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Kelly Ayotte’s Misleading New Seniors Ad Features State Legislators Who Voted to Privatize Social Security, Cut Medicare Protections and Alzheimer’s Program Funding

Ayotte releases new ad to buffer her credentials on Social Security, Medicare, and Alzheimer’s research support, but instead features two NH State Representatives who supported privatizing Social Security, dismantling Medicare, and cutting funding for an Alzheimer’s caregiver respite program

photo of Sen. Kelly Ayotte by Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

Concord, NH – Sensitive to a recent TV ad critical of her votes to dismantle key programs for seniors, Kelly Ayotte has released a misleading response ad intended to buffer her credentials on Social Security, Medicare, and Alzheimer’s research support. The ad, however, features two New Hampshire State Representatives who are in lockstep with efforts to dismantle key programs.

NH State Representatives Mary Griffin (R) and Walter Kolodziej (R) – along with Kolodziej’s wife and one other individual – claim that Ayotte has protected seniors despite an ample vote record that shows Ayotte voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program and raise the eligibility age. The ad and copy also attempt to bolster Ayotte’s record in other areas, such as Alzheimer’s research funding. However, the voting records of Ayotte and those she trusts on senior issues would harm seniors on issues regarding Medicare, Social Security, and Alzheimer’s support:

  • Ayotte effectively voted for FY 2012 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a premium support plan. The plan would more than double out-of-pocket costs for the average Medicare enrollee. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/7/11; Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11)
  • Ayotte effectively voted for the FY2013 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a voucher program, increased the eligibility age, reopened the donut hole, and repealed the Affordable Care Act. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/28/12; AARP, Letter to Congress, 3/21/12)
  • Ayotte voted for FY 2014 Ryan Budget plan which would “replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher.” (Senate Vote 46, 3/21/13; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/15/13)
  • Ayotte voted for FY 2011 budget with deep cuts to agencies responsible for Alzheimer’s research. In congressional testimony on March 11, 2011, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the proposed cuts would mean that “about half of the hundred largest clinical studies including those on cancer and Alzheimer’s would probably be canceled.” (Vote 36, 3/9/11; Politifact, 4/15/11)
  • Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for urging Congress to privatize all aspects of Social Security. Privatizing social security puts at risk benefits for New Hampshire’s current and future retirees. (HCR39, Roll Call #190, 3/21/2012)
  • Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for an Interstate Health Care Compact that sought to allow New Hampshire to opt-out of Medicare and other programs, and eliminate all federal minimum benefit guarantees and protections for New Hampshire seniors and others. (HB1560, Roll Call #87, 2/15/2012)
  • Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for suspending funding for the Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) program. The program provides temporary respite services to family members, partners and other informal caregivers who are caring for an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia. (HB2, Roll Call #143, 3/30/2011; DHHS, Accessed 21.16)

“Kelly Ayotte’s votes hurt Granite State seniors,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Kelly Ayotte’s decision to feature individuals who support privatizing all aspects of Social Security and undermining protections for New Hampshire seniors and their caregivers sends a strong message regarding where her priorities sit.”

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 Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

Full Fact Check Citations

Ayotte effectively voted for FY 2012 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a premium support plan. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “CBO also finds that this beneficiary’s [a typical 65-year-old] annual out-of-pocket costs would more than double — from $6,150 to $12,500. In later years, as the value of the voucher eroded, the increase in out-of-pocket costs would be even greater.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/7/11] The Wall Street Journal wrote that “The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

Ayotte effectively voted for the FY2013 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a voucher program, increased the eligibility age, reopened the donut hole, and repealed the Affordable Care Act. “The budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would make significant changes to Medicare. It would replace Medicare’s current guarantee of coverage with a premium-support voucher, raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, and reopen the “doughnut hole” in Medicare’s coverage of prescription drugs. Together, these changes would shift substantial costs to Medicare beneficiaries and (with the simultaneous repeal of health reform) leave many 65- and 66-year olds without any health coverage at all.” (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/28/12) AARP CEO Barry Rand said: “ … the proposal is likely to simply increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage — a guarantee that future seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work.” (AARP, Letter to Congress, 3/21/12)

Ayotte voted for FY 2014 Ryan Budget plan which would “replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher.” According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The Medicare proposals in the 2014 budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) are essentially the same as those in last year’s Ryan budget.  Once again, Chairman Ryan proposes to replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher and raise the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67.” The vote was largely along party lines; Ayotte voted with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. (Senate Vote 46, 3/21/13; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/15/13)

Ayotte voted for FY 2011 budget with deep cuts to agencies responsible for Alzheimer’s research. In congressional testimony on March 11, 2011, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the proposed cuts would mean that “about half of the hundred largest clinical studies including those on cancer and Alzheimer’s would probably be canceled.” (Vote 36, 3/9/11; Politifact, 4/15/11)

Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for urging Congress to privatize all aspects of Social Security. Privatizing social security puts at risk benefits for New Hampshire’s current and future retirees. (HCR39, Roll Call #190, 3/21/2012)

Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for an Interstate Health Care Compact that – with permission from Congress – would give participating states the authority to opt out of all federal health care protections and programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. This would have taken away not just all federal oversight, but all federal minimum benefit guarantees and protections for New Hampshire’s most vulnerable populations: states could drop seniors from Medicare coverage, eliminate our Medicaid and CHIP protections for vulnerable children, end Medicaid-sponsored long-term care services for elders and people with disabilities, terminate protections for children with pre-existing conditions, and stop the enforcement of laws protecting medical privacy. A compact state would be free to replace any and all of these previous federal programs and protections with risky and/or inadequate state-based schemes or, if a state so chose, not replace them at all. (HB1560, Roll Call #87, 2/15/2012)

Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for suspending funding for the Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) program. The program provides temporary respite services to family members, partners and other informal caregivers who are caring for an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia. (HB2, Roll Call #143, 3/30/2011; DHHS, Accessed 7.21.16)

Kuster Rejects Extreme Ryan Budget

Calls for Both Parties to Work Together to Pass Common Sense Budget 

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – This afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement on her vote to reject Chairman Paul Ryan’s proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget, and calls on Democrats and Republicans to come together to pass a common sense budget that protects the interests of New Hampshire’s middle class:

“Since taking office, I have called on both Democrats and Republicans to work together to pass a common sense budget plan that will cut wasteful spending while also protecting our seniors and middle class families. We must work together to create a smart budget proposal that will help grow our economy and support job creation throughout the nation. This is in the best interest of all our constituents, regardless of their party or where they’re from.

“That’s why I was extremely disappointed by Chairman Paul Ryan’s unflinchingly extreme budget, which would only protect the interests of millionaires and special interests. Among other things, his irresponsible proposal would slash funding for Pell grants, forcing our children to go deeper into debt just to attend college;  it proposes recklessly turning Medicare into a voucher program, which would prove devastating for our nation’s seniors; and it would cut nutrition assistance for low-income families by an astounding $125 billion dollars. This budget proposal lets down the hardworking American families who rely on us to develop a responsible plan for Congressional spending, and I was proud to vote against it this afternoon.

“Moving forward, I call on Democrats and Republicans to come together to develop a  budget proposal that makes sense for our constituents, so we can move our nation forward, protect our middle class, and support the job creation our country needs to revitalize the economy. I look forward to working with members of both parties to realize that goal.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter Votes Against The RYAN Budget

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) released the following statement on the House Republican Ryan Budget, which she voted against today.

“Granite Staters roundly rejected Paul Ryan and his budget in the last election, but instead of working across the aisle on real solutions, Ryan and Washington Republicans doubled down on some of their worst ideas, like turning Medicare into a voucher program, giving millionaires a tax break while raising taxes on the middle class, cutting student aid, Meals on Wheels, and medical research, slashing Medicaid and jeopardizing nursing home care, going after funding that helps children, and undermining investments in job creation.

“Paul Ryan’s priorities are out of touch with average Americans. Instead of strengthening and protecting Medicare, the Ryan budget takes the opposite approach. As AARP said about the Ryan Budget, ‘Removing the Medicare guarantee of affordable health coverage for older Americans by implementing a premium support system and asking seniors and future retirees to pay more is not the right direction.’

“Granite Staters want Congress to invest in the economy, education, manufacturing, and infrastructure. But according to the Economic Policy Institute, the Ryan budget would decrease GDP by 0.9 percent and cost our economy 1.1 million jobs in fiscal year 2015. In New Hampshire, over 1,500 fewer college students would receive financial aid in the form of Pell Grants. Three hundred forty children would be kicked out of Head Start programs. Almost 3,000 fewer Granite Staters would receive Training and Employment services.

“Under the Ryan budget, CEOs and corporations will continue to reap rewards, but the middle class and the most vulnerable will be asked to do more.  If you refuse to close tax loopholes for the rich, while also cutting programs that help the middle class, you negate your claim of responsibly balancing the budget.

“Congress passed a budget through 2015 that alleviates some of the harmful cuts to programs that help seniors, children, and families in New Hampshire. While it was not a perfect bill, it was a responsible step. Instead of building on the bipartisan budget, it’s disappointing to see Congressman Ryan return to the same partisan approach to budgeting that’s a major source of gridlock in Congress.”

Expand Social Security, Don’t Cut It

Recently Richard Kirsch posted an article on The Next New Deal website.  The article ‘Block a Grand Bargain with Bold Progressive Solutions to and Medicare’ warns of what seniors and progressives have feared for a while cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

During the campaign season almost every politician said they would vote to protect Social Security and Medicare.  As a political observer it is political suicide to come right out and say you want to cut benefits to millions of seniors.

Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

In spite of opposing cuts to Social Security on the campaign trail, President Obama is in favor of making changes to it.

“To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. We must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.”
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS, JANUARY 25, 2011

Republican leadership understands how Social Security works.

The money that goes into Social Security is not the government’s money. It’s your money. You paid for it.”Mitch McConnell

The major issue that seems to be pushing changes to Social Security comes from this widely held myth that ‘Social Security is bankrupting America’.  However the truth is quite the opposite and Senator Bernie Sanders knows it.

“Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit.” —Bernie Sanders

Now that the government is back open with a temporary band-aid (Continuing Resolution) this idea of a ‘grand bargain’ is once again alive.  As part of the Continuing Resolution passed by Congress it mandated that both houses of Congress would meet in a ‘committee of conference’ and hammer out a real long-term budget.   This round of budget negotiations opens up so many different cans of worms.  There is the forced budget cuts known as the Sequester, reforms to ‘entitlements’ (Social Security, Medicare), the Keystone Pipeline, immigration, and many more.

The idea of a grand bargain needs very careful treatment. As Kirsch said in his post, progressives should to go on the offense when it comes to Social Security.

By putting forward simple, broadly popular, progressive proposals that actually enhance benefits and add money to Social Security and Medicare, we enable Democratic allies in Congress to set the agenda and counter claims that they are not taking action to address the real solvency problems. And we also help set the agenda for the inevitable future deal to address both programs’ financing. 

Here are two simple, popular, powerful proposals. On Social Security, make the richest 5% people pay into Social Security on all their earnings, just like 95% of workers now do. Use the new revenue to both boost Social Security benefits – which are too low – and extend the solvency of the Social Security Trust fund. On Medicare, slash the cost of prescription drug prices just like the Veterans Administration and all our global competitors do, saving hundreds of billions of dollars in the next decade.” (Emphasis added)

Finally someone has a solution that ends this debate about Social Security that fixes it for decades.  By eliminating the cap on income for Social Security, millions of dollars would be added to the trust fund.  This would allow Congress to strengthen Social Security so much that the trust fund would have “enough money to pay all benefits from 2033 to 2049”.

Changes that would strengthen Social Security and provide better benefits to seniors have already been submitted to both houses of Congress (H.R.3118, S.567). Kirsch says this “would boost benefits in two ways: changing the way benefits are calculated (designed to particularly help low-and-moderate income seniors) and changing the inflation adjuster Social Security uses to the CPI-E, which more accurately captures what seniors pay. This is exactly the opposite of the chained CPI proposed by President Obama, which undercounts what seniors typically purchase.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) has been a strong advocate for strengthening Social Security.  In a recent email newsletter she stated why protecting Social Security is so important.

“More than one-third of Granite Staters over 65 would be living in poverty if they did not receive Social Security. And it’s not just seniors who benefit from this program.  Over one-third of beneficiaries in New Hampshire are spouses and families of workers who become disabled or die prematurely, including over 20,000 children.”

The other earned benefit that people on the hill like to talk about is Medicare.  Kirsch also suggests that we enlarge the Medicare program to help everyone.

Using its (Medicare’s) enormous purchasing power to get the same kind of low drug prices paid by the Veterans Administration or every other country on the globe. While estimates of the savings vary, they clearly would be substantial, tens of billions each year, much more than the cuts to Medicare included in the President’s budget.”

Again this type of solution has already been proposed in Congress.  Kirsch goes on to say that this solution “would work to make the point that we can strengthen Medicare by stopping the drug companies from ripping off the country”.

While we stand with the President on most legislative issues, we need to be cautious as we move forward with changes to Social Security and Medicare.  We cannot accept any type of cuts to earned benefits or quick fixes that add only a few years to the programs.  We need strong straightforward solutions that push to increase benefits, not erode them.   We need to stay united in our efforts to protect Social Security and Medicare for our seniors now to ensure that the program is there when the next generation retires.

The Last Thing We Need Is More Austerity; A Statement By AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

From WIKIPediaHouse Republicans’ latest budget crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan is a zombie proposal long ago rejected by working families.  But he won’t let it die.  Instead of calling for the sensible repeal of the sequester, Rep. Ryan would double down on harmful cuts to education, health care and other programs that build a strong middle class.  And instead of closing tax loopholes for the super wealthy, this budget would give even more tax breaks to the rich—higher subsidies for shipping American jobs overseas, bigger tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy.  Republicans would pay for all this by voucherizing Medicare, cutting Medicaid for the most vulnerable, and increasing Medicare premiums for middle class beneficiaries.  This budget would cut spending by $5.7 trillion – devastating child nutrition, cancer research, transportation and other key programs and shrink government to the size it was in the 1950s.

Our economy is still in a fragile state of recovery and we’ve seen that previous cuts to state and local services and jobs have prevented us from recovering faster.  The last thing we need is more austerity that would cost jobs and stunt America’s future.  We reject these so called “balanced” approaches that increase inequality and shift even more of the burden to those who can least afford it.  We call for an immediate repeal of the across the board sequester cuts and urge lawmakers to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from benefit cuts.

In Granite State Debate, Hassan the Clear Choice to Keep New Hampshire Moving Forward

 

Lamontagne Makes Desperate Last-Ditch Effort

to Hide His Radical Agenda

Maggie Hassan offered a clear vision for growing New Hampshire’s economy and creating jobs during tonight’s Granite State Debate, while Ovide Lamontagne made a last-ditch effort to mislead voters about his radical agenda, including not telling the truth about his opposition to statewide kindergarten, his support for teaching creationism in public schools, and his ideas for restricting a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.[Opposes kindergarten; supporting creationism; radical on women’s health]

Hassan’s innovation plan will provide technical assistance, tax credits and workforce training to help businesses grow and create jobs. As Governor, Hassan – who has been endorsed by Governor John Lynch – will balance the budget without a sales or an income tax.

“Maggie Hassan offered a clear and forward-looking vision for New Hampshire in tonight’s debate. She has a plan that moves New Hampshire forward by helping our businesses grow  and helping our families succeed,” said Matt Burgess, campaign manager for Hassan for Governor.

“The choice was as clear tonight as it has been in every debate: as governor, Maggie Hassan will keep New Hampshire moving forward, while Ovide Lamontagne’s radical agenda will take our state backwards,” Burgess said. “Ovide Lamontagne was clearly desperate tonight in his attempts to mislead voters about his radical agenda, but he can’t hide the fact that he truly believes in extreme ideas that will hurt middle-class families and New Hampshire’s economy.”

Hassan outlined her “Innovate NH” jobs plan, which focuses on building the best workforce in the country, providing tax credits to businesses, and giving businesses technical assistance to help them create jobs.  Hassan worked closely with Governor Lynch to balance the state budget, without an income or a sales tax, by making the tough decisions necessary to cut state spending during the height of the recession, leading to a surplus. As Governor, Hassan will veto an income or a sales tax.

Hassan’s forward-looking vision stood in stark contrast to Ovide Lamontagne, who desperately tried to mislead voters again and again about his radical ideas to eliminate the guarantee of statewide kindergarten, reject federal funding for public schools, pull the state out of Medicare, and restrict a women’s right to make her own health care decisions. And Lamontagne continued to repeat untrue attacks against Maggie’s fiscally responsible record of balancing the state’s budget. Ovide’s claim about the state deficit has been deemed “false” by PolitiFact NH[i] and his statements about spending increases under Maggie Hassan’s leadership have also been debunked by fact checkers.[ii]

During her time in the State Senate, Maggie Hassan worked with Governor Lynch to keep the unemployment rate low, maintain one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, and cut the high school drop rate in half while making the hard choices to cut spending, balancing the budget and leaving a surplus without an income or sales tax.

Hassan will continue moving New Hampshire forward on the path that Governor Lynch has set, and she has been endorsed by numerous organizations including the New Hampshire Police Association, New Hampshire Troopers’ Association, National Education Association New Hampshire, American Federation of Teachers New Hampshire, and many more.  She has also been endorsed by newspapers across the state, including the Concord Monitor, Keene Sentinel, Portsmouth Herald, and Nashua Telegraph, which also endorsed Republicans Mitt Romney and Charlie Bass.  The Telegraph praised Hassan’s “well-reasoned and bipartisan leadership” and expressed concern about Lamontagne’s “worrisome statements” on education, noting that his radical idea to end statewide kindergarten would mean “local school districts would be on the hook to pick up [the] costs, and that means higher property taxes.”[iii]

Ovide Lamontagne has said he would be a “radically different” governor than Gov. Lynch[iv], with extreme ideas that would eliminate statewide kindergarten[v], reject federal funds for local schools[vi] and ignore rising tuition costs caused by cuts to higher education.[vii] He supports plans to dismantle Medicare[viii], criminalize abortion and limit insurance coverage for birth control[ix], and defund Planned Parenthood, increasing costs for critical health care services for New Hampshire women and families.[x]


[i] http://www.politifact.com/new-hampshire/statements/2012/jul/29/new-boston-republican-committee/new-boston-gop-says-dems-left-deficit/
[ii] http://www.politifact.com/new-hampshire/statements/2012/oct/12/ovide-lamontagne/republican-lamontagne-paints-opponent-hassan-tax-a/
[iii] Maggie Hassan for Governor, Nashua Telegraph, 10/29/12
[iv] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkr_WSOovsk&feature=relmfu
[v] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxH9OfqFO2s&feature=player_embedded#
[vi] Ovide rejected federal money to help K-12 NH public schools raise educational standards [Concord Monitor, 8/9/2010] and has said he would do it again [WGIR, 7/24/2012]
[vii] Ovide has said tuition increases were not of “utmost concern” [WMUR, 9/6/2012]
[viii] Ovide supports Paul Ryan’s voucher program to end Medicare as we know it [NH Farm Bureau, 8/2012]; believes state legislature should opt-out of Medicare and run program itself [Union Leader, 2/10/2012]
[ix] Supports a “Human Life Amendment” that outlaws all abortion, and even some forms of birth control and fertility treatments [Cornerstone debate, 6/5/2010]
[x] Ovide supports Bill O’Brien’s decision to completely eliminate Planned Parenthood

Guinta cut FEMA money

Congressman Guinta has decided that it is important for congressional candidates to weigh in on state issues, yet in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he has dodged questions about why he voted to cut funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Congressman Guinta voted for the Ryan budget which cuts disaster preparation and response, and passed a continuing resolution that provided $3 billion less in disaster funding than requested by the President.

“Congressman Guinta has a heartless record of voting to cut the funding for FEMA, money that  communities depend on for disasters,” said Carol Shea-Porter.  “Now, he needs to explain whether or not he agrees with Mitt Romney that FEMA should be privatized or left to the states.  New Hampshire, which has just received a federal emergency declaration, deserves to know why he voted against protecting the state and its citizens.”

Background:

  • Romney’s budget cuts FEMA, on its face, by 40%.  Romney has vowed to cut federal spending to less than 20 percent of GDP by 2016 without touching entitlements or defense. That means that non-defense discretionary spending–which includes FEMA aid–would have to be reduced by an eye-popping 40 percent. The Romney campaign won’t say whether FEMA would be spared from those cuts but stresses that the necessary funding would be available.” Washington Post.
  • On September 23, 2011, Guinta voted in favor of HR 2608, a continuing resolution meant to fund the federal government through November 18, 2011. The legislation provided $3.65 billion for disaster assistance, roughly $3 billion less than what the Office of Management estimated the federal government needed in funding. [HR 2608, Vote #727, Office of Management and Budget, 9/5/11; The Hill, 9/23/11]
  • Ryan budget could hammer storm aid, critics say:  Mitt Romney says he wants to give states more power to deal with disasters like Sandy. But his running mate’s budget plan would threaten states’ ability to respond to massive storms, some experts say.  Paul Ryan’s House-passed budget would cut non-defense discretionary funding by 22 percent starting in 2014, according to the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which said in an August report that about one-third of that money goes to state aid for a range of needs including disaster response.  [Politico, 10/30/2012]

 

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