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Marilinda Garcia Suggests Cutting Funding From The CDC Durning Ebola Crisis

Marilinda Garcia (Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Garcia Says We Should Not Provide More Funds for CDC Efforts to Contain Infectious Diseases Like Ebola  

Concord, NH – When asked where she could cut funding in order to balance the budget at a recent candidates forum, Tea Party candidate Marilinda Garcia said we should cut more funding from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the agency currently helping lead the response to the Ebola virus outbreak.

“We’re very concerned by Rep. Garcia’s plans to cut funding for the CDC and halt ongoing efforts to contain and prevent the Ebola virus from spreading in the United States. We believe this is a grave public safety hazard, and this is just another example of Rep. Garcia’s extreme, Tea Party agenda getting in the way of doing what’s right for our Granite State families,” said Kuster campaign spokeswoman Rosie Hilmer.

Republicans in Congress have already slashed the CDC and National Institutes of Health (NIH) budgets by $585 million and $446 million, respectively, over the past four years. This has a direct impact on the agencies’ ability to respond in a rapid and comprehensive way to public health crises.

Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified in a Congressional Committee hearing that these cuts have “in an acute and a chronic, insidious way eroded our ability to respond in the way that I and my colleagues would like to see us be able to respond to these emerging threats…particularly for responding on the dime to an emerging infectious disease threat.”

Congresswoman Kuster believes that while we must spend our tax dollars responsibly, we cannot expect our public health infrastructure to effectively protect us when we do not adequately fund these agencies, and that we should be doing more to proactively prevent the spreading of Ebola in the U.S.

Governor Hassan Highlights the Clear Choice on Expanding Opportunity and Building a Stronger Workforce at NHTI in Concord

Maggie Hassan

The Governor Restored Funding that Allowed Community Colleges to Reduce Tuition, Havenstein Would Take Us Back to the Bill O’Brien Cuts that Undermined Higher Education

CONCORD—Governor Maggie Hassan visited NHTI, Concord’s Community College, to highlight the clear choice between her bipartisan leadership to expand opportunity and build a stronger workforce, and failed CEO Walt Havenstein’s Koch agenda that would take the state back to the Bill O’Brien cuts that undermined higher education and critical economic priorities.

The Governor was joined by State Senate candidate Dan Feltes and ClassCo Co-Founder and President David Luneau, to highlight her work to restore funding for higher education that allowed community colleges to reduce tuition. ClassCo is a technology, product design and development, and marketing company focused on the needs of the public safety and telecommunications communities.

“As the founder of a high-tech company right here in Concord, I know firsthand the importance of a strong workforce,” said ClassCo Co-Founder and President David Luneau. “My business relies on people being able to afford tuition so they can develop the skills and innovative thinking they need to succeed in the 21st century economy. Governor Hassan understands the needs of small businesses like mine, and that’s why she made freezing college tuition such a key priority.”

“It’s great to be at NHTI as we discuss our efforts to expand opportunity and build a stronger workforce that can fill the jobs that our innovative businesses are creating here in New Hampshire,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Our community colleges are developing innovative programs to provide our citizens with the skills they need to secure high-quality jobs, and that’s why I fought to restore funding that allowed our community colleges to reduce tuition. But my opponent’s Koch Brothers agenda and fiscally irresponsible ‘plan’ could make costs rise again at our community colleges, reversing our efforts to strengthen our workforce and putting a strain on students and families.”

Governor Hassan is fighting to expand opportunity and build a stronger workforce by freezing in-state tuition at our universities and reducing tuition at community colleges, working to modernize STEM education in our public schools, and promoting innovative options for higher education across the state.

Walt Havenstein, on the other hand, is pushing a Koch Brothers “plan” that would blow a $90 million hole in our budget, taking us back to the devastating Bill O’Brien cuts that undermined higher education and critical economic priorities.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, A True Fighter For NH Families (New Web Video Included)

Screenshot YouTube Stand with Me

Screenshot YouTube Stand with Me CROPPEDAfter filing her candidacy to represent New Hampshire’s First Congressional District, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) launched a new web video, “Stand with Me.” The spot focuses on Shea-Porter’s New Hampshire roots, her promises kept to fight for jobs, education, and infrastructure, and her pledge to never take a dime from Corporate PACs or DC Lobbyists.

Over the last year and a half, the NH Labor News has been covering the actions of Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.  We have highlighted some of the ways she is protecting New Hampshire’s working families.  We have at times been critical of Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and all of Congress over their failure to pass some meaningful legislation that would move our country in the right direction.

Protecting Workers At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter is a strong advocate for working families.  She has been adamant against the closing of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and reversing the effects of the draconian budget cuts of the “sequester.”

“I cannot stress this enough, Congress must pass a responsible budget that creates jobs and eliminates sequestration,” Shea-Porter said. “The men and women at the Shipyard are essential to our national defense and contribute $660 million to the region’s economy. Continuing the cuts of sequestration is unfair to these men and women, and it is a deeply misguided approach.”

The sequester forced workers throughout the federal government into furloughs, resulting in a loss of pay and a slow down of work.

“Our shipyard will not survive another 9 ½ years of sequestration,” said Paul O’Connor, President of the Shipyard Metal Trades Council. “Sequestration was never intended to be a sensible budget cutting device. It was a scheme of cuts so damaging that Congress would be forced to work together to avoid them. This is a bad law and it must end.”

Pay Equity

In Washington, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter used her position to push for pay equity for all working women.

“Working women are America’s mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives. We’re America’s factory and office workers, health care professionals and scientists, business executives and teachers,” said Shea-Porter. “Women are working everywhere, but women in America still make only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.  Equal pay for equal work is a fairness issue and an economic issue.”

Standing up for Teachers

She submitted legislation to extend the REPAY Act, which gives teachers a $250 rebate for purchasing supplies for their classrooms.

“This deduction has been extended with bipartisan support for every year since 2002, but was allowed to expire at the end of 2013,” said Shea-Porter. “We owe it to our nation’s educators and our children to ensure that they have the necessary educational tools to succeed.”

Healthcare, Medicare, and Social Security

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has also been an outspoken advocate for providing affordable healthcare to everyone, and protecting our seniors from the Republican assault on Social Security and Medicare.

“Granite State seniors have earned their Medicare and Social Security benefits through a lifetime of hard work,” Shea-Porter said. “These programs are vital to the retirement security of millions of Americans, and we must protect them for future generations.”

After the news that 40,262 Granite Staters and more than 8 million Americans in total have enrolled in private health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act, Shea-Porter stated:

“I’ve heard from constituents, both Republicans and Democrats, about how the Affordable Care Act has helped them and their families. There are still challenges, but today’s news is confirmation that access to affordable healthcare has improved for New Hampshire families.”

“Everyone in New Hampshire deserves the consumer protections offered by the Affordable Care Act: it ends discrimination against those with preexisting conditions, allows children to stay on parents’ plans up to age 26, and ensures annual and lifetime out-of-pocket limits.” 

Leadership New Hampshire Can Count On

For many years Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has continued to show her strong leadership skills in and out of Washington.  As a member of Congress, she opposes corporate PAC money and pushes to get the money out of the political process.

Even though right-wing groups routinely attack her, she continues to submit bills to make the Affordable Care Act better. She pushed for Medicaid expansion and worked to expand the coverage of those who purchase healthcare from the ACA Marketplace.

“I (Carol Shea-Poter) advocated for Minuteman to enter the New Hampshire Marketplace to provide competition, and I am delighted that Minuteman will negotiate with any of our hospitals who want to participate on the new healthcare exchange.”

Continuing her efforts to make health insurance more affordable for small businesses, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) joined with two colleagues to introduce the Small Business Tax Credit Accessibility Act (H.R. 4128). This legislation would expand and simplify the Affordable Care Act’s Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit to help more small employers purchase quality, affordable health-insurance policies.

Stick with someone we can trust in Washington.  Someone who has proven herself to be a true fighter for the middle class, and all working families.

“Granite Staters know they can trust Carol,” said Patrick Carroll, Campaign Manager for Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “Voters trust her because she fights for them every day. Carol Shea-Porter has fought to improve the lives of her neighbors in New Hampshire. Whether it’s more jobs, affordable education, access to health care, or protecting Social Security and Medicare, Carol Shea-Porter is the clear champion for New Hampshire families in 2014, and this video shows why.”

VIDEO — “Stand With Me”

Kids Or Corporations? Which Do We Value More?

Image by Rocksee (Flickr CC)
Image by Rocksee (Flickr CC)

Image by Rocksee (Flickr CC)

From Pennsylvania, this story:

Governor Tom Corbett cut corporate taxes by $1.2 billion.  Then he cut nearly $1 billion dollars from the state’s education budget.  Then he acted shocked when schools from Philadelphia to Pittsburg were forced to close.

Then a child died.

From the AFT: “We don’t know if a school nurse could have saved this young boy. But we do know every child deserves a full-time nurse in his or her school. We do know all parents deserve to know that their child will be safe and his or her most basic needs will be tended to at school. We do know that all Philadelphia children deserve better.”

The boy wasn’t the first child who died.  Twelve-year-old Laporshia Massey died from asthma complications that started while she was at school.  Could her death have been prevented there had been a school nurse on staff?

Of course, Governor Corbett responded by attacking the teachers’ unions – without mentioning the budget hole created by his corporate tax cuts.

Yep, another politician who wants our teachers to make “sacrifices.”

(But not the corporations.  Somehow, they never ask the corporations to make “sacrifices.”)

But it’s not just Pennsylvania.

A friend of mine is an elementary school art teacher, whose classroom is out of supplies and whose budget is out of money.  How do you teach elementary school art without construction paper and glue sticks?

A middle school student complains about seeing her teachers outside of school.  “It’s really embarrassing when you run into your teacher in a restaurant,” she says.  “But it’s even more embarrassing when your teacher is your server at the restaurant.  Why can’t we pay teachers enough that they don’t need a second job to survive?”

All across the country we hear stories of states being forced “make the hard choices” when it comes to budgets.  They try to make us believe that they have no other choice than to cut programs to keep their budgets balanced.  They never mention the possibility of restoring revenues that were given away as tax cuts.

A strong public education is vital to our communities.  A strong education is the foundation of the American Dream.  Public schools provide the tools necessary to lift people up, to find good high paying work, and to get that little house with the white picket fence.  A strong public education system — which I believe should include higher education — is the key to countering America’s poverty problems, too.

But budget cuts have forced some schools to close completely, leaving children and their parents scrambling.  Teacher layoffs have led to larger class sizes, and less time to help students.  Budget cuts are forcing teachers and parents to supply schools with basic necessities like paper, pens, chalk, and paper towels out of their own pockets.

Cuts to school lunch programs mean that too many teachers are reaching into their own pockets to buy lunch for students who would otherwise go hungry.

Yet corporations keep their tax cuts.

The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are on the front lines of this fight to protect and preserve our public education system.  AFT is running a new campaign entitled “reclaim the promise” that challenges people to stand up for public education.

Stand up and fight to ensure that children in all communities get access to a high quality education.

Stand up and say “NO” to the government leaders who would rather cut funding to schools than ask businesses to pay their taxes.

Stand up and say: “NO MORE hungry children.”

And “NO MORE children dead, without a school nurse around.”

 

(Special Hat-Tip to my friends Kevin Mahoney and Sean Kitchen at Raging Chicken Press for always keeping the light shining on the atrocity of Governor Corbett’s attack on public schools and public workers.)

New Hampshire Vouchers: The Choice Nobody Is Taking

NH Voucher

NH Voucher

Once a year, in effort somehow convince people that private charter schools are better than public schools, organizations like ‘Students First’ are pushing ‘National School Choice Week’.  This once a year event floods the media with stories about how school vouchers are working or that school vouchers are a better use of your tax dollars.  This is all complete hogwash.

The simple truth is that people are not choosing to change schools and the school vouchers program is more about getting taxpayers to pay for private religious schools.

After the red tide of Republican legislators took Concord (NH) by storm in the 2010 elections things quickly began to change. The GOP controlled legislature quickly passed their version of a school ‘voucher’ program, giving businesses a tax credit for scholarships to private schools, and slashed the state budget.

The voucher program has been in effect now for over a year so we should be able to see the thousands of people who were waiting in line to execute their ‘choice’.

Bill Duncan a local public school advocate queried the state to see exactly how many people in the Granite State applied for scholarships under the new program.  In a response from the Department of Education they stated, “the voucher program says that no more than 15 public school students will receive scholarships in the first year of the program.”

Only 15 public school students applied for the scholarship. I guess the voucher program is not as popular as the GOP tried to make people believe when they passed the bill.  The low number of applications could be due in part to the rejection by the NH Supreme Court that clearly stated that public funds could not go to religious schools.

In a recent blog post on Advancing New Hampshire’s Public Education, Bill Duncan said, “The voucher program is an embarrassment to the Republican legislative majority that passed the bill last year over the Governor’s veto.”

As they did here in New Hampshire, ALEC pushed a school voucher program right into Republican controlled Legislature.  States controlled by Republican Legislatures are pushing similar bills throughout the country.

“This movement is doing more than threaten the core of our traditional public school system,” said Timothy Ogle, executive director of the Arizona School Boards Association. “It’s pushing a national policy agenda embraced by conservatives across states that are receptive to conservative ideas.” via States Redefining Public Schooling – NYTimes.com

Kansas and Idaho recently rejected the voucher credit program, despite opposition from the Republican Legislators.

It has become painfully obvious that some of the members of the NH Legislature are making the wrong choice.  They claim that the voucher program is about helping families who cannot afford to attend a private school with the financial assistance needed to attend the school of their choice.  The people of New Hampshire have made their choice, and they have chosen to stay in their local public schools.

Legislators do need to make a new choice, to properly fund our public schools.  The current trend to cut funding to ‘save money’ is harming our children.  At least once a month my children come home from school with a request letter for classroom supplies.  The school cannot afford to supply things like paper towels, cleaning supplies, and many other basic classroom needs.

One of my friends, who I will refer to as ‘Jane’, works in a school in one of the more affluent towns in New Hampshire.  Jane is an art teacher and as they start the second half of the year they are already out of black construction paper and glue sticks. Really, how can an art class that is out of construction paper and glue?

The week lets make the choice to do what is right for our children by calling our legislators and demanding better funding for our public education system.

SHAHEEN FILES AMENDMENT TO UNDO MILITARY RETIREE CUTS

Image from Senator Shaheen's Website

Preserves benefits by closing corporate tax loophole

Amendment filed to unemployment insurance legislation

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today filed an amendment to emergency unemployment legislation to protect military retirees from changes to cost of living adjustments (COLA) that were passed in a bipartisan budget agreement.  Shaheen’s amendment mirrors legislation she introduced in December, the Military Retirement Restoration Act, and replaces the estimated $6 billion in savings from military retiree COLA with an estimated $6.6 billion raised by eliminating a tax loophole for offshore corporations.

Shaheen’s amendment was cosponsored by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mark Begich (D-AK), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Al Franken (D-MN), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

“My plan represents a common-sense approach to restore the cost of living adjustments for future military retirees,” said Shaheen.  “I hope we can get a vote on this amendment as we’re considering an extension of emergency unemployment insurance.”

“I supported the bipartisan budget agreement we passed last year because it will help create economic certainty for our small businesses, promote job creation, and protect us from another government shutdown that can wreak havoc on our economy. But I also knew it wasn’t perfect which is why I’m proposing a smart fix to one of its flaws.  I hope that we can generate bipartisan support for my plan.”

Currently, companies that are incorporated offshore but managed and controlled from the United States can claim foreign status which helps them avoid paying U.S. taxes. Shaheen’s legislation would eliminate the tax loophole that allows those corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

In December, Shaheen spoke on the Senate floor about her legislation and suggested that “most Americans would agree that this kind of tax avoidance is unfair and that we should close this tax loophole rather than reducing military retiree benefits.”

What The F&@#: Issa Proposes End To Six Day Delivery To Save Military Retirees COLA’s

Image from the Muskegon Chronicle
http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2010/03/no_saturday_mail_delivery_no_p.html
Image from the Muskegon Chronicle http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2010/03/no_saturday_mail_delivery_no_p.html

Image from the Muskegon Chronicle

The depth of Congressman Darrell Issa’s distain for the unionized workers at the US Postal Service knows no bounds.  Now he is pitting the USPS against the US Military.

Government Executive reported this morning:

A new bill would undo the recent cuts made to certain military retirees’ pensions, and in exchange allow the U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday mail delivery.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Thursday proposed legislation that would restore full cost-of-living adjustments for young military retirees.”

To recap, the bi-partisan budget deal that everyone was giddy over last month made cuts to Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for veterans who retire after twenty years of service, but have not reached the full retirement age of 62.  To put this into context, this would be a person who could be as young as 38 years old, receiving a military pension, who would receive 1% less in a COLA increase than those retiree’s over the age of 62.

I am against cutting benefits to any worker who has done their time and completed their service after the fact.  That is not the case here.  This change means that these working age retirees will not get the full cost of living increase, which does not mean they are going to see their paychecks go down, as some are implying.  Also nowhere does it say that a retired veteran cannot get another job after they leave the military.  Just look at all the government contractors like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, who routinely hire veterans as military specialists.

You know who else hires a ton of veterans, especially those who have been medically discharged?  The US Postal Service, that is who.  In 2007 the USPS employed over 680,000 people and of that 25% were veterans. (Note 8% of total workforce is listed as disabled veterans).

While that information is great to have, it is not the true point of this post.  The fact that Congressman Issa is, yet again, proposing to cut the Postal Service to five-day delivery is a sham.  He is trying to pull the wool over your eyes, by saying that eliminating Saturday delivery will save the government enough money to offset the retiree’s COLA cuts.

The fact is that the USPS does not take any money from the US Government.  The USPS is a completely self-funded operation, paid in full by the postage on the parcel.  The real issue the USPS is facing is the pre-funding mandate set forth by Congress in 2006.  That mandate requires the USPS to pre-fund all retiree benefits for the next 75 years before 2016.

Congressman Issa and the Postmaster General have used this mandate to make claims that the USPS is going bankrupt.  It is true the USPS cannot afford to pre-pay retiree benefits at 7-times (7X) the normal rate. What corporation could afford that?  They are using this as a way to push the USPS, and its unionized workforce out, and replace it with private companies like UPS and FedEx, who make more money for the 1% on Wall Street.   Let us not forget how UPS and FedEx botched holiday deliveries, while the slow and steady postal service delivered all their packages on time.

This legislation is the biggest shell game I have ever seen.  Instead of just reinstating the cuts to retiree’s, Congressman Issa is suggesting that we steal money from the USPS (which he claims is going bankrupt), and give it to these retiree’s.

If the USPS is failing, as Congressman Issa has said over and over, how exactly is stealing more money from them going to save it?

Rep. Peter DeFazio: "There's no substitute for a universal postal system. The private sector can't fill that gap."  WATCH: http://on.msnbc.com/1dWH1vi  Image from the ED Show

Rep. Peter DeFazio:
There’s no substitute for a universal postal system. The private sector can’t fill that gap.”
WATCH: http://on.msnbc.com/1dWH1vi
Image from the ED Show

Low Income Families Are Suffering From Federal Budget Cuts (From Every Child Matters Education Fund NH)

poverty

By Mary Lou Beaver,
New Hampshire Campaign Director, 

Every Child Matters Education Fund

 

Mary Lou Beaver

MaryLou Beaver

NHLogo

Each year, to track the progress toward the goal of cutting poverty in half in 10 years, Half in Ten publishes an annual report that examines 21 different indicators of economic security and opportunity. On Tuesday, Half In Ten released their new report, Resetting the Poverty Debate: State of the States 2013.

Here are some excerpts from the report:

Poverty Rate

The percentage of people in poverty—defined as having an annual income below $23,492 for a family of four—did not change nationally from 2011 to 2012, remaining at 15 percent, or 46.5 million Americans. Similarly, the percentage of people with incomes of less than half the poverty line—sometimes referred to as deep poverty—remained at 6.6 percent in 2012. These measures do not account for the impacts of the Earned Income Tax Credit, nutrition assistance, and other noncash benefits on income.

To substantially reduce the share of Americans living below the poverty line, policymakers first need to immediately shift their focus from austerity to job creation and investment in people. The poverty rate remains high today due in large part to an excess of poorly compensated jobs. We need to turn bad jobs into good ones by increasing the minimum wage, supporting poorly compensated workers’ efforts to join unions, and ensuring that all workers have basic benefits such as paid sick leave.

Child Poverty Rate

Nationally, 21.8 percent of children ages 18 and younger were living below the poverty line in 2012. But children end up in poverty because their families are in poverty. When the incomes of the adults who reside with children—mainly parents—are not sufficient to meet the basic needs of the family, child poverty rates get worse. One considerable factor contributing to these high rates is family employment. Over the past several years, the rate of family unemployment has remained very high. While the family unemployment rate fell from 12.1 percent in 2011 to 10.1 percent in 2012, the share of families with at least one unemployed parent looking for work was still higher than the national average unemployment rate of 8.1 percent in 2012.

High School Graduation Rate

One of the national indicators that has shown improvement over the past several years is the on-time graduation rate for high school students, which measures the percentage of students that enter high school as freshmen and graduate within four years. The on-time high school graduation rate increased from 75.5 percent in the 2008-09 school year to 78.2 percent in the 2009-10 school year, its highest level since 1974.

Children who participate in state-funded prekindergarten programs are more likely to graduate from high school on time. Nationwide, total state funding for pre-K programs decreased by nearly $60 million in the 2010-11 school year. This is the second year in a row for which inflation-adjusted spending dropped, following a $30 million decrease in the 2009-10 school year. By contrast, Vermont had the best on-time graduation rate in the country and also maintains one of the best pre-K programs, increasing its enrollment by 25 percent in 2011.

Gender Wage Gap

Even though our economy has been growing slowly and steadily, women are among the groups that are still not sharing in its gains. In 2012, median annual earnings for women working full time and year round were $37,791, 76.5 percent of the median annual earnings—$49,398—of men working full time and year round.  The gender wage gap did not change significantly from 2011 to 2012, and there has been little progress in closing the gender wage gap since 2001.

Unequal pay means lower earnings for women and higher poverty rates for both married couples and female-headed households. In the 1990s, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimated that boosting women’s pay to men’s levels would cut the poverty rate in half for both single mothers and married couples and by even more for single women without children. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act would reduce the gender wage gap. Policies such as increasing the minimum wage, expanding investments in child care, and improving pay for workers in female-dominated occupations such as care work would help narrow the gender wage gap.

Besides pay disparities, other work challenges also hold women back, such as paid sick leave.

Lack of Health Insurance Coverage

One of the biggest expenses that pushes families into poverty is out-of-pocket spending on medical expenses, usually due to a lack of health insurance. In 2012, 10.6 million people fell into poverty due to out-of-pocket medical expenses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nationally, our recent investments in this indicator have shown improvement. The percentage of people without health insurance has gone down, falling from 15.7 percent in 2011 to 15.4 percent in 2012.  Since 2010, the number of people without health insurance has decreased by 2 million, in part due to provisions in the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, that have increased coverage among young people. As the full law goes into effect in 2014, further improvements in this indicator are expected.

In too many states, however, low-income nonelderly adults are not able to benefit from part of the ACA that was designed to help them—Medicaid expansion. They are much more likely than higher-income adults to be uninsured. They also fail to receive needed medical care and have problems paying medical bills. However, 24 states are refusing to implement the ACA’s option to expand Medicaid cover- age to most uninsured people with incomes of less than 138 percent of the federal poverty line.

Massachusetts has the lowest rate of residents earning 138 percent of the federal poverty line without health insurance. Only 7.6 percent of the state’s residents lack any kind of health care coverage due to its health insurance program. The state has also chosen to expand Medicaid.

Hunger and Food Insecurity

The food-insecurity indicator measures the share of total households that experienced difficulty providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of money or resources. In 2012, 14.5 percent of households—17.6 million households, to be exact—were food insecure. The change in food insecurity from 2011 to 2012 was not statistically significant.

Although food insecurity increased during the first year of the recession, it has essentially remained stable since then. This is likely due in large part to the effectiveness of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. Recent research found that in 2011 and 2012, SNAP contributed to reductions in food insecurity among families who obtained program benefits. Yet SNAP funding has suffered recently. In November 2013, a temporary boost to SNAP funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expired, cutting the average SNAP benefit for a family of three by $29. This expiration took effect in November 2013; those relying on the program now have, on average, $1.40 per person per meal.

On top of that, many lawmakers in Congress have demanded further draconian cuts—as much as $39 billion over 10 years—in a recent House proposal. Policymakers should reject proposals that would damage SNAP’s responsiveness to economic conditions by radically altering its structure, as well as moves to further cut benefits.

Affordable and Available Housing

Nationally, there were only 57 affordable and available units per 100 renter house-holds with very low incomes in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, compared to 58 units in 2010. The number of renters with “worst-case needs” continued to increase in 2011.

Left alone, sequestration could cut housing vouchers for as many as 185,000 families by the end of 2014. These cuts are already seriously impacting the states. Congress should reverse the across-the-board cuts in housing that are part of sequestration and increase investments in rental-housing assistance and development.

The bottom line is this: Low-income families in states across the country are suffering from too many years of reckless efforts to reduce the federal deficit. Although many states need to improve local policies—especially those that hinder the ability of low-income families to access federally funded programs—the state- by-state results from our indicators show that the budget choices we make at the national level have consequences. The effects of sequestration will continue into next year and for many years thereafter. “It is like a slowly growing cancer,” says Steven Warren, vice chancellor of research and graduate studies at the University of Kansas. In 2014, sequestration will only get worse. The cuts will be deeper.

Many of this year’s cuts simply have not been implemented yet. And the one-time fixes that agencies made this year to mitigate sequestration’s impacts are no longer an option moving forward.

 

Senator Ayotte says (unofficially): Balance the budget on the backs of Federal Workers, not Military Veterans

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

Balance the budget on the backs of…..

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

This week the Senate will vote on the bi-partisan budget deal that was crafted by Rep Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray.   Everyone has a bone to pick with this budget, but that will not going to keep it from passing.

The budget bill has already passed the House and there was opposition from both sides of the aisle.  The bill is now moving to the Senate where New Hampshire’s own, Senator Kelly Ayotte, joined a few of her fellow Republicans to oppose the budget bill.

From the Washington Post:

“In a joint statement last week, Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said they cannot support the legislation because it “disproportionately and unfairly targets those who have put their lives on the line to defend our country.”

“The budget agreement, crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would reduce cost-of-living adjustments for working-age military retirees by 1 percent starting in December 2015, although the existing rate would apply again once former service members reach age 62.”

The proposed change is projected to save the government $6 billion, but Ayotte said it “pays for more federal spending on the backs of our active duty and military retirees.”

Wait a minute; Senator Ayotte is opposing the budget because it takes 1% or $6 billion dollars away from the Veterans retirement program that only affects Veterans who retire prior to age 62.  That is right, that is what she is opposing.

My question is why is she not opposing the budget over the $6 billion dollars that federal workers are going to have to make up with higher retirement contributions?  The Association of Federal Government Employees (AFGE) released a statement opposing the bill for just that reason.

“AFGE rejects the notion that there should be a trade-off between funding the programs to which federal employees have devoted their lives, and their own livelihoods.”

Where was Senator Ayotte’s opposition when the non-military federal employees were getting beat down by Congress?

“Unions and employee groups have been fighting the pension change. They say federal workers have already “sacrificed over $113 billion for deficit reduction since 2011″ — the figure being based on 3 years without a pay hike and the bigger contribution new hires must put toward pensions.” (Money.CNN)

She was right there voting with the Party to continue to balance the budget on the backs of federal workers, just not the military veterans.

The truth is that this ‘strong opposition’ is nothing more than grandstanding by a Senator who has become the darling of the Republican Party.  Her opposition engages the hard right Republicans who already oppose the budget because it increases spending.  She can use her opposition to fundraise from those same far right Republicans.

The truth is this budget bill will pass, even with Senator Ayotte’s opposition.  She will not be alone in her ‘Nay’ vote for this budget but with the Democratic majority in the Senate, the bill will pass.  Basically it is a free vote for her, to FAKE – I mean – MAKE a stand against the overspending Democrats who are out to harm the beloved military veterans.

With such strong opposition to proposed cuts to our veterans, you would expect Senator Ayotte to be demanding for restoration of all the cuts made to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Accordingly to a report out this week from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, approximately 900,000 veterans are currently dependent, in whole or part, on food stamp benefits to care for their themselves and their families.” (Forbes 10/30/13)

Not one state in the entire union has less than 2,200 veterans who are collecting food stamps under the SNAP program this month. (Read the full story about Veterans and SNAP benefits here) 

Senator, don’t tell us your outraged at these cuts to the veterans pensions, while you do nothing for the nearly 1 million veterans who are living off food stamps.  I respect and honor the service these men and women have done for out country, but you need to be consistent in your outrage.

Are they heroes who cannot afford cuts to their retirement, or are they ‘one of those people’ who are living off food stamps?

The truth is, they are both and Senator Ayotte, you should remember that the next time they want to make budget cuts to all of theses social programs.

Homeless VeteransUPDATED: 12-17-13

After I published this story, Senator Ayotte was interviewed for a story in the Union Leader where she stated:
the $6.3 billion could be found elsewhere in the budget, possibly by changing eligibility requirements for food stamps.
So it seems I was right, she does not seem to care about the people who are living in poverty or working for the government, only the working age retired Veterans who make great photo opportunities.

Granite Staters Rally At Sen Ayotte’s Office In National Day Of Action To Protect Social Security

Ayotte Dec. 3, 2013

Ayotte Dec. 3, 2013Statement from New Alliance for Retired Americans President Lucy Edwards at the National Day of Action event in Nashua NH 

As the president of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans, a grassroots volunteer group of senior citizens representing 13,000 NH retirees, I am here today with others fighting to save our Social Security and Medicare benefits from any “grand bargain” between the President and Congress.  Right now in Washington DC, a committee of House and Senate members is trying to agree on a budget that could pass both houses of Congress and get the President’s signature.  Our junior Senator, Kelly Ayotte, is one of these members and that is why we are here today.

For many of us, including me, cuts to these earned benefits would mean the loss of our economic security in retirement.  Do not be fooled by those who tell you that there are no seniors in NH who are all or mostly dependent on Social Security for their income, or for whom turning Medicare into a voucher program to buy insurance on our own would most likely mean increased ill-health and even early death.  We’re out here today because we must be getting the word out. This is not some political game played in DC, this is very real and very frightening to many of us.

And let me say that I and my fellows worry about our children and grandchildren as well.  We are not “greedy geezers!”  When a politician says to me that any changes to the programs will not affect anyone over 55, the first people who pop into my mind are my daughters and their husbands!  When a politician says to me that raising the eligibility age for these programs would be fine because people are living longer, I think of all the people I know who have been without health insurance until now, and wonder if they will even be able to work til 65.

What we really need in this age of the 401(k) and “you’re on your own” retirement plans, and proposals such as the Chained CPI, is something like Senator Harkins’ bill, the Strengthen Social Security Act of 2013, which would fit a Consumer Price Index for us seniors to our true costs, including healthcare costs.  The Chained CPI would cut benefits now AND in the future, leaving us with shrinking incomes just at the time when we need the funds the most.

We are here to remind Senator Ayotte of this, and even more important, to remind our fellow citizens that we need to fight for our rights, including the right to a secure retirement.  Don’t let a “grand bargain” steal what we worked so hard for!

Thank you all for coming!

Lucy Edwards

(You can follow the NH Alliance for Retired Americans on twitter @NH_ARA and via their blog)

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