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After Gov. Hassan’s Inaugural Speech The NH GOP Spread False Talking Points About The Minimum Wage

from http://standupfl.org/event/national-raise-the-wage-day/

New Hampshire Republicans Double Down on Opposition to Strengthening Wages for Hard-Working Granite Staters

Republicans Use Debunked Claims About Effect of Minimum Wage on Job Creation;

Data Shows 2014 Job Creation Grew Faster in States that Raised the Minimum Wage

Concord, NH – Following Governor Hassan’s impassioned call for legislators to come together to finally restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage, Republican leaders doubled down on their opposition to strengthening wages for tens of thousands of hard-working Granite Staters.

A WMUR Granite State Poll found that 76% of Granite Staters support raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage – including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents.

“As Governor Hassan argued passionately in her Inaugural Address, it is long past time for members of both parties to come together to finally restore and increase our state’s minimum wage,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Instead of recycling debunked talking points, Republican leaders need to listen to the voices of the people of New Hampshire and finally join with Governor Hassan to strengthen wages and move our economy forward.”

In her Inaugural Address, Governor Hassan stressed the importance of expanding opportunity and strengthening wages for New Hampshire families. But just moments after the Governor’s address concluded, Senator Jeb Bradley was already recycling the same old debunked Republican talking points, calling the minimum wage “a job-killer.”

The problem with such claims is that they’ve repeatedly been shown to be untrue. The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) found that job creation in 2014 was faster in the 13 states that had increased their minimum wage on January 1, 2014 compared with those that had not. Another study from the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment found “strong earnings effects and no employment effects of minimum wage increases.”

Even more mind-boggling was the argument from Deputy Speaker Gene Chandler, who told NHPR that New Hampshire should not increase the minimum wage because doing so “also raises the wage levels of everyone else up the line because if the minimum wage is raised, then other people are going to expect to get more money.”

“It’s ludicrous and just another sign of how completely backwards today’s New Hampshire Republican Party is that party leaders could argue that raising the minimum wage is a bad idea because it would help too many people,” added Buckley.

New Hampshire Residents Urged to Bring Cancer Stories to the State House

Medical (image by DIBP images on FLIKR)
Medical (image by DIBP images on FLIKR)

(image by DIBP images on FLIKR)

 

Cancer is one of the most deadly diseases known to man.  Last year we lost long time union activist John McLaughlin to Leukemia. Battling cancer costs health providers approximately $90 billion a year and leads to higher healthcare costs for our members.

The New Hampshire chapter of the American Cancer Society is looking for Granite Staters to tell their personal stories about cancer as they push for new legislation in the NH Legislature.

New Hampshire Residents Urged to Bring Cancer Stories to the State House

Those in New Hampshire living with cancer and their families are depending on you.

The 2015 American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Legislative Breakfast will take place on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at the State House in Concord. Cancer advocates, survivors, and members of the legislature are invited to attend from 8-10am.   

This is an important day for those living with cancer and their family members and friends to come to the State House to tell their personal stories to their State Legislators.  Our leaders must hear these stories so they can take appropriate action on cancer related issues and programs.

Register now at www.acscan.org/2015NHRSVP or call 603-471-4116.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.

Progressive NH State Rep To Propose Minimum Wage Increase To $14.25 And Eliminating The “Tipped Minimum Wage”

Minimum Wage 101

Minimum Wage 101

Representative Jackie Cilley to introduce far-reaching minimum wage legislation

Fmr. State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate returns to Concord to pursue middle-class agenda

JackiePortrait(Barrington, NH) After a four-year absence from the New Hampshire General Court, newly-returned Barrington representative Jackie Cilley announced that her first piece of legislation – and her chief priority in the coming session – is to give New Hampshire’s struggling workers a raise with an increased minimum wage paired with the elimination of the so-called “tipped minimum wage.” This legislation would mark a return to a state-based minimum wage and move tipped workers into the economic mainstream with a raise from the current rate of $2.90.

Cilley, whose legislation would raise the minimum wage to $14.25 per hour over a three year-period and eventually tie the tipped minimum wage to the same figure, argues the move from both a matter of fairness and economic common sense.

“Most of use want to get paid what we are worth, what we contribute to the companies and organizations for whom we work,” notes Cilley.  “If the minimum wage had actually kept pace with worker productivity, it would be $21.72 today.  Instead, workers’ wages peaked decades ago because of partisan divide.”

“Conservatives and progressives should both want to see the creation of livable wages.  Set aside for a moment the argument of fairness to workers and just consider what each of us is paying to help an employer keep a worker at sub-livable wages.  These workers can’t actually live on those wages. They often need such support services as food stamps, fuel assistance, housing assistance and so on.   If the minimum wage were raised to just $10.10 per hour that would mean 1.7 million people across this country would no longer need public assistance, saving us $7.6 billion.  I don’t yet have the exact figures for this for New Hampshire, but simply pro-rating it per capita suggests a savings of more than $30 million.”

“This is long overdue: They were one vote away from making a substantial start in the last session and I want to keep that momentum moving, regardless of the partisan makeup of the new legislature,” Cilley said. “This doesn’t have to be a partisan issue – Mitt Romney supports an increased minimum wage, for example – but we have to make the case on economic, not just fairness grounds.”

“Bill O’Brien’s decision to put what New Hampshire businesses pay their workers in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington, DC was terrible choice. We need to have a minimum wage that reflects the economy and values of New Hampshire, not DC – This legislation puts the decision back where it belongs, in New Hampshire.”

Legislation pushed by then-Speaker Bill O’Brien repealed the state’s minimum wage law in 2011 and handed jurisdiction to the federal government. Gov. Lynch vetoed the legislation, but O’Brien’s allies in the House overrode the veto. The National Employment Law Project’s Christine Owens said at the time that “given the fact that minimum wage workers spend every penny they earn in their local businesses, a strong wage floor is also vital to stimulating the consumer spending necessary for real and lasting economic recovery.”

These economic facts of life haven’t changed. A study released in March of 2014 by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute echoes Owens words.

“Most notably, raising the minimum wage will increase demand for the goods and services sold by businesses operating in the Granite State. Low-wage workers, out of necessity, typically spend every dollar that they earn. As a result, the increased wages they will earn from a higher minimum wage will almost certainly be spent – and most likely be spent quickly – in the communities in which they live and work.”

About Jackie Cilley: Born in Berlin, New Hampshire, Jackie Cilley was raised with four siblings in a third-floor walk-up tenement before graduating from Berlin High School. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNH and has served as an adjunct professor at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics since matriculating from there in 1985. In 2004 she ran for a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and won, serving one term in the House before being elected twice to the  New Hampshire Senate, representing the 6th District from 2006 – 2010. In 2012, she ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination for Governor, losing to Gov. Hassan. She was re-elected to the New Hampshire House in 2014 where she serves on the Committee on Executive Departments and Administration. Rep. Cilley was recently named by veteran NH political reporter John DiStaso as one of the “‘Most wanted’ NH Democrats for the 2016 presidential campaign.”

Senator Martha Fuller Clark Introduces Breastfeeding Reform Bill To Help Working Mothers

Image via MFC Facebook Page
Martha Fuller Clark 2

Image via Martha Fuller Clark (Facebook Page)

CONCORD – State Senator  Martha Fuller Clark has announced that her first legislative initiatives of the coming session is a bill that would require employees to provide  appropriate accommodations for nursing mothers while at work.

“Given the known significant health benefits of breastfeeding and the widely varying situations in which mothers may need to nurse or express milk, clearly the time has come to guarantee a working mother’s right to have a clean, private place for such activity,” Senator Clark said. “This legislation offers employers reasonable latitude to provide such accommodations, dependent upon the specific nature of their business and its respective facilities

but makes clear that working mothers must have access to a clean, comfortable and appropriate space.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding through the first 6 months of an infant’s life and continued breastfeeding until the infant is at least 12 months old . The World Health Organization, the US Surgeon General’s Office, and the American Academy of Family Physicians also recommend similar periods of active breastfeeding for mothers and their infants.

Clark’s proposal closely follows both federal and state legislation from around the country. Over 25 states have already passed similar legislation allowing for greater workplace access for nursing mothers during this crucial first year.  The Affordable Care Act also requires employers to provide such accommodations and provides for legal recourse to working mothers if employers fail to do so.

Clark added, “Encouraging and facilitating breastfeeding through the first year of an infant’s life ensures better health outcomes for both children and mothers  – that is why this is good legislation that I hope will be supported by all members of the business community throughout the state”.

Senator  Martha Fuller Clark represents Senate District  21 which is comprised of the communities of Durham, Lee, Madbury, Newfields, Newington, Newmarket, and Portsmouth. 

Immigration Experts Reaffirm Precedent For Obama’s Executive Action On Immigration

SEIU immigration rally _1

SEIU immigration rally _1

Immigration Council Strongly Reaffirms Research on Reagan-Bush Family Fairness Policy as Significant Precedent for Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

WashingImmigration Policy Center logoton D.C. - This week, the Washington Post issued another editorial in its campaign against President Obama’s decision to authorize temporary deportation relief for several million undocumented parents of U.S citizen children. In particular, the Post argues that there is no historical precedent for President Obama’s action, discounting the parallel that the President and many others have drawn between past executive actions, such as the Family Fairness program instituted by Presidents Reagan and Bush, Sr. In fact, the Post called this analogy indefensible, essentially arguing that supporters of the Immigration Accountability Executive Action were attempting to recast history in an exaggerated attempt to justify the President’s overreach. The opposite is true. As the first organization to publicly lay out the case for the strong precedent for executive action in immigration, we believe it is important to set the Post, and the record, straight on the political significance of the Family Fairness program and why actions from almost a quarter of a century ago matter today.

As we have explained in several publications, every president since Eisenhower has used his executive branch authority to protect immigrants, including undocumented immigrants. We have noted, in particular, the Family Fairness policy instituted by President Reagan, and expanded by President Bush, Sr., as particularly relevant, given both the scope of the action, and the politics of the time. With respect to scope, our research indicates that both official government sources and advocates believed that as many as 1.5 million people were likely to be affected by the Family Fairness program, designed to defer the deportation of children and spouses who were not covered by the 1986 legalization enacted by Congress. Like today, the number of people affected by the executive action was roughly 40% of the undocumented population. Also like today, President Reagan, and then President Bush, ran the risk of alienating Congress, by choosing to allow these family members to remain in the country.

The Post and other detractors have chosen to focus on whether 1.5 million people were really affected, alleging that this number was wildly exaggerated at the time. Despite evidence to the contrary, the Post has doggedly stuck by this claim, even though it has twice amended its original Fact Check article challenging the 1.5 million figure. While it grudgingly acknowledges that the 1.5 million number was a key point in the political and policy debate, it fails to note the real significance: the size of the potentially affected population did not cause the cries of panic and constitutional overreach that we hear today.

Presidents Reagan and Bush used their executive branch authority to keep immigrant family members together. They did this despite the fact that Congress had definitively acted, passing a legalization program that did not include spouses and children. At the time Family Fairness was implemented, it was not at all clear that Congress would, eventually, enact laws to protect these family members. Instead, Reagan and Bush’s program was based on compassion, utilizing the discretion that Presidents have to enforce the immigration laws with common sense and grace.

What’s most confounding is the Post’s departure from past supportive statements on executive action on immigration. In 1987, the Post’s editorial board called for “generous” acts of discretion to keep families together noting, “Commissioner Nelson promised to use the discretionary powers given by law to the attorney general to suspend deportation of family members if, in individual cases, there are specific humanitarian reasons for doing so. We hope he is generous in using this discretion…If Congress will not be moved, the INS should have a heart.”

In addition, in 1990, the Post editorialized in favor of Bush’s Family Fairness executive action noting, “The new rule is sensible, humane and fair. This response by the INS is in line with traditional policy to favor immigration that reunites families. In asserting his authority quickly and with a generous spirit, the new commissioner is off to a good start.”

We agree with the Post’s editorial board that “facts matter.” We simply believe that a news organization that has supported executive actions on immigration taken by previous presidents should reexamine all the facts before jumping to conclusions about the legality and significance of the president’s current actions. It is clear the editorial board during the Bush and Reagan era demonstrated a compassion towards families torn apart by the broken immigration system that escapes them today.

Young vs UPS: Is It Legal To Discriminate Against Pregnant Women?

Pregnant Woman (Image John Ted Daganato Flickr)

Discrimination in the workplace is real and it happens every day. Some are discriminated based on their skin color, others are discriminated based on their sexual preference, and many are discriminated based on their sex.

This week the Supreme Court will hear a case, Young v UPS, that will decide if it is legal to discriminate against pregnant women.

After working as a delivery driver for UPS, Peggy Young became pregnant. This is not uncommon as 2.5 million working women become pregnant every year. As Peggy’s pregnancy progressed her doctor restricted her to light duty. The doctor said that Peggy should avoid lifting anything over 20 pounds.

Peggy went to UPS and asked to be reassigned to light duty activities. UPS denied her request and to add insult to their denial, they fired her as well. Not only did Peggy lose her paycheck she lost her healthcare too. This is why she chose to sue UPS for lost wages and expenses.

Some are saying this case is moot as UPS has already changed their policy, allowing pregnant women to work light duty jobs, but this case could set a very bad precedence.

Some lawmakers are not waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on this case and have already filed new legislation to strengthen the protections for pregnant women. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) authored the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), legislation which would strengthen the rights of pregnant workers to request accommodations during their pregnancy without fear of retribution.

The PWFA would secure the right of a pregnant worker to ask for workplace accommodations without fear of retribution. Today, women make up nearly half of the labor force, and three-quarters of women entering the workforce will be pregnant and employed at some point in their careers.

“A woman should never have to face a choice between her job and pregnancy,” Senator Shaheen said. “Women are a crucial part of our workforce, and they have every right to receive reasonable workplace accommodations to continue a healthy pregnancy while providing for their families and contributing to the economy.”

“Women make up nearly half of the workforce, and in Pennsylvania, approximately 96,000 women in the workforce give birth each year,” Senator Casey said. “Too many women still face discrimination in the workplace during pregnancy as some employers continue to refuse to provide reasonable accommodations. No woman should be forced out of a job because she is pregnant. Every employer should work to provide accommodations that will allow women to keep working safely through their pregnancies.”

The Senate version of the PWFA (S.942) currently has 33 co-sponsors, 32 Democrats and one Independent, Senator Sanders (I-VT).

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10) submitted identical legislation (H.R 1975) to the House and it currently has 140 co-cosponsors, again all Democrats.

“No woman should ever be discriminated against in the workplace simply because she is pregnant, and I was proud to help send an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court supporting Peggy Young, whose treatment by her employer clearly violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “As a cosponsor of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which additionally prohibits employers from treating pregnant workers unfairly, I urge the Supreme Court to fall on the right side of the law and rule against UPS for its unacceptable, discriminatory treatment of Peggy Young.”

This case has created some strange bedfellows. Both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice groups have come out in support of Peggy and her case against UPS. Vox.com reported:

“Both the anti-abortion right and the feminist left have filed amicus briefs on behalf of Young, though they come at it from different angles. Women’s rights groups like the Women’s Law Project and Legal Momentum (formerly known as the NOW Legal Defense Fund) have signed onto briefs arguing Young’s side of the case. In one of those briefs, these groups argue that the Fourth Circuit was incorrect and ‘misconceive[d] the gender stereotyping behind pregnancy discrimination.’”

If both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice groups support stronger protections for working pregnant women, why hasn’t a single Republican signed on to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act? Protecting the mother, protects the child, and the pregnancy.

This should be a slam dunk for Congress.

Or, is it just another example of how Congressional Republicans do not really care about working families and are blocking anti-discrimination legislation for their corporate campaign funders?

Democracy Movement Takes a Message to Senator Ayotte (InZane Times)

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NASHUA, NH — The “Democracy for All Amendment” failed on a procedural vote today in the US Senate, but not before a dozen New Hampshire activists made one more attempt to get Senator Kelly Ayotte to support overturning the US SupremeP9110119Court’s “Citizens United” decision.

“Corporations are not people.  They should not control our political process,” Representative Sylvia Gale of Nashua said to the group assembled at City Hall Plaza at 9 am this morning.

The group was small, but they are part of a large movement of people concerned that “corporate people” and the wealthiest Americans have the legal ability to drown out competing voices in the political process.

“I don’t have a lot of money and I want my voice to be heard,” explained Fred Robinson, who drove to Nashua from Goffstown to participate.   

“Democracy should work for people,” offered Dr. Thabile Mnisi-Misibi, an ANC member visiting from South Africa.

The contingent of 13 people walked with signs and chants througP9110155h the downtown district to the Senator’s office.  There, they delivered a petition with 12,000 New Hampshire names calling on Senator Ayotte to support the constitutional change.   

“This is an issue for all of New Hampshire, and Senator Ayotte needs to get involved,” said Dan Weeks of the Coalition for Open Democracy, the group which led the organizing of today’s action.

Weeks handed the petitions and supporting material to Simon Thomson, an aide to Senator Ayotte, who met the group on the sidewalk outside her office.

Dan Weeks presenting petitions to Simon Thomson.

A similar action took place last week at Senator Ayotte’s Portsmouth office.

Ayotte voted Monday for a motion that allowed consideration of the amendment to go forward, but today joined her GOP colleagues voting against ending debate, thereby blocking the measure from an up or down vote on its merits.   New Hampshire’s other Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, was a co-sponsor of the amendment proposal.

The notion that the Supreme Court believes corporations are people, that money is speech, and that therefore corporations can spend without limits to affect election campaigns has provoked a reaction expressed through petitions, resolutions, and proposals for constitutional change.  SJ Resolution 19, the proposal defeated today in the P9110141US Senate, is just one of a couple dozen advanced by members of Congress in response to Citizens United.  Some groups, such as Move To Amend, have made it clear they think it doesn’t go far enough to reverse corporate constitutional rights.  But it was the only proposal likely to get considered in the foreseeable future, so many groups calling for constitutional change were on board. 

Writing in his blog at The Nation earlier this week, John Nichols said:

The amendment that is being considered is a consequential, if relatively constrained, proposal, which focuses on core money in political concerns but which does not go as far as many Americans would like when it comes to establishing that money is not speech, corporations are not people and elections should not be up for sale to the highest bidder.

Yet it is difficult to underestimate the importance of the debate that will unfold this week. The debate signals that a grassroots movement has established the rational response to a political crisis created by US Supreme Court rulings (including, but certainly not exclusively, the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions) that have opened the floodgates for domination of political debates by billionaire campaign donors and corporate cash.

No one expected the amendment to get the two-thirds vote it would need to pass or get a vote at all in John Boehner’s House of Representatives.   But the fact that any vote took place is evidence of a significant expression oP9110133f public sentiment that the“Citizens United” decision did serious damage to fundamental issues.  The questions now are whether the movement will grow or fizzle, and whether the pro-amendment groups will intensify their demands for more aggressive language or head down the familiar road of further compromise.  A decision to water down the language in hopes of gaining votes at this point would be a huge mistake.

“Constitutional amendments become viable when support for them grows so overwhelming that traditional partisan and ideological boundaries are broken,” wrote Nichols, who will speak at an AFSC dinner in Concord on September 27.  “When this happens, the divide becomes less a matter of Republican versus Democrat or left versus right and more a matter of a broken present versus a functional future.”

NH Reformers Deliver Petitions To Kelly Ayotte In Support Of ‘Democracy for All’

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NH Reformers Hold ‘Democracy for All’ Rally as U.S. Senate Debates Constitutional Amendment to Curb Big Money in Politics

Citizens Urge Senator Ayotte to Back Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United Supreme Court Ruling in Historic Vote This Week

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NASHUA, NH: On Thursday, September 11, fifteen concerned citizens delivered 12,000 petition signatures from New Hampshire residents to U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Nashua office asking her to back a constitutional amendment to curb the flood of private money in politics.

The rally came as the U.S. Senate this week considers the “Democracy for All” amendment (S.J. Res. 19), which would restore the ability of Congress and the states to enact commonsense limits on election spending. Fifty-four New Hampshire towns have expressed support for a constitutional amendment.

“We are here to respectfully ask Senator Ayotte to join the other members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation and follow the lead of 54 NH towns – not to mention the vast majority of her constituents – in voting to end the corrupt system of corporate and union funding of elections,” said Daniel Weeks, Executive Director of Open Democracy. “Like our founder, Doris ‘Granny D’ Haddock, we truly believe that when money is speech, speech is no longer free for all Americans.”

The amendment is in response to U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) and McCutcheon v. FEC. In Citizens United, the court gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums to influence elections. As a result, spending by outside groups – those not affiliated with campaigns – skyrocketed, and the voices of voters have increasingly been drowned out by special interests. In McCutcheon, the court struck down the aggregate campaign spending limits, allowing the super-wealthy to contribute millions of dollars directly to candidates, political parties and joint fundraising committees.

Polls show that voters across party lines overwhelmingly oppose Citizens United and support a constitutional amendment to curb the influence of money in politics. The Senate is scheduled to take a historic vote on the amendment later this week.

Dozens of organizations nationwide have collected more than 3 million signatures calling for the rulings to be overturned and democracy to be restored to the people. Sixteen states, approximately 550 cities and towns, more than 160 former and current members of Congress, and President Barack Obama have indicated support for the amendment.

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Can We Overturn Citizens United? US Senate will vote again later this week.

Cash Bribe Politician Money
(FLICKR LIght Brigading

(FLICKR LIght Brigading)

Last night, the proposed constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United moved one tiny step forward. By a 79-18 vote, the US Senate invoked cloture to end a GOP filibuster of the measure.

That means the Senate will actually be able to vote on the amendment, probably later this week. But will it pass? One Hill reporter says, “The amendment is almost certain to fail.”

That’s because constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote in the Senate – and until last night, the Senate GOP had been working in lockstep to defeat (or undermine) the measure. Every recorded Subcommittee and Committee vote was strictly along party lines: with the Democrats in favor of moving the proposal forward; and the Republicans trying to keep it from seeing the light of day.

So even though some GOP Senators (including NH Sen. Kelly Ayotte) voted to end the filibuster last night, it’s quite possible they will be pressured into voting against the amendment when it comes up for a vote.

If the Senate approves the amendment, it will still need to be approved by the House and ratified by two-thirds of the states. (Read more about the process here.)

Cash Bribe Politician MoneyWhat’s at stake: The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission helped unleash unprecedented amounts of outside spending in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. (Read more here.)

It has led to billionaires like Sheldon Adelson wielding incredible personal influence.

It led to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell making a pilgrimage to a “secret strategy conference of conservative millionaire and billionaire donors hosted by the Koch brothers” where he promised to block debate on “all these gosh darn proposals” like increasing the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits, and allowing students to refinance their college loans.

Now, Mitch McConnell may believe – as he told those prospective donors – that “all Citizens United did was to level the playing field for corporate speech…. We now have, I think, the most free and open system we’ve had in modern times. The Supreme Court allowed all of you to participate in the process in a variety of different ways.”

But America is seeing through that spin.  

Sixteen states have already endorsed the idea of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

More than 500 local governments have already supported such a change. (Here in the Granite State, the list includes: Alstead; Amherst; Andover; Atkinson; Barnstead; Barrington; Bradford; Bridgewater; Chesterfield; Conway; Deerfield; Eaton; Exeter; Francestown; Henniker; Hampstead; Hudson; Kingston; Lee; Lyme; New Boston; Northwood; Rindge; Tilton; Wakefield; Webster; and Windham)

And the public? America is united on this issue. There is more agreement on overturning Citizens United than on just about anything else. 80% of Americans – and 72% of Republicans – oppose Citizens United. Here in New Hampshire, 69% of Granite Staters support a constitutional amendment like the one the Senate will finally be voting on. (Amendment supporters include six out of every 10 NH Republicans, and almost three-quarters of NH independents.  Senator Kelly Ayotte, are you listening?)

So this past weekend, the GOP tried out some new spins, trying to rationalize why they will be voting against something that eight out of 10 Americans support.

New Spin #1: It’s the Democrats! “‘Senate Democrats have long been funded by a group of billionaires bent on maintaining their power, yet they pretend to be outraged’ by the spending of the Koch brothers and their allies. …In advance of Monday’s floor debate, Senate Republican staffers circulated a chart showing the reach of Democracy Alliance…”

(No, this spin does not explain why Republicans want to maintain the Citizens United status quo. If the Republicans and the Koch Brothers are truly outraged by Democratic big-dollar contributors – why don’t they vote to approve the constitutional amendment?)

New Spin #2: Guns! (Yes, really.)

Here’s how the National Rifle Association described Citizens United: “The court declared unconstitutional the parts of the law that had been enacted for the explicit purpose of silencing the NRA and its members. Of course, the gun-banners in the White House and Congress opposed the decision because it thwarted their plans.”

Here’s how the NRA described the amendment to overturn Citizens United: “As the title of the proposed constitutional amendment suggests, S.J.R. 19 is intended to allow anti-gunners in Congress to silence their critics and to control the gun ‘debate.’”

(The actual title: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.” And: while the NRA may be #5 on the list of non-profits that spend money on electioneering… the proposed amendment isn’t actually about guns. It’s about allowing Congress and the states to “regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.” It’s about “protect[ing] the integrity of government and the electoral process.”)

Does the GOP really think either of these spins is going to stick any better than the “Citizens United leveled the playing field” spin?

Why is this such an important issue for those of us in the Labor movement?

Reason 1: “Whatever slice [of political contributions] you look at, business interests dominate, with an overall advantage over organized labor of about 15-to-1. Even among PACs – the favored means of delivering funds by labor unions – business has a more than 3-to-1 fundraising advantage. In soft money, the ratio is nearly 17-to-1.”

Reason 2: Mitch McConnell, shilling for those billionaire donors: “In late April, Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, successfully filibustered a bill to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, a widely popular measure that would increase wages for at least 16.5 million Americans. Earlier in the year, McConnell also led a filibuster of a three-month extension of unemployment insurance to some 1.7 million Americans.”

Is our government really for sale to the highest bidder?

The 2014 campaigns are breaking fundraising records set in the 2012 and 2010 elections.

Isn’t it time to send this constitutional amendment to the states for a ratification vote?

Activists Hold Portsmouth “Democracy is For All” Rally

Senator Kelly Ayotte Official Portrait

Activists from National Organizations Will Urge Sen. Ayotte to Back Constitutional Amendment Curbing Money in Politics – Vote Is Sept. 8

Portsmouth, NH — Activists representing nationwide organizations, including Public Citizen, MoveOn.org Political Action, People For the American Way, CREDO Action and Common Cause, will deliver 10,500 petitions from New Hampshire’s residents to U.S. Sen. Ayotte (R – NH) office on Sept. 3 asking her to back a constitutional amendment to curb the flood of money in politics.

Fifty U.S. senators support the Democracy For All constitutional amendment (S.J. Res 19), which would establish that Congress and the states have the power to regulate and limit election spending. However, Ayotte has yet to add her name to the list, and is the only New Hampshire congressional delegate to not already pledge support for such an amendment, although just this year 54 New Hampshire towns, mostly in Republican areas, have officially declared their support and asked her to do the same. Activists will urge the senator to become the 51st supporter and to support the amendment on September 8 when the Senate considers it.

The amendment is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) and McCutcheon v. FEC. In Citizens United, the court gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums to influence elections. As a result, spending by outside groups – those not affiliated with campaigns – skyrocketed. In McCutcheon, the court struck down the aggregate campaign spending limits, allowing the super-wealthy to contribute millions of dollars directly to candidates, political parties and joint fundraising committees.

Dozens of organizations nationwide have collected approximately 3 million signatures calling for Citizens United to be overturned. Sixteen states, approximately 550 cities and towns, and more than 160 former and current members of Congress and President Barack Obama have indicated support for the amendment. It’s time Ayotte gets on board.

WHEN:          11:00 am, Wednesday, Sept. 3

WHERE:       Kelly Ayotte’s Portsmouth office, 14 Manchester Square, Portsmouth, NH 03801

VISUALS:     Leftist Marching Band, Signs, Boxes containing the petitions

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