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Seniors Group And NH Congressional Delegation United Against ACA Repeal

The Alliance for Retired Americans join with Congresswomen Shea-Porter and Kuster in opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

This week, Republicans in the US House took the first bold step to strip millions of Americans of their healthcare by repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Repealing the signature healthcare law would have significant impacts on all working people and seniors. Americans would see a massive jump in prescription drug prices as the ACA closed the “donut hole” in Medicare. People with pre-existing condition could once again be discriminated against leaving them unable to acquire any insurance at all. Families would no longer be able to cover their children up to age 25 and preventative care for women would no longer be covered.

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, released the following:

“With today’s vote, 227 members of the House of Representatives started the process of eliminating many valuable and affordable health care benefits that American retirees rely on.

From free wellness checks and preventive screenings to lowering prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, to eliminating pre-existing conditions and limiting what older Americans not yet eligible for Medicare can be charged for insurance, the ACA has made health care better and more affordable for millions.

Depending on the actions of the House Committees that will take the next steps, all of these benefits are now in jeopardy.

The burden for developing a replacement plan that improves health care and keeps it affordable is on these members. Retirees are watching and will loudly defend the guaranteed Medicare and Medicaid health care benefits they have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

The price for health care in America is likely to rise quickly, to the detriment of millions of workers and retirees.”

The New Hampshire Congressional delegation is united in opposition to repealing the ACA.

“Today’s vote by House Republicans sets in motion a dangerous and irresponsible plan to strip health care coverage from millions of Americans, including 118,000 people in New Hampshire,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “They broke their promise to American families – there is no replacement. New Hampshire families deserve better: Congress should work to build on the progress we’ve made so far, making health care more accessible and more affordable, instead of going back to the days before the ACA, when thousands of Granite Staters were locked out of coverage.”

“I am also profoundly disappointed that the Republican leadership in the House rejected my attempt to protect seniors and those with disabilities. Speaker Ryan is using procedural gimmicks to force repeal legislation through the House and destroy what we have accomplished: coverage for people with preexisting conditions, Medicaid expansion, adequate coverage for women and seniors, and no-cost preventive health care screenings and services. Protections for millions of Americans are being jeopardized for political purposes,” Shea-Porter added.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would strip coverage from 118,000 people in New Hampshire, and 13,000 people in the state could lose their jobs.

In New Hampshire, the ACA:

  • Requires insurance providers to cover the 600,000 New Hampshire residents with preexisting conditions
  • Lowered the uninsured rate by 43%
  • Saved seniors an average of $1,047 on prescriptions
  • Provided substance abuse treatment services for 7,500 people
  • Covered 9,000 young adults on their parents’ health insurance

Shea-Porter offered her own amendment to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. Shea-Porter’s amendment stated that nothing in the Budget Resolution should allow for the denial of care based on patient age or disability.

Unfortunately, the Rules Committee refused to allow the House to vote on this common-sense proposal to protect our seniors and those with disabilities.

Shea-Porter has been a fierce advocate for keeping and improving the health care law. She successfully led the fight to close the Medicare Part D doughnut hole and save seniors thousands on prescription drug costs. While the House has voted repeatedly to destroy the law’s critical protections for all Americans, Shea-Porter has consistently voted to improve the law instead.

“It’s disappointing that Republicans in Congress have moved ahead with efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without regard for the negative impact it will have on millions of Americans and thousands of Granite Staters,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I’ve expressed my willingness to work across the aisle to make improvements to the law and foster a system that works for everyone. In the past, I have joined my Republican colleagues to make changes to the ACA, and I firmly believe that is the course we should follow.

“If the ACA is repealed, seniors on Medicare would see the costs of their prescription drugs increase. The Republican budget would also defund Planned Parenthood, reducing access to healthcare for thousands of Granite State women. In New Hampshire, one-in-ten of our friends and neighbors are benefiting from the ACA, and Medicaid expansion has improved access to mental health and addiction recovery services. Young adults are able to stay on their families’ plans and those with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage. We simply can’t jeopardize this progress,” Kuster added.

Kuster joined 30 of her colleagues in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, offering to be constructive partners in improving the law.

The repeal process is far from over and the fight has only begun.  We must stand united against that assault on working people and the Republicans plan to strip vital healthcare options from millions of Americans.

Planned Parenthood Of NH Pushes Back On Washington’s Attack On Women’s Health

Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund Launches #IStandwithPP Statewide Grassroots Campaign to Protect Women’s Health in Granite State

Activists Gird for Negative Impact on 12,000 Granite Staters, State’s Five Planned Parenthood Health Centers If Extreme Politicians in Washington Act to Restrict Women’s Health 

From Planned Parenthoot FLIKR

CONCORD, NH— Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund has joined the #IStandWithPlannedParenthood national grassroots campaign that includes 300 events in 47 states across the country.  Just last week, Speaker Ryan’s pledged to defund Planned Parenthood health services – a measure that would leave thousands of Granite Staters without care. The measure would prohibit the health care provider from receiving reimbursement for services, like cancer screenings and birth control, provided to patients insured by federal programs like Medicaid and Medicare. In effect, this blocks patients from accessing reproductive health care. Federal insurance programs do not cover abortion.

As a part of these efforts, Senators Shaheen and Hassan made their first joint New Hampshire appearance on Monday morning at a Planned Parenthood health center in Exeter, where they spoke with local patients and volunteers signaling their unwavering efforts to protect health care access for the 12,000 Granite Staters who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for their care, and the 2.5 million women, men, and  young people across the country.

“Planned Parenthood’s patients are anxious about how they will get affordable reproductive and sexual health care if extreme politicians in Washington block access to birth control and preventive care at our health centers,” said Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “New Hampshire has among the lowest teen pregnancy and STI rates in the country and taking away access to birth control, cancer screenings, and reproductive health care will have dangerous consequences for the health of our citizens and for the well-being of our communities. We are grateful that our federal delegation knows how essential the services Planned Parenthood provides is and will fight to ensure women’s health care access is protected.” 

“The fundamental right of women to access health care is integral to the economic security and vitality of our families and communities, and Planned Parenthood provides critical primary and preventative health care services to thousands of New Hampshire women, including preventative care, birth control and cancer screenings,” Senator Hassan said. “It is outrageous that Speaker Ryan and Republicans in Washington would try to take away access to basic health services for women in New Hampshire and across the country, and I will continue fighting against any proposals that defund Planned Parenthood and undermine Granite Staters’ access to quality, affordable health care at providers they trust.” 

“Thousands of women in the Granite State rely on Planned Parenthood for vital preventative and primary health care services like breast cancer exams, diabetes screenings, and birth control services,” Senator Shaheen said. “Defunding Planned Parenthood would leave these women without access to critical preemptive care that they need in order to live healthy lives, care for their families, and lead in the workforce. This effort is another politically-motivated attack on women in New Hampshire and across the country, and I will not stand for it. Republican leadership in Congress does not have a mandate to take away women’s healthcare.” 

Image by Sarah Mirk (FLIKR CC)

 

Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund has many grassroots events planned in January to highlight the support for Planned Parenthood in the state and nationally.

Later this week, PPNHAF will kick off an ‘I Stand With Planned Parenthood’ statewide lawn sign drop. As of today, more than 200 Granite Staters have signed up to stand in solidarity with the state’s largest women’s health provider by placing a sign outside their homes. All weekend PPNHAF will be dropping signs off to supporters around the Seacoast area. 

On January 21st, PPNHAF will cohost a ‘NH Women’s Day of Action & Unity’ in Concord, NH. The ‘NH Women’s Day of Action & Unity’ will include a morning rally and afternoon advocate trainings. Hundreds of New Hampshire residents have RSVP’d to attend and are eager to voice their support for women’s health, equity, and justice in an era of uncertainty for Planned Parenthood and abortion access.

PPNHAF also plans to host three open mic “story slams” in coffee shops in Manchester, Portsmouth and Keene where women, men, and families can share the important role Planned Parenthood and reproductive health care access has played in their lives. The events will take place on January 26th and 27th at Book & Bar in Portsmouth on Thursday January 26th from 7-9pm, Brewbakers in Keene on Friday January 27th from 6-8pm and Studio 550 in Manchester on Friday January 27th from 7-9pm.

In the past two months, hundreds of people have signed up to volunteer in New Hampshire, mobilizing supporters to fight back against this effort to restrict access to health care. The events coincide with the launch of a new website, istandwithpp.org, directing supporters to take action by sending letters to their members of Congress, volunteering for Planned Parenthood, sharing their story, finding an event, or calling their senator. Since yesterday, 168,000 people signed a petition asking Congress to stand with Planned Parenthood against the attacks. 

The American people overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood. Sixteen separate nationwide polls and nine polls in key swing states show strong favorability for Planned

Parenthood and strong opposition to efforts in Congress to block patients from accessing high-quality, often lifesaving care at Planned Parenthood. Additionally, a recent Politico-Harvard poll showed overwhelming support for Planned Parenthood, including from nearly half of self-identified Trump supporters.

On Sixth Anniversary, Affordable Care Act Providing Granite Staters with Access to Vital Care

obamacare ApprovedAyotte, Guinta, Washington Republicans Working to Repeal Life-Saving Law, Kick 50,000+ Granite Staters off Their Healthcare

Concord, N.H. –Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law six years ago today, hundreds of thousands of Granite Staters have been helped by quality, affordable health insurance and countless others have benefitted from other provisions of the law.

From making sure that people with pre-existing conditions are able to get care and preventing women from being charged more for their insurance, to allowing young people to stay on their parents’ plans, delivering preventative care coverage, and expanding Medicaid for almost 50,000 people in New Hampshire, the Affordable Care Act has made a real difference in the lives of families across the Granite State.

Despite all of these important improvements in access to care for New Hampshire families, Kelly Ayotte, Frank Guinta, and Washington Republicans remain committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act, a move that would also end New Hampshire’s successful bipartisan Medicaid Expansion, kicking almost 50,000 Granite Staters out of their insurance. Experts say that this expansion is a vital tool in the fight against the deadly substance abuse epidemic ravaging the state.

Some key numbers about the Affordable Care Act’s impact in New Hampshire:

·      Under the Affordable Care Act, New Hampshire’s uninsured rate has fallen 5 points to 8.8%.

·      As many as 597,050 Granite Staters with preexisting conditions are now prohibited from being denied coverage—this includes 68,589 Granite State children.

·      545,000 New Hampshire residents benefit from the elimination of lifetime and annual caps on coverage.

·      58,876 more people in New Hampshire are covered under Medicaid or CHIP since the start of the Health Insurance Marketplace first open enrollment.

·      54,519 Granite Staters received rebates from their insurance companies last year because under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to provide rebates if the amount they spend on health benefits is too low as opposed to marketing.

·      191,570 Medicare beneficiaries in New Hampshire benefit from access to preventative care like cancer screenings without any out-of-pocket cost.

·      Approximately 1,700 Granite Staters accessed substance abuse treatment in 2015 through New Hampshire’s Medicaid Expansion, made possible through the Affordable Care Act. 

“Six years ago today, President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, literally saving lives and dramatically improving access to health care for countless Granite Staters,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Yet Washington Republicans like Kelly Ayotte and Frank Guinta want to pull the rug out from under vulnerable people by repealing this law and taking away their access to affordable health care. I thank our Democratic elected officials for their leadership in making this law a reality and their continued efforts to improve healthcare access and delivery for all.” 

Leo W Gerard: GOP Vows Sickness and Ill-Health

Paul Ryan (DonkeyHotey)

Paul Ryan (DonkeyHotey FLICKR)

The grandest and most majestic first act of 2016 by the Republican majority in Congress was to take a meat clever and sever 17 million Americans from their Affordable Care Act health insurance.

No chemo for you, cancer patients, the GOP declared. No plaster or slings for you, bone fracture victims, they sneered.

Precious few of the 17 million Americans whose health the GOP imperiled with this hard-hearted deed heard any panicked news about it, however. This made Republicans very, very sad because last week’s measure was the first in their 50 attempts to gut the Affordable Care Act to actually pass both the U.S. House and Senate. All of their other failed attempts had died in Congress. But this one, this one special bill, died Friday at the tip of President Obama’s veto pen. Still, it’s just as dead as the others. The bad, old insurance days won’t return.

In those bad, old, pre-Affordable Care Act days, health insurance was not working. Remember insurance companies throwing people off their plans when they got sick? Recall insurance companies denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and acne? There was that Medicare prescription plan donut hole that cost senior citizens thousands of dollars every year. And more and more employers were ditching health coverage for workers.

2016-01-10-1452442490-157501-ACAgraphic.jpg

Americans wanted it all fixed. The Affordable Care Act took a giant leap toward accomplishing that. Okay, it’s not perfect. It doesn’t cover everyone. But 17.6 million more Americans got insurance because of it. Young adults to age 26 can stay on their parents’ plans. The cost of drugs for seniors stuck in the donut hole declined, and the coverage gap disappears altogether in 2020. Insurance companies can’t dump the sick or deny them coverage.

It’s a different world. It’s one where tens of millions of Americans feel safer and more secure. They’ve got health insurance now. Or they know that if they lose their job, and along with it their employment-based insurance, they’ll be able now to buy coverage.

This world, though, makes Republicans squirm. They hate it when the government of the people, by the people does more for the people. To them, it’s bad enough that the people have gotten together and decided government should provide public schools for all children. Republicans believe private schools exclusively for those who can afford them would be just fine. Republicans believe those private security forces hired to guard gated communities could supplant public police departments, and places that couldn’t afford private forces would get no protection. They’d be happy with toll roads owned and operated by private corporations instead of freeways built by tax dollars.

Similarly, they’ve repeatedly proposed privatizing Medicare, the highly efficient, extremely popular, government-operated health insurance for the elderly. They opposed the national health insurance plan FDR proposed in 1939. And in the decades since then, they’ve killed every attempt by Democratic administrations, including President Bill Clinton’s, to provide some sort of national health plan. Many influential Republican leaders condemned Medicare, the national health plan serving only the elderly, when it passed in 1965. Those opponents included Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush.

Republicans don’t care that Americans love Medicare and desperately want the reassurance of access to health insurance during the decades before they turn 65. Republicans don’t care that citizens of every other major first-world nation provide this benefit to each other. Germany started doing it in 1883.

Republicans don’t believe citizens should provide services to each other through their government. And the GOP’s sworn mission is to destroy as many as they can.

In addition to cancelling insurance for 17 million Americans, the doomed Republican measure would have eliminated all federal funding – $450 million – for Planned Parenthood clinics across the country, the places that millions of poor women rely on for basic reproductive needs including annual exams and family planning.  No federal funding pays for abortions.

The GOP contended that it made up for that loss by providing $235 million for community health centers. That’s just about half of the Planned Parenthood funding. So apparently the GOP thought it was just fine to deny care to half of the women Planned Parenthood serves.

Republicans made no plans to deal with the loss of the Affordable Care Act, however. They’re claiming that they’d replace the act someday over the rainbow when they re-elect GOP majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate as well as elect a GOP President, after which they would actually be able to repeal the law.

There’s not any sort of replacement proposal now, however. None. GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan admits it. He claims Republicans will start talking about that soon. “Just wait,” he instructed when asked about plans.

Republicans have been trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act for five years. But they’ve made absolutely no effort to patch the massive gaping hole that would leave behind. They don’t want to.

They don’t believe in communities coming together to care for their members, whether that’s by providing public transit or access to health insurance.

They believe that Americans who get cancer in the richest country in the world and don’t have health insurance are on their own.

Will Ayotte Vote To Take Away Healthcare For 40,000 Granite Staters Again?

Will Kelly Ayotte Yet Again Vote To Defund Planned Parenthood and Repeal Health Coverage For 40,000 Granite Staters By Supporting Mitch McConnell’s Plan? 

In Midst of Substance Abuse Crisis, McConnell Plan Would Hurt Access To Treatment by Ending Medicaid Expansion 

Concord, N.H. – Last night, Mitch McConnell presented his plan to Senate Republicans to end health coverage for 40,000 Granite Staters provided by Medicaid Expansion while also defunding Planned Parenthood. Now the only question is whether Kelly Ayotte, one of McConnell’s “closest allies,” will vote yet again with her corporate special interest backers and her party’s far-right leadership against New Hampshire families or continue her effort to rewrite her real Washington record to save her political career.

Since going to Washington, Ayotte has voted four times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would also repeal New Hampshire’s successful, bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan that now covers tens of thousands of hard-working Granite Staters. Medicaid expansion includes coverage for substance abuse, making the program one of the most important pieces of the battle against heroin. And Ayotte has not only voted three times to defund Planned Parenthood, but she has also voted to eliminate funding for thousands of family planning centers across the country.  

“From voting repeatedly to repeal health coverage for tens of thousands of Granite Staters to voting over and over to defund Planned Parenthood, Kelly Ayotte has consistently sided with her corporate special interest backers like the Koch Brothers and her party’s far-right leadership against New Hampshire families,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Whether Ayotte votes yet again to repeal health coverage and hurt access to women’s health care or continues trying to mislead voters and rewrite history, the truth about Ayotte’s real Washington record will be perfectly clear to New Hampshire voters next November.” 

For more on Kelly Ayotte’s real Washington record, visit AyotteFactCheck.com

The GOP In The US House Make Changes To The 30 Hr Work Week In ACA. They Could Not Be More Wrong

Image from NObamaNoMas on Flickr

Image from NObamaNoMas on Flickr

This week marked the six-month anniversary of the Healthcare.Gov and healthcare exchanges going live.  The anniversary also marks the closing of the first open enrollment period for people to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act.  To the surprise of everyone, the healthcare exchanges signed up over 7.1 million people.  Including the millions of young adults who now have continuing healthcare coverage under their parents plan, the White House estimates that the ACA has helped nearly 10 million people gain quality affordable healthcare.

Aside from the great news about the ACA, the GOP is going full bore in their attempts to derail the ACA.  This week the US House voted for the 55th time to repeal key provisions of the law in an attempt to dismantle it piece by piece. Not to mention that the 55 different attempts to repeal the ACA has cost us the taxpayers over $50 million dollars.

This week, House Republicans voted to change the ‘full time work’ provision of the ACA.  Under the ACA employers must provide access to health insurance to all employees who work full time, or more than 30 hours a week.  The new bill that House GOP passed, mostly along party lines, changes the definition of full time to those who work 40 hours a week or more.

This is in response to GOP legislators, like NH congressional candidate Gary Lambert who told a group of college students at Plymouth State University, that the ACA is “killing the 40 hour work week.”  They claim that by forcing employers to offer healthcare coverage to employees that work 30 hours a week, employers have reduced employee work hours to less than 30 hours.  Corporations are doing anything they can to avoid offering healthcare to their employees.

It is not Obamacare that decides how much somebody works, it’s the person who runs the company,” Rep. James McDermott (D-Wash.) told the Washington Post Thursday.

The GOP is bowing down to their corporate masters by changing the law to allow corporations to have employees work full time, and still not be required to offer employees healthcare.

The Washington Post also reported that President Obama has already issued a veto threat to this bill – which has a snowballs chance in hell of getting through the Senate – due the fact that over 1 million people would loose healthcare coverage from their employers pushing the number of uninsured Americans up another 500,000 if this bill passed.

This move by House Republicans’ is exactly the opposite of what we needs to be done.  If they are afraid that workers are going to loose their full time status because the ACA says full time is 30 hours a week, they should remove the provision completely.  They should pass a law that requires employers to offer healthcare to all employees, not just those that are ‘full time’.

This is exactly what the AFL-CIO has been calling for since the law was first passed, and reaffirmed their position in a convention resolution passed in 2013.

The labor movement has pushed for a requirement in the ACA that all employers assume responsibility for contributing toward the cost of health care for their employees….

We all know full well that the corporate lobbyists in Washington would never agree to this, and that means the GOP would never entertain an idea to make access to healthcare a requirement.

House Republicans will continue to work to repeal this law….” stated Speaker John Boehner in a recent press release.

Mark my words, the GOP is going to use the Affordable Care Act as the major theme in their mid-term campaign strategy. Just like they did in 2012, they are going to stump around telling people if they are elected they will repeal the ACA.

It has already begun. “On April 1st Gary Lambert made a trip to Plymouth State University to meet with students,” said Brandon Lemay a student from PSU who attended Lambert’s meet and greet. “When discussing why he should replace Representative Anne Kuster, he cited his opposition to Obamacare as a great reason to remove her.”

Former Senator Lambert is no different than the hundreds of Republicans in Washington who do not want make incremental changes to the ACA and make it better; they only want to repeal it.  Over 55 times, the House GOP has voted to repeal the ACA.   By repealing the law they want to kick the 10 million people off their new health insurance, allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people when they get sick, take away the option for young adults to stay on their parents’ plan, take away the mandate for insurance companies to fully cover preventative care, and remove the cap on insurance companies profits.

Do we really want to go back to the way it was before? No of course not, but the GOP is obsessed with moving our country backwards, rather than pushing forward. The GOP believes that voters are stupid. We know that if they were elected that they couldn’t repeal the ACA, and we also know that repealing the law would hurt millions of Americans.

“I think the recent comments by Senator Lambert, and many of those in the GOP, about the ACA, show just how out of touch they are with real Granite Staters,” said Brandon Lemay.

This repeal Obamacare campaign strategy works great, just ask Mitt Romney.

MLK A Devoted Labor Leader And Leader Against The Death Penalty

MLK’s First Campaign was against the Death Penalty

Bus segregation was not the first issue that grabbed the attention of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. when the young pastor moved to Montgomery, Alabama in 1954. His first campaign in his new home focused on a sentence of death for Jeremiah Reeves, a 16-year-old black boy convicted of raping a white woman, which512px-Martin_Luther_King_Jr_NYWTS_6-wikicommons became his first civil rights campaign in his new home. Reeves had confessed under duress, but later recanted, a claim widely believed in the black community. King joined the NAACP’s efforts to save Reeves’ life.

So did Claudette Colvin, like Reeves a student at Booker T. Washington High School. Colvin, who the next year would be arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus nine months before Rosa Parks did the same thing, recalled, “Jeremiah Reeves’s arrest was the turning point of my life. That was when I and a lot of other students really started thinking about prejudice and racism. I was furious when I found out what had happened.” [1]

“In the years that [Reeves] sat in jail,” Dr. King wrote in Stride Toward Freedom, his book about the Montgomery movement, “several white men in Alabama had also been charged with rape; but their accusers were Negro girls. They were seldom arrested; if arrested, they were soon released by the Grand Jury; none was ever brought to trial.” [2]

Reeves was found guilty by an all-white jury and put to death on March 28, 1958.

A week later King addressed a “Prayer Pilgrimage” rally in front of the State Capitol building. “The issue before us now is not the innocence or guilt of Jeremiah Reeves,” King told a crowd of two thousand. “Even if he were guilty, it is the severity ad inequality of the penalty that constitutes the injustice. Full grown white men committing comparable crimes against Negro girls are rare ever punished, and are never given the death penalty or even a life sentence.”[3]

Such gerrymandered justice was a well established fact of life in the South, going back to the days of slavery when blacks were commonly executed or lynched for crimes that drew less harsh punishment — or none — when committed by whites. This discriminatory pattern continued after emancipation, as Stuart Banner documents in his book, The Death Penalty: An American History. “In the first half of the [twentieth] century,” he writes, “the southern states punished many crimes by death only if they were committed by blacks, in the second half of LR&Mark11-14-12 019the century they accomplished the same result by delegating to all-white juries the discretion to choose capital or noncapital punishment.”

“The death penalty was a means of racial control,” observes Banner, a UCLA law professor.

Sadly, the role played by race in decisions about the death penalty persists. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, recent studies “add to an overwhelming body of evidence that race plays a decisive role in the question of who lives and dies by execution in this country. Race influences which cases are chosen for capital prosecution and which prosecutors are allowed to make those decisions. Likewise, race affects the makeup of the juries which determine the sentence. Racial effects have been shown not just in isolated instances, but in virtually every state for which disparities have been estimated and over an extensive period of time.”

New Hampshire is a case in point.

Michael Addison was charged with capital murder for killing Michael Briggs, a police officer, in 2006.

John Brooks was charged with capital murder for hiring three men to assist him in killing Jack Reid, a handyman, in 2005.

The trials took place in adjacent counties in 2008.

Addison, a poor black man with a prior criminal record, was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Brooks, a white millionaire businessman, was found guilty but spared the death penalty.

Monica Foster, Brooks’ attorney, said of her client after the sentence was announced, “He’s not the kind of people juries routinely kill,”

Racial disparities in the use of the death penalty have been a focus of scholarly research for decades. According to Justin Levinson, Robert Smith, and Danielle Young, authors of a 2013 study, “The most consistent and robust finding in this literature is that even after controlling for dozens and sometimes hundreds of case-related variables, Americans who murder Whites are more likely to receive a death sentence than those who murder Blacks.” They note as well that “Black defendants are sentenced to death more frequently than White defendants, especially when the universe of studied cases is narrowed to include only those cases that result in aexecutejustice11-14-12capital trial.”

What Levinson, Smith, and Young found ought to be a wake-up call for anyone interested in the fairness of our judicial system. After studying 445 jury-eligible citizens in six states where the death penalty is most actively used, they concluded that “implicit racial bias does have an impact on the administration of the death penalty in America.”

“We found that death-qualified jurors implicitly valued White lives over Black lives by more rapidly associating White subjects with the concepts of ‘worth’ or ‘value’ and Black subjects with the concepts of ‘worthless’ or ‘expendable.’ This finding could potentially help to explain why real capital juries impose death sentences more regularly for White victims: at least at an implicit level we value White lives more than Black lives, and thus, perhaps, we seek to punish those individuals who have destroyed those whom we value most.”

The implications of this finding go far beyond the death penalty.

As for Dr. King, it is worth noting that his comments on the prosecution, conviction, and execution of Jeremiah Reeves did not directly reject capital punishment, just “the unequal justice of Southern courts.” As King matured into the leader we honor today, his critique of injustice deepened and blended with a prescription for change.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that,” he famously said.

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence,” King told the world on the day he received the Nobel Peace Prize. “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

The realization of King’s vision is far off. Abolition of the death penalty would be an excellent step in the right direction.

To get involved, join the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

 


 

[1] Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2009, p. 23-24

[2] Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom

[3] Martin Luther King, Jr., “Statement Delivered at the Prayer Pilgrimage Protesting the Electrocution of Jeremiah Reeves,” April 6, 1958

Shea-Porter Calls for Congress to Remain In Session and Work on Jobs Bills

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives asking Congress to extend its current session in order to end sequestration and pass job-creating legislation. On August 2rd, the House is scheduled to leave for summer recess for over a month before returning in September.

Shea-Porter criticized Congress’ inability to pass legislation that grows the economy and strengthens the middle class.

We did not pass a single jobs bill, not one,” Shea-Porter said.

It’s been 212 days since the start of the 113th Congress. Only 22 bills have been signed into law, and none are jobs bills or legislation to replace the devastating cuts of sequestration.

A CNN analysis shows Congress has spent less time on Capitol Hill so far this year than in any of the previous five years.

“Congress is not coming back until September. Did we get everything done? No, we did not…I urge Congress to stay here. I urge the Speaker to call us back and make us do the job the American people sent us here to do,” Shea-Porter said.

37 Attempts At A Repeal Of The ACA And Still No Jobs Bill

The fiscally responsible Republican party is always looking for ways to reduce government waste.  They search for any ‘fraud, waste and abuse’ inside the federal government in an effort to reduce the budget.  Even after they make statements about how we need to become more focused on jobs in Washington, they once again vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  This makes attempt number 37 for those counting.

“This vote was a waste of New Hampshire taxpayers’ time and money,”  Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter said.

The act of voting on this repeal has already cost the taxpayers over 60 million dollars (37 votes times 1.75 million in cost per vote equal 64.75 million).  I wonder what 60 million dollars would do to help some of the programs the sequester is cutting.  In fact the money wasted on repealing the ACA is more than enough to cover the cuts made to the meals on wheels program (41 million).  I wonder if this $60 million would be enough to keep the 70,000 kids in the head start programs that they are being forced out of.

Wasting our time and money aside the ACA is a good start.  According to the White House, the ACA will help over 30 million Americans who do not already have healthcare.  Right now over 86 million Americans have added protections to their healthcare coverage thanks to the ACA.  They can no longer deny you for a pre-existing condition. They can no longer charge different amounts for women or men.  They have helped millions of seniors save an average of $600 a year by closing the prescription drug ‘donut hole’.  These are just of a few of the benefits we Americans are gaining thanks to the ACA.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster stated after the vote:

“I am extremely frustrated that House leadership is more interested in refighting old political battles than actually solving problems. Instead of wasting more time and money on another vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, both parties should be focused on growing the economy, helping create jobs and opportunity, and strengthening the middle class.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter chastised the House leadership in her statement.  “Instead of voting 37 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republicans should listen to the American people who want Congress to help create jobs and end sequestration. Republican House Speaker John Boehner should stop political posturing and put a jobs bill on the floor.”

Congresswomen Kuster and Shea-Porter are exactly right. They have voted 37 times to repeal the ACA and wasted 15% of their time in Washington in a futile attempt to repeal the law.

Congresswoman Kuster continued, “voting to undo these vital reforms will do nothing to improve our health care system, and only serves to reinforce peoples’ worst assumptions about Congress’s willingness to put politics ahead of middle class families.”

I want to see Congress do something to help the working families in America by pushing for a comprehensive jobs bill, not another repeal attempt.  Almost all of the people in Washington ran on creating new jobs and yet there has not been one vote on a jobs bill.  And you wonder why the Congressional approval rating is so low.

An Update On School Vouchers From Bill Duncan (@ANHPE)

Now the Senate has two voucher repeal opportunities

The House yesterday passed its budget.  Item 58 says, “Repeals the education tax credit against the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax.”  That means that your advocacy with senators for voucher repeal does double duty.  You are asking them to support voucher repeal as a free standing bill, HB 370.  But if HB 370 fails, you are also giving your senators reasons to accept voucher repeal as part of the inevitable horsetrading that will happen in June on the budget.  So even if you are talking to a senator who will surely not vote for HB 370, be not deterred!  Make the many reasons for voucher repeal clear and know that those factors will carry weight when the time comes.

And what are those factors?  Many of the issues were discussed at the very successful Senate Health, Education and Human Services Committee hearing, where supporters of voucher repeal greatly outnumbered supporters of vouchers.  Lack of business and public support has led to very low donations, even with a dollar-for-dollar subsidy from the tax credits.  Advocates blame that on the controversy but I say they brought it all on themselves.  Lack of oversight has made program administration an embarrassment.  And you must see Kathy Sullivan’s funny and hard hitting piece in the Union Leader about how bad the participating schools are.  Here is more fodder for discussion with your senator.

Funding for new charter schools is uncertain

There has been much coverage of the moratorium on new charter schools, leaving four new ones in an uncertain status.  Here is a good NHPR report summarizing the status.  And here is more background on the role of charters in New Hampshire.  The House Education Committee and the House Finance Committee have both established subcommittees that will review the role of charter schools in New Hampshire over the coming months.  The process is healthy and will enable New Hampshire to resume authorizing charter schools within a clear policy framework.

Final action on funding of new charters will now not be settled until the budget negotiations are complete in June.

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