Michael Mershon comes to Sojourners with over two decades of experience on Capitol Hill. He began his career as an intern in the office of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, eventually rising to the position of Assistant Press Secretary.
For 17 years, he served as Press Secretary, Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor for U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA). In those roles, Michael helped establish Congressman McGovern as a leading progressive voice on issues like hunger and poverty, peace and justice and human rights.
Michael has a BA with honors from the University of Chicago. He is married to Alicia Jennings, Senior White House Producer for NBC News. They live in Bethesda with their two children.
He was raised Presbyterian (PCUSA) but is currently active at a parish in his wife’s Episcopal tradition. He still hasn’t figured out when to kneel.
Posts By This Author
Climate Change Is Real. It’s Time For Faith Communities to Work Against It
When progress we have worked so hard to achieve is being reversed, we must work to strengthen the partnerships between and among the faith community, communities of color, the environmental policy community, and the grassroots climate justice movement. We need to rebuild, inspire, and resource an American majority that recognizes the reality of climate change and seeks to stop it. The environmental movement must be more open to climate justice concerns and faith perspectives. Faith communities of color must be mobilized to view combatting climate change and building resiliency to climate change effects as central to their missions. And the resolve of sympathetic white evangelicals and Catholics — especially young people — who support action on climate change must be strengthened.
Even Amid a Health Care Win, Complacency Is Not an Option
As people of faith who believe that concern for the health of our fellow children of God is mandated by our Savior Jesus (“I was sick and you took care of me” – Matthew 25:36) this is a time to give thanks to God. We are grateful that wisdom and compassion have, at least temporarily, triumphed over cynicism and greed.
Marching Is a Good Start, But Only a Start
On Saturday, we'll march for the environment; on Monday, for immigrants and workers. On Tuesday, we'll go back to building a sustainable movement for change.
The State of the Dream
IN NOVEMBER, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a series of Obama administration executive orders intended to shield millions of immigrants from deportation.
Of course, there’s a backstory: After the 2014 failure of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, President Obama attempted to create one program, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), and expand an existing one, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
As its name suggests, DACA was created to protect children—more than 1.7 million, according to the Migration Policy Institute—who were brought to the United States before they turned 16. These “Dreamers” have become a visible and powerful political movement. DAPA is intended to provide work permits and exemption from deportation to those adults with children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
In the dangerous environment created by our failed immigration policy, these two protections are essential for keeping families safe and together.
But when the Obama administration announced these programs in November 2014, some states claimed that expanding the number of immigrants allowed to stay in the U.S. would cause an unfair increase in the cost of state services. Ultimately, 26 states sued to stop the DAPA/DACA changes. In November 2015, the Fifth Circuit—which covers Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas—found in favor of the states. The Justice Department then appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is likely to decide the case before a new president takes office.
Immigrant and family advocates, along with religious leaders, criticized the ruling. “After the Fifth Circuit’s decision concerning DACA and DAPA, what remains abundantly clear is that the U.S. Congress needs to urgently address immigration reform,” said Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. “Hispanic Evangelicals are looking for genuine leadership on this issue. No more delays and excuses.”
Nineteen faith-based organizations (including Sojourners) filed an amicus brief with the Fifth Circuit Court to advocate alongside individuals seeking relief from deportation, and churches across the country had begun to prepare members to apply for DAPA and the expanded DACA.
A Case of Jiggery-Pokery
THIS SUMMER’S ATTEMPT to dismantle the Affordable Care Act began as the very height of frivolous lawsuits. Cooked up with the help of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank, the case (King v. Burwell) depended upon a very narrow reading of four words in Section 36B of the ACA: “established by the State.”
Essentially, Obamacare foes argued that Congress intended to provide health-care subsidies (or tax credits) only to those Americans living in states with state-operated insurance exchanges. Those who lived in states without exchanges—including Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, and others—and were, therefore, dependent upon the federal exchange would be ineligible for subsidies.
Of course, Congress intended no such thing—as the Supreme Court upheld. Throughout dozens of hearings and hundreds of hours of debate, it was clear that ACA subsidies would be available to every American, regardless of what state they lived in.
In a 6-3 ruling, the court rejected King, with Chief Justice Roberts explaining, “A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.”
Had the suit carried the day, 6.4 million Americans would have lost their subsidies.