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Congresswoman Shea-Porter Responds To Governor Sununu On Proposed Tax Reform Legislation

Congresswoman: Tax Plans Must Prioritize New Hampshire’s Working Families 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today responded to a letter Governor Chris Sununu sent her earlier in September regarding potential tax reform legislation. Shea-Porter’s letter outlines the pro-working-family, pro-small-business principles she will use to evaluate any Congressional tax proposal.

“I have long called for the elimination of tax expenditures written by corporations and lobbyists with no justification but their own financial gain, while I have also strongly supported the many provisions that benefit Granite State residents and businesses,” wrote Shea-Porter. “My priorities have not changed: I will continue to fight to unrig our tax code so that it supports working families and small businesses.”

In the letter, Shea-Porter outlined the principles any tax reform package must meet to earn her support. She wrote: “I am eager to work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to reform tax policy in a way that achieves our shared goals of lowering taxes on small businesses and providing fairness for working people, and I am encouraged by your outreach regarding this effort…I strongly believe that tax reform proposals must meet the following minimum standards: fairness for families; lower taxes on small businesses; increased simplicity; inclusion of the Buffett Rule; and revenue neutrality.”

Shea-Porter has long championed tax reform “for the rest of us” while opposing recent Republican-led efforts to lower taxes for wealthy individuals and large corporations. In 2010, Shea-Porter sought to block the extension of Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Throughout her time in Congress, Shea-Porter has fought for tax breaks that help working families and support education. In 2012, she introduced the REPAY Supplies Act, a bill to allow K-12 teachers to claim an above-the-line deduction for classroom expenses, which became a permanent U.S. tax code provision. Earlier this year, she introduced a bill to make the above-the-line deduction for higher education tuition expenses permanent for students and families.

 

The full text of Shea-Porter’s letter:

Governor Christopher T. Sununu

Office of the Governor

 

Dear Governor Sununu:

Thank you for your September 5, 2017 letter expressing support for comprehensive tax reform. I could not help but notice, as I read your letter, that you highlighted a number of important issues that I, too, have long championed: fairness, tax relief for small businesses, and enhanced opportunity for American workers. My priorities have not changed: I will continue to fight to unrig our tax code so that it supports working families and small businesses.

As you know, tax reform has been a challenging goal for a number of years. In 2014, then-Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a comprehensive tax reform bill, H.R.1, The Tax Reform Act of 2014. Mr. Camp spent months developing his proposal and created a tax plan that was (on paper) revenue neutral, lowered rates, created fewer brackets—and was widely disliked. This was not surprising. As you know, tax reform plans are only easy in concept: close loopholes to pay for lower rates and consolidate brackets in order to simplify compliance for taxpayers and stimulate job growth. It all makes for an easy soundbite and attractive political messaging, but Republican Speaker John Boehner could not get this through because comprehensive tax reform is hard.

In practice, crafting tax policy that advances our shared priorities requires specificity. For example, the $1.5 trillion in “special interest carve-outs, loopholes, and tax credits” that you identify in your letter – a figure commonly cited by the Treasury Department and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation – includes not only corporate giveaways, but also provisions like the mortgage interest deduction that benefit New Hampshire families and the real estate industry, which are very important to our state and national economy.

I have long called for the elimination of tax expenditures written by corporations and lobbyists with no justification but their own financial gain, while I have also strongly supported the many provisions that benefit Granite State residents and businesses. From the level of detail provided in your letter, I am unable to discern which tax expenditures you consider wasteful and which expenditures you think we should keep.

Do you support the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits, which together lift nearly 10 million Americans out of poverty? Do you support the exclusion for combat pay for our servicemembers? Do you support the exclusion for GI Bill benefits for our nation’s veterans? Do you support the mortgage interest deduction? Or property tax deduction? Or credits for higher education that help 12.6 million Americans and over 38,000 Granite Staters afford a college education? I do, and I will continue to speak up in support of these provisions – by name – as Congress works to reform our tax code.

I also agree that there are ways to simplify and eliminate waste from our tax code. For example, I believe we should eliminate the carried interest loophole, which allows Wall Street bankers to pay far lower taxes than middle class Americans, and end wasteful corporate subsidies, such as those for Big Oil. And I believe we should eliminate all tax incentives that encourage outsourcing jobs. These are just a few specific examples of changes that I support.

I am eager to work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to reform tax policy in a way that achieves our shared goals of lowering taxes on small businesses and providing fairness for working people, and I am encouraged by your outreach regarding this effort. Unfortunately, the proposals that we have seen thus far from those leading the tax reform negotiations would disproportionately benefit the wealthy and add trillions to our debt. Furthermore, these proposals have not been made public or evaluated through the Congressional hearing process. Tax reform negotiations should be bipartisan, but neither the White House nor Republican leaders in Congress have made any effort to involve Democrats in this process. The Ways and Means Committee held over 30 public hearings prior to releasing Mr. Camp’s Tax Reform Act of 2014. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 was preceded by 30 days of full committee hearings.

I strongly believe that tax reform proposals must meet the following minimum standards: fairness for families; lower taxes on small businesses; increased simplicity; inclusion of the Buffett Rule; and revenue neutrality. It is my hope that we are in agreement both on these principles and on the elimination of the loopholes and corporate giveaways that I have specifically identified.

Your public support for these efforts, on behalf of those in the State both of us love and serve, would be sincerely welcome. I am hopeful that the Republican leadership in Congress and the President will work across the aisle to develop a plan that meets the standards outlined above. And I ask you to use your relationship with President Trump to influence him to release a detailed plan with specific proposals that meet these priorities.

Sincerely,

Carol Shea-Porter

Member of Congress

Will Gov Sununu Save The NH Health Protection Program?

In Wake of Republican Healthcare Repeal Failure, Democratic Leaders Renew Call for Governor Sununu and Republicans to Work Across Party Lines on Healthcare

State Senator Jeff Woodburn and Rep Steve Shurtleff Push for Reauthorization of NH Health Protection Program

As millions of Americans are waiting with baited breath to see whether or not the Republicans in Washington D.C. are going to strip away their healthcare, the 50,000 Granite Staters who rely on the ACA’s expanded Medicaid program are waiting to see what Governor Chris Sununu will do.

From early on in his campaign, he has opposed the Affordable Care Act and has called for a repeal and then after he was elected, and the GOP took control in Washington, he began calling for a full repeal & replacement.

“To be clear, reform without an adequate replacement is not an acceptable option. Any repeal of the ACA must be simultaneous with a replacement,Sununu wrote in a letter to US Senate Majority Leaders.

“Reforming our nation’s health care system is imperative and our leaders must take swift, but thoughtful bipartisan action that is transparent and welcomes all sides to the table,” he added.

Now the Democratic Leaders in the NH Legislature are calling on Governor Sununu to put his words into action. Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn and House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff urged Governor Sununu and legislative Republicans to finally get to work on reauthorizing the NH Health Protection Program:

“We are relieved that Republican attempts to undermine healthcare have failed and given that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, we urge Governor Sununu and his Republican leaders to begin negotiations with us to improve our healthcare system and bring down healthcare costs.”

“The most critical thing we need to do is reauthorize the NH Health Protection Program (NHHPP), which is scheduled to end next year, as soon as possible. The NHHPP is a uniquely New Hampshire solution that more than 52,000 Granite Staters rely on for their health care, drives down costs for our businesses, hospitals, working families and our state, stabilizes our insurance market, and plays a vital role in combating the opioid crisis.”

“Democrats have attempted to work with Governor Sununu and the Republican majorities in the legislature to reauthorize and improve this successful program all year, but have been brushed aside as they waited on their Republicans allies in Washington to act. Its time to do what’s right for the people of New Hampshire and we call on Governor Sununu and his Republican legislative majorities to stop putting partisan politics above the health and well-being of hard-working Granite Staters, stop dragging their feet, and begin working with us to renew this successful program as soon as possible.”

As the US Senate voted to give tax breaks to billionaires while slashing Medicaid and Medicare on their Healthcare plan, Governor Sununu remained completely silent.  In a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell on June 27th, he voiced concern over the cuts to Medicaid and NH’s ability to keep the 50,000 Granite Staters currently relying on the program insured.  Ensuring that the current recipients of insurance through the Medicaid Expansion would not be kicked off their healthcare was a cornerstone of Sununu’s campaign.

However Governor, it is time to put up or shut up.

Governor Sununu must work with both sides of the aisle and find a way to ensure that the NH Health Protection Program becomes permanent until such time that all Americans are fully covered.

Governor Sununu Praises New Healthcare Bill That ‘Defunds’ Planned Parenthood

Amid Federal Uncertainties, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Marks National Women’s Health Week by Emphasizing Importance of Wellness Visits and Preventive Care

“May 15-21 is National Women’s Health Week, Our Doors Remain Open”

Concord, NH — During National Women’s Health Week (May 15-21), Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is highlighting the need for regular wellness visits and preventive health care as a critical part of staying healthy for women of all ages. Regular checkups and screenings are essential to good health; and early detection and treatment of illnesses could save your life. A survey released last year, however found that the vast majority of women do not know when or how frequently they should be screened for breast and cervical cancer, and many — especially women of color — aren’t getting screened often enough.

However, Women’s Health Week comes two weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the worst bill for women’s health in a generation. This legislation “defunds” Planned Parenthood, which will block Medicaid patients in New Hampshire from accessing birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing at Planned Parenthood. This disastrous legislation will make it harder for women in New Hampshire to prevent unintended pregnancy, harder to have a healthy pregnancy, and harder to raise a family.

Yesterday, during an interview on NHPR’s The Exchange, Governor Sununu proposed that states should be able to opt out of covering women’s health care, substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment. Referring to the opt out as “flexibilities” for the states, Sununu rationalized his stance on substance abuse treatment and women’s health by saying flexibility is needed because those issues may not be as important in other states as they are in New Hampshire.

“As the nation’s leading provider and advocate of women’s health care, Planned Parenthood encourages all women to make their health a top priority by scheduling a checkup and getting regular screenings,” said Molly Cowan, Planned Parenthood of Norther New England’s Communications Manager. “Annual well-woman visits help providers learn more about your health and family history to help you stay healthy, and are an opportunity to make sure that you’re getting the screenings you need, as well as using the birth control method that best fits your needs.”

“In New Hampshire, Planned Parenthood is calling on our leaders: Governor Sununu, and budget writers in the House and the Senate to fund reproductive health programs and ensure New Hampshire’s quality public health outcomes, such as low teen pregnancy rates and strong maternal health outcomes, remain enviable.These results are no accident, and we urge our leaders stand with women, and put their votes where results clearly are. Planned Parenthood is an expert and cost-effective source of preventive care for women, and our doors remain open to answer any questions that women and young people may have about their health,” Cowan added.

Sununu’s support for allowing New Hampshire and other states to opt out of women’s health coverage would undermine coverage for those with preexisting conditions, maternity care, and reproductive rights. This continues Sununu’s tenuous relationship with women’s health, as he voted to defund Planned Parenthood as an Executive Councilor in 2015 before being pressured to vote for it in the midst of his run for Governor.

“It’s outrageous that Governor Sununu would support allowing New Hampshire and other states to deny coverage for women’s health care, substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment,” said NH Democratic Party Chair, Raymond Buckley. “His excuse is pathetic, saying that different states have different needs, but no one should be denied coverage because of their gender. Just because a lower volume of people suffer from substance use disorder in other states doesn’t mean those who are suffering don’t deserve care. And just because Governor Sununu is a man doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to worry about women gaining the coverage they need. New Hampshire needs a governor who stands up against Trumpcare, not one who supports outlandish proposals that would undermine a promise to provide affordable health insurance to those with preexisting conditions.”

For those who may be uncomfortable or unfamiliar with a well-woman visit, Planned Parenthood’s online resources walk through the process and provide a clear sense of what to expect.

One in five women has turned to Planned Parenthood at some point in her life for affordable, high-quality health care and compassionate, confidential information and advice. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act strengthened women’s preventive health  coverage; the ACA requires 100 percent coverage of cancer screening costs, with no copay for insured women.

Last year, Planned Parenthood saw 11,000 patients in New Hampshire alone.

Planned Parenthood health centers provide high-quality, confidential, affordable health care and our doors are open to everyone. Visit plannedparenthood.org to find a health center and make an appointment.

AFT-NH Says Frank Edelblut Lacks Experience To Be NH Commissioner Of Education

Governor Chris Sununu is reportedly set to tap former one-term State Representative Frank Edelblut as New Hampshire Commissioner of Education. Best known for his divisive statements in the legislature and during his brief run for the Republican nomination for governor last year, Edelblut is one of New Hampshire’s most extreme opponents of a strong public education system.

“Once again following Donald Trump’s playbook, Chris Sununu has decided to put into power an individual bent on undermining our public schools in any way he can,” said NHDP Press Secretary Zach McNamara. “As if this weren’t enough, Mr. Edelblut has absolutely no professional experience in public education and appears determined to force his far-right social views into our classrooms.”

“It’s shocking and dismaying that Chris Sununu, who during the campaign promised to support funding for full-day kindergarten, is now set to tap someone who opposes this crucial initiative to lead our Education Commission,” McNamara added.  

“Just as AFT on the national level has expressed strong opposition to the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, we are gravely concerned about a Commissioner of Education who, when running for governor, supported further diverting much needed funding and resources from our public schools,” said AFT-NH President Douglas Ley. “Our teachers and school district employees are trained professionals who have dedicated a lifetime to serving NH students. There is no evidence based on Mr. Edelblut’s public record that he either has the experience in education or public service on the local level that demonstrates the requisite knowledge and understanding to lead NH schools and serve more than 180,000 students, our State’s most precious resource.”  

Megan Tuttle, Vice-president NEA-New Hampshire released the following statement:

“We all-parents, educators, officials, community leaders-share the responsibility for the success of students.  We must all ask ourselves what we can do in our respective roles to make our schools better for kids and help to ensure their success. For educators, that means reaching and motivating every student.  For parents, that means instilling values of respect, responsibility and a love of learning.  And for elected and appointed officials, it means providing students and teachers with the tools and resources they need to help all students succeed-regardless of where they live or how much money their parents make.

If we’re serious about every child’s future, let’s get serious about doing what works. The research is clear about what works best for kids: learning opportunities that begin by age 4, safe schools, classes small enough for one on one attention, qualified and caring teachers, and community support services like nutrition and health care for children who need it. Well-resourced and cared for public schools are our best bet for setting every kid in New Hampshire off toward a great future.

We hope that the new Commissioner moves beyond any past statements, positions and rhetoric to support what works best in education, and protect the rights and dignity of every student and educator in the Granit State.”

See below for some of Frank Edelblut’s greatest hits on public education:

Frank Edelblut actively opposes funding full-day kindergarten in public schools.

“He doesn’t support increasing state adequacy aid for the districts that implement full-day kindergarten programs” – Valley News, 8/17/2016

Edelblut has never worked professionally in education in any capacity (not even local school board). His only experience in education has been homeschooling his seven children. – Concord Monitor, 8/30/2016

Edelblut’s conservative views on social issues – like defending conversion therapy on gay minors and trying to outlaw some forms of birth control – could threaten what our students learn in the classroom. – NHPR, 9/8/2016 and NHRTL endorsement, 2016

Edelblut wants to amend the NH Constitution to weaken the state’s obligation to fund schools.

“He supports a constitutional amendment to ensure the Legislature and governor have more control over public education policy, from the way the state fulfills its obligation to school funding to local control.” – Union Leader, 8/15/2016

Edelblut would succeed Dr. Virginia Barry and Lyonel Tracy as Education Commissioner, both of whom had extensive professional experience in education. Also at issue is state law concerning the Department of Education, which states that “The commissioner and deputy commissioner shall be qualified to hold their positions by reason of education and experience.” (Section 21-N:3).

“No matter how you spin it, Mr. Edelblut is a completely inappropriate choice for this role,” McNamara concluded. 

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