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Are you angry yet? Tax “reform” will be followed by Medicare, Social Security “reform”

Late last night, the Senate passed its version of the tax cut bill.  Next step? According to GOP leaders, it will be “entitlement reform.” Which includes the Social Security and Medicare benefits you have been paying for – with every paycheck – since you started working. Just like they’ve been talking about since the Bush tax cuts.

Congress won’t have to do anything, to cut Medicare by $25 billion next year.  If President Trump signs a final version of this bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office, it will create a budget deficit that will trigger $25 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare.

And if “chained-CPI” is still in the bill, Congress won’t have to do anything to cut Social Security benefits, long term. “Chained-CPI” is a way of calculating inflation that incorporates a ratcheting-down of benefits. It assumes that senior citizens who can’t afford steak don’t need a cost of living increase because they can buy chicken, instead. And those who can’t afford to buy chicken can buy tuna. And if they can’t afford tuna…  It’s the cat food thing. (Read our 2013 post about chained-CPI here.)

BUT they’re already planning more cuts. Because at some point, our government is going to have to do something about our national debt. Which has quadrupled since the Bush tax cuts.  Which is now equal to more than $170,000 per taxpayer. Which has increased by $745 billion – almost 4% — since the debt limit was suspended on September 8th.  Which was only 11 weeks ago.

Having a hard time wrapping your head around what you just read?  Let’s try it again.

On September 8, 2017, Congress suspended the debt limit.  Since then (only 11 weeks), the debt has grown by more than $745 billion. And Congress is cutting taxes in order to add $1.5 Trillion to that number.

It’s pretty clear that Congress is creating a “debt problem” that they’re going to “solve” by going after Social Security and Medicare.

Newsweek: Republicans will cut Social Security and Medicare after tax plan passes, Rubio says
Forbes: How the GOP tax plan scrooges middle class, retired and poor
Washington Post: GOP eyes post-tax-cut changes to welfare, Social Security and Medicare

This isn’t a surprise.  Back in 2004, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan suggested cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits to pay for the cost of the Bush tax cuts.

Looks like that’s still the strategy. Here’s where it goes from being “strategy” to “theft.”

Since 2012, most workers have been paying more into the Social Security system than they can expect to receive in benefits.

People retiring today are part of the first generation of workers who have paid more in Social Security taxes during their careers than they will receive in benefits after they retire. It’s a historic shift that will only get worse for future retirees, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Back in 2001, 57% of Americans wanted to roll back the Bush tax cuts to protect (what was then) the budget surplus. A whopping 92% wanted to prevent Congress from using Social Security for any other purpose. But at last report, about $3 trillion of the national debt is now owed to the Social Security system.

So… if you’ve already put more in to the Social Security system than you can expect to get out of it – and Congress wants to put even more tax cuts on the nation’s credit card – and Congressional leadership wants to pay down that extra debt by cutting Social Security… that means the money to pay for these tax cuts is coming out of your pocket.

Are you angry, yet?

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Public Citizen reports that at least 6,243 Washington lobbyists have been working on this tax bill.  That’s almost 12 lobbyists per legislator! Read about some of the last-minute add-ons – including an amendment that exempts a college in Michigan and a carve-out for cruise ships docking in Alaska – here. Wondering who benefits from this tax bill? Read about analyses done by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation here.

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If you want to contact your elected federal officials about this, please do so on your own time and using your own personal phone/email. (Most employers prohibit using work time or resources for this sort of thing.)

Contact information for President Trump is available here.

You can find contact information for your two US Senators here.

You can find the phone number and website for your US Representative here.  (If you don’t know who your Representative is, check here.)

The Senate Budget Puts Health Care for Granite Staters at Risk to Give Huge Tax Cuts to the Wealthy

Resolution sets up blueprint for tax cuts that disproportionately benefit wealthy households while cutting health care and education for everyone else

MANCHESTER — The U.S. Senate voted late last evening to approve a Budget Resolution that sets a framework for cuts to federal health care and education as well as tax cuts that mainly benefit corporations and the wealthiest households. The Resolution includes a $1.5 trillion tax cut that will increase the deficit and may force cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education, and other services that families rely on.

We are thankful that in New Hampshire our Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan voted against the Resolution that could put Medicaid for 171, 500 Granite Staters and Medicare for 266,210 people with disabilities and seniors at risk.

The Senate budget includes $5.8 trillion in cuts to federal spending, including nearly $500 billion from Medicare and $1.3 trillion from Medicaid and other health care programs. Another $650 billion may be cut from income security programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for individuals with disabilities, and tax credits for working families.

Time and time again, the Republicans in Congress have shown that their priority is taking care of the rich and big business, not the vast majority of Americans. They started with trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have taken health coverage and Medicaid from millions. Failing in that effort, thanks to the resistance mobilized by thousands of American, they have now turned to a budget plan that would make even more cuts to health care and other programs—all to give tax breaks to the people who need them least.

We’re so grateful that we can depend on Senators Shaheen and Hassan to stand up against cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs that families depend on. We will continue to need the Senators’ leadership as the GOP and President Trump move forward on implementing their plan for massive tax breaks for the rich and corporations paid for by cuts to our health care and education.

The Senate budget resolution creates instructions to make these cuts and write legislation with tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest among us based on a framework laid out by President Trump earlier this year. Under the GOP plan, the richest 1% in New Hampshire would receive about 53.3% of the tax breaks.

These New Hampshire households are projected to have an income of at least $545,600 next year. The framework would provide them an average tax cut of $69,390 in 2018, which would increase their income by an average of 4.2 percent, while the poorest 20% of Granite Staters would see only 2.2% of the tax breaks under this proposal.

Rights & Democracy stands in opposition to the Trump-GOP tax plan that cuts health care, education, and other key social safety net programs to give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and corporations whose pockets and company coffers are already overflowing.

“Now, more than ever, we must reject a budget passed on the backs of low income folks, working families and America’s shrinking middle class. We must join together to fight for the health care and other programs hundreds of thousands of people in New Hampshire depend on,” said Jessica Early, RAD’s Health Care Justice Organizer.

“We are asking our members to call on Governor Sununu at (603) 271-2121 today and ask him to stand with Granite Staters—not with millionaires and billionaires—and urge him to reject his party’s tax plan,” Early added.

Trump Renegs On Campaign Promise To Lower Prescription Drug Prices, Progressives Push Back

Image from healthmindandlife.com on FLIKR

Group Urges President to Support Landmark Proposal to Address Skyrocketing Drug Prices, A Major Driver of Health Care Costs

WASHINGTON –It appears that Donald Trump is preparing to give a massive gift to the pharmaceutical industry with an executive order that reportedly favors the industry over consumers,

The New York Times reports that the report “is light on specifics but clear on philosophy: Easing regulatory hurdles for the drug industry is the best way to get prices down.”

This is just more “free market” mythology: If you remove regulations, business will thrive.  The executives and hedge fund managers that own all the stock in these pharmaceutical companies may thrive, but at what cost? Is it acceptable that a few wealthy executives make even more money or that millions of Americans see relief from the ever climbing cost of prescription drug prices?  The worst part is that all of those newly found profits will come from the taxpayers like you and me who pay into the Medicare system will now be forced to pay even higher rates for the same medications.

The New York Times further explains:

“The document directs the United States trade representative to conduct a study of price differences between the United States and other countries, and to review trade agreements that may need to be revised “to promote greater intellectual property protection and competition in the global market.”

If you read between the lines, the pharmaceutical industry wants to force other countries, who are already paying drastically lower drug prices, to bring prices more in line with the prices here in the United States.

The order specifically targets low income families in an effort to boost Big Pharma’s exorbitant profits.

“The draft order targets a program, 340B, that requires the drug industry to give discounts to hospitals and clinics that serve large numbers of low-income patients. The industry has complained that the program is being abused, while hospitals say they would have to cut services without it.”

Yes, the proposed order would take away the “requirement” to provide low income families with low cost medications and allow the pharmaceutical industry to jack up the prices on those drugs at the same time.

On Friday, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined progressive Democrats from the Senate and House in urging President Donald Trump to get behind real solutions to bring down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs, one of the central reasons why health care costs are rising.

Senator Hassan recently helped introduce the Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act, a comprehensive piece of legislation that the group pressed President Trump to support in a letter sent Friday (attached below). This commonsense legislation would help ensure that drug companies put patients before profits and bring much-needed relief to families and seniors, including many who have had to make the impossible choice between paying for a life-saving drug and putting food on the table.

“We hear time and time again from our constituents across the country about how high prices for life-saving and life-sustaining treatments force patients to choose between their health and their economic security,” the lawmakers wrote to President Trump. “Now is the time to address the American people’s concerns in a meaningful way. We urge you to stand up to the pharmaceutical corporations and put the needs of patients first and to support a comprehensive approach that offers real solutions that will make a real difference in peoples’ lives.”

The Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act has already gained the support of a broad range of organizations and patient advocacy groups and runs in contrast to the executive order that’s being prepared by the White House.

These legislators are also holding Trump accountable for his campaign promise to reduce prescription drug prices.

On the campaign trail, then candidate Trump said, that the pharmaceutical industry is “getting away with murder.”  He implied that the pharmaceutical industry is gouging people and gouging federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid with outrageously high drug prices.

Trump also promised to change the law to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices as they do in other countries around the world.”We are going to start bidding. We are going to save billions of dollars over time,” he said.

Between the newly proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in the Republican’s new healthcare proposal and President Trump’s proposed Executive Order to reduce regulations on the Pharmaceutical industry, it is abuntantly clear that Trump has no intention of upholding his campaign promise.

 


The letter to the president was led by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), was also signed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N. Mex.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.),  Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

It also was signed by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ari.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Kathy Castor (D-Fl.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Sanders Levin (D-Mich.), and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio).

You can also read the open letter of support from groups like Public Citizen, the Alliance for Retired Americans, The National Center for Health Research, and many more, here


170623_TrumpRXLetter

Kelly Ayotte’s Fast Food Photo Ops Don’t Change Her Opposition To Raising The Minimum Wage

Concord, N.H. — Kelly Ayotte’s photo ops at fast food restaurants don’t change the fact that she has consistently sided with her special interest backers like the Koch Brothers in opposing an increase to the minimum wage. Kelly Ayotte earns $83.65 per hour, a rate that is over 11 times New Hampshire’s $7.25 minimum wage, yet in Washington she has repeatedly voted against helping working families earn a livable wage.

Raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour would give an estimated 141,000 hard working Granite State employees a raise and send positive ripple effects through New Hampshire’s economy. But when the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity urged Senators to vote against a measure to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 in 2014, Kelly Ayotte turned her back on her constituents and obliged.

New Hampshire is tied for the lowest minimum wage in the country, and its voters strongly support an increase to this wage. A poll earlier this year found that 70% of Granite State voters support raising the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, but Kelly Ayotte put the Koch Brothers before the people she represents and voted against such a measure.

“Kelly Ayotte opposes a common-sense measure to ensure fast food workers earn a livable wage, so her posing for photos at a drive through window is tone deaf and offensive,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley. “Working families in New Hampshire know that Kelly Ayotte puts the Koch Brothers before the people of our state, and they won’t be fooled by her campaign season photo ops.”

Michelle Obama Encourages Granite Staters To Vote For Maggie Hassan

 First Lady Michelle Obama: “Maggie’s problem solving approach to leadership is exactly what we need in the U.S. Senate”

CONCORD –  Today, Maggie for NH released a new web ad featuring First Lady Michelle Obama encouraging Granite Staters to vote for Maggie Hassan for Senate on Tuesday. In the ad, the First Lady highlighted Governor Hassan’s problem solving approach and record of getting results, including her work to make college more affordable, create good paying jobs, and fight for New Hampshire’s children.

Watch the ad HERE.

“I want to talk about a leader who’s made a real difference for families all across New Hampshire, your Governor, Maggie Hassan… Maggie’s problem solving approach to leadership is exactly what we need in the U.S. Senate. And that’s why I am asking you to vote for Maggie Hassan for U.S. Senate. Every vote matters, so be sure to cast yours for Maggie, and make your voice heard.” said First Lady Michelle Obama in the ad.

Ayotte’s History Of Protecting Special Interests Began With Her Time As Attorney General

Frankly, I am not surprised to find out that Attorney General Kelly Ayotte was not the “champion for working people” she has claimed to be. Her history as Attorney General mirrors her current opposition to policies that will help working people in New Hampshire and her history of trying to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Newly uncovered data shows that while Ayotte served as Attorney General, her office issued dramatically fewer consumer protection subpoenas than her successors. During the four years between July 2005 and July 2009, Ayotte’s office issued a total of only 53 consumer protection subpoenas. That’s less than half the number of consumer protection subpoenas issued during the next four years by the AGs that succeeded her. (Between July 2009 and July 2013, under Attorneys General Michael Delaney and Joseph Foster, a total of 116 consumer protection subpoenas were issued.)

Think back to 2007-08: that was when the housing market collapsed, Wall Street financial institutions were under attack for fraudulent and predatory lending, and working people were being crushed by the collapsing economy.

Wouldn’t you expect that the AG’s office would be inundated with consumer protection claims during that time? Yet Ayotte only issued 30 consumer protection subpoenas between 2007-2009.

As we already know, Ayotte left the AG’s office and was narrowly elected to the US Senate in the off-year, red wave election of 2010.

And ever since going to Washington, Ayotte has been an opponent of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, voting against confirming its director and voting for an amendment that put the agency’s budget on the chopping block “to pressure the agency against cracking down on lenders.”

Her opposition to the CFPB might have something to do with the $4.5 million dollars in donations she has directly received from the finance and insurance industry. Her PAC also received an additional $893,000 in donations for her reelection effort.

“New Hampshire consumers deserve public servants who will fight on their behalf, but it’s clear that Kelly Ayotte puts corporate special interests ahead of the people of our state,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “And now we know she failed to stand up for consumer protection during her time as Attorney General, meaning that her refusal to fight on behalf of New Hampshire consumers is nothing new.”

(Read about Ayotte’s 2015 New York City fundraiser, sponsored by a mega-donor “hedge fund executive who has a history of opposing Wall Street reforms” here.)

There are other examples of how Ayotte has put her Wall Street special interest donors above the people of New Hampshire.

  • Ayotte has repeatedly voted for budgets that slash funding for Pell Grants at the urging of the Koch Brothers’ Americans For Prosperity. And just last year she voted for a bill that would have cut Pell Grants by $90 billion
  • Ayotte voted to end an expansion of the “Pay As You Earn Program,” which could double the cost of student loan payments for those who had enrolled in the program.
  • Ayotte has also repeatedly voted against allowing student borrowers to refinance their loans to take advantage of lower interest rates available to other borrowers.
  • Ayotte introduced a sham student loan bill that has been called that has been called a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Even the conservative American Enterprise Institute said that Ayotte’s bill is a “sweetheart deal” for private sector lenders like those on Wall Street.

Protecting Wall Street is not the only place that Ayotte has been standing against the will of the people.

She has continued to oppose increasing the federal minimum wage, which would help lift tens of thousands of Granite Staters out of poverty. 74% of Granite Staters support raising the minimum wage, yet Ayotte votes against it.

Just this week at the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy forum, Ayotte was peddling the myth of “job losses” if we increase the minimum wage.

“Contrary to the claims we hear from opponents, raising the minimum wage increases the income of low-wage workers without hurting jobs,” said Jeff Kramer in a recent editorial on the NH Labor News.

During a recent WMUR question and answer session, Kelly Ayotte simultaneously admitted that the current minimum wage is not livable and doubled down on her opposition to raising it.

When asked by a participant whether she will “stand with New Hampshire workers to raise the minimum wage,” Ayotte responded “if we focus on the minimum wage, we’re, we’re losing sight of what we should be focusing on, which is better paying jobs because you can’t live on minimum wage.”

Ayotte has also stood by her decision to not hold a hearing or a confirmation vote the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland – even though 60% of Granite Staters believe that Ayotte should do her job and hold a vote on Garland’s nomination.

“People are tired of Senator Ayotte playing politics with the Constitution by refusing to consider the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress.

“Because of Republican obstruction, the Supreme Court finished this year’s term with a 4-4 tie on some of the most important issues to reach the court in recent years, denying justice to millions of our families and neighbors in the process,” said Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with progressive advocacy group People For the American Way.

The last example is Ayotte’s opposition to common sense legislation to reduce gun violence. Ayotte has continually stood with her NRA donors in opposition to expanding background checks and closing loopholes that PolitiFact confirmed helps terrorist purchase guns.

Since opposing the 89% of Granite Staters who support expanding background checks, Ayotte has refused to meet with gun violence prevention advocates.

“Constituents have made phone calls, sent letters, signed petitions, and invited the Senator to their homes for dinner, but Senator Ayotte has repeatedly denied meeting requests from gun violence prevention advocates ever since she voted against background checks and the 89 percent of her constituents who support them,” Rice-Hawkins said. “Senator Ayotte needs to stop hiding behind NRA lobby talking points and meet directly with her constituents.”

It should have been obvious to the people of New Hampshire when Ayotte was Attorney General that she was not looking out for working people. She used the AG’s office as a stepping-stone for higher political office and lucrative campaign donations.

She may have fooled us the first time she ran for Senate, but we will not be fooled again.

60% of Granite Staters believe the Senate should vote on the nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Ayotte refuses to do so.

74% of Granite Staters support increasing the minimum wage. Ayotte opposes it.

89% of Granite Staters support background checks for gun purchases. Ayotte opposes them.

It couldn’t be any more clear. Ayotte represents her campaign donors, she doesn’t represent us.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s Metal Trades Council Endorses Maggie Hassan for U.S. Senate

hassan-psny-metal-trade2Metal Trades Council President: “Governor Hassan is a true champion of the shipyard and its workers, and we know she’ll be our voice in the Senate” 

Governor Hassan: “The Shipyard plays such a critical role in our national security and in the Senate, I’ll fight tirelessly to strengthen the Shipyard”

PORTSMOUTH – Today, Governor Maggie Hassan accepted the Metal Trades Council endorsement – the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s largest trade union. Governor Hassan received the endorsement this afternoon in Portsmouth. 

“I’m tremendously proud to have the endorsement of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s Metal Trades Council,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Thanks to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of its workers, the Shipyard continues to set the gold standard for productivity. The Shipyard plays such an important role in both national security and the Seacoast economy. In the Senate, I’ll work to strengthen the Shipyard and I will vigorously fight any attempt to close the facility – including opposing a new Base Closure and Realignment Commission round. I look forward to doing everything within my power to make sure Congress invests in the Shipyard’s workforce and infrastructure, including modernizing and enhancing the efficiency of the Shipyard’s facilities and preparing the workers of tomorrow through STEM education programs.

“Governor Hassan is a true champion of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and its workers, and we know she’ll be our voice in the Senate,” said Metal Trades Council President Mark Vigliotta. “From her time as a State Senator to the Governor’s office, Maggie Hassan has delivered results for New Hampshire’s workers and there’s nobody better prepared to stand up for us in Washington.”

hassan-psny-metal-trade1“I’ve seen firsthand Governor Maggie Hassan’s commitment to protecting the Shipyard and it’s workers,” said former Metal Trades Council President Paul O’Connor. “To build on the progress she’s been able to make by bringing people together here in New Hampshire, we need to send Governor Hassan to the Senate. I know that Governor Hassan will always fight to keep the Shipyard open and to protect our workforce, and Washington could use her commonsense and commitment to bipartisan problem solving.”  

As a State Senator, Maggie Hassan helped turn back a misguided effort to close the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. She sponsored– and secured unanimous bipartisan passage of – legislation providing state funding for the Seacoast Shipyard Association, which played a pivotal role in saving the Shipyard from the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC). 

As Governor, she has fought for critical Shipyard priorities including helping secure funding to replace the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, which provides a crucial rail link to the Shipyard. In order to boost the economy and strengthen the economic security of thousands of Granite Staters, And she has worked to expand access to Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) programs in our schools to ensure a 21st century workforce pipeline for all industries in New Hampshire. 

In the United States Senate, she will fight any attempt to close the facility – including opposing a new Base Closure and Realignment Commission round. And she will also work to fully reverse sequestration and end the threat of uncertain budgets and furloughs. She will support new barracks and dry dock refurbishment, ensure that the Shipyard’s personnel get full per diems when they travel, fully fund the submarine fleet that the Navy says it needs, and look for new ways to diversify and expand the Shipyard’s mission going forward.

Seven And A Quarter ($7.25) Reasons New Hampshire Voters Can’t Trust Kelly Ayotte On The Minimum Wage

In tonight’s New Hampshire Senate debate between Senator Kelly Ayotte and Governor Maggie Hassan, one thing was clear: only one candidate would raise the federal minimum wage and stand up for working families. Kelly Ayotte opposes increasing the minimum wage, even voting twice against raises to the federal minimum wage. She reiterated her opposition to raising the minimum wage again tonight.

Rights & Democracy and other partners in the state are working to put a stop to Senator Ayotte’s shameful record on the minimum wage. Here are seven and a quarter ($7.25) reasons why working families in the Granite Staters can’t afford to send Kelly Ayotte back to the U.S. Senate:

$1. More than 225,000 workers in New Hampshire earn less than $15 an hour. In New Hampshire more than a third (225,305) of New Hampshire workers earn less than $15 an hour.

$2. New Hampshire has the lowest wage in all of New England. It’s the only state in the Northeast region — and one of just 21 states nationally — that does not have a higher wage than the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

$3. Nearly half of all Black and Hispanic workers in New Hampshire earn less than $15 an hour. Startlingly, nearly half of Black and Hispanic workers in New Hampshire earn less than $15 an hour.

$4. An overwhelming majority of those earning less than $15 an hour are 25 years old or older. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of workers earning less than $15 an hour are 25 years old or older. More than 40 percent of New Hampshire’s children live in households supported by a worker earning less than $15 an hour.

$5. Raising the minimum wage is exceedingly popular in New Hampshire. By a margin of 50 points, voters in New Hampshire support raising the minimum wage — 74 percent of voters support raising the minimum wage while only 24 percent oppose it.

$6. Four in five business owners support raising the minimum wage. In a recent survey of 1,000 business executives, 80 percent supported raising their state’s minimum wage, while only 8 percent opposed it. Hermit Woods Winery in Meredith, New Hampshire, raised pay for its employees to $15 an hour. “I think it’s a good investment to invest well in your employees,” owner Bob Manley said. “I think that’s a very meaningful way to grow your business.”

$7. More than four in 10 women in New Hampshire earn less than $15 an hour. In New Hampshire, more than 40 percent of women in the workforce earn less than $15 an hour.

$7.25. Kelly Ayotte doesn’t even pay her own staff a fair wage. Wage data from 2012-2015 shows that Sen. Ayotte pays women 66 cents for every dollar men earn who work for her — an even bigger wage gap than the national average of 79 cents to the dollar.

Maggie Hassan In New Ad: The Choice Is Clear

Maggie for NH Announces New TV Ad, Lays Out The Clear Choice Granite Staters Face in This Election

CONCORD – Today, Maggie for New Hampshire announced a new television ad, “The Choice,” in which Governor Maggie Hassan lays out the clear choice Granite Staters face on November 8th.

“New Hampshire has a very clear choice,” says Governor Hassan in the new ad. “Do we keep going with a Senator who repeatedly votes with the corporate special interests? Or a new Senator who sides with the people of New Hampshire?”

“My focus has always been on creating opportunity for working families, making college and job training more affordable, lowering prescription drug costs, and always protecting a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions,” the Governor adds. “These are my priorities, why I approve this message, and why I respectfully ask for your vote.”

The 30 second ad will run on New Hampshire and Boston broadcast stations as well as on cable and online as part of our ongoing seven-figure ad buy.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte Needs To Explain To Voters Her Opposition To Raising The Minimum Wage

Guest Editorial By Jeff Kramer

Senator Kelly Ayotte and her challenger Maggie Hassan are scheduled to go toe-to-toe on November 2nd, their last debate before Election Day.  As someone who has spent much of my adult life working in a low-wage jobs, I urge the moderators ask the candidates to answer one of the most important questions for working households like mine: whether they will vote to raise the minimum wage.

Working people in New Hampshire deserve to know why, during her time in the U.S. Senate, Kelly Ayotte has voted against every effort to raise the minimum wage. Her opposition to raising the federal minimum wage has kept it frozen at a poverty-level of $7.25 an hour since 2009. The low federal minimum wage is even more significant in New Hampshire because it is the only New England state that ties its state minimum wage to the federal level. Sen. Ayotte’s role in keeping the federal minimum wage low is therefore doubly hurting New Hampshire’s working families, keeping pay low in this increasingly expensive state.

Without action to raise the minimum wage, the adjusted median wage in New Hampshire has declined by almost 7 percent since the recession, a sharper decline than virtually all other states in the nation.  As a result, over 35 percent of working New Hampshirites (225,300 workers) today earn less than $15 per hour, and 155,000 are paid less than $12. The vast majority of these low-wage workers are adults 25 and older, including over 15 percent who are 55 years or older. Most of these workers are women, many raising children – New Hampshire’s future – on low wages. The low federal minimum wage forces hundreds of thousands of working families to seek food stamps and other forms of public assistance each year, costing New Hampshire taxpayers $104 million annually.

As an adult working low wage jobs, I have been struggling to get by. When I went back to college full time to finish my degree, I worked at a fast food restaurant up to 40 hours a week during closing shift, and over 30 hours a week at a retail store to support myself. Even while working both of these jobs, I could not fully support myself. I couldn’t afford an apartment and was still living with my parents at the age of 29. I couldn’t afford health insurance and it was not offered to me through either job. Last year I became injured and I was working at a retail store where I was only offered 5-8 hours a week of work. I was paid $7.25 even though I had a college degree, management experience, and a beautiful resume. I had to rely on government assistance and food pantries to get by until I found new work. I now work for an organization that pays me $15.00. I have an apartment, a car, and am able to independently financially support myself for the first time in my life. Raising the minimum wage to $15.00 would do so much for struggling families. I know earning a livable wage has been life changing for me.  

Contrary to the claims we hear from opponents, raising the minimum wage increases the income of low-wage workers without hurting jobs . The most recent and most rigorous studies to date have shown that any employment effects from an increase in the wage floor are very small. As Goldman Sachs analysts summarized recently, “the economic literature has typically found no effect on employment” from U.S. minimum wage increases.

New Hampshire workers of all ages deserve fair pay and a shot at a decent life. They are frustrated by Sen. Ayotte and the Republican Congress’s blocking any action to raise the minimum wage. Gov. Maggie Hassan, by contrast, has called for giving working families in New Hampshire the long overdue  minimum wage increase they need.  Recent polling shows that nearly three-quarters of New Hampshire voters want a minimum wage increase, and that when voters learn of Sen. Ayotte’s track record on the minimum wage, Gov. Hassan’s lead widens.

With voters demanding action on the minimum wage, other Republican incumbents are reassessing their opposition to raising wages.  Last week, Senators Rob Portman (Ohio) and Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) backtracked on their previous opposition to raising the minimum wage, and Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen backed a $15 minimum wage for Florida.  As she seeks another term in the U.S. Senate, Kelly Ayotte’s should do the same.

Jeff Kramer lives in Manchester and is now a field organizer with Rights & Democracy, a grassroots member organization which is part of the Raise Up New Hampshire Coalition.  

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