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Leo W Gerard: Republican Tax Plan — Make America Grieve Again

A giant sucking sound, louder than a freight train, noisier than a tornado, shriller than Ross Perot yelling, “I told you so,” blasted across the nation Thursday as Republicans in the U.S. House passed their tax plan.

It was the terrible sound of jobs swept out of this country. When Perot ran for president, he said the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would siphon off American jobs. And he was right. It did.

PHOTO BY STEVE DIETZ, UNIONPIX.COM

But this is much, much bigger.

House Republicans approved a scam exempting corporations from all taxes on their foreign operations. Under the GOP proposal, corporations like Carrier and Rexnord can benefit from protections provided by American patents, courts and armed forces, while moving their factories from the United States to Mexico. Or to other low-wage, high-polluting countries like China. Or to countries that charge little or no corporate tax. Once there, instead of paying the new, super-low 20 percent corporate rate Republicans propose for U.S-based producers, the expat factories will pay no taxes to the United States. Nothing. Not a cent.

Rather than Making America Great Again, Congressional Republicans plan to Make America Grieve Again as even more family-supporting factory jobs get shipped offshore to take advantage of the new tax rate of zip.

The math behind that job transfer is simple. Continue manufacturing in the United States and pay a corporate income tax dramatically lowered from 35 to 20 percent. Or move to a ridiculously low-tax country like Switzerland, Montenegro or Paraguay, and pay a measly 9 percent to that nation and nothing to the United States.

With the proposed corporate tax gift from Republicans, CEOs could uproot factories in places like Illinois, Indiana and Western Pennsylvania and ship them to brand new facilities in Bermuda, Palau or Turks & Caicos, where the corporate tax rate is zero. The corporation would pay no taxes on profits to the country hosting the factory and nothing to the United States, which hosts the headquarters.

Republicans contend such corporations will bring those foreign profits back to the United States and invest here. Why would CEOs do that when any American plant they invest in would be billed taxes on profits while the same factory located in certain other countries would pay nothing?

Why would they do that when they didn’t before?

Right now, corporations are sitting on $2.6 trillion in overseas profits. They have not invested that money in U.S. research, factories or jobs because they don’t want to pay the current 35 percent tax rate that would be charged when those profits are returned to the country.

To lure that money back, Republicans propose to give corporations a tax holiday, cutting the rate to between 5 and 12 percent for repatriating the $2.6 billion. The GOP insists corporations will take advantage of that tax deal to bring those billions home and invest in American production. But they won’t. The proof is that they didn’t last time.

Congress gave corporations a tax holiday in 2004 during which CEOs could return foreign profits to the United States and pay a mere 5 percent tax on them in exchange for investment in U.S. research, factories and jobs.

CEOs brought back the money and grabbed that 5 percent rate, alright. But they didn’t use the repatriated cash to conduct research, build factories or create jobs. Just the opposite.

A study by the Democratic staff of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that the 15 corporations that benefited most from the tax holiday turned around and cut more than 20,000 jobs and diminished their pace of research spending.

Labeling the 2004 tax holiday a failed policy, the report cautions against repeating it, saying it cost the U.S. Treasury $3.3 billion in lost revenues over 10 years and led to U.S. corporations sending more funds offshore.

“There is no evidence that the previous repatriation tax giveaway put Americans to work, and substantial evidence that it instead grew executive paychecks, propped up stock prices, and drew more money and jobs offshore,” said former Michigan Senator Carl Levin, then-chairman of the subcommittee, when the report was released in 2011.

So the contention that corporations now would invest in U.S. research, factories and jobs because Republicans plan to give them another tax holiday is about as solid as smoke — the stuff emitted from American factories pre-NAFTA and now flowing from mills moved to Mexico. The same goes for the contention that corporations will invest in U.S. research, factories and jobs with completely untaxed foreign profits.

In fact, suspending taxes on foreign profits would create a perverse incentive for corporations to make it overseas instead of making it in America. But Republicans intend to do it anyway.

Republicans say they must cater to the tax demands of corporations because other countries – Germany and Ireland, for example – offer corporations low rates. And those same Republicans contend they must cease charging American corporations taxes on their foreign operations because other countries have stopped.

That describes a race to the bottom. Pretty soon, corporations won’t pay any taxes at all, anywhere to anyone. They’ll provide nothing toward the roads they use to transport their products, the school systems that educate their workers, the Army Corps of Engineers that protects factories from floods.

If countries don’t work together to stop corporations from playing one against the other, workers will get stuck with all of the costs. That’s what’s happening under the GOP tax scam. The tax changes were supposed to benefit middle-class workers. But they do not.

An analysis of the Senate tax plan, released this week by the Joint Committee on Taxation, which is the official nonpartisan review agency serving Congress, showed the scam would give large tax cuts to corporations and millionaires while raising the levies charged to families earning $10,000 to $75,000 – that’s low-income and middle-class families.

White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said this week, “The most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan.” Of course they are. Those 1 percenters and their corporations get all the breaks.

To help pay for big fat tax cuts for millionaires and zeroed-out taxes for corporations, Republicans plan to slash programs crucial to workers – like Medicare and Medicaid – and vital deductions, like those for property taxes and student loan interest.

Just like NAFTA, this GOP tax scheme is a scam, a bait-and-switch ruse. Workers pay more and get less – fewer government services and far fewer job opportunities. This time, their jobs won’t just be going south of the border. They’ll be shipped anyplace in the world touting the lowest tax rates.

Northern Pass Advocates Angry Over ‘Dark Money’ In Local Fight. Well Get In Line

This weekend the Union Leader published ‘No names, please: Mystery money out to kill Northern Pass’ highlighting how Northern Pass advocates are upset over ‘Protect the Granite State‘ use of money from unknown donors to push back against Northern Pass.

“Protect the Granite State is spreading false and misleading information about the project,” said Eversource spokesman Martin Murray. “Because their funders are secret, there is no one to hold accountable. Regardless of your opinion on Northern Pass, it should be concerning that an anonymous group has invested so much money into misleading the public as it attempts to stymie a clean energy project and influence New Hampshire energy policy.”

Though Eversource may not like it, “Donald Kreis, head of New Hampshire’s Office of the Consumer Advocate, says Protect the Granite State (PTGS) is within its rights to protect the identity of its donors.”

“The organization is a 501(C)(4) whose donors choose to remain anonymous,” said Protect the Granite State spokesman Jim Merrill. And that’s about all Merrill and another PTGS operative will say. They declined to answer a list of questions submitted by the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.

The article also clearly differentiates union political action funds and dark money C4’s.

There is money flowing from both sides as the adjudicatory hearings before a statewide planning board for big energy projects grind on toward a 2018 conclusion. Northern Pass partners have invested in promoting the project, as have supporters like the IBEW electrical workers union, but those sources are identified.

This article highlights what many of us have been saying for years. Since the Citizens United decision there has been a significant rise in “social welfare” programs (501(C)(4)) using unknown donors to influence political decisions.

From OpenSecrets

Take for example the ongoing fight to pass Right to Work in New Hampshire.  Every year this bill is submitted and every year the people of New Hampshire speak out against it and the bill dies.  Yet every time the bill gets submitted the National Right To Work Committee (NRTWC) spends money to lobby the legislature, take out advertisements to sway the public, and dump tens of thousands of dollars into campaign coffers.

But who is really behind the NRTWC?  There are many theories but NRTWC has every right to disclose who funds their PAC. The NRTWC raised over $25 million dollars to push Right to Work laws across the country.

Chart created by Center for Media & Democracy

Another example is Americans For Prosperity, a 501(C)(4) that was started with seed money from the Koch Brothers, was instrumental in building and funding the Tea Party movement.  Along with the NRTWC, AFP pushes for anti-worker legislation like Right to Work and to take away workers rights to collectively bargain.

AFP spent over $13 million in nine federal elections in 2016 and all of that money was spend attacking Democratic candidates.  AFP raised and spent $122 million dollars in 2012 elections most of it going to “communications, ads, and media” attacking President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Game

The system has be rigged by those who are using their money to buy politicians and mislead the public for their own personal gains.  We do not need to know who is behind Protect the Granite State, we need to know who is behind all of these dark money groups. We need to know who is buying our political system.

We need to change the game and eliminate all of this outside, dark money.

Some Would-Be Speakers of the NH House Decline to Debate Ethics, House Procedure

Non-partisan candidate forum to be held Saturday at 2pm, at the New England College in Concord

Since the announcement by Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper that he may be stepping down to fill the role of agriculture commissioner, many Republicans have thrown their hats in the ring for House Speaker.  However, while many attended the Freedom Caucus conservative policy-based forum, only a few have agreed to debate other candidates regarding the actual non-partisan role of Speaker, House procedure, or ethics.

In answer to the Freedom Caucus’ forum asking policy questions such as those regarding taxes and abortion, the 55-member NH House Progressive Caucus decided to host a non-partisan candidate forum focusing only on issues of ethics and procedure, with no political questions or litmus tests.

Of the declared candidates, only two Republicans, Rep. James McConnell (North Swanzey), and Rep. Steve Smith (Charlestown) have agreed to participate.

They will be joined by Democratic candidate Stephen Shurtleff (Penacook).

Rep. John Burt (Goffstown), who recently released a letter explaining his walkout at the Freedom Caucus forum, initially had confirmed but cancelled, due to family matters.

Republican candidate Rep. McConnell expressed his enthusiasm for the non-partisan forum, explaining, “I am looking forward to it!  I think it’s important that we take advantage of every opportunity to sit down with members of the House and discuss the matters that should be important to all of us.  It is important to note that this is only the second opportunity we have had to discuss these things publicly.”

Recognizing the importance of the Speaker’s duties, outgoing Speaker Shawn Jasper notes that, “It is critically important that the Speaker of the House be totally impartial in presiding over the House.  Every member deserves the same courtesy as any other.  Maintaining decorum of the House that allows debate to be open and free is a really important job.”

“With all the ethical issues and questionable procedures that have occurred in the House in the last few years, I cannot imagine a more important event for anyone seeking to become Speaker.  We welcome all the candidates and hope that those who aren’t planning to can find a way to attend”, invited Progressive Caucus convener, Rep. Ellen Read.

The House Speaker Candidate Forum Part II – Ethics and Procedure will be held this Saturday, November 18th at 2:00pm, at the New England College, 62 N. Main Street, Concord.  The public is invited to attend, and will have the opportunity to submit questions for the candidates.

Young Democrat Candidates Clinch Municipal Seats Across New Hampshire

Historic night capped with a sweep of all 3 at large Nashua seats

Manchester, NH– Last night, 16 New Hampshire Young Democrats from 7 cities were elected to municipal offices across New Hampshire. Celebrating this unprecedented wave of victories, the New Hampshire Young Democrats issued the following press release:

“Millennials across New Hampshire aren’t waiting around for others to make the change we need to make our state better. They are ready to lead and to make our communities thrive. They’re ready to stand up and keep New Hampshire the best place in the country to stay, work, learn, and start a family. When young people are elected and bring fresh new ideas to local government, our communities are better for it,” said NHYD President Lucas Meyer. “We are sick and tired of seeing our peers moving out of state because of short-sighted decisions made by out of touch politicians like forcing tuition hikes at our universities, restricting our ability to vote, lack of sensible transportation options like commuter rail and seemingly annual threats to basic women’s healthcare. Tonight we applaud the passion of all young candidates who ran this year and we celebrate those who were victorious tonight. We are excited to support their agendas as they take office next year and we look forward to continuing to help recruit, train, and elect more young people to state offices in New Hampshire in 2018.

The New Hampshire Young Democrats are the only statewide group organizing millennial Democrats. The NHYDs work to activate, engage, and train youth in state and local politics. The NH Young Democrats provided support, training, and resources to candidates running in municipal elections throughout the state through their 603-Forward Program. Started in 2008, this program helps identify and elect young candidates to local and state offices. Across the state, the NHYDs activated 200 of our volunteers, organized over 50 canvass launches and phonebanks, 4 days of action, and multiple trainings to help create the grassroots infrastructure needed to win these competitive races. Additionally, the NHYDs invested unprecedented amounts of resources into our endorsed candidates races in order to run aggressive digital and GOTV texting campaigns to turn out democratic and independent voters in an off year election.

“We had over 30 young people run for municipal office this year, with 20 running in Manchester alone, many of them first-time candidates,” said NHYD 603-Forward Program Director Theo Groh. “New Hampshire cities and towns have long struggled to figure out how to attract young families and keep young people in their communities. Who could know more about how do that then this incredibly hardworking group of newly elected young leaders?” he continued “We are so proud as an organization to have been be able to develop the infrastructure to help these great candidates run.”

Winning Candidates:

Erika Connors, State Representative Special Election, Manchester Ward 8*#
Shoshanna Kelly, Alderwoman-at-large, Nashua (first woman of color to serve as at large alderman) *#
Dave Tencza, Alderman-at-large, Nashua*#
Brandon Laws, Alderman-at-large, Nashua*#
Josh Denton, City Council-at-large, Portsmouth
Lindsey Williams, City Council-at-large, Dover*
Ed Levasseur, City Council-at-large, Somersworth*
Maggie Rice, City Council, Keene *
Jeremy Hutchinson, City Council, Rochester*#
Zachary Kohler, School Board, Dover*
Heather Raymond, School Board, Nashua*#
Marissa Chase, Selectman, Manchester*
Caitlin Curran, Selectman, Manchester*
Jeremy Paris, Selectman, Manchester*
Kate Marquis, Selectman, Manchester*
Karen Ladd, Clerk, Manchester
*=First time candidate
$= Red to Blue Flip

Democrats Win Big In NH And In Major Elections In Virginia And New Jersey

Yesterday was a big day for Democrats in New Hampshire.  Manchester elected Joyce Craig as their new mayor after 14 years of Republican control.

Democrats also picked up two House seats in special elections held last night.

Erika Connors defeated Albert MacArthur Jr. 1,198 votes to 1,178 votes to become the newest State Representative in Hillsborough County District 15. Erika’s victory comes in a district with 5% more registered Republicans than Democrats, where President Trump received 53% of the vote. Connors win marks Democrats fifth win in a Republican district in seven tries.

Brian Sullivan won the Sullivan County District 1 state House special election, 1,327-671 (66%-34%), defeating Republican opponent Margaret Drye. Representative-elect Conley will replace Rep. Andrew Smith who resigned in June.

Tonight’s victories mark New Hampshire’s seventh and eighth special election wins in ten tries in 2017.

“Congratulations to our two newest Representatives-elect on their victories tonight,” said New Hampshire House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff. “In Brian Sullivan, the House gains a public servant who has spent his career fighting to improve New Hampshire schools and to help working families. In Erika Connors, we gain a passionate, dedicated champion of public schools who will always fight for Manchester Ward 8. Their commitment to fighting for Democratic values will make them wonderful additions to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.”

“Tonight’s victories are yet another example of Granite Staters showing up in unprecedented numbers to support strong Democratic candidates,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “New Hampshire Democrats have now won 8 out of 10 special elections this year. New Hampshire voters are rejecting the Trump-Sununu agenda by showing up to the polls and electing Democrats to office. There is no seat Democrats can’t compete for in 2017 and these wins put us that much closer to taking back state and national majorities a year from now.”

“Democrats in New Hampshire just keep winning,” said Tom Perez, Chair of the DNC.  “Thanks to the hard work of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, the energy of grassroots organizers, and the will of voters across the Granite State, Democrats won two state House seats, flipping one in an area that voted for Trump a year ago. And with Joyce Craig’s historical mayoral victory tonight in Manchester, Democrats have now flipped six seats in New Hampshire from red to blue in 2017. This is just the beginning. Democrats are going to keep organizing and leading with our values, and that’s why we’re going to flip even more seats up and down the ballot in 2018 and beyond.”

In Nashua, young Democrats won three Aldermanic seats.

“Tonight’s victory is a clear statement that Nashua is hungry for fresh innovative leadership to lead it into the future and make it a more appealing place for young people to live, work, learn and raise a family,” said New Hampshire Young Democrats Executive Director Amelia Keane. “Time and again, leaders in our city have put roadblocks in the way of common sense policies that will attract and retain more Millennials such as the development of passenger rail, compassionate solutions to the opioid crisis, and meaningful investments in our public schools. With Shoshanna, Dave, and Brandon now sitting at the table representing a more progressive vision for Nashua, real change is about to come to the Gate City.”

Along with these Democratic wins in New Hampshire, voters in other states chose to elect Democrats to lead them over the next few years.

In Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam defeated his Republican opponent by ten full points.  The Daily Kos reported this morning, “Democrats also held Virginia’s two other statewide posts, as Justin Fairfax won the open lieutenant governorship and Mark Herring was re-elected as attorney general, both by 53-47 margins. ”

The same was true in New Jersey as voters elected the Democratic candidate, Phil Murphy, to be their next governor by almost fourteen points.  Democrats also retained the NJ Senate and the NJ Assembly.  “That once again gives Democrats complete control of state government, the so-called “trifecta,” and the chance to enact progressive policies long thwarted by outgoing Gov. Chris Christie. Enjoy the beach!” wrote the Daily Kos.

It is obvious with these major victories in New Jersey and Virginia coupled with the large number of Democratic victories in municipal elections across New Hampshire that change is coming.

Will Democrats be able to take back the NH House and Senate in 2018?

Will Democrats be able to take back the US House and Senate in 2018?

Will Democrats continue to build momentum all the way to the critical 2020 elections?

Time will tell, but if last night is any indication, we are off to a strong start.

Allies, Advocates, And Friends Praise Joyce Craig’s Historic Mayoral Win

Last night, Joyce Craig made history by becoming the first woman elected to be mayor of Manchester. Craig won 12,053-10,554 (53%-47%), defeating four-term incumbent Republican Ted Gatsas in bid to run the largest city in New Hampshire.

“I’m incredibly honored and humbled to stand here tonight as the next mayor of Manchester,” Craig told the crowd at her election night party. “As your mayor I will focus on the things that matter most for residents: improving our schools, making our streets safer, supporting our existing businesses and bringing new businesses to our city. And making real and lasting progress against the opioid crisis.”

“Today, Manchester made history,” said Senator Shaheen. “As the first woman elected mayor of the city, Joyce adds to New Hampshire’s outstanding legacy of electing strong woman leaders. I want to congratulate Joyce on running a tremendous campaign that focused on her positive vision for Manchester, and I look forward to working with her to achieve this vision.”

“Congratulations to my friend, Mayor-elect Joyce Craig, on her historic election,” Senator Hassan said. “Joyce ran a strong campaign focused on her positive vision for moving Manchester forward, and the Queen City will be stronger thanks to her bipartisan leadership in City Hall. I look forward to working with Joyce as she fights to position Manchester to thrive in the innovation economy, improve the school system, and strengthen public safety.”

“Congratulations to Manchester Mayor-elect Joyce Craig, the first woman ever elected mayor in Manchester,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “Joyce has a clear, positive vision of what she wants Manchester’s future to look like, and I look forward to working with her.”

Mayor-elect Joyce Craig is the first Democrat to be elected mayor of Manchester in 14 years. Tonight’s victory mark’s the fifth time New Hampshire Democrats have flipped a seat from red to blue in seven tries.

“Tonight’s historic victory is bound to send shockwaves across the state. After 12 years of Republican control, Manchester is back in Democratic hands on the heels of electing their first woman as mayor in the city’s 171 year history,” said NH Democratic Party Chair, Ray Buckley. “Congratulations to Mayor-elect Joyce Craig for running and winning a positive campaign based on the issues. There is no better person to make the most of our incredible potential, tackle our challenges head-on and lead this city to new heights.”

Running a campaign of this size takes a lot of help. Craig relied on hundreds of campaign volunteers who help spread her message across the city.

“Our campaign knocked on thousands and thousands of doors,” Craig told the crowd. “We worked hard for every vote and tonight we know that our hard work paid off.”

The New Hampshire Young Democrats launched an unprecedented organizing effort to help elect Joyce Craig for Mayor, and fielded a historic number of down ballot candidates. In Manchester alone, Young Democrats knocked on thousands doors this election season and helped run numerous aggressive down ballot races through our 603 Forward program.

“We are thrilled about Joyce Craig’s win. Throughout her career in public service, she has been a strong advocate for policies that make Manchester a better place for young families to live and work and for innovative business to thrive,” said New Hampshire Young Democrats President Lucas Meyer on tonight’s victory. “It was clear throughout the campaign that Millennials across the city are excited about Joyce Craig, and fully embraced her forward-thinking vision for the city. Hundreds of volunteers came out in the months leading up to the election to knock on doors and talk to their neighbors about why they should support Joyce for mayor. We know we can count on Joyce to enact the forward thinking policies that will help attract and retain young people in the Queen City.”

Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund supporters knocked on over a thousand doors and made hundreds phone calls all over the Queen City. The women, men, and young people of Manchester who supported Craig in this race understood the importance of electing a leader who strives to make Manchester a healthier and safer city.

“We are thrilled with the victory of Joyce Craig tonight. She shares our vision for a healthier Manchester – where all residents, no matter who they are, where they’re from, or how they identify – have access to affordable health care, can exercise their rights, and live in a safe community,” stated Jennifer Frizzell, Chair of the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.

“Congratulations to Joyce Craig for her historic victory in the Queen City tonight. As the first woman to ever serve as mayor of Manchester, Joyce will lead the city she loves with the same vision and energy that she’s brought to her previous decade of public service,” said Tom Perez, Chair of the Democratic National Committee. “After eight years of failed Republican leadership, it’s time for a new era of economic vibrancy, and Mayor-elect Craig has what it takes to make it happen. The DNC has been proud to stand with the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and we look forward to seeing all that Mayor-elect Craig accomplishes in Manchester.”

“Joyce Craig represents the best of Manchester and has committed to protecting voting rights as the city’s mayor,” said Jason Kander, President of Let America Vote. “That’s why Let America Vote was so proud to endorse Joyce earlier this year and support her by sending a field team to Manchester that knocked on over 9,400 doors on her behalf. We’ll continue standing with Joyce Craig as mayor because we know she’ll be a strong voting rights advocate for her city and state.”

“We are proud to congratulate Joyce Craig on her history-making victory today,” said EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock. “Joyce is a committed public servant and passionate education advocate who is clearly the right person to move Manchester forward. EMILY’s List endorsed her because we know she will bring strong policy solutions and much-needed new leadership to her city.”

Today begins a new era in Manchester and we are all looking forward to what Mayor Joyce Craig will do.

House GOP Tax Plan Hurts Working Families

Today, the House Republicans released their new tax plan that would lower taxes for the ultra-wealthy and add trillions to the national debt. The plan would also drastically reduce the corporate tax rate while continuing to reward companies for offshoring American jobs.

“This tax bill is a job killer. It gives hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs and profits,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “No matter how it’s spun by Republican politicians, their tax bill is nothing but giveaways to Wall Street, big corporations and millionaires, paid for on the backs of working families.”

“It’s shameless to propose cutting Medicaid, Medicare, education and infrastructure to pay for tax breaks for the 1%. History tells us, commonsense tells us and careful analysis of this tax bill tells us that these tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations will never trickle down to the rest of us. Real tax reform actually can put money back in the pockets of working people, but this is not that kind of plan,” Trumka added.

“The Republican tax plan is a handout to millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations that will raise taxes on working families and give corporations new incentives to send more U.S. jobs overseas,” stated Chris Shelton, President of the Communication Workers of America (CWA). “Republicans and White House staff have been working overtime to spin this deal as a ‘middle class tax cut.’ It’s not.”

Shelton explained just a few of the ways the new tax proposal will hurt CWA members and working families across the nation.

  • It limits the ability to deduct property taxes and completely eliminates the ability to deduct state and local taxes.
  • It gets rid of tax deductions that help families pay education expenses. It will tax directly the value of employer-provided education assistance that at least 10,000 CWA members use.
  • It restricts the amount of home mortgage interest that can be deducted, hurting CWA members and working people especially in areas like California, New York, New Jersey, and other states with high housing costs.
  • It wipes out the ability of families to deduct their medical expenses.
  • Any employer-provided child care benefit will be taxed, and assistance from employers to help CWA families adopt a child also will be taxed.

“We cannot allow tax cuts for the wealthy to harm millions of working families. CWA and our allies are fighting back against this massive transfer of dollars from working families to the richest 1 percent,” added Shelton.

David J Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) also spoke out against the new tax plan.

“The tax plan unveiled by House leadership would mostly benefit those who need the help the least: wealthy individuals and large corporations. While the plan would lower the tax rate for many middle-income families, most would end up having more of their income taxed. And the plan would actually raise taxes on our poorest citizens.”

“Too many American workers have been suffering from stagnant wages, rising costs for health care and other essentials, and an economic system that favors the millionaires and billionaires. This plan does nothing to help them,” he concluded.

The new plan angered the Alliance for Retired Americans, a national advocacy group for seniors.

“This is the latest cruel scheme. The tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are so massive that they plan to cut nearly $500 billion from Medicare and more than $1 trillion from Medicaid over the next 10 years to pay for them – but they will still add $1.5 trillion to the deficit,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“Exacerbating the problems they are creating, the House and the Trump Administration would no longer allow Americans, including retirees, to deduct their medical expenses, including nursing home costs or out of pocket medical or dental expenses from their taxes.”

Even some on the right oppose this new tax proposal. The Concord Coalition, a self proclaimed “non-partisan, grassroots organization,” heavily funded by former Sec. of Commerce Peter G Peterson, spoke out against this new proposal calling it “fiscally irresponsible.”

“True tax reform should aim to grow the economy without growing the debt ” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “This plan would move U.S. fiscal policy in a dangerous direction, openly inviting higher deficits in the face of unsustainable debt.”

The federal debt recently passed the $20 trillion mark, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that under current law the government is on track to add more than $10 trillion to that in the next 10 years. This version of the tax plan will add at least another $1.5 trillion onto that projection.

“It is important that any changes made to this draft to accommodate interest group concerns and increase potential support be paid for by reducing tax cuts rather than increasing the number of budget gimmicks,” Bixby added.

Working people across the country should not be made to suffer to give the top 1% more tax breaks.

Former Sec. of Labor and respected economist Robert Reich said, “The proposed tax cuts are tiny and temporary. And some middle class Americans will actually get a tax increase.”

Reich calls this tax plan a “Trojan Horse” in this short video released today.

“Meanwhile, the top 1 percent will get a gigantic tax cut. The Tax Policy Center estimates that the current plan will save the bottom 80 percent between $50 and $450 in taxes per year, but that it saves each person in the top 1 percent an average of $129,000 a year. For people at the very top, like Trump himself, the tax cuts are humongous. And the corporations they own will also get a massive tax cut,” Reich added.

Working people have suffered through decades of stagnant wages, budget cuts to programs that help them and provide healthcare when they get old.  Enough is enough. We must stop this massive giveaway to the wealthy 1%.

Joyce Craig releases plan for ‘Emphasizing Education and Preparing our Students for the Future’

Manchester, N.H. – Manchester mayoral candidate Joyce Craig has released her “Emphasizing Education and Preparing our Students for the Future” plan, detailing the approach she would take as mayor to improve schools in the Queen City.

The quality of Manchester schools have declined significantly under Ted Gatsas.  In the 2009-10 NH Dept. of Education assessment, 64% of Manchester 3rd graders were reading at grade level. By 2016-17, only 28% of Manchester 3rd graders were reading at grade level.

Math comprehension rates have seen a similar decline under Gatsas. In 2009-10, 65% of Manchester 5th graders met grade-level standards in math. In 2016-17, that number had dropped to 22%. This problem is magnified by the fact that some Manchester students don’t have the textbooks or workbooks that teachers say they need to succeed in math.

Manchester students today have some of the lowest reading and math comprehension rates in the state, and these figures have become worse while Ted Gatsas has been mayor. This problem is compounded since Mayor Gatsas caused surrounding towns to leave the Manchester school district, costing the city approximately $15 million in revenue.

Joyce Craig’s approach involves working with parents, administrators, and teachers to emphasize literacy in early education, ensuring students’ safety, and starting a conversation about bringing students back to the Manchester school district.

Joyce Craig issued the following statement:

“The facts are clear that the education that the city of Manchester offers its students has declined over the past eight years. In the latest New Hampshire Department of Education assessment, only 28% of our 3rd graders are reading at grade level. These numbers are among the lowest of any school district in the state. This has to change.

“I believe in Manchester public schools and in our hardworking teachers. My plan focuses on improving outcomes for all students. I will engage our community in a discussion about how to put our children back on the right track and fully prepare them for the future. Ensuring a good school district is pivotal for attracting businesses and residents, driving economic development, and building a stronger Manchester.”

Emphasizing Education and Preparing our Students for the Future

Strong schools are critical for a thriving community and a growing economy. A good school district helps to attract and retain businesses and residents, drives economic development, provides opportunities for our children, and helps prevent crime and delinquency. There has never been a more pivotal moment to impact the direction of Manchester’s public schools than right now.

As Mayor, I will:

  • Ensure students and teachers have access to basic tools such as books, workbooks, online resources, and technology.
  • Provide Manchester teachers with on-going professional development opportunities to improve outcomes for students.
  • Modernize curriculum and course offerings in our schools to prepare students for the 21st century economy and the innovative industries and jobs in Manchester – establish process for evaluation of existing curriculum on regular basis.
  • Establish a Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative to provide young people with career experience, training, internships, and opportunities in new careers.
  • Fight to ensure Manchester is receiving our fair share of state and federal funding – advocate for special education, adequacy funding and against downshifting from the state.
  • Update strategic plan and develop measurable goals and benchmarks for the district focused on improving student achievement.
  • Support and grow workforce ready educational opportunities at MST, Central, Memorial and West.
  • Repair broken relationships with the former sending towns, Hooksett, Auburn and Candia, and seek new relationships to bring students to Manchester. The city has lost over $15 million in revenue from sending towns since these students left the school district, which has increased the tax-burden for Manchester residents.
  • Work with our parents, administrators and teachers to emphasize literacy in early education to start foundation for success. Currently, only 28% of third graders in Manchester Public Schools are reading at grade level.
  • Engage in honest and open communication with parents about safety concerns in our schools and work to immediately implement solutions when problems are identified.
  • Foster trust and collaboration between the School Board and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
  • Work with city businesses, local colleges, non-profits, and community leaders to develop public/private partnerships and utilize all available resources to improve outcomes for students.
  • Reinstitute Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board and encourage student representation on the School Board.
  • Bring back the Gifted and Talented Program – educate parents about online resources/VLACs opportunities.
  • Ensure that students who utilize special education services are offered every opportunity to succeed. The Manchester School District has been repeatedly criticized by the NH Department of Education for failing to serve this population and the school district has settled well over $1 million in lawsuits brought against the district in the past two years alone.
  • Work with parents, educators and the school board to evaluate and implement policies to reduce class sizes.

Joyce Craig has now released comprehensive plans on all her priorities for Manchester: education, economic growth, city management, safety and the opioid crisis, and transparency. All of Joyce’s plans can be found at joycecraig.org/plans.

###

What Politicians’ Votes Say About Their Values

In politics, there are some things that everyone is for—like good schools, low taxes for the middle class, and good public services.

When politicians vote, we see where their values truly lie.

The New Hampshire legislative session that ended in June was no different.  On many issues we saw a huge gulf between the opening rhetoric, and the actual votes–and a stark contrast between the Republicans and the Democrats.

Public schools

In Concord, everyone speaks highly of the public schools.  Everyone’s favorite this year was state funding for full-day kindergarten.  But when it came time to fund kindergarten, the differences became clear.

The Republicans wrote a budget that provided an additional $1 million of tax dollars a year for charter schools.  Full-day kindergarten will receive no state tax dollars.  Instead, we will have Keno (video slot machines) to fund kindergarten.  The Lottery Commission estimates we will realize $9 million a year from Keno—but at what cost in gambling addiction, personal bankruptcies, and broken homes?

The basic amount of state aid to the public schools is about $3600 per student per year.  Charter schools receive almost twice as much—about $6600 per student—but none of it is from the local property tax, which allows charter schools to present the fiction that they don’t cost taxpayers anything.

Tax cuts

Politicians love tax cuts.  It’s their chance to play Santa Claus.  At the end of the legislative session, we find that some taxpayers are ‘naughty’ and get a lump of coal, while some are ‘nice’ and get a tax cut.  This year was no different.

At the beginning of the session, it was proposed that the State resume paying part of the retirement system cost for schools and municipalities.  The goal was to provide a $40 million tax cut to property taxpayers.  The Republicans in the legislature said ‘no way.’

Tax cuts for big business were another matter.  The state budget includes a big cut in the Business Profits Tax.  This is a tax that virtually no small business pays, because they pay their profits out as salaries to their owners, reducing their taxable income to zero.  70% of the cut will go to approximately 500 of our largest, most-profitable businesses, particularly national and multinational firms.

Score this as big business 1, property taxpayers 0.

Setting Budget Priorities

In every budget process, wants exceed revenue.  When budget priorities are set, it reveals the values of the budget writers.

During each budget cycle in Concord, Republicans treat it like a morality play, where they tell the Democrats that they have to live within their allowance.

The reality is that the Democrats go to bat each year for the property taxpayers, the poor, the disabled, the University System, the sick and the elderly, while the Republicans go to bat for big business and the wealthy.  Most of the time, the Republicans win.

Every budget year, Republicans say we do not have enough revenue to make UNH affordable, eliminate the waiting list for the severely disabled, restore our community mental health system, fund Medicaid, or provide property tax relief.

And every budget year, Democrats ask why the wealthy are not paying their fair share of taxes.  New Hampshire has one of the most regressive tax systems in the nation.  On average, the poor pay over 8% of their incomes in tax.  The middle pays about 6%.  The top pays about 3%.

Our tax system is regressive because New Hampshire relies on the property tax for over two-thirds of all state and local tax revenue.  Since 2000, the legislature has repeatedly down-shifted obligations to the local level.  Meanwhile, the total of property taxes collected in NH has doubled.  Very few people have seen their incomes double during that same time period.

Representative Dick Ames, Democrat of Jaffrey, proposed a reform of the Interest and Dividends tax that would have reduced the tax on small savers, and broadened the tax to include capital gains.  The State would have realized about $100 million in new revenue–mostly from our wealthiest residents.  Predictably, the bill failed on a nearly party-line vote.  And the underfunding of the safety net, the short-changing of higher education, and the down-shifting to the property taxpayer will continue for another two years.

Legislating is about making choices.  Our Republican legislature has made clear that it values charter schools more the public schools; thinks businesses need a tax cut, but homeowners do not; and would rather underfund UNH and the safety net, than ask the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes.

It’s all about choices.  You get to make your choice next year.

Mark Fernald is a former State Senator and was the 2002 Democratic nominee for Governor.  He can be reached at mark@markfernald.com.

“Light Up The Night” Climate Action Rally To Be Held In Keene

After The ‘Light Up The Night’ Rally, New Hampshire Pipeline Opponents Will Travel To New Orleans For A Pipeline Safety Conference

Each year since 2006, the Pipeline Safety Trust has hosted unique pipeline safety conferences. Attendees come from diverse backgrounds and interests ranging from directly impacted public to the pipeline industry and government regulators. The conference brings them together to discuss barriers to safer pipelines.

Through a collaborative approach, the Trust promotes better understanding and trust between these groups, so they can all move forward together with the mutual goal of making pipelines as safe as possible.

Stephanie Scherr, Director of ECHO Action & NH Pipeline Resistance will be attending this year’s conference in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 1st and 2nd at the Hotel Monteleone.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Pipeline Safety: Moving Forward, Holding Steady or Slippping Back?” Sessions include pending changes to pipeline safety procedures, major causes of significant incidents, preventing failures and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Scherr was a vocal opponent of the Kinder Morgan-Tennesse Gas Pipeline’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline that was slated to be built in Southern NH, but was withdrawn in May of 2016. ECHO Action opposed the closure of the Concord Steam biofuel plant and the transition of the State House and City of Concord to fracked gas. The organization is now engaged in active opposition to gas expansion in Keene.

Just days before the conference, ECHO Action is sponsoring “Light Up The Night” in Keene on October 27th beginning at 6:30 PM. A procession of climate action advocates with neon glow sticks will walk from Ashuelot River Park to Central Square. A rally for climate action with lighted signs will follow at Central Square at 7:00 PM. This will be the first in a series of events to raise awareness in Keene about fracked gas expansion, highlighting the need to transition immediately to renewable energy. The public, organizations and businesses who support renewable energy are encouraged to attend.

“ECHO Action was formed because we knew that “no pipeline” was not enough of a response to gas expansion, we needed to say yes to a renewable energy future. The safest pipelines are those that are never built”, says Scherr.

She explains that the overarching theme of the organization’s work is a Fossil Free 603, the organization’s mantra and hashtag. 

“A transition to 100% renewable energy is a wise decision that protects our air, water and food, does not increase the emission of greenhouse gases, and allows for New Hampshire to make more significant progress on climate. The transition will showcase the Granite State as embracing innovation that will draw new business and help retain youth looking for communities with their future in mind, including increasing public transportation and EV recharging stations.”

With the EPA failing to stop unlimited dumping of fracking waste into the Gulf of Mexico, and an oil platform explosion this week on Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, addressing the safety of the fossil fuel industry and the waste water produced, couldn’t be more timely.

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