Life gets better, punkin.

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From the time I was in second grade, I wanted to be a teacher. But our family was a paycheck-to-paycheck family. By the time I was a senior in high school, we didn’t have the money for a college application, much less the money to send me off to school. I was sixteen, angry and miserable.

After one especially bitter battle with my mother, I threw some clothes in a bag and ran out of the house. Hours later, Daddy found me on a bench at the bus station downtown. He sat down beside me, and asked if I remembered the time after his heart attack.

I remembered. I’d been 12 years old, and I’d seen how fast a family could be turned upside down.

Daddy said it was the worst time in his life. Worse than when the doctors thought the lumps on his neck were cancer. Worse than when his best friend died. Worse than when he was in a terrible car crash and smashed through the windshield and tore his shoulder open.

“Your mother was at home when they took the station wagon,” he said in a low voice. “And then they said they were going to take the house. She cried every night.”

He paused for a long time. “I just couldn’t face it.”

Sitting there on the bench in the bus station, he told me that he had failed and that the shame had nearly killed him. He wanted to die.

What happened? I asked.

Daddy sat silently for a long time, caught somewhere in his memories of those awful days. He still didn’t look at me. Finally, he took my hand in both of his and held it tightly.

It got better, he said. Your mother found work. We made some payments. After a while, I went back to work. We had less money, but it was enough to get by. We got caught up on the mortgage. You seemed to do okay.

Finally he turned and looked at me. “Life gets better, punkin.”

And he was right.  Daddy and I headed home.  It was a winding path, but I eventually made it through college and started teaching school.  And once one door opened, so did another and another.  Life got better.

I’ve carried that story in my pocket for decades. It was how I made it through the painful parts. Divorce. Disappointments. Deaths. When things get tough, I still hear my daddy’s voice, telling me to hang on.  It’s a part of him that will always be with me.

Happy Father’s Day to all the daddies who are trying their hardest.  Happy Father’s Day to every daddy who sets the example every day of what it means to care for the people you love. Happy Father’s Day to every daddy who tells a child, “Life gets better, punkin.”  

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There is no bubble world

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When Washington works for the rich and powerful, everyone feels it.

Kicking 23 million people off their health insurance doesn’t matter so much to those who can still afford to see any doctor they want. Gutting Head Start and public education doesn’t sting the same way for those who can afford to send their kids to fancy private schools.

But there is no bubble world or alternative planet for the rich and powerful to hide from the devastating impact of climate change.

Since taking office, President Trump and his team have given one handout after another to Big Oil and Big Coal at the expense of hardworking families. Trump may be happy to ignore science, abandon America’s leadership role in the world, and sell out to a handful of giant corporations and ideological extremists, but we must do better. A heck of a lot better.

Join me now to condemn President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Accord climate agreement.

If we stop handing out massive tax breaks to subsidize the dirty fossil fuels of the past – some of the most profitable corporations in the world – and invest now in a 21st century energy system, we can create good, clean energy jobs and lower the costs of production for all of our businesses. We can protect our national treasures that are essential for jobs and economic growth in the tourism industry. We can help deal with public health crises like asthma and lung cancer. We can put our national security first by not being beholden to OPEC or entangled with foreign dictators.

And, yes: we can try to save the planet for our children and grandchildren.

President Trump can bury his head in the sand, but the rest of us aren’t going to bend so easily. The character of this country isn’t determined by its President – but by its people.

Sign up now to condemn President Trump’s Paris decision.

Yesterday was a bad day for our country. A really bad day. And it’s one more reason we must all be in the fight. We’ve got to be effective, we’ve got to be focused, and we’ve got to make change in Washington.

We have a moral duty to fight.

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Morally bankrupt

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan says that Donald Trump’s new budget is “right on the target.”

That’s all you need to know about just how devastating Trump’s budget will be for working families in Massachusetts and across this country.

It’s obscene:

  • $5 billion in cuts to public education
  • $73 billion in cuts to Social Security
  • $191 billion in cuts to food stamps
  • $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid (and that's in addition to the $880 billion the House Republicans are slashing in their so-called "health care" bill)

Those are just a few of the highlights. What else gets cut? Money for children’s health care, money to combat the opioid epidemic, money for medical research, money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and so much more.  

This budget is “right on the target” only if the target is to sucker-punch kids, seniors, the poor and the sick. If the Republicans make good on this budget, they could deliver the final blow to America’s working families.

I know we’re just getting back from a holiday weekend, but take a sec for something that matters. Take our pledge to fight this Trump-Ryan budget with everything you’ve got. The people who will get hit by this budget don’t have time for you to wait.

We don’t build a future by ripping health care away from tens of millions of people. We don’t build a future by starving education, by letting our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, and by shutting down the big pipeline of medical and scientific research in this country.

We build a future by making the investments in ourselves and all of our people – so the next kid can get ahead, and the kid after that, and the kid after that. We’ve done this before in our country, and we can do it again.

Budgets aren’t just about dollars and cents. Budgets are about our values, and this budget is morally bankrupt. Sign up now to pledge to fight the Trump-Ryan budget in the weeks ahead.

This isn't a health care bill

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The Republican Trumpcare bill isn’t a health care bill. A bill that strips health care away from millions of people in order to fund an enormous tax break for the rich is not a health care bill.

Make no mistake: The bill that the House Republicans passed today is the same cruel bill they tried to pass weeks ago. The only difference is that the new plan is even more brutal – opening the door to discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.

The American people – Republicans and Democrats, independents and Trump voters – despise this bill. They rejected it before. We’ll reject it again.

The ACA repeal bill will now head to the Senate – and I promise you: I will fight my heart out to stop this monstrosity.

But we need you – yes, you Lauren – to speak out and fight. Call, write, email, post, tweet, and share your story. Talk about what’s at stake for the people you love if they lose their health care.

It’s time to fight like your life is on the line – because for millions of people, it is.

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100 days

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It’s hard to believe that Donald Trump has only been in office for 100 days. I swear, I think 2017 is happening in dog years.

But this is an important moment, because presidents always try to use their first 100 days to do something big. President Roosevelt passed major parts of the New Deal. President Obama passed the economic stimulus and extended health care to 4 million children.

Trump’s first 100 days aren’t about accomplishments. They’re about how much he’s trying to destroy.

Watch my new video about Trump’s first 100 days and share it with your Facebook friends:

(Not on Facebook? Watch the video on YouTube.)

It’s been a long hundred days, and there are some real threats ahead of us. But we know this: this is our democracy and we have the power to stop President Trump.

We’ve lost some fights, but we’ve also won some fights – and we’re getting stronger.

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5.2 million ways to fight

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The energy, the strength and the generosity of our grassroots team never ceases to amaze me.

We just finished tallying the numbers for the first fundraising quarter of our re-election campaign, and holy guacamole: We raised $5.2 million – the most announced by any Senate campaign.

But it’s how we raised that money that’s really important to me. We didn’t run to Wall Street or Big Oil or any of the other powerful interests – we did it with thousands of people across Massachusetts and around the country chipping in $5 or $10 at a time. In fact, nearly 16,000 people donated to our campaign just in Massachusetts.

Asking for money is the very least favorite part of my job as a United States Senator. I’d rather have Donald Trump give me a root canal. I hate it because I know times are still tough for a lot of people out there – young people crushed by student loan debt, parents trying to pay for childcare, and seniors trying to scrape by on Social Security.

But I also know that we’re a team – and the contributions of this grassroots community send a powerful message to Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, the Koch Brothers, and the powerful interests that we’re not going to roll over and give up while they rig the system for the billionaires and bankers.

Your support – and the support of thousands more like you – is making a real difference in this fight. We couldn’t do it without you.

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The people v. Judge Neil Gorsuch

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When Justice Scalia died last year, giant corporations and their right-wing buddies spent millions of dollars to slime President Obama's consensus nominee and steal a Supreme Court seat for Donald Trump.

President Trump then returned the favor - picking a Supreme Court nominee off a list of "acceptable" names drawn up by far-right groups funded by those same powerful interests. (Really.)

Judge Neil Gorsuch is polite and well-spoken, but make no mistake - his record shows that he consistently favors big corporations over women, workers, consumers, and everybody else. And in the next few days, Gorsuch could receive a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

If a Supreme Court nominee isn't mainstream enough to get 60 votes in the United States Senate, the President should have to pick a new nominee. If you agree with me and oppose Judge Gorsuch's nomination, add your name to show your support.

Back before he became a judge, Neil Gorsuch made his far-right positions clear. He wrote in 2005 that "liberals have become addicted to the courtroom... effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education."

And on the bench - for more than a decade - he's twisted himself into a pretzel to help giant corporations:

  • In consumer protection cases, when he had to choose between the "rights" of corporations and the rights of swindled customers, Gorsuch sided with corporations.
  • In discrimination cases, when he had to choose between the "rights" of corporations and the rights of employees, Gorsuch sided with corporations.
  • And in the infamous Hobby Lobby case, when he had to choose between the "rights" of corporations and the rights of women who wanted access to birth control, Gorsuch sided with corporations.

Neil Gorsuch isn't just another Justice Scalia. When it comes to the rules that protect public health and safety, Gorsuch is actually more radical than Justice Scalia was. If Gorsuch had his way, he'd make it even easier for corporations to challenge health and safety rules that prevent them from polluting our air and water, poisoning our food, undermining public safety, or cheating people out of their savings.

Big companies and rich right-wing billionaires are spending top dollar to help Judge Gorsuch get over the finish line, whether he has the 60 votes needed or not. Join us now to give us the momentum we need to stop Gorsuch.

Just in the past few weeks, Donald Trump settled his $25 million lawsuit for cheating students at his scam university. A judge extended the block on Trump's unconstitutional Muslim ban. And the FBI announced that it is investigating collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

It's never been more important for our country to have a neutral, independent judiciary.

That's precisely why we cannot let President Trump hand over the Supreme Court to the highest bidder with a judge handpicked for his willingness to help those with money and power. It's time to fight back.

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Women are ready to fight

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Before I got to the Senate, I was a teacher and a researcher. I taught classes mostly about money: contract law, banking, bankruptcy – and I studied why working families were going broke.

Women are the main breadwinners, or joint breadwinners, in two-thirds of the families in America. And in my academic research, I uncovered some grim facts:

  • Having a child is the single best predictor that a woman will end up in financial collapse.
  • Single moms are more likely than any other group to file for bankruptcy – more likely than the elderly, more likely than divorced men, and more likely than people living in poor neighborhoods.
  • And in case you think I’m just talking about young single moms who dropped out of school, I’ll also point out: single moms who have been to college are actually 60% more likely to end up bankrupt than those with just a high school diploma.

So why was this happening? Why are women still getting slammed? The deck has been stacked against working women and moms for years. And with the Republicans in charge, it’s getting worse – a lot worse.

Young women are doing exactly what we urged them to do: They work hard, play by the rules, and now are attending college at a higher rate than men. But the cost of college is through the roof, and that means more and more women are struggling with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt. So I want to stop here to make a policy point: the Republicans are blocking our bill to refinance student loans.

Once women get into the workforce, they still only make 78 cents to the dollar that her male colleague earns. African American and Latina women earn even less. And women can be fired just for asking what the guy down the hall makes. So let me stop to make another policy point:  The Republicans are blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act.

We know more about what it means to be a working mom.  Moms are ten times more likely than dads to take time off when their kids are sick, and 60% are not paid for that time off. Too many women fear losing their jobs because they are stuck having to choose between work or caring for someone they love. So let me stop again to make a policy point: The Republicans won’t even let us have a vote on paid sick time and family leave.  

And what about women who are struggling to make it paycheck to paycheck? Minimum wage workers haven’t gotten a federal raise in seven years, and today nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. Mothers of very young children disproportionately work low-wage jobs in every state in the country. So let me stop to make another policy point: Republicans are blocking every effort to raise the federal minimum wage.

And what happens after a lifetime of work? Because women make less than men throughout their lifetimes, they receive, on average, about $4,000 less a year than men in Social Security benefits. This really hurts because women are less likely to have other assets, so they rely more heavily on those checks to keep them out of poverty. So I’m going to stop for another policy point: Republicans still threaten to cut Social Security for women and families.

I could keep going like this for hours, but you get the point: Across the board, issue by issue, women’s issues are economic issues, and women’s values are Democratic values.

Donald Trump was right about one thing: the game is rigged. It’s rigged for rich guys like Donald Trump. The system works great for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists, but it leaves women and families behind. A system in which Republicans work tirelessly to rip away health care from millions of women and defund Planned Parenthood health clinics, while giving away billions of dollars in subsidies to Big Oil. A system that cuts Head Start programs and NIH medical research, but protects tax breaks for billionaires and giant corporations.    

For me, this is personal. Growing up, my family had a lot of ups and downs. My daddy sold fencing and carpeting at Montgomery Ward. When I was 12, he had a heart attack and the medical bills piled up. We lost our family station wagon, and we were about an inch away from losing our home. My mother, 50 years old, pulled on her best dress and walked to Sears to get a minimum wage job answering the phones. It saved our house, and it saved our family.

When my mother did that, it was a time in America that a minimum wage job would keep a family of three afloat. Today a full-time minimum wage job won’t keep a momma and a baby out of poverty. The policies we fight for matter. They matter to women, to families, to human beings all across this country. They are more than policies – they are the living embodiment of our values.

I truly believe that if we fight for those values – today and every day – we will win. I’m ready to right. Women are ready to fight. And America is ready to fight.

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Valentine's Day cake

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It’s been a busy few weeks here in Washington – and I’ve been fighting from the time I wake up in the morning to the moment my head hits the pillow. But I did take a little time in between snowstorms in Massachusetts this weekend to bake my heart-shaped cake.

My mother was born on February 14, and she loved her special connection to Valentine’s Day. I still have a stack of valentines that my daddy gave her, back when they were teenage sweethearts. When I was a little girl, I bought some heart-shaped pans at the dime store. Every year, I baked her a birthday cake.

Decades later, when my mother was 83, seemingly strong and healthy, she needed to have some minor surgery – and everything went fine. The teenage nieces and nephews took her on wheelchair races down the hallways, and we all laughed and had juice and cookies. We went home that evening expecting her to be released from the hospital the next day.

In the middle of the night, my brother called. He said Mama was dead. Daddy had been sitting with her when she leaned forward and said, "Don, there's that gas pain again." Then she died. The autopsy showed that she had advanced heart disease – never diagnosed, and never treated. No one had any idea.

Heart disease is the #1 killer of women – causing 1 in 3 deaths every year. No longer considered just a “man’s disease,” doctors do a much better job screening and treating women for cardiovascular disease than they did when my mother had her heart attack.

But let’s be clear: We cannot stop heart disease in women if we don’t have regular access to quality, affordable healthcare. That’s why I’m fighting – with all my heart – to stop Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act gives women (and men) access to free annual wellness exams to detect and monitor heart disease. It allows heart attack survivors and others diagnosed with a heart condition to get insurance despite their pre-existing condition. It prevents insurance companies from charging people different premiums based on their health status, or charging women more for their insurance than men. It removes the lifetime coverage caps for people with serious or chronic illnesses. And it has expanded Medicaid access in Massachusetts and across the country so millions of people can get the care they need to stay healthy.

The Massachusetts Medical Society – 25,000 of the best doctors in the world – told me:

“Repeal of the ACA would be a disaster. In Massachusetts and elsewhere, this course would deprive many of the subsidies that make health insurance affordable, would end the Medicaid expansion that has helped so many, and would destabilize the insurance market, with a resulting exodus of insurers from the market and a likely increase in cost.”

And they’re not the only ones who are worried. The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association said that “a repeal of the ACA would turn back the clock.” Boston Medical Center President Kate Walsh said their health care services are “gravely in danger by plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

I still have my heart-shaped pans – and even though my mother is gone now, I still bake a heart-shaped cake every Valentine’s Day to remember her. But this year, I’m doing something more: I’m fighting to make sure everyone’s mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, wife, partner, friend and neighbor can get the health care they need to live longer, healthier lives.  

Fighting for the Affordable Care Act seems like the right way to celebrate the people you love.

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It's time to grow a backbone and fight

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Our country is in crisis – but that crisis didn’t begin with the election of Donald Trump.

We were already in a crisis because for years and years and years, Washington has worked just great for the rich and the powerful, but far too often, it hasn’t worked for anyone else. The excuses end now.

I spoke to members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and told them: It’s time for Democrats to grow a backbone and to get out there and fight. Watch my speech and share it on Facebook:

The world has changed a lot over the past few months. I’m still finding my way, finding my footing, day-by-day, step-by-step. But with each passing day, we learn.

The lesson of history is that when faced with a danger like Donald Trump, the opposition must be willing to fight. It’s time for us to make clear – in every way, from every mountaintop we can – that we will fight back.

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