Happy Monday, good peoples! Today's a good day to call your Reps and Senators and tell them to pass a vigorous COVID relief bill. Vox has a pretty good summary of what's presently in the bill our House is writing, which includes $1400 checks for folks making under $75,000, $400 in weekly expanded unemployment benefits through August 29, and a $15/hour minimum wage. And in addition to funding more testing and tracing and funding the states, localities, public transportation, and other entities that have suffered from reduced tax revenues during this pandemic, the bill would also expand COBRA subsidies through September, expand Affordable Care Act subsidies, and expand working-family tax credits like the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit. And say only two things to folks who worry that a $15/hour minimum wage would "shock the economy": one, the bill gradually increases the minimum wage and won't reach $15/hour for several years, and two, we've spent so much time talking about essential workers during a pandemic that we ought to start paying them like they're essential.
Speaking of the minimum wage, you might also want to call Sens. Manchin (D-WV) and Sinema (D-AZ) and tell them to support the $15/hour minimum wage. (Phone numbers are 202.224.3954 and 202.224.4521, respectively.) Yeah, they "represent conservative states," but if they actually talked to the people they represent, as is their job; Sens. Manchin and Sinema might find a lot more support for the higher minimum wage than the phrase "conservative state" suggests. After all, polls tell us a majority of Republican voters want both the $15/hour minimum wage and the COVID bill passed via budget reconciliation, so it ain't us who are "out of touch." And too many of my fellow liberals keep misreading the politics, too! We can't coddle these Senators "to keep the majority." No one's going to vote Democrat in 2022 because "they sacrificed doing the right thing to doing it the right way." But a whole lot of people will vote Republican in 2022 because "Democrats had all the power and didn't do anything." We've seen this time and time again; how many more times must we see it?
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania residents, take note: if you've missed previous opportunities to tell your PA state legislators to reject the "sore loser" judicial gerrymandering bill, HB 38, then Common Cause still helps you do that. Why "sore loser"? Because PA Republicans are mad that our state Supreme Court has mostly Democrats on it, and want to create "judicial districts" so they can get more Republicans on the Court. Period. If they wanted them on the Court so badly, they should have won all those 2015 Court elections they and their paymasters spent so damn much money on! Our activism against HB 38 has had positive effects: the House Judiciary Committee passed it, but narrowly, and now the state Senate Majority Leader says HB 38 won't pass the full legislature soon enough to get on the ballot by the May primary election. (HB 38, if it passes, would put the question of amending our state Constitution to mandate the creation of "judicial districts" on the ballot.) But HB 38 might make it through the legislature in time for the November election, and this is (to quote a phrase right-wingers love!) one baby we should strangle in its crib.
Finally, right-wing special interest groups (like ALEC!) want to stage an Article V Constitutional convention, which two-thirds of state legislatures could call and then use to pass a slew of anti-freedom constitutional amendments as soon as three-quarters of state legislatures ratify them. 34 state legislatures would have to call the convention; now guess how many state legislatures Republicans currently hold? That's right, 31, which is three states short, but with Republicans controlling the gerrymandering, ahem, redistricting process for the next decade, they may have their 34 with a quickness. They'd need 38 to enact the proposed amendments, but Article V gives no guidance as to how to conduct this convention, so you can only imagine how bad it'd get -- they'd make it "unconstitutional" to stop corporations from polluting, or stop vote suppression, or raise taxes on the rich, or even have Medicare or Social Security. Hence Common Cause helps you tell state legislators you oppose an Article V convention. They'll try to do this while no one's looking, so let's let them know we see them.