• Advertisement

Hassan And Shaheen Vote Against Scott Gottlieb’s Confirmation To Head The FDA

Today, prior to the confirmation vote, Senator Maggie Hassan spoke on the Senate floor, voicing her opposition to President Trump’s nominee for Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Scott Gottlieb. (Video below)

“Gottlieb, a physician and venture capitalist with long ties to the pharmaceutical industry, served as a deputy FDA commissioner and a high-ranking official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the George W. Bush administration,” wrote the Washington Post. 

“It is the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration – starting with its Commissioner – to protect consumers and stand up for public health. I have serious concerns about Dr. Gottlieb’s record… [and] his stances on critical priorities for people in New Hampshire and across the nation,” Senator Hassan said on the floor today.

In her remarks, Senator Hassan highlighted the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid epidemic that is devastating communities and the economy in New Hampshire, stemming in part from the overprescribing of opioids. The Senator emphasized the importance of the FDA in helping to combat substance misuse through the creation of risk evaluation and mitigation strategies (REMS), which include prescriber training. Senator Hassan voiced concern with Gottlieb’s opposition to the creation of REMS, raising questions about what strategies the FDA would support under his leadership if confirmed.

“[The] FDA should be making REMS stronger and make sure that all opioid medications have REMS – we don’t need a Commissioner who opposed the very creation of the REMS program…In the midst of a public health challenge as serious as this epidemic, we should be taking – and we have to take – an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Senator Hassan added.

Additionally, Senator Hassan expressed concern with Gottlieb’s record of “putting politics ahead of science when it comes to women’s health,” noting that during his time in the Bush administration, Gottlieb was involved in a controversial and unscientifically-based delay in approving the emergency contraceptive Plan B for over-the-counter use.

“Unfortunately, [the Trump] Administration has made clear that it is focused on an agenda that restricts women’s access to critical health services, including family planning. Dr. Gottlieb’s record has demonstrated that he supports this backwards agenda… I am concerned that under his leadership, the FDA will play political games with women’s health once again,” Senator Hassan said.

Noting Gottlieb’s troubling record of neglecting science at the expense of protecting public health and consumer safety, Senator Hassan concluded, “Mr. President, Dr. Gottlieb’s nomination raises too many questions about whether he will put political interests ahead of science and ahead of the safety of consumers… In voting today, I cannot overlook that record, so I will vote against his nomination, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”

Senator Jeanne Shaheen also opposed Gottlieb’s nomination and followed through by voting no on his confirmation.

“It’s the job of the FDA, at the direction of the commissioner, to protect American consumers and ensure our food and drugs are safe. After reviewing Dr. Gottlieb’s record, I am not confident that his policies and vision for the FDA align with the needs of my constituents in New Hampshire,” said Senator Shaheen. “When Dr. Gottlieb enters the FDA as its commissioner, he will bring with him a complex web of conflicting interests with the pharmaceutical industry. Just as alarming, he holds antiquated beliefs about contraception and family planning based on politics, not science.”

“Dr. Gottlieb has advocated for a pharmaceutical company to obtain additional fentanyl for a consumer product and has voiced strong opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which has helped tens of thousands of Granite Staters receive treatment for substance misuse. His troubling negligence towards America’s opioid crisis confirms that I cannot in good conscience support his nomination.”

The Senate did vote to confirm Dr Gottlieb with a vote of 57-42, largely along party lines.

Income Inequality Grows As CEO Pay Jumps 6 Percent To 347 The Average Worker

Image courtesy of the AFL-CIO

A new report and searchable database from the AFL-CIO’s Executive Pay Watch highlights the lavish compensation executives receive while workers wage remain stagnant.

Income inequality has become one of the largest economic issues facing America.  As workers wages remain stagnant, corporations continue to rake in massive profits and pay their executives lavish salaries.

According to the new AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch, the average CEO of an S&P 500 company made $13.1 million per year in 2016 – 347 times more money than the average rank-and-file worker. CEO pay for major U.S. companies has risen nearly 6 percent, as income inequality and outsourcing of good-paying American jobs have increased.

“This year’s report provides further proof that the greed of corporate CEOs is driving America’s income inequality crisis,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Big corporations continually find ways to rig the economy in their favor and line their CEOs’ pockets at the expense of the workers who make their businesses run. Too often, corporations see workers as costs to be cut, rather than assets to be invested in. It’s shameful that CEOs can make tens of millions of dollars and still destroy the livelihoods of the hard-working people who make their companies profitable.”

The Executive PayWatch website showed that in 2016, the average production and nonsupervisory worker earned approximately $37,600 per year. When adjusted for inflation, the average wage has remained stagnant for 50 years.

Take for example, Raymond Barrette, CEO of White Mountain Insurance Group LTD of Hanover, NH.  Barrette raked in $8.1 million in salary and stock options.  That is 270 times the average rank and file worker.

Another example comes from Patrick T. Ryan, CEP of Press Ganey Holdings in Wakefield, Massachusetts. He collected a whopping $28.9 million in compensation, 769 times the average worker.

The report allows viewers to search their comprehensive database of CEO pay by industry or state.

Screenshot from Executive Pay Watch

The PayWatch site also highlights U.S. corporations that don’t pay taxes on their offshore profits. By “permanently reinvesting” these profits overseas, they can forever defer paying federal income taxes and reinvesting back into the community.

According to the report, Massachusetts based General Electric is holding $82 billion in “Unrepatriated Profits” overseas in tax havens.  That is only one-third of the amount of money Apple is shielding overseas ($230 billion).

The report also highlights the growing trend of corporations offshoring good American jobs at the expense of hard working people.

“Avoiding corporate income taxes is one way CEOs boost their companies’ profits and thereby increase their own pay. This corporate tax avoidance reduces the amount of money that is available for public goods like roads and schools. As a result, our economy increasingly has become out of balance,” wrote the AFL-CIO in their report.

Image courtesy of the AFL-CIO

Mondelēz International, highlighted in this year’s PayWatch, represents one of the most egregious examples of CEO-to-worker pay inequality. The company, which makes Nabisco products, including Oreos, Chips Ahoy and Ritz Crackers, is leading the race to the bottom. Last year, it closed the Oreo cookie line at the iconic Nabisco factory in Chicago, sending 600 family-sustaining jobs to Mexico, where workers face poor labor and safety standards. Mondelēz CEO Irene Rosenfeld made more than $16.7 million in 2016 – about $8,000 per hour.

“Greedy CEOs are continuing to get rich off the backs of working people,” said Michael Smith, who was among hundreds of Nabisco workers from the South Side of Chicago laid off in March of 2016. “I loved working at Nabisco, and I took pride in the work I did to make a quality product. It’s not as if the company isn’t profitable. The Oreo alone brings in $2 billion in annual revenue, and the CEO makes more in a day than most of us made in a year. I just don’t understand the disrespectful attitude toward working people.”

While companies are continuing to put profits over people, working people are fighting back. The AFL-CIO has endorsed the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union (BCTGM) boycott of Nabisco products made in Mexico.

These corporations are just examples of the insatiable greed that has taken over Corporate America.  The never ending race to the bottom continues to punish worker, shipping their jobs overseas.  To begin to address the growing income inequality in America, we must first address the outrageous pay ratios between CEO’s and rank and file workers.

Another Busy Day In Concord

NH House Acts On A Number Of Bills Including Full Day Kindergarten, Water Testing, Increase Civics Course Requirements, And Action To Censure Rep Fisher.

Yesterday was another very busy day in Concord as the House acted on many of the bills put forth by the Senate earlier in the year.

First, the House restored funding to the amended SB 191, agreeing to spend $14 million dollars to fully fund full day kindergarten.  Because the bill was changed from the one that passed the Senate, it will have to go back to the committee to finalize the details between the two bills.

“The House’s vote today in support of full-day kindergarten is a long-overdue recognition of the value that kindergarten programs provide to the development of our children.  This bill simply provides full funding for kindergarten programs in communities that offer it, finally giving kindergarten the support it deserves,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook).  “The business community recognizes the importance of early childhood education and strongly supports this bill.  I am hopeful that the House Finance Committee will reach the same conclusion in their review of this legislation.”


Another issue that has already hit the wires is the censuring of Rep Fisher for his involvement in the online “Reddit Red Pill”.  The House agreed to send the matter to the Legislative Adminstration committee for review where they will recommend reprimand, censure, expulsion, or no action.

“I was shocked to see a report linking the creation of the ‘Red Pill’ online forum to a New Hampshire State Representative,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook). “A brief search of the ‘Red Pill’ reveals that it’s central purpose is to train men how to manipulate and dominate women.  Misogynist beliefs about the intelligence of women are prevalent in ‘Red Pill’ discussions.  It is particularly troubling that Representative Fisher has shown no contrition for his actions since being revealed as the creator of this forum.”

“Referring this matter to the Legislative Administration Committee will allow for an investigation into Representative Fisher’s involvement with this forum since his election to the New Hampshire House.  As elected officials it is our duty to act with honor both inside the State House and out, and I am confident that the Legislative Administration Committee will give this serious matter the consideration it deserves,” Shurtleff added.

“The NH GOP is sending a loud message that it will work to provide political cover for individuals like Rep. Fisher who promote rape culture and misogyny,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “There should have been no hesitation in calling out Fisher’s action and no hiding behind false equivalences.”

In an attempt to shield Rep Fisher, the House Majority Leader, Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack), stated there would be a “statute of limitations on the rape culture comments” and the committee would only investigate comments “Fisher made during the current legislative session” even though he founded and contributed to the website Red Pill over the course of many years.

The Republican’s in the House also pushed for similar actions against State Rep Sherry Frost who for making what some deemed inappropriate comments on Twitter earlier this year.  Rep Frost did already apologize for her comment.

“The NH GOP didn’t want to hold Fisher accountable, so they chose instead to target a female legislator who speaks her mind. This is the same playbook that encourages rape culture in the first place – blame the woman,” stated Rice-Hawkins.


The House approved legislation to significantly increase protections for children from lead in paint and drinking water. Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord), prime sponsor of the legislation, offered the following comments after the bipartisan House vote:

“Today’s vote is the culmination of many months of bipartisan work by many committed stakeholders. I’m pleased that the House has joined the Senate to make this happen to protect our kids from the lifelong effects of disabling lead exposure.”

“Each year, several hundred children in New Hampshire test positive with dangerous and disabling levels of lead in their blood,” said Senator Feltes.

“SB 247 focuses on lead poisoning prevention by increasing testing, disclosures, and through modernization of our safety standards, addressing both lead in paint and lead in water. This bipartisan effort will save money in the long-run (for every dollar invested in prevention and abatement we save at least $17 dollars), help close the opportunity gap between low-income and upper-income children, and help combat a major public health problem.”

“This victory today is what it’s all about: getting things done for people that make a real difference in their lives, especially our kids.”


In an overwhelming vote of 328-30, the House of Representatives voted today to pass SB 9, which strengthens the Rape Shield Law.  SB 9 ensures that rape shield protections include the victim’s past, and apply throughout the entire criminal justice process.  The bill will now head to Governor Sununu’s desk for signature.

“Today’s vote to strengthen New Hampshire’s Rape Shield Law is critically important for victims of sexual violence.  Only 16% of rapes are currently reported to police, largely because victims fear retaliation and the public scrutiny they would endure by coming forward,” stated House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook). “Ensuring that victims’ privacy rights are protected will allow people to come forward and seek justice without fear of their private life being broadcast to the world.”

“The strength shown by the Marriott family in their advocacy will ensure that other families are not forced to endure uncertainty, fear, and denial of rights as they seek justice.”


The House unanimously passed SB 45, legislation to increase civics course requirements for high school students. Senator Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), prime sponsor of the bill, offered the following comments after passage:

“I’ve been advocating for more robust civics education in New Hampshire’s schools for years,” said Senator D’Allesandro. “Today’s students are graduating with limited knowledge of the systems and processes of the society they live and work in and without grasping their powers and responsibilities within that system. The key to increasing citizen participation and resolving some of the frustration with government that we’re seeing lately is to give people the knowledge they need to participate.  I’m glad we’ve taken this step to elevate the importance of civics education for our students.”

SB 45 creates a uniform framework for the administration of civics courses to include instruction on the U.S. Constitution, the New Hampshire Constitution, the structures and functions of federal government and how those branches interact with state and local government, opportunities and responsibilities for civic involvement and the skills to be an effective citizen.


The House passed SB 157, legislation to make clear all substance use disorder services shall be considered as part of network adequacy, and that carriers properly notify consumers of their rights, including the right to appeal and the right to access services out-of-network at the same cost as in-network. Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord) offered the following comments after the bill was passed by unanimous consent:

“To make progress on our opioid and mental health crises, it is critically important that the New Hampshire Insurance Department finish its network adequacy rules, and promptly complete and make public its analysis of insurance carrier treatment of persons with mental health impairments,” said Senator Feltes, prime sponsor of the bill. “In the meantime, SB 157 makes it abundantly clear that substance use disorder services shall be considered as part of network adequacy analyses.  It also helps make sure consumers and their families know where to turn to for help, including when critical services are not available in their network. The first number many folks call when struggling to find mental health or substance use disorder services is the number on the back of their insurance card. SB 157 ensures that the right information is provided at the right time.”

Mixed Reactions To 5 Month Government Funding Bill

The Senate passed the Omnibus Spending bill that will keep the government open for another five months.  The bill moves to the White House where President Trump is expected to sign it.   Before and after the bill’s passage advocacy groups were split on whether to support or oppose the bill.

Prior to the vote, the Transportation Trades Department (TTD-AFLCIO) urged Congress to support the legislation highlighting some of the funding gains for our nation’s infrastructure.

“We applaud Congress for coming together to complete an omnibus appropriations bill that funds critical transportation investments, rejects anti-worker riders, and avoids a needless government shutdown. We urge lawmakers to swiftly pass this legislation.

“This bill lives up to the authorized funding commitments in the FAST Act for mass transit and highway programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund. And we applaud appropriators for funding a series of key projects with Capital Investments Grants (CIGs), which play an important role in meeting transportation challenges around the country.

“Congress is also reaffirming its support for Amtrak by funding the company’s needs at near-authorized levels as directed by the FAST Act. This decision by appropriators sends a clear, bipartisan signal that Congress supports a national passenger rail network that serves both rural and urban communities.

“This legislation also endorses full funding for the Maritime Security Program (MSP), which is vital to maintaining our military’s sealift capability during times of war and humanitarian missions. Adequate funding for MSP ensures the Department of Defense does not have to rely on foreign-flag ships, keeps taxpayer costs down, and supports thousands of middle-class U.S. mariner jobs.

“We also applaud the robust funding levels in this bill for FAA operations, Next-Gen improvements to our air traffic control system, and airport improvement grants. These funds support the safest and most efficient air system in the world, and the workers who make it possible.

“With the passage of this bill, over 22,000 retired coal miners and their families will maintain critical health care that was promised to them by mining corporations that exploited bankruptcy laws in order to avoid their moral obligation.”

David J Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) also praised the legislation and urged its passage to avoid another government shutdown.

“I applaud Congress for coming together on a bipartisan bill that will keep the people’s government open for business through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. I urge lawmakers to quickly pass this budget and avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week.

“In reaching this agreement, lawmakers wisely rejected billions of dollars in harmful cuts to medical research, education programs, housing grants, and other domestic programs that were proposed by the Trump administration. Those who need our help the most would have been hit the hardest by these cuts, and Congress was right to reject them.

“This budget provides needed funding to strengthen our military, improve border security, and boost cancer research. It also permanently extends health care benefits to 22,000 retired coal miners who were in danger of losing their coverage.

“I also thank Congress for retaining the longstanding ban on contracting out federal jobs using the flawed A-76 outsourcing process. Taxpayers benefit when federal jobs are performed by civil service employees, who are less costly and more accountable than private-sector workers.”

After the bill passed the Senate, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) praised the bill’s additional funding to combat the growing opioid epidemic.

“More help is on the way for those on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic,” said Shaheen. “This funding can’t come soon enough to states like New Hampshire that are reeling from the opioid epidemic. Treatment providers and first responders are in desperate need of these additional resources and until we get control of this crisis, I’ll continue to fight for funding to support their life-saving efforts. I’m relieved that Congress continues to build on bipartisan progress made over the last year to address this epidemic. However, I continue to be very concerned that efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act will undo this progress. As our state battles one of the worst public health crises in its history, we cannot afford to lose the mental health and substance misuse treatment provided through this law, which is why I intend to work across the aisle to stop this repeal effort in its tracks in the Senate.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO was quick to condemn the bill as a giveaway to the Washington “special interests”.

“While the funding bill does provide assurance that we will have functioning government for the next five months, it undermines programs that help and empower working families. Our elected leaders have settled for a budget that underfunds our priorities and deepens austerity, setting the bar low. America’s working people deserve better.

Every time politicians take America to the edge of a government shutdown, working families pay the consequences. This irresponsible and dangerous political maneuvering should not be the norm.

Thankfully, House Democrats held the line against almost all of the poison-pill amendments and restored much of the funding that would have been cut under the administration’s original draconian budget proposal. As work begins on the 2018 budget, we call on politicians from both parties to put the needs of working families above the special interests.”

Paul Rinaldi, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), has been outspoken about Congress’s inability to provide steady funding for the National Airspace System.

“NATCA is pleased Congress has passed an omnibus spending bill that will fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through the end of the current fiscal year. NATCA is especially appreciative that the FAA has received an increase in its operations budget. It should enable the FAA to move forward on key issues such as improving air traffic controller staffing and continuing to plan, develop, and implement the myriad of ongoing NextGen modernization projects.

“However, this bill only provides a short-term fix to a long-term problem – the unstable, unpredictable, stop-and-go nature of the current funding stream. The mere threat of a government shutdown causes agencies like the FAA to suspend and delay critical projects in preparation for a shutdown. That means progress is slowed, meetings are postponed, plans are put on hold, and the system suffers. It takes significant time and effort to bring a large agency to a halt, so that must begin before a shutdown even occurs, and it takes even more time to restart it again once a shutdown threat subsides.

“We believe the efficiency of the National Airspace System and the livelihoods of the men and women safeguarding it should not be negatively affected by disagreements over issues unrelated to aviation.

“We thank members of Congress for passing the omnibus funding bill and ask that they continue to address the need for long-term stability of the funding stream.”

Government Executive highlighted some of the other winners and losers in the omnibus spending plan including additional funding to the Defense Department and Transportation Department, and deep cuts to the Department of Education and the State Department.

The Hill highlighted a few other areas where Democrats preserved funding for key agencies and programs like Planned Parenthood, funding for Sanctuary Cities, and environmental protections.  While funding for Planned Parenthood was protected in the Onmibus spending bill, the US House passed their “repeal and replace” Obamacare bill that blocks funding for Parenthood.

NH Elected Leaders, Community Groups, And Healthcare Providers Speak Out Against Trumpcare Passage

Republicans Push Trumpcare Through House Despite Huge Opposition

Today the Republicans in the U.S. House pushed through their “repeal and replace Obamacare” legislation.  The bill passed with a four vote margin at 217-213.

“Today Republicans in the House put politics ahead of the wellbeing of millions of Americans and thousands of people throughout New Hampshire,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH). “The American Health Care Act threatens access to healthcare for hardworking families, removes protections for those with pre-existing conditions, increases costs for seven million veterans and Americans over 50 years old, and jeopardizes our response to the opioid addiction epidemic that is impacting communities nationwide. I’m extremely disappointed that my colleagues were so steadfast in their determination to appease the most extreme elements of their party that they disregarded the voices of their constituents. I’ve consistently expressed my willingness to work with Republicans and Democrats to improve our healthcare system for all Americans, but this misguided legislation is not the answer. I hope that as the seriously damaging elements of this bill become more clear the Senate will come together in bipartisan opposition to the AHCA.”

“The House just passed a terrible bill that will devastate so many of our citizens. I am disappointed that so many Congressional Republicans voted to take health care away from millions of Americans and to allow insurers to once again discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH). “While today’s vote was a setback, I will never stop fighting for the people’s right to health care. Now, I urge my colleagues in the Senate to send this bill where it belongs: history.”

Minutes before the vote, Shea-Porter spoke on the House floor to oppose the bill, saying:

“I oppose this cruel bill on behalf of my constituents, especially those it would hurt the most: people with pre-existing conditions, older Americans, veterans, and lower-income people. If this bill passes, we will go back to the days when people with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage or charged more, when insurers could decide whether or not to cover basic care like hospitalization, and when sick babies might hit their insurer’s lifetime coverage limit before they could even walk.”

Both NH Senators spoke out against the bill and indicate they will oppose it in the Senate.

“There is nothing in Trumpcare that helps hard-working Americans. This dangerous Trumpcare bill would lead to higher costs for less care for people across New Hampshire and the entire country,” Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH). “If you have a preexisting condition – which under Trumpcare includes cancer, asthma or diabetes – you could once again be discriminated against with higher costs. And if you are between the ages of 50 and 65 you would face a new age tax, which is among the reasons the AARP strongly opposes this bill.

“Trumpcare would also dramatically hurt our ability to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis by ending Medicaid expansion and undermining the requirement that insurance companies must cover substance use disorder and behavioral health services. By cutting and capping traditional Medicaid, Trumpcare would also hurt people from students who experience disabilities to older Americans in nursing homes. And Trumpcare would defund Planned Parenthood, which provides critical health services to thousands of New Hampshire women and families,” Hassan concluded.

“President Trump and Republican leadership have recklessly rushed legislation through the House that would be devastating to the health and wellbeing of New Hampshire,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “This bill dramatically reduces healthcare coverage across the country, increases costs for patients, and eliminates protections that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions. Under this bill, insurance companies could discriminate on a wide-range of conditions and circumstances, including history of cancer, heart disease, C-sections, postpartum depression and even being the victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. It also eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood, jeopardizing access to vital preventative care services that more than 12,000 Granite State women rely on to live healthy lives, care for their families, and lead in the workforce.”

“The vote to take away health care from millions of Americans is a shameful display of partisan politics at its worst,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “House Republicans voted to take health care away from tens of thousands of Granite Staters, abandon Americans with pre-existing conditions, slash Medicaid, and raise health care costs for all families to give over $600 billion in tax breaks to the very wealthy and the big insurance and drug companies.”

“Trumpcare will take us back to the days when insurance companies made all the rules. It will eliminate any requirement that insurers cover basic health benefits like prescription drugs, preventive services, and maternity care. It lets insurers charge people with pre-existing conditions whatever they want and it radically restructures Medicaid, over time cutting services to seniors, children and people with disabilities and shifting huge financial burdens to the state budget.”

“For years Granite Staters donned ‘I’m a Health Care Voter’ stickers and called on candidates to fix our country’s broken health care system. President Obama delivered on that promise and health care advocates were continuing efforts to improve coverage while bending the cost curve. During all that time opponents to health care reform failed to offer any meaningful ideas and instead continued their partisan path of obstruction. Now they have blown up every opportunity American families had to gain the coverage we all need to be healthy and economically secure,” Rice-Hawkins concluded.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England highlighted some of the devastating cuts to women’s health in the new American Healthcare Act.

  • Take away health coverage for 24 million people.
  • “Defund” Planned Parenthood — by blocking people with Medicaid from accessing preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers — including birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment.
  • Eliminate protections that restrict insurance companies from charging people with pre-existing conditions unaffordable rates. Under this bill, health insurance companies could once again charge people tens of thousands of dollars a month because they had cancer.
  • Undermine Essential Health Benefits standards, including maternity coverage and prescription drugs, which disproportionately affect women.
  • Gut the Medicaid program, which approximately 1 in 4 women of reproductive age rely on to access no-cost, critical reproductive health care such as birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and maternity care.
  • Reduce access to no-cost preventive services, including birth control.
  • Impose a nationwide ban on private insurance coverage of abortion.

“This is the worst bill for women’s health in a generation. It makes it harder for women to access birth control to prevent unintended pregnancy, harder to obtain maternity care to have a healthy pregnancy and harder to meet the health needs of children and families,” said Jennifer Frizzell Vice President for Public Policy, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “Alarm bells should be ringing in every house across New Hampshire.”

“If enacted, this legislation would block thousands of New Hampshire patients who rely on Medicaid from accessing the reproductive care that Planned Parenthood health centers provides. New Hampshire has some of the nation’s lowest rates for teen pregnancy and STI incidence and has been recognized for the best maternal health outcomes in the country. Under the terms of the House bill all of this progress will come undone.”

The NH AFL-CIO spoke out against the passage of Trumpcare and thanked NH’s Congresswoman for opposing the bill.

“The New Hampshire AFL-CIO was disappointed to see that the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to pass a health care bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and confiscate health care benefits from millions of people, handing a big tax break to the wealthy few while taxing working people’s health benefits.

This new effort by Republicans in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act would be a disaster for all working families. This bill will gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, take away health care from millions of people, raise health care costs for millions more and put money in the pockets of the superrich and corporate CEOs.

Our country needs a health care plan that expands coverage for all Americans, not one that cuts it. The New Hampshire AFL-CIO and its allies will continue to fight to protect and expand health care for all. We would like to thank Congresswoman Kuster and Congresswoman Shea-Porter for continuing to stand in Solidarity with New Hampshire working families and opposing this effort to roll back the progress we have made in providing health care to millions of our Brother and Sisters across the country.”

NH Healthcare providers also condemned the passage.

“Using Affordable Care Act repeal and replacement as a pretext, the vote today was a devastating attack upon traditional Medicaid funding that predates the ACA by decades,” said Brendan Williams, President and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association. “The so-called American Health Care Act cruelly rations Medicaid funds for seniors and those with disabilities. It’s a real ‘death panel’ bill. I can’t imagine how care in New Hampshire ultimately survives this blow. We already have the nation’s second-oldest population and third-worst nursing home funding crisis.”

“We are deeply disappointed in the vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) today in the House of Representatives, as it will result in millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Granite State residents losing the health insurance coverage that they depend on to help them get the right care, at the right time, at the right place,” said Steve Ahnen, President of the New Hampshire Hospital Association.

“The AHCA will continue to cut more than $1.5 billion in Medicare reimbursements from hospitals in New Hampshire through 2026 that would be devastating to their ability to serve the patients and communities who depend on them. It downshifts costs to the states through the imposition of Medicaid block grants, which underfund the cost of providing care to Medicaid patients and undermine New Hampshire’s successful Medicaid expansion program.  And it puts at risk important consumer protections, which could leave patients without access to critical health services and increase their out-of-pocket spending.

“This bill is a significant step backwards on the commitment to ensure coverage and we cannot support it.  We will continue to work with Congress as this bill moves over to the Senate to ensure that any final legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act improves our health care system in a thoughtful and responsible way, rather than dismantling coverage for our most vulnerable residents,” Ahnen concluded.

#WomensWorkersRising Coalition Issues Call for Stories of Women Workers in Solidarity with International Workers Day

Coalition Strengthens Call to End Workplace Violence, Pay Inequality, Unfair Labor practices and paid leave policies, and for a livable wage for all through stories of women from around the country

Washington, DC — In solidarity with International Workers’ Day, #WomensWorkersRising is sending out a call to women workers to share their own personal stories of not only violence, pay inequity and unfair labor practices but also victory, celebration and joy — to continue the momentum created by hundreds of thousands of workers who took to the streets and marched across the country on May 1st. The coalition is calling for broad-based solidarity with women workers who are fighting for an end to workplace violence and harassment and to promote pay equity, one fair living wage, paid leave, and labor rights at work  Already the coalition has collected stories from women across the country as we continue to create a living archive of the voices of women workers.

These stories include a women from OUR Walmart who had to leave her special needs son with a friend for fear of losing her a job and an employee at Comcast who lost her benefits after taking a leave to take care of her child who suffered a stroke.

The hallmark of the #WomensWorkersRising rally in Washington D.C. on International Women’s Day demonstrated a collective energy, solidarity, and interconnectivity in the face of massive deregulations, continued rampant abuse, deportations, economic hardship and cutbacks to services and programs. That spirit is urgently needed to push forward a platform for and by women workers, and by collecting these stories, #WomenWorkersRising is broadening the scope of their undertaking – remaining vigilant in lifting up women workers across the wider resistance narrative and continuing to build their alliance by showing up for one another in actions online and in the streets.

“Sexual harassment and violence against women workers, including trans women and gender nonconforming individuals, takes place every day at workplaces across the country, in every occupation and industry. From restaurant workers, teachers, retail workers, domestic workers, and at-home mothers to nurses, farmworkers, factory workers, workers with disabilities, federal workers, actors, office workers, company executives, and more, workplace violence is part of making a living for many women. In many cases, women don’t or can’t speak out or seek justice for fear of losing their jobs. All of this is happening in a global economic reality where it is increasingly difficult for women to earn a livable wage” states the Women Workers Rising Coalition.

In her story, which is already featured on the site, Regina Mays of OUR Walmart states,“We shouldn’t have to choose between our jobs and our families. We need paid leave and sick time. I want to let my voice be heard so people know what is happening at Walmart. What gives me hope: I know with time and effort it can be changed. Even if it isn’t for me – it will change for others so they aren’t making choices between families and job. That is the worst feeling in the world,”

#WomenWorkersRising coalition includes: One Billion Rising in Coalition with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, the African American Policy Forum, American Federation of Teachers, Family Values @ Work, International Labor Rights Forum, Jobs with Justice, National Nurses United, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Organization for Women, OUR Walmart, Good Jobs Nation (List in formation).

For more information please go to: http://www.womenworkersrising.org/workers-stories/

Both NH Congresswomen Join 190 US Reps To Support For The Equality Act of 2017

As President Trump prepares to sign an executive order tomorrow that would sanction discrimination against Americans based on sexual orientation, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) is highlighting her support for the Equality Act of 2017, introduced by Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), and expressing her opposition to discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. Kuster is a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, an organization dedicated to promoting equal protection under the law for LGBTQ Americans.

“I’m deeply troubled by reports that the Administration plans to issue executive orders tomorrow that would allow discrimination against Americans simply based on who they love,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I strongly support the Equality Act of 2017 because our nation is fundamentally an accepting and open society. LGBTQ Americans should be extended the same protections from discrimination as other protected classes and I urge my colleagues to join me in calling for policies to create more freedom in our nation, not less.”

Congresswoman Kuster has long advocated in favor of equal rights for every American. In advance of the historic 2015 Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, she joined with over 200 of her colleagues in Congress to submit an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of equal protection in the eyes of the law.

She previously co-sponsored the Equality Act in the last Congress, as well as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and she has long been committed to passing legislation to ensure that employees cannot be discriminated against in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)  joined with Congresswoman Kuster and more than 190 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives to introduce the Equality Act of 2017.

“In 2017, nobody should face discrimination and bigotry because of who they are and who they love,” said Shea-Porter. “I’m proud to co-introduce the Equality Act of 2017, which would finally ensure that federal civil rights protections cover LGBTQ Americans.”

 

The Equality Act of 2017 would extend the same protections already in place for other protected classes to LGBTQ Americans. It would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, Federal jury service, public accommodations, and the use of Federal funds in Federal civil rights law.

Despite significant advances, LGBTQ people across the country remain vulnerable to discrimination and too often have little recourse. With the advent of nationwide marriage equality, in many states, same-sex couples have the right to marry but have no explicit non-discrimination protections. In most states, this means that a same-sex couple could legally marry one day and risk being fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartment – simply because of who they are.

The Equality Act ensures that the same protections already extended to other protected classes are equally available to LGBTQ Americans. It amends existing federal civil rights laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, Federal jury service, public accommodations, and the use of Federal funds.

 

In some of these areas, federal law prohibiting sex discrimination has already been properly interpreted by federal courts and administrative agencies to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equality Act affirms that understanding of existing law and makes the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity explicit, in order to provide greater clarity to members of the public, employers, schools, businesses and other affected parties. In areas where sex discrimination is not already prohibited, the bill amends existing law to bar discrimination on the basis of sex as well as sexual orientation and gender identity.

Leo W Gerard: Another GOP Tax Plan For Captains

Donald Trump
Image by DonkeyHotey CC FLIKR

It’s based on the same voodoo economics we’ve heard many times before.

As he ran for office, Donald Trump repeatedly reminded audiences that he was “really, really rich,” but assured voters that as president he would be a working man’s champion, a blue-collar Superman.

He said he would stop corporations from offshoring manufacturing jobs with a border adjustment tax on imports. He would end trade cheating and declare China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. He would launch within his first 100 days a $1 trillion infrastructure improvement program to create millions of jobs fixing the nation’s airports, bridges and roads.

Trump’s record of promise-keeping to America’s working men and women in his first 100 days is this: So far, no good. The tax plan, well, the one-page tax sketch that the administration released last week is symbolic. While it would slash federal levies on fat cats and corporations, administration officials refused to say it would help the middle class at all. And it contains no border adjustment tax.

The tax plan rewards the captains of industry, the captains of Wall Street, the captains of real estate, like, well, like Trump himself. But the middle class, not so fast. The poor, not at all. Someone needs to tell Donald Trump that banksters and real estate tycoons sporting navy golf polos aren’t blue-collar workers. The tax scheme, like so many of Trump’s other pledges to workers, is a stab in the back of that indigo shirt.

On the campaign trail, Trump said rich people like him should pay more in taxes. Yet, the tax plan he offered last week would cut his taxes – by tens of millions a year. That’s because it would eliminate the alternative minimum tax. This is a levy intended to require billionaires like Trump to pay at least something after subtracting their multitude of special-rich-people deductions.

Trump has refused to release his tax returns – the first American president to keep them secret since Gerald Ford, who provided summaries. But Trump’s 2005 return, uncovered in part by a newspaper, shows that he had to pay $31 million as a result of the alternative minimum tax.

Trump’s plan also calls for eliminating the estate tax. That is paid only by people who inherit more than $5.5 million – as Trump’s children will. And it calls for cutting by more than half, to 15 percent, the tax paid by entities called pass-through corporations. Trump’s attorneys indicated in his presidential financial disclosures that his approximately 500 businesses are almost all pass-throughs.

Trump will be hobnobbing with his country club buddies in benefitting from this break. A 2015 study by the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research found that the top 1 percent gets 69 percent of pass-through income.

Right now, a worker can’t get in on that low 15 percent tax rate unless reporting income below $37,950. But doctors and lawyers and investment bankers would get that special discount rate, no matter how much they make, as long as they pay a few bucks to establish a pass-through corporation. Trump’s plan would allow a lawyer paid $1 million a year to cut his taxes by $180,000 by setting up a pass-through.

Certainly, with all of those perks going to the nation’s most wealthy, Trump’s tax men would assure workers that they will benefit too.

Not really. When asked on ABC’s “Good Morning America” last week whether the middle class would pay more under the plan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “I can’t make any guarantees.”

And the director of Trump’s National Economic Council, Gary D. Cohn, could not say how much of a break – if any­ – a middle-income American would get under the plan.

If it’s not absolutely clear who Trump’s tax plan would benefit, there’s also this from George Callas, the senior tax counsel for the Speaker of the House. Callas wants a permanent break for corporations, saying of a temporary one:

“It would not alter business decisions. It would not cause anyone to build a factory. It would just be dropping cash out of helicopters on corporate headquarters for a couple of years.”

Lots of small towns in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania – towns that suffered when corporations offshored factories, towns that voted for Trump – would really benefit from cash dropping out of helicopters for a couple of years.

But that’s not Trump’s plan.

Trump’s money men, Mnuchin and Cohn, said slashing levies on the wealthy will pay for itself because giving the rich more cash will spur economic growth. So, no need to worry about Trump’s tax cuts ballooning the national debt, they assured.

This is called the Laffer Curve. Really.

Economist Arthur Laffer, an adviser to Trump, explained to the Washington Post last week that it works like this: “When you think about cutting that corporate rate, let’s say, from 35 to 15, that’s not going to cost you any money.”

He convinced the likes of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush this hocus-pocus would work. And now, he has bamboozled Trump.

Both Reagan and Bush cut taxes. Both also left the country with larger deficits and uneven economic growth. Reagan raised taxes several times after his initial 1981 cut. Bush gave the country the Great Recession.

Laffer still insists his curve works, contending, “It’s a no-brainer.”

No. It’s voodoo economics. That’s what George H.W. Bush called it.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan group that advocates fiscal restraint, estimated that Trump’s Laffer tax plan could reduce federal revenue by $3 trillion to $7 trillion over a decade. The economy would need to grow at a rate of 4.5 percent to make that proposal self-financing.

It grew at a pathetic 0.7 percent during Trump’s first quarter in office. In President Obama’s last quarter, the fourth of 2016, it increased at 2.1 percent. To rise at 4.5 percent would be phenomenal. Maybe paranormal.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, put it this way: “It seems the administration is using economic growth like magic beans: the cheap solution to all our problems.”

Ronald Reagan, who like Trump was adored by blue-collar workers, promised that benefits from his massive tax cuts for the rich would trickle down to the rest. That never worked. But now Trump is taking advice from the same Svengali and promoting the same flim-flam plan.

Those heartland workers can’t tolerate another hit. But it’s not just taxes. The health insurance proposal Trump is pushing would cost many low- and middle-income workers thousands of dollars more a year. Trump has proposed eliminating the Chemical Safety Board, which prevents workplace deaths. He delayed rules protecting workers from deadly silica and beryllium. He signed a law ending a requirement that large federal contractors disclose and correct serious safety violations. Trump has no federal infrastructure plan and reneged on naming China a currency manipulator.

These are all the actions of a president protecting the captains of commerce, not one championing blue-collar workers.

May Is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month

Planned Parenthood Encourages Teens to Set Goals and Choose Their Future

Concord,NH – During the month of May, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) is encouraging teens to think about their goals for the future so they can make the best decisions for their life, including taking steps to prevent unintended pregnancy in order to achieve their long-term goals. A recent report by Child Trends showed that increasing the use of effective contraception reduces unintended pregnancy and the Guttmacher Institute  found the recent decline in pregnancy among teens is due to improved contraceptive use.

Planned Parenthood is also proud to support young parents, who deserve the resources and information they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their family. We must ensure they too have the education and resources they need to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy. This includes family and medical leave, accessible child care and affordable birth control.

High-quality sex education and access to family planning services are critical to helping teens stay safe and healthy. Rates of unintended pregnancy among teens in the U.S. have reached a historic low, and more young people are delaying sexual activity and using birth control when they do have sex. Evidence-based sex education programs can help teens delay sex and use condoms and birth control when they do have sex. Parents can make a big impact on their teens’ health and safety too.

As the nation’s leading provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood works with schools and communities across the country to provide outstanding evidence-based programs. In 2014, Planned Parenthood provided education and outreach to 1.5 million people of all ages across the country. The same year, Planned Parenthood partnered with organizations in Africa and Latin America to reach more than one million people with sexual and reproductive health information and services, including over 68,000 people served through our youth peer providers.

In New Hampshire, Planned Parenthood operates a peer education program out of our Manchester office to provide comprehensive resources to teens about pregnancy prevention and reproductive and sexual health. Our 5 New Hampshire health centers provide high-quality, teen-friendly services, including all methods of birth control  and testing and treatment for STDs. In addition, PPNNE operates A Naked Notion, a YouTube series of informational videos for a variety of audiences including teens, adults and parents.

Planned Parenthood also offers nine interactive mobile tools designed to help young people stay healthy and better plan for their futures. Fast Forward and What’s Your Future Plan? can help teens set goals for the future.

Statement from Molly Cowan, Communications Manager, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England:

“New Hampshire has one of the lowest rates for teen pregnancy across the country, and these results are no accident. Planned Parenthood is committed to helping teens stay safe and healthy. We are proud to provide sex education and health services that help teens plan their future and prevent both unintended pregnancies and STIs. All young people deserve the sex education and health care they need to stay healthy, as well as support from their families, schools, and communities to set goals for their future and decide for themselves if and when they want to become a parent.

“When teens and parents talk with each other about relationships and sex, teens are more likely to make healthy decisions, so we encourage parents to talk with their teens about their goals for the future, and how preventing unintended pregnancy and STIs can play a role. Planned Parenthood offers resources, guidance, and encouragement to teens and their parents to help them have conversations about relationships and sex. We will always stand up for comprehensive access to reproductive care and for the health and well-being of women and teens across New Hampshire.”

INZANE TIMES: A Workers Memorial Day Speech By Arnie Alpert

Workers Memorial Vigil, April 27, 2017, Concord NH

This is what I had to say at the Workers Memorial Day vigil sponsored by the NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.

Four years ago, this past Monday a building in Bangladesh called “Rana Plaza” collapsed and came crashing down.

The building housed five garment factories which employed 5000 people.

Brands that were sourcing from the factories in Rana Plaza building include Benetton, Bon Marche, Cato Fashions, The Children’s Place, Walmart, and JC Penney.

The owners ignored warnings about the building’s structural flaws.

The workers did not have a union.

The laws were weak and unenforced.

When the building collapsed, one thousand one hundred and thirty-four workers lost their lives. Thousands more were injured.

The scale of the disaster was so large, and the capacity of NGOs like the International Labor Rights Forum and the Clean Clothes Campaign was strong enough, that even though the workers were unorganized it became possible to pressure the companies and the government to reach agreements for inspections, compensation for affected workers and families, and renovating factories to make them safer.

But workers in Bangladesh still face repression when they try to organize.

That makes reforms hard to defend, especially when workers are inter-changeable pieces in a global supply chain, thousands of miles away from the consumers of the products they make, and several corporate intermediaries away from the firms whose logos they sew onto the apparel they make.

That’s one reason why we need to stand together, as workers, as consumers, as citizens.

One hundred and thirty-one years ago next Monday, hundreds of thousands of American workers went on strike calling for an eight-hour day. (The eight-hour movement followed the earlier ten-hour movement, which was led largely by young women like New Hampshire’s Sara Bagley and conducted in places like Dover, Manchester, Exeter, and Lowell.)

In Chicago, at the same time, a strike was going on at the McCormick Reaper plant, whose owner was trying to replace workers with machines. Several days of protest followed the May Day strike. Police killed 2 strikers on May 3. During a rally the next day protesting killings by police, a bomb went off. No one ever knew who was responsible. Several police officers and strikers lost their lives in the violence.

To be brief, Albert Parsons and August Spies, leaders of the eight-hour movement, were blamed, tried, convicted, and executed, despite the lack of any evidence tying them to the violence. (Hanging, not injection of toxic chemicals, was the method used back then.)

The following year, May Day was observed in their honor throughout the world and became known as International Workers Day.

In this country, over the past decade or so, International Workers Day has become associated with protests, rallies, strikes, and marches led by immigrant workers. That includes this coming Monday in Manchester, 5 to 7 pm, in Veterans Park.

Why does this matter?

When immigrants are afraid to complain about the toxic chemicals they use to clean our schools or the excessive heat in bakeries, factories, and laundries, the rights of all workers to a safe workplace is threatened.

When immigrants can be scapegoated and threatened with loss of jobs, the rights of all workers are weakened.

When capital can cross borders with barely any restriction, but workers face walls and troops, we have to stand together.

When workers are so desperately poor that they will take jobs that put their lives at risk, we have to stand together.

When the number of people forced to flee their homes dues to violence, climate disruption, and economic desperation is at an all-time high, we have to stand together.

When xenophobic and nativist movements are on the rise the world over, we have to stand together.

When workers anywhere are afraid to organize, we have to stand together.

And when workers do organize, despite the fear, despite the risks, despite the threats, despite the scapegoating, we have to stand with them.

During Workers Memorial Week, we say, injustice anywhere is still a threat to justice everywhere.

We still say, an injury to one is an injury to all.

We still say, Solidarity forever.

– Arnie Alpert

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 200 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement