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

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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

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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

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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)

35 inch (support medicaid expansion)

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

AFP-NH Pushes Ad On Obamacare That Has Been Deemed Full Of ‘False Assumptions’

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AFP-NH Releases Radio Ad & Website That FactCheck.Org Already Warned Readers Is Full of ‘False Assumptions on the Health Care Law’

Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity Part of National Campaign to Actively Discourage People from Getting Health Coverage; FactCheck.Org Review of Ad Campaign Warned Readers: Don’t expect honest answers from a partisan anti-Obamacare campaign”

Concord, NH – Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire released a radio ad today that FactCheck.org warned over a month ago contains “false assumptions on the health care law.” FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, reviewed the Americans for Prosperity ad and website after it originally debuted in Ohio and Virginia on July 9th. It summed up the ad campaign by telling readers: “ … don’t expect honest answers from a partisan anti-Obamacare campaign.”

FactCheck.Org: False Assumptions on the Health Care Law, July 12, 2013

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Americans for Prosperity failed to fully obstruct or repeal Obamacare, so their new plan is to create as much confusion and doubt as possible to chip away at consumer protections like making sure breast cancer survivors can get health coverage. AFP-NH is willing to purposefully confuse our seniors and discourage young adults from getting health coverage because they want Obamacare to fail in any way possible, even if that means real people get hurt in the process. For opponents to health reform, this is about politics not what’s best for the families and small businesses in New Hampshire.”

“We encourage people to visit healthcare.gov or call a local health care advocacy group to get real and accurate information about what benefits they can expect from Obamacare and any tax credits or programs available to help them access coverage. Don’t believe the misleading hype from political opponents with their own partisan agenda, you have a right to know about the health care options available to you.”

The New Hampshire version of the radio ad uses clip :20 to :47 in the television ad version that FactCheck.org reviewed in July. The website the ad directs people toward is the same.

 

Ruger: expansion plan depends on government $$ (not RTW restrictions)

Right To Work is Wrong for NH

Written by Matt Murray and Liz Iacobucci

Credit: Creative Commons/aflcio

Credit: Creative Commons/aflcio

 

Anyone who didn’t know better might actually believe the “spin” in Saturday’s Union Leader’s op-ed from Americans For Prosperity, the Koch-founded “dark money” group.  (Read more about AFP here.)

Did you happen to read AFP’s claims about Sturm Ruger’s expected new facility in North Carolina?  Those hypotheticals about whether or not Ruger’s siting decision was motivated by North Carolina’s Right To Work (for less) law?

Anyone who didn’t check the facts might actually believe it. 

First thing to be clear on:  Sturm Ruger hasn’t actually made a final decision to open the North Carolina plant.  Here’s the actual, latest word:

The deal still hinges on final approval of an unknown amount of state and local incentives.

Want to know what those “incentives” probably include?  North Carolina state law gives huge tax breaks to corporations who locate there.  “The State perpetuates its practice of meddling with the State’s economy to the detriment of free market principles and the robustness that brings.”  Some of those state-level incentives include:

  • a $12,500 tax credit for each job that is created;
  • a 30% tax credit for investing in real property; and
  • an additional 7% tax credit for investing in business property (such as manufacturing equipment and plant furnishings).

Add them up, and you get somewhere between $8.5 million and $17.25 million in state money (depending on whether you use Ruger’s estimate of new 500 jobs or AFP’s estimate of 1,200 jobs).

And that’s just the state-level incentives.  But wait, there’s more!  In North Carolina, “Rockingham County and the local municipalities review each new business location individually in order to offer a generous location assistance package.”

So, who knows how much Ruger might get paid to open a facility in North Carolina?  In last week’s conference call with industry analysts, the corporation did not disclose the total amount – just that “the deal hinges on final approval”.  (Not a single mention about Right to Work, by the way.)

And Ruger couldn’t expand their operations here, anyway – because there aren’t any buildings around that are big enough.  “At the moment, Claremont does not have an available building of 250,000 square feet, said Nancy Merrill, the city’s economic development coordinator. “We have a couple of buildings of about half that, like the Lowe’s building, which is about 130,000 square feet.”  (Back in May, Ruger’s CEO Michael Fifer told shareholders that “the company is looking for an existing 250,000-square-foot building, and Fifer said he hopes Texas Gov. Rick Perry will give it to him.”)

Again, that’s not in any way related to North Carolina’s Right to Work law.  If you happen to be checking facts, rather than swallowing AFP’s spinning lure.

What sort of jobs are we talking about, anyway?  Let’s look at the Ruger jobs that are already here in New Hampshire.  There are a bunch of jobs available, mostly paying between $10.00/hr and $13.50/hr.  (Maybe AFP Honorary Chairman Tom Thomson can pass the word along to all the Upper Valley people his op-ed says “would love to have an opportunity to have a high-skill, high-paying job that a manufacturer like Sturm, Ruger would” provide.  Thomson could tell them: Ruger has job openings: right here, right now.)

Ruger’s jobs simply don’t pay enough to keep a family afloat here in New Hampshire.   To pay for a two-bedroom apartment, and keep housing costs below 30% of their income, workers in New Hampshire need to be paid $20.47/hour. That’s a lot less than what they’re offering.

In North Carolina, housing costs are a lot cheaper.  In North Carolina, workers need to be paid only $14.17/hour in order to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

But yes, that’s still more than what Ruger is offering, if you’re checking facts about those jobs that AFP describes as “high paying”.

Ruger can’t fill the jobs that it already has, here in New Hampshire.  So why did Saturday’s Union Leader op-ed try to make this situation all about Right to Work?

Straight from Ruger’s Annual Report:

“As of February 1, 2013, the Company employed approximately 1,460 full-time employees of which approximately 38% had at least ten years of service with the Company.  The Company uses temporary employees to supplement its workforce.   As of February 1, 2013, there were approximately 580 temporary employees.  None of the Company’s employees are subject to a collective bargaining agreement.”

Did you do the math?  More than one-quarter of their workforce is made up of temporary employees.

And Ruger isn’t even a union company – so why on earth would they care what restrictions state law places on companies’ negotiations with unions?

Think about it for a minute.  In reality, that’s what a Right to Work law is: a government restriction on how a company can do business.  Would Ruger really base its siting decision on the fact that North Carolina prohibits the corporation from doing something that New Hampshire allows?

No, this siting decision – which still hasn’t been finalized – is all about money.

Maybe Gov. Perry didn’t give them a building.  But North Carolina is going to give them $12,500 per job they create – plus an undisclosed amount of other incentives.

So maybe, at one level, this is a good example of the Right to Work dynamic.  Right to Work states tend to bid against each other for the honor of acquiring lower-paying, non-unionized jobs that often don’t have health insurance or pension benefits.  (Back in the 1990s, the Federal Reserve Bank advised that Congress should prohibit these kinds of bidding wars.)

Is this really the future that we want for New Hampshire?  Do we really want New Hampshire to follow North Carolina’s lead?  To be paying corporations $12,500+ per job, even for jobs that won’t support a family?

Why does the Union Leader think this is a good idea?

Latest GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare: Texas Senator proposes to shut down Government – and Bully O’Brien equates O’care to slavery

Repeal Obamacare

Written  by Matt Murray and Liz Iacobucci

Is anyone keeping track anymore?

These days, it seems that House Republicans vote to delay or repeal the Affordable Care Act – more commonly known as “Obamacare” – on a weekly basis.   I think it’s been 37 times, so far, but I may have missed one or two.

These votes aren’t just an exercise in political theater – they are a waste of taxpayer dollars.  Estimates of exactly how much all these votes have cost taxpayers vary, from $1.45 million to $1.75 million per vote.  But multiply either number by 37 or 38… and gosh, it starts adding up.  (Can’t you think of a few other ways the federal government could spend $50+ million?)

Meanwhile, all around America, “Health Insurers Threaten To Increase Premiums, Even As Profits Soar.” So much for the health care reform tax credit we’ve been hearing about.  Insurance companies’ overhead is estimated to account for 30 cents of every dollar spent on healthcare.  (Obamacare, you may remember, includes provisions that limit insurance companies’ profits.)

And if Obamacare is repealed, everyone will expect workers to foot the cost of rising insurance premiums – and do you remember how fast those premiums were rising, before Obamacare was passed?

But as of today, it looks like the Crusade to Repeal Obamacare is moving into the Senate.  Today, Texas Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz started making headlines.

Cruz is positioning himself for a possible run for President, and he wants to rally his base by taking an extreme stand on Obamacare.  His plan is to either repeal Obamacare or shut down the government.

“The Texan’s strategy is simple enough. Congress needs to pass a so-called continuing resolution to keep the government running by Sept. 30. Republicans, Cruz argues, should refuse to vote for the measure unless it prohibits spending any federal money on the President’s signature legislative accomplishment. If the stance sparks a shutdown, so be it.”

You heard that right: Senator Cruz is willing to play chicken with the entire country’s economy (and credit rating) in a futile attempt to repeal a law that is already helping millions of Americans – even before it is fully implemented.

This is eerily similar to what happened in August 2011, when House Republicans held the entire country hostage over the debt ceiling.  They almost closed the government and caused the United States to loose our perfect credit rating.

“If we can actually get Republicans to stand up and fight,” Cruz told reporters over Chick-Fil-A sandwiches at a briefing sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation, “I believe we can win this fight.”

One bright spot: many Senate Republicans – who have more experience than Sen. Cruz – are standing up to question his plan.

  • Sen. John McCain called him a ‘Wacko Bird’ for suggesting it.

Does Senator Cruz care at all about the American public he has sworn to represent?

Shutting the government down in a temper tantrum over Obamacare will not help the real problems facing Americans right now.  This type of obstructionism is exactly why Congress has the worst approval rating in history.

Why can’t Sen. Cruz take a stand about something that will help Americans like raising the minimum wage, or stopping the cuts to Social Security?

Why can’t House Republicans quit wasting time – and taxpayers’ money – taking their weekly symbolic vote?

Is there something in the water down there in DC, that Republicans keep getting more and more radicalized – and further and further away from the voters they are supposed to represent?

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Speaking of “radicalized”… were you looking for another reason to oppose Bill O’Brien’s candidacy for Congress?

Just watch him compare the Affordable Care Act with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850:

(Video courtesy of Granite State Progress read their release)

Like the Republicans already serving in the House, former Speaker O’Brien seems to be thoroughly fixated on repealing Obamacare.

Wonder how many millions of taxpayer dollars he would be willing to waste on symbolic, “unrealistic”, “Wacko Bird” votes in Congress?

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And yes, looks like Rep. O’Brien’s unfortunate comparison needs to be added to our growing list of legislators’ statements that have embarrassed New Hampshire in the national press.

Read about Sen. Andy Sanborn’s “plane crash” comment and other “If I offended anyone, I am sorry” remarks here.

And remember that

Gov. Maggie Hassan said the state stands to lose about $1 million in federal funds per day for every day past January 1, 2014, that Medicaid expansion is delayed. “Accepting the $2.5 billion in federal funds available for Medicaid expansion is critical for boosting our economy, transforming our health-care system and providing needed health coverage for tens of thousands of New Hampshire working families,” Hassan said.

 

Granite State Progress Fires Back At Koch Funded Josiah Bartlett Foundation And Grant Bosse

Koch Brothers

The Scoop on Koch Funding of The Josiah Bartlett Center, Despite Denials by Charlie Arlinghaus & Grant Bosse

Dueling op-eds in the Concord Monitor expose the Josiah Bartlett Center for defending Koch web of influence, even as they receive funding from Koch family fortune

Concord, NH – In his Sunday column in the Concord Monitor last week, the Josiah Bartlett Center’s Grant Bosse attempted to discredit Granite State Progress and its work to expose corporate influence in the Granite State. That attempt instead landed Bosse and Josiah Bartlett Center President Charlie Arlinghaus in a public lie over whether they receive Koch funding.

In his column, “Obsession with the Koch brothers clouds the left,” Bosse ridicules Granite State Progress and others for concern over the vast influence of Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries. Bosse also downplays the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, which allows corporations to vote on bills then introduced in state houses across the country. ALEC model legislation specifically seeks to benefit corporate bottom lines – generally at the expense of everyday Granite Staters.

Comparing concerns over such influence to conspiracy theories, Bosse writes:

“Of course, I could be so wrapped up the Kochs’ web that I don’t even know it. I asked Charlie Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center – where I worked for the past four years and where I’m currently helping research New Hampshire budget issues – if he was part of the vast, secret Koch Empire. “They don’t give us money, but I wish they would,” Arlinghaus responded.” (Grant Bosse: Obsession with the Koch brothers clouds the left, March 17, 2013)

In an op-ed in the Monitor today, however, Granite State Progress exposes that the Bartlett Center does, indeed, receive Koch funding for the policies they promote:

“In the March 17 Sunday Monitor, the Josiah Bartlett Center’s own Grant Bosse derided Granite State Progress for being concerned about ALEC. A little background: When Granite State Progress first started talking about the Koch brothers and ALEC, we expected to get push back from Koch’s lead group, AFP. Instead, we were surprised to see the Josiah Bartlett Center rush to their defense. It didn’t take long to figure out why: The Josiah Bartlett Center is part of the conservative State Policy Network, which is funded by Charles and David Koch via the “Donor’s Capital Fund.” Financial filings show that the Bartlett Center also received direct funding from a Koch-run foundation – despite President Charlie Arlinghaus and Bosse’s assertions that it did not.” (My Turn: In fact, ALEC’s influence isn’t benign, March 22, 2013)

The Josiah Bartlett Center routinely weighs in on legislation with ties to the Koch brothers, both in policy discussions and in the media. Bartlett Center staff does not register as lobbyists and sometimes even goes so far as to represent themselves as journalists while publicly testifying at the State House.

Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems. Press releases and other information available online at www.GraniteStateProgress.org.

Telling the Truth About Unions And Hurricane Sandy

photo by Dan DeLuca via Flikr

photo by Dan DeLuca via Flikr
Have you heard the story about non-union utility crews getting turned away, after Hurricane Sandy?

The story isn’t true – but it’s still being spread.

It started before the election.  The story spread so far and so fast that five utility companies issued public statements saying it wasn’t true.

A full week later, the story was still being spread – by an anti-union newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Does this remind you of anything?  Maybe Mitt Romney’s infamous allegations about Jeep moving production to China?  Again, that story was immediately and thoroughly debunked – by the company – but Romney’s campaign kept spreading it, through television and radio ads.

Truth? Romney’s pollster said it didn’t matter:  “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

Yes, there’s a connection here.  Romney’s campaign was funded by many of the same people and corporations that have invested millions in the “union avoidance” industry.  Take a few minutes and read this analysis of the 2010 electionsIt’s the very same players, now:

  • Karl Rove, of election night meltdown fame, toured the country in 2009 opposing the Employee Free Choice Act;
  •  “Americans for Job Security” is a secretive group run out of a mail-drop box in a UPS store, but they spend millions on false advertising attacking candidates who support labor unions;
  •  “Americans for Prosperity” is run by the Koch brothers, spends tens of millions on misleading ads; and in 2009 sponsored a multi-state publicity tour opposing the Employee Free Choice Act;
  • and the list goes on, and on.

The “union-avoidance” industry doesn’t care about the truth – it just cares about results.  Haven’t heard of the industry before?  Read more about it here and here.


Looking for the truth about how labor unions responded to Hurricane Sandy?
  Read more here and here, and updates on the Teamster’s blog here.

 

[Top image of ConEd workers is by Dan DeLuca via Flickr/Creative Commons]