Woman2Woman Traverse City hosted Michigan’s Senator Debbie Stabenow at the Park Place Hotel on Sunday, Sept. 17th. Sen. Stabenow quickly established an easy rapport with the crowd who represented some of Traverse City’s preeminent and dynamic female Democratic leadership. The Senator, whom I shall henceforth refer to as Debbie, said she was here to talk about how we can make things better. She recalled her time working with Helen Milliken to ratify the ERA of which Michigan was one of the first states to do so. Traverse City, she said, has a record of stepping up for women. She stressed repeatedly that although we may be suffering from resistance fatigue, it is imperative to work assiduously to defeat yet again the attempt by Republicans to destroy health care in the guise of the Cassidy/Graham ACA Repeal Bill. She urged everyone to call their MoC’s as well as out-of-state MoC’s to help stop this last-ditch effort. After her opening remarks, Debbie turned the meeting over to questions and answers which I summarize below:
Q: Why have you not signed on to Medicare for All?
A: The details of the plan have not yet been flushed out. When I sign on, I’m responsible for explaining everything as to how it will work. I don’t have enough details yet. As you know, I like the Public Option for health care insurance expansion. I have also put forward a bill to lower Medicare eligibility to age 55. The Republicans want us to be divided on this issue and fight among ourselves. If that happens, we lose. The time for this debate will come after we win in 2018.
Q: From a local employer: ICE picked up the husband of one of my best employees. The wife is now left to raise and support her three children alone. What can I do?
A: Call us. Contact my aides and we will do what we can. I can’t promise we will be successful, but we will try. This is one of the reasons we need comprehensive immigration reform in this country. Dreamers especially need to be protected.
Q: We are told the Republicans already have 48 Senators who have committed to repeal the ACA yet again. What can we do?
A: We need to melt down the phone lines of Republicans who support this in the next two weeks. The reconciliation period expires on Sept. 30. They need 51 votes to pass it before then. They are promising Alaska and Maine tons of money to get Sen. Collins and Sen. Murkowski to sign on this time. And Sen. Heller as well. We can’t be sure it won’t pass this time. If it does, we must rise up and protest.
Q: Where is Michigan in fighting the Opioid Addiction Epidemic?
A: We want to reimburse addiction and mental health care the same way regular patient care is reimbursed which is something the ACA does now. In the short run, we need to increase grants to states for mental health and addiction treatment programs. We need to keep pressing the issue until they hear us. Prison superintendents tell us that over 50% of their inmate population is suffering from some sort of mental health issue.
Q: What do you know about the Mueller investigation that the general public does not?
A: Laughing: I can’t tell you! What I can tell you is that I have great confidence in Special Investigator Mueller’s ability to get to the bottom of all this. I would be very surprised if there are not criminal indictments. It will take longer than we would all like but Mueller is very, very thorough. Trump is so entangled with the Russians that he cannot keep us safe.
Q: What is your position on Line Five?
A: If I could wave a magic wand and shut it down immediately, I would. We must plan carefully how to do it as the propane supply for the UP comes through that line. Ultimately is up to the state to make the decision.
Q: What can we do about Gerrymandering?
A: The Republicans have got where they are with the help of their gerrymandered districts. We need to place the issue on the 2018 ballot. The Republicans like it the way it is now. However, they can’t gerrymander the federal Senate elections, and that is why they are doing everything they can to defeat me in 2018.
Q: What do Democrats stand for other than defeating Trump?
A: I get asked that question all the time. Let’s start with health care. Water protection, an
economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. People need to know we have got their backs. If people can’t see the difference [between the two parties], I don’t know why. We need to focus on the big ideas. Not whether we are too far right, or too far left. Democrats are the only people who have every moved to increase health care benefits for Americans. Republicans have repeatedly moved to destroy those benefits. People have to take individual responsibility and take action. No system is perfect, but we have to keep trying.
Q: What will happen to public education, especially in the lower levels due to the policies of Betsy
A: We must all actively oppose DeVos. Push back like crazy. She failed at up front attempts to fund private schools with voucher programs. Now she is trying the back-door approach. It’s what they always do. She wants to give block grants to states to fund private schools. Our state-wide elections in 2018 will be very important in whether she succeeds. Keep pushing back!
Q: Where do you stand on infrastructure funding?
A: The Sioux locks are very important and in need of replacement and
upgrading. We are moving forward slowly on this issue. If the locks degrade and fail, it will shut down Michigan’s economy, and eventually affect the whole countries economy as well. The Army Corp of Engineers is very near to releasing their plans for upgrading. I estimate we are 8 – 10 years away from getting it done. High speed business internet is also of primary importance in growing the economy of the First District. What Republicans are proposing is to give tax credits to big construction companies to fund infrastructure projects. That is not a good fix for Michigan as they aren’t going to focus on projects in places like upper Michigan. Usually, in such cases the state seeks reimbursement through imposing tolls. That will not work in Michigan.
Debbie closed the session by asking for support over the next year by signing ballots to get her on the ticket, put her bumper stickers on your cars, join Team Stabinow by signing up for a monthly campaign contribution of $18 or more, and become a Team Captain in her campaign. Sign up for Rogan’s List and join the resistance. We all have more power than we think we have. Get involved, be engaged. That is how Democrats will win.