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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.

Rough Road Ahead: Republicans Take Governor, House And Senate In NH

All the votes have been counted and we are looking at a very rough road ahead.

With the election of Donald Trump we will see a revived national effort to cut taxes for business, cut regulations on environmental protections, and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Here in New Hampshire we about to enter a new era of Republican control.  The NH Senate stayed the same with 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats. In the House, Democrats picked up a few seats but are still in the minority (235-165). With Governor-elect Chris Sununu’s win, we can expect a fast and furious legislative attack on many of the programs working people fought for.

From Dan Touhy’s Granite Status on the election results:

WHAT DOES IT all mean for New Hampshire? Watch for some Republican policy initiatives to be pitched with gusto. In Concord, that includes a return of right-to-work legislation, the “constitutional carry” firearms bill, and proposed business tax reform.

State Rep. Fred Doucette, R-Salem, said veterans issues and tackling the state’s opioid and heroin epidemic are two of his priorities in the coming legislative session.

The combination of a Republican President and Republican controlled Congress could mean the end of the ACA which could mean the end of the New Hampshire Health Partnership Program that protects more than 50,000 Granite Staters.  Even without the repeal of the ACA, Sununu and many of his cohorts in the Legislature have already suggested ending the program in New Hampshire.

The question now is; What other attacks will working people face in the coming year?

Besides Right to Work will Republicans try to repeal our collective bargaining rights like they did in the O’Brien era of 2011-12? Will they attempt to reduce benefits for retiree’s and force workers to contribute more to the pension system?  Will they force through their so-called “school choice” legislation that takes public funds and gives it to private and religious institutions? Will they continue to attack a woman’s right to choose and to attack women’s healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood?

It is time to start organizing so we will be ready when Sununu and his fellow Republicans begin their assault on workers.

Republicans In The U.S. House Push A New Union-Busting Bill As A Campaign Prop

Buckle up brother and sisters.  Republicans in the U.S. House are trying to pass legislation to steal away your right to due process. By eliminating due process, workers lose their collectively bargained protections against wrongful termination.

Rep. Todd Rokita

Rep. Todd Rokita

This week The Hill reported:

“Rep. Todd Rokita, R- Ind., introduced the Promote Accountability and Government Efficiency Act to turn all federal employees into at-will workers shortly before the House recessed so members could campaign in their home districts.”

That’s right. He wants to turn all federal workers into at-will employees giving them the right to fire workers “at will.”

“The at-will portion of the measure would only apply to new employees hired one year after its enactment, and allow agency heads to fire workers ‘without notice or right to appeal.’”

This would eviscerate federal workers current, collectively bargained, due process procedures that require evidence and third-party review, prior to termination.  Due process is just a form of checks and balance to ensure that workers are not being arbitrarily fired because the manager has an axe to grind.  It requires that management show documentation of poor performance or of unacceptable behavior.

The bill would also completely eliminate “official time” that allows both sides to work collaboratively to resolve issues.

“By passing a law to cut official time for government workers, Congress would eliminate the ability of federal employees to represent all of their coworkers (those who pay dues and those who don’t) while in an official duty status,” said AFGE in opposition to previous attacks on official time. 

“Official time gives workers the ability to resolve disputes efficiently so employees can get back to work. It protects whistleblowers from retaliation, and helps implement new technology and other innovations to solve workplace problems.”

divided-we-begThis is exactly what Republicans want.  They want to bust federal unions who have been organizing and growing over the last few years. If they can bust unions at the federal level, it will only be a matter of time before identical legislation is passed in our State House’s taking away the rights of all public employees.

Republicans will use this bill in their campaign speeches and rallies, while raking in donations from their anti-union, corporate campaign funders.

Remember it was President Reagan’s mass firing of 13,000 air traffic controllers that empowered the private industry to oppose unions and fire workers, instead of resolving contract disputes.

We do not need another federal lead assault on working people that will end with the destruction of all unions, public and private.

 

 

New Hampshire Senate Republicans Blocking Rail Funding Once Again

(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)

(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)

Concord, NH – Today, Senate Republicans blocked the restoration of the $4 million funding for environmental and engineering assessment work, the next phase in bringing commuter rail to New Hampshire. After the vote, Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) offered the following comments:

“We talk a lot in the Senate about what our workers and businesses need to thrive and grow here in New Hampshire. And while our businesses have many needs, commuter rail addresses two of their most basic problems: a modern, safe, transportation infrastructure and the retention of a highly educated workforce,” said Sen. Lasky. “I’m disappointed that Senate Republicans have once again blocked this funding. In addition, the people of New Hampshire continue to be frustrated by the lack of effort by the Republicans in the legislature to find a consensus way forward on commuter rail when the economic benefits have been shown to be undeniable.”

“The fact that this next phase would not cost the state a penny makes the opposition to this proposal even more unbelievable. We have more than enough toll credits to complete this work, without sacrificing other projects, and the funding proposed for this project cannot be used for any other project within the 10-Year Transportation Improvement Plan. There is no logical reason to oppose this funding except for those who are ideologically opposed to bringing commuter rail and the economic boost it will provide to New Hampshire.”

Federal transit funds would make up 80% of the $4 million needed for the project, with the state’s 20% share being covered by excess toll credits.

“I, along with my Senate Democratic colleagues and the more than 74% of New Hampshire citizens, continue to be frustrated by the refusal of our Republican colleagues to act on commuter rail. But even though the Senate has once again blocked this common sense solution to move this project forward, we will continue fighting to make commuter rail a reality in the Granite State,” Laskey concluded.

“I am disappointed that the amendment to leverage federal funds for the environmental and engineering work necessary to bring commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester was eliminated. Commuter rail would help improve access to the entire region, provide new housing and transportation opportunities, spur economic development and create jobs. The business community continues to call on us to take action on this and we must keep working together with members from both parties, local communities, the federal government, our businesses and the State of Massachusetts to come to an agreement to make this vital project a reality,” said Governor Maggie Hassan.  

US House Republican Continues Assault On Federal Workers

Demonstration at Fort. Gordon - March 2016  AFGE members at Fort Gordon protest hazardous working conditions. - Photo by Vyzzion Photography

Demonstration at Fort. Gordon – March 2016
AFGE members at Fort Gordon protest hazardous working conditions. – Photo by Vyzzion Photography

Congressman Price budget would slash pay, benefits, jobs of frontline federal employees

WASHINGTON – The federal budget blueprint proposed by House leaders would continue the assault on America’s workers by slashing spending on vital federal programs and the employees who administer them, the head of the largest federal employee union said today.

“Congressman Tom Price calls his plan ‘A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America,’ but there’s nothing balanced about a budget that makes its cuts on the backs of the working people who keep this country strong,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

According to press reports, Price’s budget would slash funding for discretionary programs to a level not seen in at least eight years. This would require severe cuts to programs that help millions of Americans feed and shelter their families, educate our children and help young adults afford college, and research cures for cancer and other debilitating diseases.

The budget also proposes additional cuts to the pay, benefits and jobs of the nearly 2 million federal employees who care for our veterans, guard our borders, inspect our food, and process Social Security benefits.

“Federal employees have endured $182 billion in cuts to their wages and benefits since the start of this decade. Imposing additional cuts to their compensation and jobs won’t make America stronger,” Cox said. “We need to start investing in our public servants so they have the resources they need to continue serving the American people.”

Republicans Kill A Bill To Expand Full Day Kindergarten

Image by Cole24_ FLICKR

Image by Cole24_ FLICKR

Republicans love to complain that our current education system is failing our children, yet when they are presented with a strong solution to boost early education, they adamantly reject it.

Earlier this month, New Hampshire legislators were given the opportunity to expand the state’s kindergarten program from half-day to full day. The bill, HB 1563, would simply provide additional state funds for schools who are already offering full day kindergarten and those who switch from half-day to full day.

“Full-day kindergarten helps make sure that students build the strong base of learning they will need to succeed throughout school and life,” wrote the National Education Association. “Full-day kindergarten can produce long-term educational gains, especially for low-income and minority students.”

The benefits of full-day kindergarten are well documented. According to research compiled by the Children’s National Defense Fund they found that children:

  • Are more prepared for school: they do better with the transition to first grade, show significant gains in school socialization and are equipped with stronger learning skills
  • Have higher academic achievement in later grades
  • Have better attendance in kindergarten and through the primary grades
  • Show faster gains on literacy and language measures when compared to half-day kindergarten students
  • Have enhanced social, emotional and behavior development
  • Have reduced retention and remediation rates.

These are substantial gains for children and a significant boost to our education system as a whole. Investing in early education will also build a stronger, well-educated workforce in the years to come.

Sadly, this will not become a reality this year because Republicans in the NH House rejected the idea.

In a completely partisan vote, the NH House rejected HB 1563, 205 to 152. Everyone who voted against expanding full day kindergarten was a Republican.

Republicans should stop their whining about the failures of our education system and start looking in the mirror. They are the ones who are failing to invest in a proven, successful program that will create lasting effects on a child’s ability to learn and grow.

We need to elect legislators who are willing to do what is needed to improve our education system, not just what is best for their political careers.


 

UPDATED to correct an error. Not all the Republicans in the House voted against expanding full day kindergarten as previously reported.  Eight Republicans voted for the bill, however all of the votes against the bill were Republicans.

Federal Workers Deserve A Raise, Democrats Propose A 5.3% Increase

AFGE Workers want a raisePushing back against the Republican’s austerity budgets, Democrats introduce a 5.3% increase for federal workers.

Federal employees deserve catch-up contribution to counter years of lost wages

WASHINGTON — For a number of years now politicians in Washington have been forcing their austerity budgets on the hard working men and women that make up the federal workforce.  Federal workers have already given back $182 billion dollars in forced concessions through pay freezes, pay cuts, and increases to their retirement plans.

Nationally the economy keeps moving forward and the cost of living continues to rise yet federal workers are stuck in reverse.

“It’s time to raise wages for all working families in this country, and the federal government should serve as the model for all other employers to follow. This is why AFGE strongly supports the ‘Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act’ introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia. This legislation will provide federal workers with a 5.3% pay raise next year,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr.

The bill introduced in the House in mid-January already has 81 cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats.

“AFGE has led the call for a 5.3% pay raise and I’m incredibly grateful for the strong support our proposal has received. Federal employees have gone far too long without a decent wage increase, resulting in a 6.5% drop in their standard of living since the start of the decade,” added Cox. 

Nationally the cost of living has risen over 21% in the last ten years but most federal workers have only seen a couple of precent increase in their wages.  Federal workers have faced same economic struggles as every other American during the last 10 years.

“Federal employees are just like other workers – they are struggling to keep up with house and car payments, student loan debt, and rising costs for prescriptions and groceries and other essentials,” said Cox. “We are not asking for any special treatment, just a catch-up contribution to start making up for the $182 billion that federal employees personally sacrificed to help get our nation through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

During the last six years Congress, mostly Republicans, have been using federal workers as their own personal piggy banks.  They take money that should have gone to the workers and repurposed it for their own benefit.  They force pay cuts on the workers and give more tax breaks and subsidies to corporations who are making record profits or to billionaires who are not paying their fair share of taxes as it is.

“As a result of six years of low to no pay raises, the purchasing power of federal paychecks has declined substantially. The women and men who keep this country running deserve a standard of living that keeps up with inflation and rising wages, which is why this catch-up contribution is long overdue. Congress must pass this legislation,” said Cox. 

Republicans In The NH Senate Kill Two Bills Designed To Help Working Families

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136 3

Senate Passes SB136 (2015-03-26). Image by Marc Nozell Flickr CC

The NH Senate Republicans strike back against working families.

Today, Republicans in the NH Senate voted to send two new bills to an “interim study” or in laymen’s terms killing the bills for the rest of this session.  Both bills were killed by Republicans straight down party lines with one exception.

SB 479 would have created a tax credit for businesses who implement employee profit sharing. This bill would encourage more New Hampshire companies to give back to their workers through profit sharing. Corporations like Market Basket proudly give back to their workers through profit sharing creating a very loyal and dedicated workforce that gets extra benefits from their hard work. 

“Once again, the Senate has turned its back on hard working New Hampshire families. Even though our economy continues to improve and jobs are coming back to the state, incomes are not rising for our workers. This legislation was an innovative way to encourage businesses to share their profits with their employees,” said Senator David Pierce. “I’m very disappointed that my Republican colleagues again chose to reward bigger corporate profits rather than increasing workers wages. Just last year, we came to a compromise to cut corporate taxes for those at the top, yet today we rejected a common sense approach to help increase wages for those in the middle.” 

Senate Bill 479 creates a tax credit against the business taxes for companies that implement employee profit-sharing. Under this legislation, the tax credit would be available for each qualified employee of up to 15 percent of the compensation paid as profits in which employees share. There would also be a cap of 10 percent of the employee’s wages. 

“Profit-sharing gives everyone a stake in a company’s success, boosts productivity, and puts more money directly into employee’s pockets. This legislation is good for workers and good for businesses. Employee-profit sharing is a practice we should be encouraging in our state and rewarding businesses for implementing a profit-sharing plan supports both our workers and businesses.”

SB 511 would have established a refund of a portion of state education property taxes for child and dependent care expenses. 22 states have already adopted a similar supplement to the Federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. If SB 511 had become law, families who claim the Federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit would be eligible for a property tax refund of 50% of the federal amount. 

Republican Senator Gerald Little (R-Weare) was the only Republican to stand up for working families and voted to support SB 511.

“Once again, the Senate has chosen to maintain the status quo rather than do something to help hard-working Granite State families. Child care is one of the largest costs for families in New Hampshire and SB 511 would have helped reduce that cost,” said Senator Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia). “If we can afford to give businesses tax breaks like we did last year, we can certainly afford to help our hard working families.” 

“Not only would this legislation help reduce the cost of child care for our families, but it helps New Hampshire’s businesses retain good employees who might otherwise have to choose between working and taking care of their children and encourages our economy to grow. New Hampshire’s working families need state government to be responsive to the rising costs of child care services and I’m disappointed that the Republican majority voted against reducing the cost of affordable child care for Granite Staters.”

Republicans are always claiming they want to reduce taxes for working families and for local businesses but when push comes to shove they fold like a cheap suit.

Once Again, Republicans In The NH Senate Kill An Increase To The Minimum Wage

Image from @OFA_NH pic.twitter.com/ZG7B0GfERQ

Image from @OFA_NH pic.twitter.com/ZG7B0GfERQ

Republicans Kill Minimum Wage Increase That Would Benefit More than 141,000 Granite Staters    

CONCORD- Senator Donna Soucy (D-Manchester), Deputy Democratic Leader and sponsor of SB 412, issued the following statement after Senate Republicans defeated a minimum wage increase along a party line vote:

“While 17 other states have increased their minimum wages in the last 4 years, I am disappointed that NH Senate Republicans have killed an increase in the minimum wage for the third time. Today, the Senate again failed the people of the New Hampshire and turned their backs on our workers,” said Senator Soucy.

“People working full-time in New Hampshire should be able to earn enough to support their families and they must be confident in their own financial circumstances in order to expand our economy. SB 412 would have strengthened the financial security of more than 141,000 Granite Staters and benefitted many more higher up the pay scale.” 

SB 412 would have increased New Hampshire’s minimum wage to $12 per hour. According to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute, raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage to $12 would have benefitted 141,000 New Hampshire workers, 60% of which are women and 84% of which are above the age of 20. 

“Paying decent wages is a good investment for our economy. Well-paid workers are better employees and better customers; their spending helps sustain our businesses and our economy. Increasing the minimum wage was a common sense step forward we could have taken to support our working families and grow our economy. While I’m disappointed our Republican colleagues continue to fail our workers, Senate Democrats will continue to push for an increase in our minimum wage and will continue fighting to expand opportunity for all.”

The GOP’s Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Is Racist And Un-American

Image by Gage Skidmore

Image by Gage Skidmore

Enough is enough! 

We must stop praising these politicians who trying to win the nomination of the Republican Party by threatening to evict 11 million aspiring Americans and potentially millions more American citizens whose parents are not yet citizens.

It is disgusting, racist and un-American.  

By now you have already seen this video of the pompous asshat Donald Trump forcibly removing one of the nations most respected journalists from his press conference in an attempt to avoid answering questions regarding his immigration policies.

As if the actions of the Trump campaign were not enough, the story does not end there.

After being evicted from the press conference, an unidentified man tells Jorge Ramos (who is an American citizen) to “get out of my country.

Donald Trump is leading the charge against immigrants, specifically latino families by accusing them of being drug dealers & rapists, “and some I presume are good people.” Other GOP wannabe’s are also following Trump’s lead by promoting this idea that we should rescind “birthright citizenship.”  Some of these Presidential candidates are first generation Americans themselves.

I am appalled at what these people are saying about the millions of hard working people who have come to the United States in hope of finding a better life.

We need to fix our broken immigration system and never forget that we are a nation of immigrants.

We need more people like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to speak out against this divisive, racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric that flows from the political right.   Just listen to how President Trumka calls the GOP out for their racist anti-immigrant messaging.

For millions of immigrants the Statue of Liberty was the first thing they saw as they immigrated to the United States.  She was, and still is, the beacon of hope for the millions of aspiring Americans with her immortal words:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

To be anti-immigrant is to be anti-American.

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