Category Archives: NunsontheBus2018

Travel Log: Rep. Comstock Lobby Visit

Travel Log: Rep. Comstock Lobby Visit

Sister Janet Kinney, CSJ
October 26, 2018

Today we are making our last stops as we round out this week ‘on the road’ speaking about Tax Justice on our Truth Tour across the country.

We left Delaware and after a 3 hour ride arrived at the office of Representative Barbara Comstock (VA-10).  While Rep. Comstock voted against Speaker Ryan’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act, she has also voted to remove some of the provisions of this act that will affect thousands of people who rely on their health care plans to remain healthy and receive much needed care.  Rep. Comstock also voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which has not provided the tax benefits and wage increases promised to the average person, as it was designed to benefit the upper 1 % and major corporations.  Already we have heard that this country has lost over $160 billion in tax revenue this year alone because of the passing of this legislation!  And now Senate Leader Mitchell McConnell says we will have to cut our social programs – Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other programs – to make up for the deficit!

 

I accompanied Sister Simone Campbell and Sister Richelle Friedman on a lobby visit with John O’Donoghue, who works on tax and healthcare issues for Representative Comstock.  We also were accompanied by Angie Voyles of the Little Lobbyists; Jim Vollmer, an SEIU member; and Yolanda, a representative of CASA Maryand.

Angie spoke movingly about her daughter Anna who is medically fragile and was born at 25 weeks, along with her twin brother.  Anna has a tracheostomy, feeding tube, cerebral palsy, metabolic bone disease, as well as a few other debilitating conditions and relies on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid to receive the care that she needs.  Angie became Anna’s mom when she was 2 months old and officially adopted her at age 2.  Her daughter has had many medical emergencies and, because of her husband’s career in the military, they were flown to DC to get Anna needed care because their hometown hospital in Arkansas had run out of the resources needed to treat her conditions.

Despite the odds, Anna has grown, has started walking and talking, and is attending school!  She is able to attend school due to her access to a home healthcare nurse provided by the Medicaid Waiver program.  Angie and her husband are so fearful that the provisions currently being suggested to revise Medicaid will harm the services that help her daughter every day.

We tried to impress upon Rep. Comstock’s staff that her advocacy in Congress for her constituents and families like Angie’s was critical to their wellbeing.  Unfortunately we received only a message that he would pass along our concerns to the Representative.  When we shared statistics and data supporting our concerns made public by the Congressional Budget Office with Mr. O’Donoghue, we were questioned on the accuracy of our data!

After the lobby visit we had a rally outside Rep. Comstock’s office with a rousing group of her constituents who also shared that she has never had a town hall to listen to their concerns in her two terms in office, and they have experienced roadblocks every time they try to meet with her.  This was discouraging to hear!

Angie’s story and many other stories like hers, I have heard over and over during our trip this week.

These are the voices that need to be lifted up and shared with our legislators and one another, so that we vote for persons who represent “We the People.” I am praying that we have record turnout at the voting booths this November 6th. United together we can make this happen!

View more photos from this event here.

Travel Log: Philadelphia and Pleasantville

Travel Log: Philadelphia and Pleasantville

Sister Margaret McGuirk, OP
October 25, 2018

Our day began as usual with contemplative prayer and sharing. At the end, Sister Betsy looked at her hotel key card and it said, “Passion Moves Us.”  This became our inspiration for the day and with a resounding “Amen,” we packed up our bags and were on the road again.

The Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP) in Philadelphia was our first stop.  It is an amazing example of a dream realized through the work of a community committed to justice. Nora Lichtash, Executive Director, said that they brought together a coalition of sixty-two organizations and out of this emerged the WCRP. Their mission is to build permanently affordable housing and serve women and families. Pastor Richard Harris told how the neighborhood was deteriorating and there was land left vacant for 30 years.  The city had insufficient affordable housing and people living under bridges and struggling with the opioid addiction. Christi Clarke, Organizing Director, gave us a tour of new buildings of the Grace Town Homes – Community Land Trust. One of the beautiful parts of this tour was to learn how many persons with disabilities have made this place their home.  The event ended with a press conference where Congressman Brendan Boyle joined us. He spoke of his commitment to the common good. His voting record is aligned with NETWORK’s “Mend the Gaps” agenda and we were touched to learn that his vote while he was a member of the Pennsylvania state legislature made a difference in making this project possible.

Our second stop was the Village at St. Peter’s in Pleasantville which is low-income housing sponsored by the Catholic Archdiocese of Camden. Jamie Reynolds, Executive Director, gave us a tour and invited us to a meal with the residents. It was a delightful time to interact with the residents and experience the spirit of welcome and conviviality that they have created at this apartment complex. It was delightful when one of the men who does maintenance stood on a chair and led us in a blessing before the meal. We invited the seniors to come out to the bus and many of them did.  Both here and at WCRP, it was evident how investing in the lives of those who are marginalized can turn darkness to light.

View more photos from Philadelphia and Pleasantville.

Travel Log: Wilmington Town Hall

Travel Log: Wilmington Town Hall

Sister Andrea Koverman, SC
October 25, 2018

Thursday evening ended with the Wilmington Town Hall for Justice hosted by the Grace United Methodist Church. Delaware is plagued by tremendous economic inequality and is a haven for tax loopholes and evasion. This is the first time Nuns on the Bus has come to Delaware, and we were met by an enthusiastic crowd and graciously welcomed by Reverend Edwin Estevez.

Reverend Edwin Estevez set the tone for the evening by leading us with a prayer by Sir Francis Drake (1577) titled, “Disturb Us, Lord.”

Disturb Us, Lord

Disturb us, Lord when we are too well

Pleased with ourselves.

When our dreams have come true

Because we have dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely

Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when

With the abundance of things we possess

We have lost our thirst

For the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity

And in our efforts to build a new earth,

We have allowed our vision

Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

To venture on wider seas

Where storms will show Your mastery;

Where losing sight of land,

We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back

The horizons of our hopes;

And to push into the future

In strength, courage, hope, and love.

The content of the presentation is indeed disturbing. NETWORK’s human bar graph creates a startling visual of the impact of the change in economic growth for all families in the U.S. divided into quintiles as a result of changes in tax policy. Before Reaganomics introduced the idea that the increased revenue for corporations would benefit people at every level as revenue would “trickle down,” 100% of the people grew 100% together. But during the thirty plus years since then, people in the bottom quintile only grew 8.25%, while the top quintile grew 65% and the top 1% grew a whopping 205%.

The demonstration went on to depict how much worse the disparity is going to be as the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Law takes affect. The bottom quintile will get about an additional $60 on their income tax return, while those in the 1% will get $193,000. Those in greatest need will get the least while the wealthy and most economically secure will get even more.

To show the loss of income that will come as a result of the proposed cuts to programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, each quintile is asked to take steps backwards for cut that would affect them.

It just so happened that each step backwards brought people closer and closer to the altar in the church we were gathered in. How symbolic of what our faith calls us to recognize. As we let go of our human tendency to look out for ourselves, to take more than we need and more than is just, to blame those less fortunate for their own circumstances and refuse to acknowledge our responsibility for one another, we drift further away from the heart of God. When we do the opposite, we move into community with our sisters and brothers and closer to the heart of God.

View more photos from this event here.