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The Americans For Prosperity – NH (AKA Koch Brothers NH Mouthpiece) Approve Of House Budget. One More Reason To Oppose It

Today the New Hampshire chapter of the Americans For Prosperity, a Koch funded advocacy group, came out to show their support for the massive cuts proposed in the budget.

From NHPR:

The state’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers,  are behind the House Finance version of the state’s spending plan, which passed committee along party lines Thursday.

The $11 billion budget trimmed hundreds of millions from Governor Maggie Hassan’s proposal including reducing spending for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation and University funding.

AFP State Director Greg Moore said the budget isn’t perfect but it is fiscally responsible.

“The House did a fantastic job of making New Hampshire more free market and more competitive, and forth and for most it takes out all the tax increases,” Moore said.

The plan removes tax increases including two tax increases on businesses, a cigarette tax as well as increasing the registration fee.

Governor Hassan warns that these cuts will hurt our economy.

“Earlier this week, the House Finance Committee recommended a budget with harmful, unnecessary reductions that will hurt families, undermine business growth and take our economy backward. Today, instead of fixing the problems with that budget, they are making things worse.

“Instead of responsibly addressing the issues facing our Highway Fund with a modest revenue solution, they are proposing further reductions to the priorities that are critical to the success of our people, families and businesses. These irresponsible cuts threaten to shut down local road and bridge projects, increase the cost of higher education, raid the dedicated Renewable Energy Fund and further downshift the burden on local property tax rate-payers.

“Combined with cuts already proposed to critical services for seniors like Meals on Wheals, to substance misuse, to mental health, to developmental disabilities, to travel and tourism promotion, to municipalities and more, this irresponsible plan will hurt our economic competitiveness and have a significant impact on our ability to continue building the foundation of a more innovative economy. I continue to urge legislators from both parties to do the responsible thing and invest in the success of our people, our businesses and our economy.” 

“The Koch Brothers’ endorsement of the O’Brien – Jasper budget proves just how bad this budget truly is for New Hampshire’s people, businesses and economy,” said New Hampshire Democratic Chair Ray Buckley. “Combined with Senate Republicans’ push for more tax giveaways for big out-of-state businesses, it’s as clear as ever that the legislature is fully under the control of the Koch Brothers.”

“Shawn Jasper has finally accomplished his goal: cut enough of New Hampshire’s priorities to satisfy Bill O’Brien and the Koch Brothers. It makes perfect sense that out-of-state oil tycoons would support a budget that raids $50 million in dedicated funds for renewable energy, slashes critical economic priorities for small businesses and middle class families, and downshifts costs onto local property taxpayers,” concluded Buckley.

We here at the NH Labor News are vehemently opposed to these cuts proposed by the NH House.  They will strip healthcare from tens of thousands of people, and force hundreds of hard working DOT workers on the streets.  Then I ask, “who will ploy the roads“?

Please take a minute to sign out petition urging legislators to stop these reckless cuts.

Petition Text:

We call on members of the state House & Senate to pass a responsible, balanced budget that protects taxpayers without sacrificing the essential programs and services New Hampshire families and communities depend on for our health, safety, and quality of life.

Click here to sign the Petition

Join activists from across the state as we stand in opposition to these devastating draconian cuts to NH Families.

Koch Brothers Helping To Fund Free State Movement 


Koch Brothers Funding Effort to Move 20,000 Libertarians to New Hampshire to Take Over, Dismantle State Government

 

At least (4) Koch-funded groups – including Americans for Prosperity and The Josiah Bartlett Center – are allocating money or staff time to extreme Free State Project effort

 

MANCHESTER, NH – Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are helping sponsor an effort to move 20,000 libertarians to New Hampshire to take over and dismantle state government.


“Moved by Liberty” the 2015 NH Liberty Forum hosted by the Free State Project, is being held in Manchester, NH this week March 5th to 8th.The event is designed to expose libertarians to the Free State Project movement – an effort to move 20,000 people to New Hampshire and create a libertarian “utopia” void of public infrastructure and common laws. The Free State Project cites secession from the country as a possible tactic once they reach critical mass. To date, the Free State Project has recruited 16,498 people to sign the pledge and more than 1,700 have already moved.

 

At least (4) Koch-funded groups – including Americans for Prosperity Foundation-New Hampshire and The Josiah Bartlett Center – are allocating money or staff time to the extreme Free State Project effort this week:

 

“The billionaire Koch brothers are once again subverting democracy, this time funding and supporting an effort to move 20,000 libertarians to New Hampshire for the stated purpose to take over and dismantle state government,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “The ultra-extreme Free State Project seeks to radically change the way of life in New Hampshire, and Koch-funded groups like Americans for Prosperity and The Josiah Bartlett Center are working to pave the way for them. AFP-NH and the Josiah Bartlett Center should be ashamed for being in bed with individuals who harass meter attendants, believe we should abolish all public services including public roads and bridges, and who seek to encourage a violent uprising in response to democratic decisions that differ from their own.”

 

*** More Information ***

 

About the Free State Project: A decade ago, the ultra-extreme Free State Project voted on a state to move 20,000 libertarians to, with the stated purpose to take over state government and dismantle it. New Hampshire was unfortunately the unlucky recipient of that vote. The Free State Project seeks to create a libertarian “utopia” void of public infrastructure and common laws, and to use their numbers to dramatically change New Hampshire. The Free State Project even threatens to secede from the rest of the country once it meets its initial goals:

 

“Once we’ve taken over the state government, we can slash state and local budgets, which make up a sizeable proportion of the tax and regulatory burden we face every day. Furthermore, we can eliminate substantial federal interference by refusing to take highway funds and the strings attached to them. Once we’ve accomplished these things, we can bargain with the national government over reducing the role of the national government in our state. We can use the threat of secession as leverage to do this.”

-          Announcement:
The Free State Project by Founder Jason Sorens

 

To date, the Free State Project has recruited 16,498 people to sign the pledge to move to New Hampshire, and once they hit the goal of 20,000 that will “Trigger the Move.” More than 1,700 people have already moved. The Free State Project regularly hosts tours of the state for prospective movers, offers temporary housing for those in transition, and has a network for job, social, and political opportunities once someone makes the move to New Hampshire.

 

The Free State Project has also successfully fielded candidates for local and state government, and each year those members introduce proposals to slash local and state budgets, undermine public education, and overturn common sense community priorities that ensure our people and our communities remain safe and secure. It is not surprising that so many Free Staters run for office. Free State Project members uproot their families and move to New Hampshire purely to enact a political agenda; running for office only further helps them reach that goal.

 

About the NH Liberty Forum: The annual forum organized by the Free State Project is designed to encourage more libertarians to learn about “the most successful migration movement for liberty in the world” and how to “make New Hampshire the hub for liberty in our lifetime.” NH Liberty Forum website, accessed 3.6.15, http://nhlibertyforum.com/

 

About The Josiah Bartlett Center and Koch funding: The Josiah Bartlett Center has received direct funding from the Koch family fortune despite their claims in the media otherwise. See Granite State Progress & The Center for Media and Democracy Report “Bad Bartlett: The Josiah Bartlett Center and NH Watchdog Answer the Call of the Koch Brothers” November 2013 (pages 8, 13-14, 32-35); http://granitestateprogress.org/blog/2013-12-12/new-report-%E2%80%9Cbad-bartlett-josiah-bartlett-center-and-nh-watchdog-answer-call-koch

 

Granite State Progress has been tracking the Free State Project and its influence since 2008, paying particular attention to Free Stater activity in elections and legislation.

The NH Union Leader Helps AFP Spread Misinformation About Right To Work (For Less) In NH

Once again the Union Leader’s editorial board is peddling misinformation about unions and “right to work” (for less) legislation (“Protesting information: Picket sign o’ the times”).

Let’s clear up a few things.

1) Just whose “rights” is Americans for Prosperity supposedly “protecting”?

AFP spins this as a “worker freedom” bill.  But if AFP was really interested in protecting workers, they would be lobbying for workplace safety and better enforcement of wage and hour laws.

So, who would benefit from this bill?  Because so-called “RTW” isn’t good for businesses, either.

Many companies have a good relationship with their unions.  Employers rely on unions to find qualified workers.  Employers and unions run training programs together.  They run health and retirement benefit funds together.  They have joint workplace safety committees and labor-management committees.  And some of those employers have decided it is in their best interests to include “fair share” provisions in their union contracts.

Think about it. There is nothing – anywhere – that requires New Hampshire employers to include fair share provisions in their union contracts.  Not in the private sector, and not in the public sector.  There are school districts across the state that don’t have fair share provisions because the School Committee would not agree to it.

So if fair share is in the contract, it’s because the employer decided that was the right thing to do.

But Bill O’Brien and AFP and the National Right to Work Committee want to take that decision away from employers.  Why?  Let’s follow the money.

Bill O’Brien?  His short-lived congressional campaign received substantial contributions from the both the NRWC and donors linked to AFP.

It’s clear – to me, at least – that this isn’t about “protecting” anyone’s rights.  This is about imposing the personal ideology of a few rich men on the entire state of New Hampshire.

What the Koch brothers, NRTWC and AFP do not understand is that just because they are anti-union, that doesn’t mean everyone else is.  Many companies like working with their unions.  And they ought to have the right to do that – and to decide for themselves how to do that.

2) “Right to work” and job creation. 

The myth that RTW somehow “creates jobs” has been pushed, and pushed, and pushed – but that doesn’t make it true.  Back when Bill O’Brien was Speaker of the NH House, he kept telling people he had a list of businesses that “would move to New Hampshire” if we passed his legislation.  Of course, this list never materialized.

Instead, we heard from the Commissioner of Economic Development that RTW had never – not once – come up in his discussions with businesses considering locating in New Hampshire.

We heard from the Commissioner of Labor that none – not even one – of the 2,000+ business leaders he had met with had ever said that RTW should be adopted in New Hampshire.

So just why is Bill O’Brien so intent on imposing RTW on the Granite State?

3) “Right to work” is not a magic pill that leads to future wealth. 

The Union Leader’s editorial discusses an AFP “research” study that uses Indiana as an example.  What it doesn’t mention?  Here’s how the Kokomo Tribune describes the state post-RTW:  “Indiana’s per capita income plummeted from 30th in the U.S. to 40th overall and lowest in the Midwest.  In fact, wages in Miami County, Ball State researchers found, remain at a level the average American hasn’t seen since the 1970s.”

One more time: why would this be “good” for New Hampshire?

4) No one was protesting “information”.   

AFP’s “economic study” was nothing more than a publicity stunt.  The folks outside AFP’s presentation weren’t protesting “information” – they were trying to provide it.  The protesters were opposing AFP, Bill O’Brien, and all of the other right wing extremists who want to try pushing this legislation down the throats of Granite Staters once again.

This legislation comes up every single year, and it has for decades.  (Read “I was wrong on right-to-work” by former Sen. Mark Hounsell, who sponsored the bill back in the 1980s.)

Bill O’Brien and his friends at AFP are using this to gin up their base and to fundraise – and the Union Leader is just helping them do that.

Even when O’Brien was Speaker, he could not force a right to work (for less) law through.  Isn’t it time to quit letting the extreme right-wing define the political agenda, and let the Legislature (and the media) focus on more important things?

Americans For Prosperity Spends Thousands To Spread Their Lies Via The USPS

The Americans For Prosperity are out spreading their half-truths and out right lies all over New Hampshire. It started with a $1 million dollars in TV ad buys, and now it is direct mailers.

Americans For Prosperity, the Koch brothers funded TEA Party group, send out thousands of high quality, glossy, photo flyers throughout the granite state. AFP and the GOP are trying to convince you to call Senator Shaheen and tell her “Obamacare is hurting NH families.”

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The majority of the quotes on these propaganda flyers come from a Boston Globe article, “With health law, less-easy access in N.H. Lone insurer in plan reduces roster of hospitals to keep premiums low,” which actually spells out quite clearly that Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield cut services at local hospitals.

“To keep premiums affordable, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire, the only insurer in the state offering coverage in the new insurance marketplace, radically reduced the hospitals in its network.”

“Nowhere is the impact on patients and hospitals as extreme as in New Hampshire, say health policy analysts, because of the lack of alternatives to Anthem’s strict network.”

If you look at the flyers and the article together, you will see that the quotes on the flyers are excerpts from an Americans For Prosperity TV ad. They are not based in fact, they are just statements from AFP-NH.

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group, released a television ad targeting Senator Jeanne Shaheen by showing footage of the New Hampshire Democrat on the Senate floor quoting Obama: “You can keep your insurance if you like it.”

“It’s the lie of the year. And Senator Shaheen kept telling it,” the voiceover says. “Tell Senator Shaheen it’s time to be honest. Obamacare doesn’t work.”

Greg Moore, the New Hampshire state director for Americans for Prosperity, said the lack of competition in the New Hampshire insurance market exacerbates the effect of the limited hospital network. Moore also blames Shaheen’s vote to pass the Affordable Care Act.

What the flyers are not telling you is that the Affordable Care Act is working and it is really helping people. This week, the Nashua Telegraph reported that, “Average monthly premium in NH under Obamacare is $100.”

“The federal report said that on average, monthly premiums for New Hampshirites who selected plans with tax credits fell 74 percent after tax credits, dropping the cost of the average monthly premium from $390 to about $100 after tax credits across all plan types.”

I also find it hysterical that Moore keeps saying that Senator Shaheen “cast the deciding vote” on Obamacare, since AFP is using the same line in every other state where a Democrat is running for reelection in the Senate.

The Americans For Prosperity are just pushing their scary rhetoric about loosing care, and loosing coverage. I wish that Greg Moore would do something about the real villain in this scenario, Anthem! Why doesn’t Moore go after Anthem for slashing coverage throughout the state, and the fact that Anthem was forced to cut their sub-standard plan resulting in the cancelation of policies? No, Moore would rather attack Senator Shaheen, for being a Democrat, than attacking the real people who are causing this healthcare debacle, the private insurance companies.

I do want to thank the Americans For Prosperity for using their money to keep the highly unionized workforce of the USPS going by sending all of this junk through the mail!

The Koch Brothers Are Trying To Buy Scott Brown A Senate Seat To Protect Their Big Oil Tax Breaks

Scott Brown supported billions in special breaks for Big Oil and Wall Street, they are spending millions to get him back to Washington

Jeanne Shaheen 3There is no denying that Senator Scott Brown is a friend to Wall Street.  After the insanely popular Elizabeth Warren kicked Brown to the curb, Brown took a lobbying job on behalf of “financial services industry.” He used his political connections as a Senator to lobby on behalf of the poor, overworked, underpaid hedge fund managers of Wall Street.

Brown’s ties to Wall Street go back even further to when he was an the actual Senator from Massachusetts, where lived from many years until about three seconds ago when he decided to run for the Senate from NH. Senator Scott Brown was instrumental in the passage of the “STOCK Act.

“Brown’s STOCK Act reflected the wishes of lobbyists who did not want to see real reform.” (Republic Report)

That only made Wall Street love Scott more.  They knew it would be good for business, and mostly their wallets if, Scott Brown stayed a Senator, and Warren -who wants to put bankers in jail for destroying the economy- were to continue teaching instead of moving to Washington.   That is why lobbyists like Wayne Berman invested heavily in his campaign for election in 2012.

He’s (Berman) a lobbyist, but also a major fundraiser for Brown. Berman has thrown financial industry fundraisers for Brown, and is leading efforts to steer cash toward Brown’s reelection effort.” (Republic Report)

Now suddenly, Scott Brown is driving his truck all over New Hampshire trying to tell people that he is from here, and that he should be OUR Senator.  Not many people are buying it, and so Brown is going to need some significant funders to help him buy the Senate seat in his newly adopted state.

Now the Koch Brothers funded Americans For Prosperity and other third party groups have now spent over $2 million dollars on attack ads against Senator Shaheen.  This is probably why Senator Brown is still refusing to sign the “peoples pledge” to keep all the third party money out of the race, simply because he cannot afford to buy the Senate seat on his own.

“Big Oil special interests and the Koch Brothers are spending millions to buy Scott Brown a Senate seat because they know he’ll work to protect their interests,” said Shaheen spokesman Harrell Kirstein. “As a Senator from Massachusetts, Brown voted to give Big Oil and Wall Street billions in special breaks and they gave his campaigns millions of dollars.  Now the Koch brothers are spending big money on attack ads supporting Brown’s campaign because they desperately want him back in the Senate again voting to protect their interests, not New Hampshire’s.”

The Koch Brothers want to defeat Jeanne Shaheen because she opposed special breaks for Big Oil but New Hampshire voters won’t be fooled by their attack ads. They know Jeanne Shaheen is fighting to make a difference for New Hampshire and that’s what she’ll continue doing,” added Kirstein.

Scott Brown and the Koch Brothers are trying to pull the wool over your eyes about how Scott Brown is in bed with Wall Street, a complete sellout, and willing to do whatever his rich and powerful masters tell him to do.

 I for one will not be fooled, will you? 

TONIGHT: Koch Bros AFP-NH to Supply UNH Students with Free Alcohol to Oppose Obamacare, Not Sign Up for Health Coverage

Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity Part of National Campaign to Discourage Young Adults, Others from Getting Health Coverage; Dartmouth Stop Scheduled for Next Week

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Concord, NH – Billionaire Koch brothers funded groups Americans for Prosperity and Generation Opportunity are supplying University of New Hampshire students with free alcohol tonight to encourage them to oppose Obamacare and not sign up for health coverage.

The “Thirsty for Freedom” event will be held at the Dover Brickhouse just off campus. It provides students with two free drink tickets to hear about “big governments war on youth” and is hosted by Koch-funded AFP, Koch-funded Generation Opportunity, Young Americans for Liberty, and the College Republicans. A boozy tailgate event hosted by some of the same sponsors at the University of Miami last fall included a fleet of Hummers, paid models as “brand ambassadors” and beer pong tables as part of an effort to discourage students from using new benefits and financial assistance available under the Affordable Care Act.

See photos: http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/chugging-beers-with-creepy-uncle-sam/2151865

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Young adults are more likely to be uninsured than any other age group. Under Obamacare, young adults can stay on their parent’s plan until age 26, and they have options for premium assistance to help them afford private coverage on the marketplace. Americans for Prosperity is encouraging UNH students to go without affordable health coverage and in doing so they are playing politics with the health and well-being of New Hampshire’s young adults. UNH students should look elsewhere for information instead of listen to a group that would encourage them to pay a fine and still go without adequate health care coverage. Covering New Hampshire is the official, free resource for Granite Staters to learn about the Health Insurance Marketplace and the new, affordable health insurance plans that are now available to them.”

“Americans for Prosperity has hit a new low with this alcohol-fueled campaign to entice New Hampshire’s young adults to go without health care coverage. Medical bankruptcy is no way for a new graduate to start their life. Being able to count on health insurance when you have an accident or access routine preventive care to catch a health problem before it grows is an important resource for our young adults, but Americans for Prosperity wants to take that away.”

*** Note: A similar event targeted at Dartmouth students is scheduled for March 25th. ***

More info:

Tampa Bay Times: Chugging beers with Creepy Uncle Sam
http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/chugging-beers-with-creepy-uncle-sam/2151865

Think Progress: Koch Group Throws Boozy Anti-Obamacare Tailgate Party At College Football Game
http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/11/11/2923411/creepy-uncle-sam-tailgate/

Yahoo News: Creepy Obamacare ad hits college campuses and your nightmares
Note Generation Opportunity quote telling young adults not to get health coverage, period
http://news.yahoo.com/obamacare-battle-moves-to-college-campuses-200027191.html

Americans for Prosperity event announcement
http://americansforprosperity.org/new-hampshire/event/thirsty-for-freedom-thursday-happy-hour/

Americans for Prosperity Obamacare TV Ads Leave Out Key Details, Stretch Truth

Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity forgets to mention Republican activist ties, anti-Obamacare sentiments of women featured in ads, among more egregious errors

Concord, NH –Billionaire Koch brothers funded group Americans for Prosperity released new TV ads in New Hampshire today that share the story of two New Hampshire women who purportedly lost their health insurance because of Obamacare. What the ad and accompanying press materials don’t do is provide enough information for reporters and the public to determine whether the ad message fits reality. AFP has already been under fire in other states for its misleading ads. In “More Obamacare horror stories: Do they add up?” The Washington Post writes about the AFP ad fiasco in Michigan which was quickly debunked by Glenn Kessler, and draws potential parallels to the latest ad targeting New Hampshire leaders today. (Article below.) A starter look at the New Hampshire ads already reveals inconsistencies and loose rhetoric. Here’s more on each specific ad:

AFP-NH Ad on Rep. Shea-Porter

Helen DePrima of Bedford states she lost her secondary health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, and that her cost for prescription drugs increased.

  • Did DePrima’s overall health care costs go down because of the Medicare provisions in the ACA? It appears that DePrima is likely primarily covered by Medicare; the ad does not mention the many ways that DePrima and other seniors will benefit under the Affordable Care Act – such as how  Medicare now covers certain preventive services, like mammograms or colonoscopies, without charging for the Part B coinsurance or deductible. It also provides a free yearly “Wellness” visit.
  • Is the increased cost in her new plan off-set by the lowered cost overall? The ad only discusses that DePrima’s cost for prescription drugs has increased, but it doesn’t say if her premium has gone down. It also doesn’t mention that the ACA works to close the Medicare donut hole and that seniors who are in it now get a 50% discount when buying Part D-covered brand-name prescription drugs.
  • Why does the ad punt on whether DePrima’s medications are covered? The ad has DePrima state that “some of my medications may not be covered” but it doesn’t say whether or not that is actually true. If DePrima has already selected a plan or reviewed them enough to assert that her cost for prescriptions has spiked, then it is questionable why the ad can’t also say whether those medications are covered.
  • About DePrima: DePrima has been critical of the health law before, using borderline ‘death panel’ language in a letter to the editor of the local paper in July 2012.

AFP-NH needs to provide more information to back-up the claims made in this TV ad.

AFP-NH Ad on Rep. Kuster

Donna Marzullo of Deering states her insurance policy was cancelled because of the Affordable Care Act, and that she’s not sure if she can keep her doctor or hospital of choice.

  • The ad neglects to indicate that Marzullo’s plan covers her until November 2014. The TV ad makes it appear that the cancellation letter means Marzullo has just been dropped from coverage; the press release states her policy actually ends in November 2014. This also begs the question of when Marzullo purchased her coverage. The Celtics customer care line recording states that policies purchased prior to October 2013 will be ending and most plans are sold in one-year increments. Did Celtic sell her a policy last November for which it then turned around and sent a cancellation notice? If so, Marzullo likely would have known that a cancellation was imminent. Or, it’s possible that Marzullo had an unusual policy plan year. Reporters should follow up for more details.
  • Which consumer protections does Marzullo’s current plan not cover, and how does she feel about them? Non-grandfathered health plans have to meet a deadline this year for coming into compliance with new consumer protections under the Affordable Care Act. Marzullo’s current plan does not cover some of those important protections – which consumer protections does she want to go without? Potential reasons for the cancellation include that the insurance plan does not limit out-of-pocket spending, or that it does not cover essential health benefits. Most Americans support the popular consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act.
  • AFP-NH wrongly states that Marzullo will lose access to hospitals close to her. The press release states “… Marzullo will lose access to the two hospitals nearest her (Concord Hospital and Monadnock Hospital) when her policy ends in November.” But that’s not right: there’s no way to know which hospitals will be covered in Marzullo’s new plan until she picks one. In fact, the insurance company she currently uses is continuing to sell plans in the state outside of the marketplace; there are over 500 providers within 25 miles of Deering available under this year’s plan with Celtic – including Monadnock Hospital.
  • The TV ad also misrepresents why Concord Hospital isn’t available in the marketplace plans. The ad misrepresents why Concord Hospital is not included in Anthem’s marketplace plans. Concord Hospital was approached to be in the plan offerings, but the hospital and insurance company couldn’t agree on rates so Concord Hospital turned it down. This is the free market approach conservatives wanted instead of the public option, and it mirrors how insurance companies and hospitals currently negotiate networks.
  • About Marzullo: Donna Marzullo is the wife of NH GOP Vice Chair J.P. Marzullo. She is also the Vice Chair of the Contoocook Valley Republican Committee.

AFP-NH takes cheap shots in this TV ad and avoids sharing the full picture.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Americans for Prosperity has always opposed health care reform. AFP-NH wants to return to a broken system of insurance company abuses and low quality, high cost health coverage. The group even held events last summer actively discouraging people from accessing quality, affordable health care. Real health care advocates are looking for ways to get more people covered, and to improve the coverage that is already out there. We’re speaking to people like the women in this ad to explain the changes and educate them about the new consumer protections, such as how insurance companies can no longer drop you from coverage when you get sick. These are important provisions that increase economic and health security for Granite State families. Americans for Prosperity is ideologically opposed to health care for all, they offer no solutions and only work to slow or obstruct health care reform efforts.”

Grassroots and Dark Money Groups Building Media Campaign for Right to Work in PA

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Written by Sean Kitchen on the Raging Chicken Press

The never-ending push for Right to Work (for less) legislation in Pennsylvania is on the move again, but this time there’s more of a tangible campaign targeting the conservative base.  For 14 straight years, State Representative Daryl Metcalfe has introduced some form of Right to Work legislation, but this year’s legislation was introduced by State Representative Bryan Cutler (Lancaster, PA).  Last January, Jen Stefano from the Koch Brothers funded American’s for Prosperity in Pennsylvania held a press conference with Representative Metcalfe and announced that the legislation will become law.  Currently, it appears that dark money groups tied to right wing think tanks like The Franklin Center and Greenhouse Solutions are teaming up with a conservative activist from Southeastern Pennsylvania, and are astroturfing a social media and media campaign by using Facebook and Twitter accounts to push anti-union news and rhetoric from “independent” media outlets.

The players in this story are Simon Campbell – a conservative grassroots activist from Yardley, PA,  dark money think tanks, and astro-turfed media and social media outlets.  Simon Campbell is a local conservative activist from Bucks County PA.  He jumped on the scene in 2005 when he was elected to the Pennsbury School District.  The cause-celeb he ran on was a teacher bashing and anti-teacher strike platform.  While sitting on the Pennsbury School Board, Campbell started Stop Teachers Strike.  In 2013, Campbell’s four year term on the local school board was up and he and his colleagues were sept off board.   Weeks after the election, Campbell founded a 501.4(c) organization called Pennsylvanians For Union Reform, and thanks to his non-profit social welfare status, Campbell’s group is able to receive a whole lot of dark money.  Campbell’s resume as a right-wing activist has him giving speeches at luncheons or sitting on training sessions at Koch funded think-tanks like the statewide Commonwealth Foundation and Americans for Prosperity.

Then there’s a growing social media campaign. It appears that Campbell has been running a Pennsylvanians for Union Reform facebook page since June 2013, and has amassed over 20,000 followers.  That’s either one hell of a grassroots campaign or Campbell’s group has a few thousand sitting aside for social media promotion.   Then the page regularly posts stories from Pennsylvania media outlets that deal with union issues, but the majority of the posts come from two “independent” media outlets, Media Trackers and Watchdog Wire.  Out of the two media outlets, Media Trackers is more savvy when it comes to hiding their funding sources and who is actually writing their articles.  According to their website, Media Trackers describes itself as follows:

Media Trackers is dedicated to media accountability, government transparency, and quality fact-based journalism. Our site examines stories published in the mainstream media, explores claims made by some of the more partisan political groups, and provides the facts on the issues, people and elections that matter.

A 2012 Mother Jones article described Media Trackers as:

Conservatives have their think tanks, dozens of them at the state and national level. They also have a corporate-funded legislation mill in the American Legislative Exchange Council. What conservatives lacked, Ryun told the donors, were nimble attack blogs that could quickly capitalize on the latest missteps by big-government politicians or the “liberal” media—essentially hard-hitting, opposition-research-style shops that prize scoops, speed, and scandal over policy briefs and press conferences. His pitch: Create a network of one- and two-man digital media outlets with low overhead, rapid response, and a nose for controversy.

The donors loved it. They ponied up seed money in the low six figures, and Ryun’s conservative attack machine, Media Trackers, was born. Bonus: As a nonprofit, Media Trackers can keep the identities of those donors secret.

To obtain their non-profit status, Media Trackers changed their name to Greenhouse Solutions during the2013 IRS scandal, claiming that a liberal sounding name will ease the process.  When looking for Media Trackers’ journalists or blog staff, some of their writers were from the Heartland Institute,  a Rick Perry adviser, and a former journalist with the Washington Examiner.

The second fake independent media outlet involved in this campaign is Watchdog Wire, whose twitter account describes it as a “project of the Franklin Institute.”  Watchdog Wire’s media outlet is ran by the Franklin Center’s communications department.  Under the Franklin Center’s staff page, it lists Watchdog Wire’s staff.  The Franklin Center also has ties to two Pennsylvania groups, the Commonwealth Foundation, a right winged think-tank, and the Pennsylvania Independent, one of those “independent media” outlets.  Sourcewatch describes The Franklin Center’s ties to statewide think-tanks like the Commonwealth Foundation:

Franklin Center Director of Communications Michael Moroney told the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in 2013 that the source of the Franklin Center’s funding “is 100 percent anonymous.” But 95 percent of its 2011 funding came from DonorsTrust, a spin-off of the Philanthropy Roundtable that functions as a large “donor-advised fund,” cloaking the identity of donors to right-wing causes across the country (CPI did a review of Franklin’s Internal Revenue Service records).[18] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement” in a February 2013 article.[19]Franklin received DonorTrust’s second-largest donation in 2011.[18]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[20] a conservative grant-making organization.[21]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[22] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[23] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[24] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[25] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

What we are witnessing are the cogs turning in the right-wing infrastructure gearing up for an attack on public sector workers in 2014.  There has been a quiet 14-year movement to make Right to Work a possibility in Pennsylvania, and now the volume is being ratcheted up a few notches.  We are witnessing a “grassroots,” social welfare, non-profit group that has the potential to collect dark money run a social media campaign that is pushing for one issue; screwing workers’ rights.  The social media campaign, run by Pennsylvanians for Union Reform, is constantly pushing anti-union rhetoric from dark money dominated non-profit media outlet, like Media Trackers, or the Koch Brother funded, Franklin Center’s communication’s department at Watchdog Wire.  This is how the right wing infrastructure, with all their minions, all their think tanks and all their communications departments are going to try to undercut labor laws in Pennsylvania just like they did in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Florida in 2011.

 

The Americans For Prosperity (NH) Promotes Lies About Minimum Wage Workers

Americans-For-ProsperityIn a brief statement to the Nashua Patch, Greg Moore, State Director of the Americans For Prosperity, stated:

“While the top union bosses suggest that a 40 percent minimum wage hike will put more money in the pockets of lower wage workers, what it really does is price most of them out of the market and cost the poorest an opportunity to start on the first rung of the career ladder,” said Moore, AFP-NH State Director.

“The reality is that many 16 and 17-year olds – the folks who often take minimum wage jobs – simply can’t create over $10 per hour in value for an employer, and simply won’t get hired.  They need to start building the types of job skills that would warrant that kind of pay.  A 40 percent increase in the minimum wage will price them out of jobs and leave them without opportunities.  They need someone to give them a chance, and that chance will be taken away from them by this proposal.”

This statement is full of lies and GOP propagated myths about minimum wage workers.

1) Minimum wage workers are NOT all teenagers.

Minimum Wage # Of Employees

2) The majority of minimum wage workers work for large corporations.

  1. Walmart
  2. Yum Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, Pepsi)
  3. McDonalds
  4. Target
  5. Sears
  6. Subway
  7. Burger King
  8. Aramark
  9. Starbucks
  10. Applebees / IHOP

Raising the minimum wage is not about teenagers and their first jobs it is about working families.  Families would need to work over 100 hours a week to afford rent on a two-bedroom apartment.  A true living wage in New Hampshire is $20.47.

Unit Housing Minimum WageDo not believe the lies that the Americans for Prosperity are telling the public.  They are completely untrue, and the facts do not lie.

The Radical Right’s 10-Point Guide to Medicaid Obstruction (New Hampshire Edition)

CONCORD – The state director of Americans for Prosperity, Greg Moore, says that Medicaid is the worst thing in the world but State Senator Andy Sanborn (R-Bedford) says that Medicaid is better than any private plan available. The two statements were made side by side in a press conference this week opposing Medicaid expansion.

A new video by Granite State Progress highlights the top 10 far-fetched and contradictory last ditch claims that fringe right-wing groups and partisan politicians made against Medicaid expansion during an hour-long press conference in New Hampshire on Wednesday, October 30th. Highlights include Cornerstone executive director Ashley Pratte’s misdirection that Medicaid expansion is tied to abortion – conveniently ignoring a 30-year old federal provision that prohibits taxpayer dollars from being used for abortions – and NH Republican Liberty Caucus executive director Aaron Day openly threatening to primary any legislator who votes with their constituents in support of Medicaid expansion over the demands of fringe special interests.

GSP Video: The Radical Right’s 10-Point Guide to Medicaid Obstruction

Top Ten Countdown Highlights:

#10: Medicaid is terrible. – Greg Moore, Americans for Prosperity-NH

#9: Medicaid is a luxury. – State Sen. Andy Sanborn

#8: Question the competence of doctors. – Former State Sen. Ray White

#7: Scream abortion, abortion, abortion. – Ashley Pratte, Cornerstone

#6: Attack Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. – Aaron Day, NHRLC

#5: Medicaid is worse than private insurance. – Greg Moore, AFP-NH

#4: Medicaid is better than any private insurance. – State Sen. Andy Sanborn

#3: Threaten to fund primary challengers. – Aaron Day, NHRLC

#2: You’re stupid if you don’t agree with us. – Greg Moore, AFP-NH

#1: Pretend there isn’t a plan.– State Sen. Andy Sanborn

BONUS: Don’t have any plan of your own. Pivot. – State Sen. Andy Sanborn

The press conference featured all of New Hampshire’s fringe conservative groups: Americans for Prosperity, Cornerstone, NH Republican Liberty Caucus, Coalition of NH Taxpayers, and Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire. Organizers also desperately listed as an ally an organization that doesn’t even exist anymore, the NH Advantage Coalition; Americans for Prosperity took over the group in 2011 and it currently has no staff or operations.

Missing from the press conference line-up were actual health policy experts, advocates, hospitals, doctors, nurses, small business owners, and constituents. That’s because the vast majority support expanding health care to 58,000 lower income Granite Staters through Medicaid expansion – so much so that during the last public hearing in August, 48 members of the public testified in support of Medicaid expansion opposite only 4 speakers against; and every single New Hampshire provider that participated in the commission hearings indicated strong support for expanding access to health care in the Granite State.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Just like Congressional Republicans who stamp their feet and are willing to shut-down our government to get their way, radical special interest groups and politicians in New Hampshire are resorting to desperate claims and open threats to block health care coverage for Granite State families. Elected officials will have to choose whether to follow these blatant partisan schemes or instead stand with the overwhelming number of their constituents, health policy experts, and consumer advocates who strongly support Medicaid expansion.”

 

*** MORE ON GRANITE STATE OPINION ON MEDICAID EXPANSION ***

CONCORD MONITOR: ‘UNITED FRONT FROM HOSPITALS, DOCTORS, NURSES’

“Medical providers – hospitals and community mental health centers, doctors and nurses – presented a united front yesterday in support of expanding New Hampshire’s Medicaid program.”

Concord Monitor, N.H. Medical Providers Unite in Support of Medicaid Expansion, 08.28.13

WMUR: ‘EXPANDING MEDICAID = MORE COST-EFFECTIVE CARE’

“Providers said that expanding Medicaid would result in more cost-effective care to the poor. Dr. David Green of Concord Hospital said when people don’t have insurance they are more likely to wait until their illness is an emergency and seek costly emergency room care. The urology specialist said he may see a patient with an infection that could have been treated much sooner and for a fraction of the cost by a primary physician.”  WMUR, Providers, public urge Medicaid expansion in NH, 08.27.13

NASHUA TELEGRAPH: ‘PUBLIC HEALTH & ECONOMIC IMPERATIVE’

“[Hospitals, nurses, doctors and other medical providers] told a special commission charged with making a recommendation to the Legislature by Oct. 15 that they are already treating many of the same people who would gain health insurance through expansion. Many go to hospital emergency rooms because they have no alternative now, they added. “We see it both as a public health and economic imperative for our state,” said Henry Lipman, speaking for the New Hampshire Hospital Association.”  Nashua Telegraph, Providers, Public Urge Medicaid Expansion in NH, 08.28.13

PORTSMOUTH HERALD: ‘PROVIDERS: THIS IS WHAT WE DO’

“Tess Kuenning, president and chief executive officer of Bi-State Primary Care Association, estimated 35,000 of the 122,000 patients seen by the association’s community health centers are uninsured. Expanding Medicaid won’t tax the health care system as some fear by adding patients to doctors’ appointment calendars, she said. “These patients will not magically appear. Most are already in the system,” she said. Seacoast Online, Health workers urge expanded Medicaid, 08.28.13

GSP VIDEO: ‘NH OLD TIMER: DON’T CUT HEALTH CARE TO SPITE PRESIDENT’

“It seems that the antipathy to President Obama that has frozen the wheel to the legislature in Washington, is now blowing a cool breeze through the halls of government in New Hampshire. And I want to ask you, if you would leave 58,000 New Hampshire people uninsured and uncared for, because of antipathy to the President, shame on you. If you would spurn two-and-half billion dollars of our taxpayer money, and this economic stimulus in my book, just because of antipathy to the President, shame on you. If you would leave these 58,000 people uninsured depending on a rickety, unsubstantial of the safety net, dependent on the public purse, because of antipathy to our President, shame on you. I would ask those who object to this very rational plan to examine your conscience, look deep in your heart. Remember what you have heard today and do the right thing for all of New Hampshire, not just those underprivileged. Thank you.” – John White of Wolfeboro, NH Medicaid Expansion Commission Hearing, August 23, 2013 GSP Video: Old Timer: Don’t Cut Health Care to Spite the President, 8.27.13

MORE: GSP VIDEO: MEDICAID MATH WITH A SHREWD YANKEE FARMER

Larry Brown shares thoughts on Medicaid expansion based on the experiences of his family from some 150 years ago, when he says his Great-Grandfather John Dalton Brown was a shrewd Yankee farmer who understood the value of a dollar. GSP Video: Medicaid Math with a Shrewd Yankee Farmer

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