah’s research, you can check out Retirement Security for All’s website: They also have a facebook page, and work closely with CARA – California Alliance for Retired Americans. Sarah suggests getting involved, in part, because the seniors of CARA are so courageous and fun to work with. She’d also like to ask that anyone who has a story of how they benefited from social welfare programs – CHIP, Social Security, MediCal, legal services, or others – share it on the RSA website. On the homepage, there’s a link to share your experience, and Sarah suggests ignoring the prompt and simply telling your story.

If you’d like to get involved with flipping Jeff Denham’s seat in California District 10, Organize Win Legislate’s Director, Tristan Brown, stopped by the pod, and has a number of ways to get involved. Indivisible Manteca is also organizing to wrest power away from Denham in 2018.

On this week’s podcast, Isabel and Andy dig in to some of the details of the GOP Tax Plan (or #TaxScam).

To start, the bill claims it will give savings to Average Everyday Americans. Speaker Ryan and other GOP members have claimed that the bill will save the Average American about $2,000 on their taxes, although the actual number from GOP and non-partisan analysts is $1,182. Many members of the GOP have been touting that it’s an increase of roughly $22 per week (or $88 per month), directly into the pocket of the Average American.

To start, using an average is misleading. Isabel points out that she and Barry Bonds have an average of 381 home runs, she and Apa Sherpa have climbed Mt. Everest an average of 11 times, and that she and Bill Gates have an average net worth of $45 billion (that’s $45,000,000,000). Which is to say, if the tax bill gives a millionaire a $10 million tax break, and someone making $7.25 – minimum wage – nothing, they still have an average savings of $5 million (that’s $5,000,000). In this case, a better metric would be median savings, the same way the census and other agencies use a median to measure things like household income, because averages can be skewed by outliers. 

In addition to misrepresenting the savings by using an average instead of a median, the GOP are ignoring two major disasters in health insurance – the repeal of the individual mandate, included in this bill, and the non-renewal of CHIP’s budget. Repealing the individual mandate, which would mean that individuals would no longer be required to have health insurance, will destabilize the healthcare markets, which makes the cost of health insurance increase, and will decrease the pool of healthy, insured people, which will make health insurance overall more expensive. Plus, low-income families will no longer have their children’s health insurance covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which, for a family of four with two children on CHIP, could mean an increase of anywhere from $400 to $600 per month. It really cuts into the $88 per month in savings they’re supposed to be getting.

Thankfully, despite all the pro-#TaxScam propaganda, the bill polls around 30%, and many who are currently in favor of the bill do not realize that, especially if they live in California, their taxes are actually more likely to increase as a result of the provision that removes deductions for state and local taxes (SALT). SALT primarily helps people who live in high tax states, by allowing them to deduct the taxes they pay at the local or state levels from their federal taxes, to avoid paying those taxes twice. People in states like New York, California, and New Jersey in particular are set to lose large deductions as a result of this repeal.

Another talking point being touted is the idea that reducing taxes on the wealthiest Americans will result in job growth and reinvestment in the economy – the Trickle Down Economics theory, which is a myth. The past three presidents who implemented trickle down or deregulation policies have either crashed, stagflated, or recessed the economy. A lack of regulation doesn’t provide for more growth, it paves the way for speculation and practices that prey on the poor, which result in bubbles and subsequent bursts. The U.S. has a long history of speculation leading to crashes, from speculation in the 1800s around gold and silver, to speculation and deregulation in stocks in the 1920s, to speculation and deregulation in 2008 around housing – none of which ended well for the Average American. Even today, we’re seeing a similar pattern with predatory and speculative auto loans, not unlike the housing loans and mortgages that were common prior to 2008, and a rental market exploding with little to no protection for consumers and renters. This type of deregulation, tax cuts, and invitation of speculation has resulted in recessions and crashes, and that means money being taken out of workers’ pockets.

In addition, CEOs have flat out denied the claims that they will reinvest in the economy, job training, or wages. They will buy back stocks and pay greater dividends, which doesn’t help the Average American, but rather helps stockholders and company executives. Wells Fargo’s CEO in particular has been on the record stating that his company will invest back in the company so that they produce greater profits and dividends every quarter. Well Fargo is also being used to put a positive spin on the bill, since they announced they will be raising employees wages to $15 an hour in the coming year. While the GOP and right wing media have touted this as an effect of the #TaxScam, they ignore that Wells Fargo had announced this wage hike back in September, before the tax bill had even been drafted. So, Wells Fargo had the means to pay its workers $15 an hour before its taxes were cut, but yet the tax bill will benefit them to the tune of $3.7 billion (that’s $3,700,000,000), while their CEO makes about $19 million (that’s $19,000,000). The company has promised to donate $400 million to charity as a result of the windfall, but that’s less than 2% of its total gains, even combined with the pay increases for workers.

Other companies like AT&T have promised to give all employees a $1,000 bonus because of the bill, but that’s only a one time thing. Meanwhile, the new tax laws that apply to corporations have no sunset date, meaning they’ll never expire unless the laws are changed, while individuals will see their tax deductions disappear in 2027. The bonus is clearly aimed at making the tax bill more popular – rather than investing in American workers by giving them a 5% raise every year to keep up with the cost of inflation, creating pensions and 401(k) matching programs, or expanding health insurance benefits, they are choosing to give a one time bonus of a measly $1,000.

Another reason companies are raising the wages to $15 and giving bonuses is to draw support from the Fight for $15 movement, but they and others are already pivoting. Previous guests Sarah Zimmerman (Podcast 11) and Sean Raycraft (Podcast 5) have talked about how the Fight for $15 movement is actually the Fight for $15 and a union. Thankfully, the movement and others have already pivoted. They’ve achieved their $15 minimum wage ($31,200 per year), but now they’re fighting for the right to unionize at these companies, because they realize that while the $1,000 bonus may be popular, it doesn’t last the same way wage increases, health benefits, and pensions do.

So although certain companies may give out slightly higher bonuses this year, the Average American will actually see a tax increase. The median household income across the country is $59,000 per year, with the median in Yolo around $54,000. Non partisan organizations have estimated that households earning below $70,000 per year will see their taxes increase – that’s about 24 million people – by as much as $800 per year. So, not only will that one time payment of $1,000 per year be eaten up for many by $800 in new taxes, they’ll have to shoulder the burden of those taxes in subsequent years, without the benefit of that $1,000 bonus.

The GOP doesn’t seem to believe this, though, in part because they don’t seem to understand what the Average American is. In a tweet, John Cornyn suggested that a married couple earning $100,000 per year via $60,000 in wages, $20,000 in non-corporate business income, and $15,000 in business income would see their taxes decrease. This model of income is not typical, and that the figures are much higher than the Average American earns (keeping in mind that the median income is $59,000, not $100,000). In fact, this model of income is more in line with how lobbyists and political donors make money – they earn salaries, have bonuses or stock market gains as non-corporate income, and have ‘side’ businesses like real estate. Looking at Senator Cornyn’s tweet, it appears that they took this model of income, slashed a few zeroes off the end, and went “this looks about right.” Ultimately, this says a lot about who is behind this bill and who it’s intended to benefit.

Its beneficiaries, in addition to the corporations, include Congress. Bob Corker, for example, is now able to pass almost a third of his $69 million ($69,000,000) net worth on to his children, tax free, and will be able to take advantage of a new real estate loophole. Corker earns around $7 million per year in revenue from his real estate enterprise, which is considered “pass through” income, as it passes through his personal tax returns (in this case, people are corporations, friends). In the new bill, pass through income will only be taxed at 20%, so Senator Corker’s $7 million ($7,000,000) per year, and Donald Trump’s $68 million ($68,000,000) per year, will be taxed at lower rates than people who make $75,000 per year. Corker is a notorious deficit hawk, and has gone on record saying that he will not vote for any bill that raises the deficit – even by a penny. But, after the real estate loophole was introduced to the bill (penciled in may be a more accurate term), he switched his vote.

Ultimately this #TaxScam penalizes the poor to benefit the rich, handing the poor a death sentence and the middle class a bill. And the intent to harm is clear, as Senator Ted Cruz points out while pontificating about the merits of the bill. The bill repeals tax deductions for state and local taxes (SALT), which will particularly harm residents of California, New York, New Jersey, and other high tax, left-leaning states. Cruz says “the only people whose taxes are going up are the really rich. The middle class, their taxes are all going down; the working class, their taxes are going down; every taxpayer, their taxes are going down. Except rich people, in Manhattan and San Francisco, some of them, their taxes may go up.” A few things in this statement are demonstrably false. First, as we mentioned previously, those making less than $70,000 per year are likely to see an increase in their taxes. Second, the implication that everywhere in New York is like Manhattan or everywhere in California is like San Francisco does a disservice to the diversity of states, and plays into the false narrative that all New Yorkers or Californians are “coastal elites.” Third, the idea that everyone in Manhattan and San Francisco is rich is laughable. What he is right about is that people in Manhattan and San Francisco will see their taxes go up, but it won’t be rich people in those cities, and it won’t be confined to the cities. Poor and working class people across these states will feel the blow of SALT repeal, which is clearly intended to harm states with high taxes that tend to vote blue. It is a partisan move, with obvious intent to harm, and it may be a death sentence for many struggling citizens in high tax states.

But the intentional harm doesn’t end at states that vote blue, it’s also piled on to Puerto Rico, which is slapped with new taxes even in the midst of recovery from a national disaster. Despite the majority of Puerto Ricans being without power, without water, and being wholly dependent on charitable organizations – rather than their own government – for aid, and despite Puerto Rico’s debt crisis prior to the hurricane, the GOP have opted to raise taxes on the vulnerable island’s residents.

Vulnerable kids are in the line of fire, as well, since Congress has failed to re-authorize a budget for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides 9 million children with health insurance. This means funding will run out in 2018, and parents will either be forced to pay higher costs to have their children insured, or leave their children uninsured. One father, who works as a layer for a non-profit, but doesn’t make enough money to insure his two children, will see an increase of $600 per month if he adds them to his plan. Even if he were an Average American who got a tax break of $1,182 per year, that would be eaten up within two months by his increased health care costs.

The worst part about CHIP is that Congress has known that funding will run out, and has actively not made reauthorization a priority. Congress sets its own deadlines for its budgets, and has known since April of 2015 that CHIP will expire in September of 2017. They have known for more than two years, and they have done nothing. And time is running out. CHIP has been funded through the end of 2017, but many states have already run out of funding. To compensate, states with excess or larger budgets, like California, have donated money to other states in an effort to keep these programs running until at least the end of 2017. But that creates a deficit for these generous states, and means that they too will be shutting down their CHIPs come January 31, 2018. 16 states have plans to either completely cut or begin phasing out children’s health insurance by January 31st: California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Florida, Virginia, D.C., Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Together these states represent 5 million of the 9 million kids on CHIP (that’s 5,000,000 of the 9,000,000 children), so that’s 5 million kids that will be without health insurance starting on January 31st.

States are trying to mitigate the problem. Many are trying to get kids, particularly very sick kids, on to Medicaid, but it’s not a process that happens overnight, and states are scrambling. Some states are so overwhelmed they are simply shutting their programs’ doors. Notices began to go out on December 15th, and 9 million families will spend their holidays wondering how they will cover the costs of their children’s medical care in the coming years.

For perspective, the #TaxScam adds $1.5 trillion ($1,500,000,000,000) to the deficit. $1.5 trillion could fund CHIP, in its current form, for 915 years. Ultimately, this is a question of priorities, and since the deficit doesn’t seem to matter any more, where the GOP chose to spend the money – in tax cuts for billionaires – is a reflection of their priorities.

Senator Angus King, on the Senate floor, summed it up nicely: “We don’t know anything now that we didn’t know in the middle of September or in August – that we could have passed this program, but we just blew right by it. Maybe it’s because none of our kids are in this program. I’d venture to say that if the children of the members of the United States Senate were in the CHIP program, we would have met that deadline. But we didn’t.” The failure to reauthorize CHIP, in conjunction with the clear and direct benefit to members of Congress, is a succinct summary of the priorities of this bill.

Priorities that include repealing Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. While the bill isn’t a complete repeal, like President Trump is touting, it does repeal the individual mandate, which requires every person to have health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) a non-partisan government agency that scores bills, estimates that 13 million people (13,000,000) could lose their health insurance as a result of this repeal. Additionally senators who had been working on a bipartisan effort to stabilize the healthcare markets, which would lower costs for everyone, came out immediately after the tax bill passed to say that their legislation had been permanently tabled and would never see the floor, much less a vote. Rather than support these attempts, the tax bill will destabilized markets, which will make prices for health insurance skyrocket. The previously mentioned lawyer, whose children are on CHIP, who will pay $600 per month if he adds them to his plan when CHIP runs out of money, could see that $600 turn into $800 or $1,200, or more as a result of destabilized markets.

Insurance companies and patients are, uniquely, on the same side in this fight. Insurance companies want the individual mandate because it helps them offset costs. Healthy people are cheaper to insure than not healthy people, and when they all pay into one pot of money, it helps even things out. Patients, in turn, want this for more or less the same reason: healthy people paying into the healthcare market brings down costs for everyone, because there’s less volatility – companies know how many people will be buying insurance (everyone), at what rates, and can estimate how many people will be sick or hurt and need to take money out. When companies know these things, they don’t need to inflate rates, because they can calculate more or less exactly how they’re going to cover their costs and meet their bottom line. When these things are uncertain, it means companies will charge more, in an effort to ensure that they don’t lose money.

This is a lose-lose for patients and insurance companies, but a win for a GOP that hates Obamacare. Many young, healthy people will see it as a win, as well, forgetting that tragedy can strike at any time, and that the purpose of health insurance is a safeguard against bankruptcy at the hands of a medical emergency.

The bill also includes a handful of horrific riders. Congressional bills normally carry benign so-called “riders,” but the #TaxScam has a few particularly troubling riders. The first is a provision that allows for drilling in Alaskan wildlife refuges – the Arctic Wildlife Refuge specifically. It was something Senator Murkowski desperately wanted, and is touting as a job creating provision, despite the fact that drilling isn’t expected to begin for another 10 years – meaning jobs won’t be created for another 10 years. Not to mention, ‘clean energy’ has been consistently creating more and more jobs, while coal, oil, and other crude energy sources have been in steady decline for decades. While this might create jobs for the lawyers fighting the suits against this drilling, it doesn’t seem like it will create many blue collar jobs, and certainly not in the near future. More importantly, this opens a door for drilling and sectioning off other wildlife refuges and parks across the country. The Trump administration has already reduced the size of Bears Ears park in Utah, citing that the government shouldn’t own that much land.

Another particularly unfortunate rider in the bill particularly for those with uteruses, is an attempt to define life at conception. The bill changes the language in the tax code around personhood, and defines the “unborn child” – the fetus – as a legal entity, and equates it with an actual child. The idea was that parents could begin saving for a child’s college expenses – in a 529 college savings fund – at the moment of conception. This is a preposterous idea for a number of reasons, not the least of which that most people don’t know the instant they’re pregnant. Adding 9 months of savings (at most, but more likely 6 months) on to a college savings fund wouldn’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, especially considering cuts to higher education and subsequent tuition increases – to say nothing of how privileged parents must be in order to have enough money to save for college and have the knowledge to open a 529 fund. This change in definition is a thinly veiled attempt to define personhood at conception, and the first step in classifying abortion, or even a miscarriage, as murder.

Looking forward, our deficit will be growing by $1.5 trillion ($1,500,000,000,000), which adds to our current $25 trillion ($25,000,000,000,000) deficit. The GOP claims that this addition will be offset by growth, but the majority of economists disagree that it’s even possible. The bill is fiscally irresponsible, but the GOP has already made it clear that they’re looking to make cuts to ‘entitlement’ programs as a way to offset the added deficit. After the passage of the #TaxScam, the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Kevin Brady, said “we’re going to have to, over time, make tough decisions to restrain spending.” They wouldn’t have to do that if they hadn’t passed a $1.5 trillion dollar deficit increase. Some of the programs in the crosshairs include those that help the most vulnerable: Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, legal aid, and they may never reauthorize funding for CHIP, citing a need to cut costs. Student loan forgiveness programs are already in danger; a bill in the House would eliminate the program that allows students loans to be forgiven in exchange for ten years of government service, something many professionals – like veterinarians or social workers – depend on.

There are enough small things in this bill that every single person will be affected by it in one way or another. Many people will be devastated by it. Going forward, we must mitigate the harm, educate our friends and neighbors, and fight like hell to wrest power away from the GOP in 2018.