Congressman Frank Guinta’s Double Speak On Supporting Veterans

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value,” proclaimed Vice President Joe Biden in a 2012 speech.

Vice President Biden is basically saying is that if you are not willing to pay for something you say you value, then you really don’t value it at all. This type of double speak is common among some politicians.

In New Hampshire, Congressman Frank Guinta talks a good game about his support for veterans, but in Washington, he has a long history of failing our veterans.

“Our nation’s active duty personnel and veterans risk their lives to ensure our country remains safe in the face of ever evolving threats. Our military heroes deserve the very best, and as your representative to Washington, one of my highest priorities is to protect and expand the resources, services and support available to them.

We must keep our promise to provide for those who courageously put their lives on the line to serve and protect our great country. I have always been a strong advocate for our military members and veterans in the Granite State,” wrote Guinta on his website.

We owe our veterans the benefits they’ve earned, but Frank Guinta has consistently voted against increasing funding for veterans programs.

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”

Just nine months ago, Guinta voted against the Omnibus Appropriations bill that funds the government. The bill increased funding for the VA by $6.4 billion. The legislation, which fortunately was not tanked by Guinta’s refusal to support it, increased funding for medical care by $4.7 billion and provided funds to hire 770 VA disability claims processors to tackle the claims backlog.   

In one fell swoop, Guinta voted to shut down the government and refused to increase funding for critical veterans programs. He even called these important funding increases “inducements to vote for more federal bloat and debt.”   

While serving on the Budget Committee this year, Guinta rejected an attempt by Congressman Seth Moulton, an Iraq war veteran, to increase funding by $340 million for FY2017 and $1.14 billion for FY2018. These increases would have been paid for raising taxes on the wealthiest and repealing tax breaks for Big Oil and corporations that ship jobs overseas.

“Frank Guinta may claim to fight for our veterans, but his votes prove that he betrays them in Congress.  His votes against increased funding for medical care, VA claims processors, and repairs to crumbling VA facilities show his dishonesty and disrespect for veterans,” said Carol Shea-Porter spokeswoman Naomi Andrews. “His Budget Committee votes place multinational corporations, billionaires, and Big Oil ahead of our obligations to our veterans. Carol Shea-Porter was a military spouse and is proud of her husband and all of America’s veterans. She looks forward to working again for our troops and our veterans in Congress.”

It seems pretty clear that Frank Guinta’s claim to be “a strong advocate for our military members and veterans” is just campaign double speak.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster, A True Fighter For America’s Veterans

Congresswoman Kuster’s Work for Veterans Praised in New Television Ad

In her second television ad of the 2016 cycle, a Nashua veteran praises Congresswoman Kuster’s work to secure affordable housing and jobs for homeless veterans in New Hampshire.  

In the ad, titled “Thank You,” John Elsten discusses his military experience and his living situation during his unemployment.  A Vietnam veteran, he was forced to sleep under bridges and in alleys in downtown Nashua after losing his job.  He was able to secure housing through the VA Supported Housing program, a rental assistance voucher program through the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that Congresswoman Kuster has worked to expand.  While touring a shelter in Nashua, Congresswoman Kuster met John, who was living and volunteering at the shelter.  She has made expanding affordable housing for homeless veterans in Nashua, Keene, Plymouth, and throughout New Hampshire a key part of her work to support Granite State veterans.

“I was heartbroken when I heard about John’s struggle, as well as the struggles of so many veterans like him, to find affordable housing and employment,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I fight every day to help veterans like John who have given so much to our country.  We have a solemn responsibility to support the brave men and women who have served our country, and that includes ensuring they have a roof over their head, as well as gainful employment and accessible health care.”

Click here to watch the ad

Addressing the problem of veteran homelessness is no small task. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that nearly 40,000 are homeless on any given night.  Specifically in New Hampshire, HUD estimates that there are between 123-138 homeless vets, many who are forced to live in temporary shelters.

Part of ending homelessness for our veterans in providing them with sustainable employment after they return. As the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans notes, “military occupations and training are not always transferable to the civilian workforce, placing some veterans at a disadvantage when competing for employment. NCHV strongly believes that all programs to assist homeless veterans must focus on helping them obtain and sustain employment.”

About 1.4 million other veterans “are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing,” NCHV added.

Rep. Kuster talks with student veterans and higher education administrators today in Concord.

Rep. Kuster talks with student veterans and higher education administrators in Concord.

In January of 2016, Kuster met with student veterans and higher education administrators from across New Hampshire to discuss the importance of supporting veterans as they pursue higher education following the completion of their service. This discussion allowed Congresswoman Kuster to learn more about the work being done by New Hampshire colleges to implement education benefits, as well as to hear directly from student veterans about how she can best support them through her work in Congress.

“When our brave men and women return from their service in the Armed Forces, we must ensure that they have access to the tools they need to complete their education and to compete in today’s workforce,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “During today’s conversation, we were able to bring together student veterans and representatives from some of the Granite State’s top institutions of higher education to discuss how we can help returning veterans pursue their college education here in New Hampshire. We are lucky to have such a dedicated group of higher education leaders here in the Granite State who have done an incredible job supporting veterans seeking college degrees.”

As a member of the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Kuster has long worked to ensure that veterans have access to the resources necessary to support their transition back into civilian life and to pursue higher education after completing their service. Kuster has supported legislation for student veterans throughout her time in office, including the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013, which proposed allowing veterans to pay in-state tuition for out-of-state schools. This legislation passed the House of Representatives, and its provisions were later passed into law as part of another bill. 

In February, Kuster was pleased to announce that three bills she cosponsored had passed in the House of Representatives.

  • H.R. 2360, the Career Ready Student Veterans Act, will help ensure that educational and training programs serving our nation’s veterans meet state accreditation standards, protecting the quality of education provided for veteran students.
  • H.R. 2915, the Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act, will direct the VA to identify suicide prevention programs that are proven to be most effective for female veterans in order to ensure the unique needs of women veterans are more effectively addressed.
  • H.R. 3036, the National 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center Act, will designate the September 11th Memorial at the World Trade Center as a national memorial, thereby awarding a grant of up to $25 million per fiscal year for the maintenance of the site.

To some politicians, taking care of our veterans is nothing more than lip service. They say they support veterans while they made deep cuts to social programs that help thousands of veterans avoid homelessness and help keep them from falling into poverty.

Congresswoman Kuster does not just talk about supporting veterans; she is fighting to ensure that we end veteran homelessness and provide the best opportunities for our veterans throughout their entire lives.

At House Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing, Kuster Highlights Efforts to Improve Health Care for Veterans

Kuster discussed legislation to reduce opioid use among veterans, increase hiring of veterans in VA medical facilitieskuster

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the lead Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, took part in a hearing to discuss healthcare for veterans at the VA and how to improve access to care. The hearing focused on “The Commission on Care and the Future of the VA Healthcare System” a report mandated by the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act (VACAA) of 2014. 

During her statement, Kuster highlighted two pieces of legislation that would advance improvements to access to healthcare and treatment for veterans. Kuster discussed the Helping Our Veterans With Chronic Pain and Opioid Addiction Actwhich would establish pilot programs to facilitate the coordination of care and case management to veterans in need of chronic pain management, including veterans suffering from opioid dependency. Kuster specifically pointed out that past reliance on certain metrics for addressing pain had led to increased prescribing of opioids and that her legislation would encourage alternative methods of pain treatment.

Kuster also highlighted the Grow Our Own Directive: Physician Assistant Employment and Education Act of 2015 which would create a pilot program within the VA to provide educational assistance to former medics and corpsmen for education and training as physician assistants in the VA. 

You can watch Congresswoman Kuster’s full remarks here.


Veterans Blast Trump In Open Letter

Ahead of Trump Visit, More Than Fifty New Hampshire Veterans Contrast Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in Open Letter

Ahead of Donald Trump’s rally in Windham on Saturday, more than fifty New Hampshire veterans have penned an open letter contrasting Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on veterans issues and the economy. The signers call on all veterans to support Hillary Clinton because she has a plan that supports our veterans, will ensure they have the opportunities and tools they need to succeed upon returning home, and believes that our country is stronger when we stand together.

Read the letter here and below. 

Open Letter: New Hampshire Veterans Contrast Trump and Clinton Following this Pivotal Week

To all New Hampshire Veterans,

This week highlighted the stark difference between our two presidential nominees for all of us. While Hillary Clinton toured the country highlighting a jobs plan that would help reduce veteran unemployment within her first 100 days as President, Donald Trump was insulting veterans and disparaging the sacrifices of a Gold Star family.

Hillary Clinton understands the importance of investing in our veterans. Her economic plan would help to ensure that those who risk their lives have the resources they need to to find good paying jobs when they come home and the tools to start businesses of their own. That’s why she’s committed to expanding tax credits for veterans’ employment, improving the certification and credentialing programs for men and women who have served in the military, and strengthening veteran entrepreneurship programs. Clinton is clearly committed to building this economy up and putting our community on a path to a more prosperous future.

Hillary Clinton has put together a plan that an independent analyst calculated would result in the U.S. economy creating 10.4 million jobs nationally in her first term alone — contrast that with the 3.4 million jobs the same analyst found we’d lose under Trump’s plan. She would make huge and much-needed investments in our infrastructure, invest in manufacturing, create good-paying clean energy jobs, and support New Hampshire’s small businesses and the nearly 280,000 people they employ by providing tax relief and cutting red tape. That type of economic support would make a huge difference for the vets community, which struggles with high rates of unemployment.

Then, there’s Donald Trump.

Trump doesn’t have a jobs plan. What he has is a ruthless disregard for veterans’ service and a thin-skin. Not only has he repeatedly torn down veterans and trivialized their sacrifices, but he has lied about his donations to veterans’ charities, called avoiding STDs his “personal Vietnam,” fired or not hired veteran reservists due to their service commitments, and has now crossed another sacred line: he has attacked a Gold Star family for speaking out against his divisive policies. This man is not fit to serve as Commander-in-Chief.

We urge all veterans to join us in supporting Hillary Clinton. We need to send Trump a resounding message this November. And we want that message to be: in this country, we are stronger together.


Arthur Hilson of Portsmouth, United States Navy Veteran

Barry Conway of Hampton, United States Air Force Veteran, Former Commandant of the New Hampshire State Veterans Home, Chair Emeritus of the State Veterans Advisory Committee

Bill Duncan of New Castle, United States Navy Veteran

Bill Shaheen of Madbury, United States Army Veteran

Bob Hannan of Dover, United States Air Force Veteran

Brian Vawter of Portsmouth, United States Navy Veteran

Charles Mooskian of Pelham, United States Navy Veteran

Dave Bamford of Dover, United States Army Veteran

David Huot of Bedford, United States Navy Veteran

David Perkins of Amherst, United States Army Veteran

Doug Micklon of Salem, United States Navy Veteran

Gene Porter of Rochester, United States Army Veteran

George Fleming of Barrington, United States Marine Corps Veteran

Henry Lanteigne of Berlin, United States Air Force Veteran

Jack Scarborough of Plymouth, United States Marine Corps Veteran

Janice Oskar of Exeter, United States Air Force Veteran

Jeff Ballard of Brookfield, United States Army Veteran

Jim Smith of Salem, United States Air Force Veteran

Joe Plaia of Portsmouth, Corporal, United States Marine Corps Veteran, Portsmouth Police Commissioner

John D. Hutson, Dean Emeritus of UNH School of Law, Rear Admiral Judge Advocate General United States Navy (Ret.)

John Knowles of Hudson, United States Army Veteran

Josh Denton of Portsmouth, United States Army Veteran

Ken Latchaw of Newington, United States Navy Veteran

Ken Putney of Derry, United States Navy Veteran

Len DiSesa of Dover, United States Army Veteran

LeRoy Marcroft of Weare, United States Navy Veteran

Linda Lauer of Bath, United States Navy Veteran

Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester, United States Marine Corps Reserve Veteran

Michael O’Mahony of Bow, United States Air Force Veteran

Miriam Cahill of Yeaton, United States Air Force Veteran

Ned Helms of Concord, United Staes Army Veteran

Pete McVay of Atkinson, United States Navy Reserve Veteran

Pete Stearns of Amherst, United States Army Veteran

Peter Schmidt of Dover, United States Marine Corps Veteran

Purnell Ross of Dover, United States Air Force Veteran

R. James Steiner of Concord, United States Army Veteran

Ralph Hough of Grantham, United States Army Veteran

Raymond Levesque of Boscawen, United Staes Navy Veteran

Rick Ouelette of Nashua, United States Air Force Veteran

Robert LeClair of Manchester, United States Marine Corps Veteran

Robert Porter of Claremont, United States Army National Guard Veteran

Robert Williams of Concord, United States Navy Veteran

Ronald Jones of Manchester, United States Marine Corps Veteran

Skip Clark of Portsmouth, United States Army Veteran

Stan Solomon of Albany, United States Army Veteran

Steve Shurtleff of Concord, United States Army Veteran

Sumner Bennett of Amherst, United States Army Reserve Veteran

Terence O’Rourke of Alton, United States Army Veteran

Terry Shumaker of Concord, United States Army Veteran

Val Scarborough of Plymouth, United States Marine Corps Veteran

Wayne Alterisio of Manchester, United States Army Veteran

Wayne Burton of Durham, United States Army Veteran

William Cashin of Manchester, United States Army Veteran

William Connell of Atkinson, United States Navy Veteran

Featured Image by DVIDSHUB CC Filickr

Commission on Care’s Final Report ‘Horrendous, Anti-Veteran’ Says VA Employees Union President

AFGE VA Protests

AFGE Members protesting cuts to the VA in June of 2016

AFGE President says Commission’s recommendations would dismantle the nation’s largest and best health care system, hurting veterans and exploding costs 

WASHINGTON – In response to the release of the Commission on Care’s final report on reforming the VA this week, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National President J. David Cox, Sr. today issued the following statement:

“The American Federation of Government Employees condemns in the strongest possible terms, the horrendous, anti-veteran proposal put forward by the Commission on Care. These recommendations would essentially destroy the veterans’ health care system, leaving millions of veterans without the integrated care they rely on. Veterans would suffer from a drastically reduced quality of care, higher costs, less access, and the system as a whole would become unaccountable to veterans and taxpayers. Instead it would place veterans’ care in the hands of executives with corporate backgrounds, leaving veterans without a voice.

If the Commission’s mission, as they state in their report, was to “provide eligible veterans prompt access to quality health care,” they have achieved the opposite. The only result of these recommendations would be to fragment the most integrated health care approach in the nation, lower quality across the board by sending veterans to for-profit private providers, line the pockets of private hospital corporations, and hand over control of veterans’ healthcare to an out-of-touch, corporate-style board.

The most egregious recommendation in the report would dismantle veteran-centric care through the vast expansion of costly, for-profit provider care. The VA provides veterans the best health care in the country – something acknowledged even by this biased Commission in their final report – yet they want to push veterans out the door to lower quality, for-profit providers who will inevitably offer inferior care. As it stands now, only 13 percent of mental health providers in the private sector are properly prepared to treat our veterans.  Veterans will not be helped by having inferior care at higher costs. It is far better for veterans and taxpayers to invest in the only system tailored to veterans that is already proven to be better and has already made vast improvements.

Today veterans can walk into any VA hospital and receive seamless access to the integrated primary medical, behavioral, and specialty care provided by a system that specializes in their care. This care also includes support systems offered at the VA through financial, educational, housing, and employment support. Destroying this system in favor of fragmented, for-profit private providers creates dangerous gaps in treatment and missed opportunities to heal veterans suffering from many complex, interrelated conditions and problems.

Veterans have overwhelmingly said they want to get their healthcare at the VA. It is the only system equipped to offer the veteran-centric healing they earned through their sacrifice. That’s why large and well-respected veterans service organizations like the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans oppose further privatization of the system. We urge President Obama to reject the recommendations in this horrendously anti-veteran document.”

VA Employees Hold Dozens of Rallies Across the Country to Protest Proposed Closing of Veterans Hospitals

AFGE VA ProtestsAFGE members organize 38 rallies outside VA hospitals this week and next

WASHINGTON – Veterans Affairs employees are holding dozens of rallies outside VA hospitals this week and next to protest plans to privatize veterans’ health care and shut down VA hospitals and medical centers.

The Commission on Care, a group that was created by Congress to recommend ways of improving veterans’ health care, is close to finalizing a set of recommendations that would significantly weaken the VA’s world-class health care system and pave the way for privatization and future closures of VA medical centers, sending veterans to for-profit hospitals for care.

The rallies are being organized by the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 230,000 VA doctors, nurses, psychologists, benefits specialists, and other workers across the country who provide health care and other vital services to our military veterans.

“Even though the vast majority of veterans oppose privatizing the VA, there are many people who would benefit financially from dismantling the VA and forcing veterans into a network of for-profit hospitals and insurance companies,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr., who was a VA registered nurse for 20 years.

The Commission on Care includes four high-level private hospital executives who would profit from privatization and not a single mainstream veterans service organization. Actual veterans groups are unanimously opposed to any proposal that would privatize veterans’ health care.

“VA employees across the country are speaking out against these corrupt business interests with a clear message: it’s time to put people ahead of profits,” Cox said.

“Veterans should not be reduced to a line item on a budget sheet. They have served our country with honor and distinction, and their medical care shouldn’t be left to the whims of profiteers and claims adjusters.”

AFGE locals have organized 38 rallies to date in 19 states: Alabama, Alaska, California, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Photos from some of the rallies can be viewed by clicking here.

The VA is working hard to resolve the staffing shortages and wait times that emerged in 2014, hiring 14,000 health care workers and overhauling its patient scheduling system, Cox said. In the past two years, 97 percent of appointments in the VA were completed within 30 days, with an average wait time of 6.5 days to see a primary care doctor – compared to 19.5 days on average for non-VA patients in the private sector.

“Our country makes a solemn promise to every man and woman who volunteers to serve in our military: that they will be treated with dignity and respect when their service is complete,” Cox said.

“One of the best ways to honor our veterans is to ensure they continue to have access to specialized, quality health care through the VA’s integrated network of medical centers and clinics.”

We Are Failing To Uphold Our Promises To Veterans

Image by  DVIDSHUB  CC Filickr

CC Filickr

Today we honor the brave men and women who answered the call and put their lives at risk to serve our country.   The unfortunate fact is that our government is not doing enough to help these veterans when they come home.

Republicans in Congress have been forcing deeper and deeper cuts to every program in the government – and that is hurting our veterans.

You would think that the party that is always looking to start another war – so their friends can make obscene profits off constructing weapons of destruction – would be the first to stand up and say “no” when it comes to cutting services that affect our veterans. Sadly, this is not the case.

Almost everyone knows of the troubles that are plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA is responsible for providing healthcare to our returning vets. VA health centers are overcrowded, under-staffed and grossly under-funded, leading to long wait times for vets, particularly those with mental diseases.

As usual, the Republicans’ answer to fixing the problems within the VA is to fire the director and gut the program’s funding. Now they are proposing an even worse idea, privatizing the entire VA Healthcare system to a for-profit contractor.

The Republicans’ style of gratitude towards veterans continues, as they make drastic cuts to every social program in the federal budget.

Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, that provided food assistance to over 900,000 veterans in 2014.

Nearly a million veterans are living on food stamps because our returning vets face a higher than average (7.2%) unemployment rate, leading them to take dead-end low wage jobs.

Just raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would help over 1 million struggling veterans. However, the Republicans in Congress refuse to even consider the idea of raising the minimum wage – even though an increase is supported by a strong majority of Americans (71%).

What about the drastic cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development? In 2013, Republicans cut almost 9% of HUD’s overall budget. This means that millions of low-income families would not get housing assistance.

The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) was created specifically to assist veterans in getting the housing assistance they need. Over the last eight years, HUD-VASH has given out, on average, 10,000 vouchers a year to veterans.

That may seem like a lot, but it is nowhere near enough. Too many of our veterans are still falling through the cracks and ending up homeless on the streets.

In 2014, veterans made up over 8% of the overall homeless population. Nearly 50,000 veterans found themselves homeless last year and HUD-VASH could only afford to give out 10,000 vouchers. Some gratitude.

Of the nearly 50,000 veterans that are living on the streets today, 50% of them suffer from a mental or physical disability. This brings us right back to Department of Veterans Affairs and their inability to treat the metal disorders that stem from sending our brave men and women into combat.

So while everyone else is just “Thanking veterans for their service” today, I am demanding that we do more than give the annual lip service and actually show our veterans our gratitude.

Start by raising the minimum wage, increasing funding to HUD, increasing funding to SNAP and getting more people working inside the VA to reduce wait times. That is how we honor our vets.

Politicians are Trying to Sell Off Veterans’ Health Care

Veterans_defend_the_promiseIt’s just… wrong.

It’s SO wrong, I’m having a hard time writing about it.

Politicians want to get rid of the VA healthcare system, and replace it with a system of vouchers that veterans would use “to purchase their own health insurance in the private marketplace.”

And they’re justifying this by pointing fingers at the VA system’s waiting lists. Nevermind that the system has a severe staff shortage, with 41,500 unfilled health care positions. Nevermind the amount of medical care that veterans need, since more than one-quarter of them are disabled. The politicians say it’s all the VA’s fault, and they’re using it as an excuse to privatize veterans’ health care.

So… who’s going to profit from this?

Probably all those special-interest campaign donors. (The health care industry spent more than $142 million on the 2014 congressional elections. Plus another $487 million lobbying, last year.)

And… how is this going to work?

Somebody – probably Congress – is going to decide how much each voucher will be worth. And then veterans will have to find their own health care. And if that health care costs more than the vouchers are worth… well, that’s not something that Congress will have to figure out.

Because by that point, the VA will be dismantled. Gone.

And it’ll just be a problem for each individual veteran… how to cover the gap between what Congress will pay, and what their health care will cost.

— — — —

Here’s what I think:

The idea of dismantling the VA healthcare system… it’s just wrong.

The thought of private healthcare corporations profiting off our veterans… it’s wrong, beyond words.

Want to know more about profits in the health industry? Start with this piece by whistleblower Wendell Potter.

Want to know more about the Koch-founded astroturf group “driving the VA scandal” for political purposes?  Start here.

— — — —

Veterans_deserve_quality_healthcareThis past week, two polling firms – one Republican, one Democrat – joined together to poll veterans about what they want, in their healthcare system.

The results shouldn’t be a surprise: Veterans want to keep their VA health care system – but they want it fixed, and properly staffed.

Veterans want health care providers who are specialists in veterans’ health care. They need doctors, nurses and support staff who already know about the health impacts of their military service. They don’t want to have to explain themselves – explain the circumstances and the consequences of their military service – every single time they need medical care. They want health care professionals who already know.

And veterans need 100% of their care covered. If the VA is replaced by a voucher system, that won’t happen.

You can read the full poll here. If you’ve talked with any veterans recently, none of it will be a surprise.

— — — —

This morning I am remembering particularly

  • two children of a veteran who committed suicide. Suicide is one of the least-discussed “health impacts” of military service. The Veterans Crisis Line is available here.
  • the veteran with PTSD who I spent time with, last weekend. Where to Get Help for Veterans with PTSD is available here.

To all of our veterans, thank you for your service.

Congress Votes Tomorrow On Everything That Will Happen For The Rest Of Obama’s Presidency

Congress West Front Late last night, House GOP leadership announced a compromise bill that will (temporarily) end all the Congress-created crises by setting the federal budget and suspending the debt limit through the end of the Obama presidency.

The House is expected to vote on the bill tomorrow (Wednesday). A draft of the bill is available here.

What it doesn’t do, from the perspective of the Right Wing:

  1. It doesn’t try to force through the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  2. It doesn’t try to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
  3. It doesn’t try to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  4. It doesn’t try to voucherize Medicare.
  5. It doesn’t try to privatize Social Security.

What it doesn’t do, from the perspective of the Working Class:

  1. It doesn’t rein in corporate giveaways to stockholders, such as dividends and buybacks. (Trillions of dollars that corporations could have used to create jobs, pay fair wages and make long-term investments.)
  2. It doesn’t end the tax preference for unearned income. (Most investment income is still taxed at about half the rate of wage income.) Ending this tax preference could end the budget deficit.
  3. It doesn’t eliminate the Social Security wage cap (which would strengthen Social Security, long-term).
  4. It doesn’t raise the minimum wage.
  5. In its current form, it doesn’t do much to reverse previous cuts to Food Stamps, veterans benefits, and other safety-net programs. It doesn’t mention the 2.1 million American workers who are long-term unemployed… or the 1-in-five American children who are living in poverty.

What it does do:

  1. It loosens the Sequester budget restrictions, both for defense and non-defense spending – and it also increases an off-budget military spending account.
  2. It completely rewrites the procedures governing IRS audits of business partnerships. (Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that part of the bill was written by somebody’s lobbyist.)
  3. It diverts some Social Security tax revenue into the Social Security Disability Trust Fund, and *privacy alert* it also creates a new information clearinghouse (presumably, to be used to detect fraud).
  4. It reduces payments to some Medicare providers and regulates the increase in Medicare supplement policy premiums.
  5. It renames the small House rotunda… in honor of the House Freedom Caucus.

It does some other things. Please take the time to read through the bill yourself – and encourage your Congressional representatives to do the same. Contact information for those representatives is available here.


Having watched this impossibly deadlocked Congress — and its impossibly intransigent Right Wing

Personally, if this “grand compromise” happens, I don’t expect anything else to get through this Congress until President Obama leaves office.  (Remember, GOP extremists have been working to “submarine his presidency” since the very first day of his first term.)

LTE: Our Country And Our Veterans Deserve Better

During the Iraq war we air shipped, about 12 billion dollars in cash to Iraq and now we have trouble accounting for most of this money.  The top 10 percent of our population, that have 90 percent of the wealth, they may have an idea as to where some of this missing money is but I can tell you where it is not going!  We have returning servicemen that need jobs; some have none because when they left their job, it was guaranteed to be there; then when they came back, if the company moved out of the country, sorry no job and we allow this to happen.  The younger returning veterans, who had no job before leaving, are welcomed home to minimum wage jobs with family unfriendly benefits at a retail box store selling merchandise that is not made in this country.  We have politicians that want to lower or do away with the minimum wage, who is funding their campaign?  We have politicians that want more free trade agreements for us.  The last ones worked just fine, look at the unemployment numbers.  Ross Perot was correct about the giant sucking sound!  We have been deficit spending for more than 70 years, and now it has become a game for the rich or middle class to who will pay.  The Tea Party wants it paid back immediately without new taxes.  When this country becomes a divided rich and poor nation, we will become a weak nation just like the ones we try to help.  We need leaders, a truthful news media and zero lobbyist.

Joe Gallagher,

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