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Granite Staters Cannot Afford Another Six Years Of Kelly Ayotte

New Kelly Ayotte Campaign Video Tries To Hide Record Of
Putting DC And Wall Street Special Interests Before New Hampshire 

Ayotte Brags About Miserable Record On Issues Including
Working Families & The Economy, Education, And the Environment

Concord, N.H. – Kelly Ayotte is launching her vulnerable campaign stunningly early and it’s no secret why: Republicans know that her record of putting Washington and Wall Street special interests before New Hampshire has put her re-election at risk.

In a new campaign video, Ayotte tried desperately to run from her record of putting special interests first while turning her back on New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy – even bragging about her miserable on issues including working families and the economy, education, and the environment.

But if Ayotte believes she’s going to be able to hide the fact that she’s turned her back on New Hampshire, she’s going to be in for a rude awakening at the ballot box.

See below for some of the key facts missing from Kelly Ayotte’s campaign video:

Kelly Ayotte Claims She’s “Bipartisan” But The Truth Is She:

“New Hampshire is a pro-gun state, but it is also a pro-gun safety state. Senator Ayotte voted against common sense criminal background checks and the 89% of her constituents who support them,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “We will be on the campaign trail to remind voters of Senator Ayotte’s record and to also encourage her to do the right thing now. For two years she’s refused to host a town hall dedicated to how we can reduce gun violence, and in the town halls she has hosted her moderators screened out questions regarding her vote against background checks. Reducing gun violence is a pressing national issue and Kelly Ayotte owes the people of New Hampshire a straight answer on why she continues to side with the NRA lobby over her constituents.”

“Senator Ayotte saw her approval ratings in the state plummet after she voted against background checks in 2013 and she should expect the same ire as she seeks re-election,” Rice-Hawkins said.

Kelly Ayotte Claims She Looks Out For Families’ Economic Interests (Including K-12 Education And Child Care) But The Truth Is She:

Kelly Ayotte has a long history of looking out for her special interest donors and opposing even modest Wall Street reform. Ayotted has voted to roll back the Wall Street reform bill and slash funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has received more than 2,000 consumer complaints from New Hampshire since December 2011.

“It’s no surprise that Wall Street special interests would try to save Kelly Ayotte after she’s consistently proven that she will always put special interests first while making New Hampshire consumers pay the price,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Aaron Jacobs. “This disgraced Wall Street Super PAC couldn’t buy a senate seat for Scott Brown last cycle, and they won’t be able to rescue Kelly Ayotte’s chances either.”

Kelly Ayotte Claims She’s Protected New Hampshire’s Environment And Natural Resources But The Truth Is She:

It is painfully obvious that Senator Kelly Ayotte is not working for New Hampshire families, and  her record shows she will put Wall Street, Big Oil, the Koch Brothers and corporations ahead of working families.

This election, Granite Staters will be holding her accountable for her voting record, and that will lead to a major disappointment for Kelly in 2016.

Granite State Rumblings: We Must Put NH Families First In The Senate Budget

The NH Senate has passed their state budget. This budget was passed down straight party lines. It is extremely disappointing to see where the priorities of our Republican Senators lie; tax cuts for businesses that will result in a large loss of revenues to the state that could have been put toward vital human services. Many Granite State children and their families continue to struggle with stagnant wages, the high cost of housing and child care, and inadequate nutrition. Putting corporations before people just doesn’t make sense.

A very important program that was not included in the budget was the reauthorization of the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP) formerly known as Medicaid Expansion, which currently covers more than 40,000 low-income Granite Staters. The 2014 law authorizing the NHHPP required it to be reauthorized by April 2016. The reasoning for this was to ensure that the program would work and people would take advantage of it.

The good news is that it is working and it is exceeding expectations! The New Hampshire Hospital Association has reported that emergency room visits by uninsured patients are down by over 20 percent. The hospitals have also reported significant decreases in uncompensated care. On top of that the program is bringing in millions of dollars to the state.

Beginning in 2016, the NHHPP will move those covered into the commercial insurance market, meaning they will get their coverage through private managed care companies. The funds needed to ensure a smooth transition need to be in place.

Governor Maggie Hassan had this to say about reauthorization of the program, “Reauthorizing this bipartisan program beyond the end of 2016 is critical for the health of our people and our economy, as uncertainty about the continuation of the program could lead to rising rates for all consumers. Uncertainty about the program’s future could also cause insurers to decide not to offer coverage in New Hampshire in 2017. We must work together to find a bipartisan path forward.”

If the NH Senate Republicans want to make New Hampshire a more attractive place for businesses then what could be better than having a health care program in place that will keep their workers healthy and productive? Draining needed revenues out of the state coffers to give to a majority of multi-national corporations is just wrong.

We urge you to call your state legislators and tell them, “Put Granite State children and their families first.”

NHcountystats

GROWING UP GRANITE

From our friends at the NH Fiscal Policy Institute:

New Tax Cut Estimates Push Senate Budget Out of Balance

A new analysis from the Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) finds that the business tax cuts included in the version of the FY 2016-2017 budget that the Senate will consider today would result in a more sizable and more rapid loss of revenue than previously anticipated.

The analysis also suggests that the lion’s share of the tax reduction would accrue to a relatively small number of corporations operating in New Hampshire.

The version of the budget approved by the Senate Finance Committee last week would reduce the rate of the business profits tax (BPT) from 8.5 percent to 7.9 percent by the end of 2019 and drop the rate of the business enterprise tax (BET) from 0.75 percent to 0.675 percent over the same span. Members of the Committee assumed that these phased-in reductions would not have any impact on state revenue collections in FY 2016, but would lower such collections by $14 million in FY 2017. However, in a letter to Governor Maggie Hassan on June 2, DRA Commissioner John Beardmore notes that, given the proposed effective dates for the rate reductions, there would, in fact, be an impact in FY 2016 – a loss of $3.8 million. This effect, as Commissioner Beardmore observes, “is the result of adjustments that are likely to occur with the first two business tax estimate payments for Tax Year 2016, which are due in FY16.” In the same letter, he estimates a FY17 revenue loss of $19.4 million arising from the reductions to the BPT and BET. In other words, with these latest estimates, the Senate Finance Committee’s version of the budget, in order to maintain balance and still reduce business tax rates, must either reduce spending by an additional $9 million over the course of FY 2016-2017 or carry forward another $9 million in surplus from FY15 into the next biennium, over and above the $34 million surplus on which it already relies.

Finally, data accompanying the Commissioner’s letter indicate that there were fewer than 700 business entities with either a BPT or a BET liability in excess of $1 million in tax year 2012. These entities, in turn, represent approximately 1 percent of all businesses filing tax returns that year. DRA estimates that roughly $13.8 million of the $23.1 million tax cut the Finance Committee’s budget would produce in FY2016-2017 would accrue to these very large taxpayers. In other words, these very large businesses would receive close to three out of every five dollars flowing out of the budget in tax cuts over the next two years.

Leo W Gerard: Trade Enforcement Failure

It’s all the rage now for Republican presidential candidates to spurn the Royal Romney approach and, instead, fawn over workers.

When former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum announced his presidential bid last week, he did it from a factory floor and called for increasing the minimum wage. Former New York Gov. George Pataki, who also launched his candidacy last week, named as his political inspiration Teddy Roosevelt, a corporate trust-buster and working-class hero. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who entered the race in April, said that to win elections, “you’ve got to get the people who work for the people who own businesses.”

That is true – if the businesses are in America. There’s not much point in American candidates soliciting votes from workers at factories that U.S. corporations closed here and moved overseas with the help of free-trade agreements (FTAs). Decade after decade of free trade, presidents promised workers that the deals set the highest standards for labor. And decade after decade, the federal government failed at enforcement, placing Americans in competition with child laborers, underpaid and overburdened foreign workers and victims of human trafficking.

2015-05-31-1433095557-6632821-tradeenforcementfailurephoto.jpg
Photo of child working in Guatemala by Antonio Rosa, courtesy of CCOO’s No Es Un Joc on Flickr
On trade, Sen. Paul got it right for working people. He opposed fast-tracking approval of the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress. He was on the losing side of that vote, though. So the fast-track plan for Congress to relinquish its responsibility to review and amend trade agreements awaits action this week in the U.S. House of Representatives. House Republicans who believe in supporting American workers, not just pandering to them, should join Sen. Paul in voting “no” on fast track.

From Bill Clinton to Barack Obama, Republican and Democratic presidents have pledged to workers that some new free-trade scheme or another would protect Americans from unfair and immoral foreign competition.

Clinton claimed that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was the first deal ever containing teeth to enforce labor standards. George W. Bush’s U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) contended that the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) had the strongest labor provisions ever negotiated. Obama administration officials assured Americans that the Peru, Colombia and Panama agreements, and now the TPP, have the greatest worker protections of all time.

They all swore that the standards would be strictly enforced. But none of it was true. The deals did not protect American workers. And they didn’t protect foreign workers either.

Now American workers overwhelmingly oppose the free-trade brand of globalization. They’ve seen its terrible results for them. They’ve suffered as corporations closed American factories, destroyed American jobs and communities, and shipped that work overseas.

Americans have found themselves competing with children coerced to work in foreign factories, trafficked and forced labor, and foreign workers so mistreated that they jump to their deaths from factory buildings. American consumers find themselves buying products made in unsafe buildings that collapse or burn, killing thousands of foreign workers.

The USTR, who is supposed to enforce the labor provisions of trade agreements, along with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of State, has failed. That’saccording to two reviews by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). After a damning GAO report in 2009, the USTR promised action. A second GAO analysis in 2014 reported little change.

Here’s the bottom line from that report:

Since 2009, USTR and DOL, with State’s assistance, have taken steps intended to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of FTA partners’ compliance with FTA labor provisions, but their monitoring and enforcement remains limited.

In other words, no matter what those agreements say about labor, it’s not being enforced.

For example, five years after Guatemala entered CAFTA, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) named Guatemala the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. That’s because of the large number of union activists murdered, tortured, kidnapped and threatened there.

This was a startling development because Colombia had a lock on the inglorious title of most dangerous for years. Colombia dropped from first place even while murders of trade unionists continued there.

Since Colombia finalized a free-trade agreement with the U.S. in 2011, two dozen Colombians trying to improve the lives and wages of workers through collective bargaining have been murdered every year. And these murders are committed with impunity. There are virtually never arrests or convictions for killing trade unionists in Colombia. Colombia’s trade deal with the U.S. and its “enforcement” by the USTR, DOL and the State Department have done nothing to change that.

And as in Guatemala, trade union activists in Colombia continue to be threatened, tortured and kidnapped. The free-trade agreement is no shield for them. For example, a paramilitary group threatened the daughters of Martha Cecilia Suarez, the president of the Santander public servants association.

In 2013, the paramilitary group Comando Urbano de los Rastrojos sent her two dolls marked with her daughters’ names. They were covered in red paint, one missing a leg, the other an arm.

The 14 free-trade agreements that the United States has signed with 20 countries contain provisions allowing groups or individuals to file complaints about such violations of the labor standards. The 2014 evaluation by the GAO suggests that only a tiny number of complaints have been filed because the Labor Department has failed to inform stakeholders of this process and few within the foreign countries know about it.

The GAO also found that the Labor Department has failed to meet its own deadlines for investigating and resolving the complaints it has accepted. Serious allegations, including human trafficking and child labor, remain unsettled for years.

In addition to the critical 2014 GAO report, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren detailed the failure of the United States to implement FTA labor provisions in a report issued by her office late last month, titled “Broken Promises.” It says that “the United States repeatedly fails to enforce or adopts unenforceable labor standards in free trade agreements.”

Admittedly, this is a titanic challenge. What the United States is trying to do is tell other countries, often ones far less wealthy, how their businesses should treat workers. The United States hardly would take kindly to Guatemala telling it that the U.S. minimum wage is so low that it amounts to forced labor.

But president after president has promised American workers that the United States will compel foreign nations to meet high labor standards established in FTAs.

They haven’t accomplished that. They probably can’t. They should stop saying it. And American workers and politicians should stop buying it. The United States can sign trade agreements with countries after they stop murdering trade unionists and countenancing child labor. Entering agreements with countries that permit these grotesque practices demeans American workers and consumers.

Granite State Rumblings: The 2016 Presidential Budget Is Released

Did you knowToday, as I write this newsletter, it is Groundhog Day and the snow is coming down fast and steady. Punxsutawney Phil has predicted another 6 weeks of winter. While I am an animal lover, I must confess that I have requested that my friends and relatives in Pennsylvania hunt down that marmot and check his eyesight. He’s been doing his prognosticating since 1887, so how good could his eyesight actually be at that age? And by the way, did anyone else notice that his prediction of six more weeks falls in line nicely with the Spring Equinox on March 20th? Hmmm, I smell a rat!

More importantly though, today President Obama released his budget for 2016. We are pleased to see that included in it are many substantial investments for children and their families. Here are a few:

  • New investments in pre-school education
  • Making childcare more affordable
  • Addressing college affordability
  • Permanency of key provisions in the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit
  • Increasing access to housing

Robert Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, issued this statement today on the President’s 2016 budget:

President Obama is proposing a surprisingly ambitious budget that would make progress — in some cases modest, in others large — in various areas in which policy sclerosis has prevented the nation from addressing significant problems.  It would expand opportunity, especially for children; reform various programs and tax incentives to make them more effective; and help large numbers of middle- and low-income families while scaling back inefficient tax shelters that mainly benefit those at the top.

The budget should also strengthen economic growth.  It would curb tax-driven economic distortions and invest part of the savings in initiatives that should make the labor force larger and more productive, such as pre-school education and child care, improved college access, stronger tax incentives for people to work, and much-needed infrastructure investments.

Along with financing such investments, the plan would use some of the new revenue and program savings for deficit reduction.  It would make modest but useful progress here, providing more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years (not counting the savings from winding down overseas wars).  In essence, the plan reflects the judgment, with which we concur, that the nation faces two kinds of serious deficits — in the long-term fiscal arena, but also in crucial areas that need resources.

Despite its investments, however, this is not a “big-spending budget,” contrary to some claims.  Total federal spending over the next ten years would average 21.75 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — identical to the average for the Reagan years.  In fact, despite the budget’s proposals to ease the sequestration budget cuts, discretionary spending would fall by 2019 to its lowest level on record as a share of GDP, with data back to 1962.  So would non-defense discretionary spending.[1]

Overall, the budget is rather bold, with an unusual number of major new proposals for a President’s seventh budget.  It includes major reforms in such programs as unemployment insurance and crop insurance, as well as in the tax code and immigration, and measures to push federal agencies to conduct more evaluation, collect more data on program effectiveness, and make more evidence-based decisions.

Economic Benefits

As noted, the budget includes substantial new investments in pre-school education along with program and tax reforms to make college more affordable for millions of middle- and low-income students, which should boost the skills and productivity of the future workforce.

It also would help many struggling families by making child care more affordable and providing tax relief for second earners, making it easier for parents to work.  It includes measures to expand opportunities for retirement savings for many workers.

The budget makes permanent key provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit that are scheduled to expire after 2017, thereby preventing 16 million people in low- and modest-income working families from being pushed into, or deeper into, poverty starting in 2018.  It also would strengthen the EITC for childless workers, as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has similarly proposed through a nearly identical proposal.  These workers are the sole group that the federal tax code now taxes into poverty.  Moreover, the EITC has been shown to raise labor-force participation rates among single parents, and many conservative and liberal experts alike believe a more adequate EITC for childless workers could have similar effects on many young adults.

Other tax changes in the budget also appear well-designed to help the economy.  The capital gains tax reforms would reduce inefficient tax sheltering as well as the degree to which investors “lock-in” (or hold) their investments rather than employ their investment capital in the most economically productive ways.  The budget’s fees on large financial institutions should discourage speculative behavior that could place the economy (and taxpayers) at risk.

In addition, the revenue raised by the budget’s transition tax on profits that multinational corporations hold overseas (which is part of the plan’s larger corporate-tax reform proposal) would finance long-overdue investments to modernize the aging U.S. infrastructure, which otherwise will exert a growing drag on growth.

For too long, policymakers and pundits have viewed tax reform as consisting solely of cutting tax rates and broadening the tax base.  That can prove economically beneficial.  But various other tax changes — such as proposals in the Obama budget to lessen tax-induced economic inefficiencies and invest the savings to strengthen human and physical capital — also would benefit the economy, while improving the prospects of millions of Americans.

Fiscal Responsibility

On the fiscal responsibility front, the budget does more than some initial commentary has assumed, in part because some of its proposals — such as its Medicare beneficiary changes (which are more significant than is widely realized) and its reforms in the tax treatment of unrealized capital gains — would produce savings that grow after the first decade.  The Office of Management and Budget estimates that the budget would slightly reduce the debt as a share of GDP over the first ten years and then stabilize it at least through 2040.  On the one hand, policymakers will ultimately need to do significantly more on this front.  On the other hand, stabilizing the debt over the next 25 years — a fiscally dangerous period in which the vast baby-boom generation will enter retirement, driving up costs for Social Security and Medicare — would represent no small accomplishment.

Some commentators have misunderstood the budget’s fiscal impacts.  In particular, some responded to last week’s disclosure that the budget would include relief from sequestration by arguing that that would violate past budget agreements and aggravate deficits and debt.  In reality, the budget would fully offset that relief through savings in entitlement programs and in the vast collections of tax deductions, credits, and other tax preferences known as “tax expenditures.”  Rather than violating the Budget Control Act (BCA), which put sequestration in place, the budget would do what the BCA originally intended — achieve deficit reduction through savings in mandatory programs and revenues rather than deeper cuts in discretionary programs.

Policymakers never intended for sequestration to occur.  They included it in the BCA as a fallback in case the congressional “supercommittee” failed to propose other deficit savings.  The Obama budget seeks to do what the supercommittee failed to achieve.

The proposal to ease sequestration is also consistent with the 2013 Murray-Ryan deal, which lessened the sequestration cuts for 2014 and 2015 and offset the cost through changes in mandatory programs and receipts.  And to the extent that sequestration cuts — which by their nature are temporary — are replaced with permanent changes in entitlement programs and revenues, the amount of long-term deficit reduction should increase.

As noted, the Obama budget proposes spending over the next ten years that would equal the Reagan-era average, even with the aging of the baby boomers.  In fact, under the Obama budget, total federal spending outside of Social Security, Medicare, and interest payments would drop from 11.7 percent of GDP in 2015 to 10.4 percent of GDP in 2025, well below its 11.9 percent average for the 40 years from 1975 to 2014.

Dead On Arrival?

Critics suggest that the Obama budget, like those of earlier Presidents, will be “dead on arrival.”  They also criticize the President for not heeding the results of November’s elections and moving more substantially toward congressional Republicans on fiscal matters.

Such criticisms are off base, however.  A President can reasonably outline where he thinks the country should go, rather than what might pass political muster in a fractious Congress.  Moreover, congressional Republicans didn’t move their budgets “to the middle” after Obama’s victory in 2012.  Both sides will face the true test of flexibility if and when they engage in budget negotiations (as I believe they will in 2015), not in providing their respective visions for the country at the outset.

Moreover, it’s in such negotiations — as well as when Congress writes appropriations bills — that policymakers will likely consider some of the proposals in the Obama budget.  For any President, the DOA label for his budget usually turns out simplistic and premature as, in the end, lawmakers consider and adopt more of it than the DOA prognosticators had assumed.

Finally, important aspects of this budget — with its ambitious proposals and array of reforms —  will likely become part of policy debates for a number of years as the nation searches for ways to tackle challenges that we have sidestepped for too long.

It is our hope that Congress will look at this budget with their minds on what is best for the American people and moving everyone forward, instead of simply on political ideology. Unfortunately, I probably don’t need a groundhog to tell me how that will turn out.

HELP RAISE THE NH MINIMUM WAGE

Tuesday, February 10, 1pm – 3pm, HB 163 Hearing – Establishing A State Minimum Hourly Rate, Representatives Hall

Click here to see more events in New Hampshire!

GROWING UP GRANITE

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization is currently being drafted by the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. What has currently been proposed would effectively eliminate 21st CCLC afterschool/summer programming in 24 NH school districts.

The following is from our friends at the New Hampshire Afterschool Network (NHAN):

An Immediate Call to Action –
The Elimination of Dedicated 21st CCLC Funding has been Proposed

The draft Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill put forth by Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) last week would eliminate the stand-alone, dedicated 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funding for afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that currently reaches more than 1.6 million students through school-community partnerships.

We are asking you, your staff, your school administrators, community partners, parents and older youth to call or email Senators Shaheen and Ayotte immediately to tell them: 21st CCLC in NH serve students and families with the greatest need, improve students’ academic success and help families work. See below for further details and contact information.

As the Chair of the committee, Senator Alexander’s bill is a significant first step in the process of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which includes the 21st CCLC Program. We need your voices to explain the value and importance of maintaining separate federal funding for programs that support young people when school is out. Please urge our NH Senators to weigh in against this proposal with their HELP committee colleagues.  A very strong show of support is necessary.

Senator Shaheen:
phone – (202) 224-2841 or (603) 647-7500
website for email – shaheen.senate.gov

Senator Ayotte:
phone – (202) 224-3324 or (603) 622-7979
website for email – ayotte.senate.gov

You can also create an email through the Afterschool Alliance website.

Senate staff record all phone calls and emails in support of or against pending legislation. All of our voices must be heard right now – even if you are not currently working in a 21st CCLC program.

21st CCLC Programs in NH:

  • Serve over 10,000 children and youth all over the state.
  • Serve students and families from communities in the greatest need.
  • Do not turn away students based on ability to pay.
  • Building stronger communities and community partnerships.
  • Improve student academic success.
  • Help working families.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me – lstanley@seresc.net  Thank you!  Lynn Stanley

My Question To The Walton Family: How Much Is Enough?

 

How much money is enough? Do you stop being a greedy capitalist when you no longer care what anything costs? Do you stop when you become one of the named people on the “Richest People In America” lists?  Do you stop when your company make $8.5 million dollars a day in dividends alone? Some people would say, “Never! I will never stop until I own everything!”

This is exactly the case of the Walton Family.  Sam Walton built an empire in Walmart by keeping costs down and providing people with everything they needed in one store.  Somewhere along the way, Sam’s Walmart became WALMART (dun-dun-dah), the monstrous corporation with over one million employees that drives the entire retail industry.  They force other retail shops to compete with their unscrupulous tactics like forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving, paying workers the absolute minimum, and making the majority of employees part-time to avoid having to offer any type of health benefits (forget about retirement – good luck funding that 401k on $7.25 an hour).

The Walton’s still own Walmart and they could be doing so much more for their workers, their communities and their country.  They could pay every worker $15 an hour without having raise any prices or lose out on any profits.  Yet they refuse to pay workers a living wage. In fact the Walmart corporation is one of the biggest opponents to raising the minimum wage.

Lets not forget that we as American taxpayers are subsidizing these low wages with our tax dollars.  Research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the government spends more than $13 billion dollars a year subsidizing the retail industry’s low wages.  With a poverty rate of low-wage workers pushing over 10%, it is no wonder Walmart does food drives for their own employees.

So again I will ask how much money is enough? 

_________________________

The UFCW and Robert Reich teamed up to make this great video (http://youtu.be/_-SMetMkcVI) explaining how Walmart could give millions of Americans a raise right now, if they chose to.

Please watch this video and support a Black Friday Protest near you, visit BlackFridayProtest.org

Working-Class Voters Put the Economy First

Union members support populist economic agendas despite anti-worker attacks

WASHINGTON, DC – Despite some disappointing political results for millions of union members and all working families, the vast majority of Americans made clear that they want an economy that works for everyone. Months of unprecedented spending by corporate billionaires on television ads failed to turn voters against the idea of an economy that is built on a foundation of raising wages. This fact transcended simple Democratic and Republican political labels.

“The defining narrative of this election was confirmation, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Americans are desperate for a new economic life,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “But the fact of the matter is that people are disillusioned by endless political bickering and eyed these elections with great dispirit. In way too many elections, they got a false choice.  In these very difficult times, they did not a get a genuine economic alternative to their unhappiness and very real fear of the future. But when voters did have a chance to choose their future directly – through ballot measures – their decisions are unmistakable”

An election-night survey conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates found that while Republicans won many races on political grounds, voters heavily support working family issues. Voters favor increasing Social Security benefits by 61%-30%; raising the federal minimum wage by 62%-34%; taxing American corporations on profits they make overseas by 73%-21%; and increasing funding for public schools by 75%-21%. Additionally, voters opposed many traditional Republican issues such as raising the Social Security retirement age (27%-66%) and raising the Medicare eligibility age (18%-76).

Voters sounded the loudest economic message in Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota, where minimum wage increases were overwhelmingly approved. San Francisco and Oakland also will likely raise minimum wage, and all four ballot initiatives supporting paid sick days passed. Successes such as these pave the way forward for a host of new ideas, ranging from how worker schedules are formulated to living wage legislation, paid sick leave and equal pay.

Trumka said, “It’s clear that American workers and their families are way ahead of the political elite when it comes to envisioning the next American chapter. I was out there all fall.  I was in almost every contested state.  I spoke to hundreds and hundreds of workers.  Their desire for bold, comprehensive and lasting economic change is the most real thing I’ve ever heard.”

Where it counted, workers and their unions led intense, grassroots organizing on the ground. These efforts resulted in union members supporting working family governor candidates by 64%-32% and U.S. Senate candidates by 61%-35%.

Since its last convention, the AFL-CIO has been working to build a long-term, year-round mobilization structure that won’t stop with elections. Already the AFL-CIO and allies are gearing up to press the interests of working people in the coming lame duck session of Congress, from immigration reform to trade deals that work for working families, while leading a national conversation on raising wages.

The Middle Class Needs A Real Representative

Like many of you, I consider myself part of the middle class.

I work hard at my job. I have a house, with a huge mortgage that is upside down, and it requires constant care and attention. I am married with three amazing children who bring great joy to our lives but also strain our family finances.

My wife and I decided that it would be better for us if she stayed home to take care of our children, rather than pay for full-time daycare for three children. We know how lucky we are, to be able to make this work.  We know that most families are not so lucky.

Many families have both parents working, some couples have three or four jobs between them, yet they are still struggling every month to pay their bills.

Over the last four decades, workers have greatly increased our productivity – yet our wages have stagnated.  But CEO compensation has skyrocketed: CEOs now earn 350 times what their average employee makes.

Marilinda Garcia says she wants to go to Congress to fight for the middle class. She talks like she is part of the struggling middle class, herself.

Despite her campaign rhetoric, she is anything but a middle class American. She is in her early thirties, yet still lives at home with her parents.  Her main occupation is State Representative, which we all know pays a whopping $100 a year. She also has a side job giving harp lessons, and has done some consulting in the past.

According to Garcia’s campaign financial disclosure statement, she made a little more than $6,000 total last year.

She admits that she would qualify for reduced-cost health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchange.  Based on her financial disclosure, she would qualify for Medicaid, because her income is well below the poverty line.

But Garcia says she doesn’t buy her health insurance through the exchange – instead, her campaign is focused on getting rid of the Affordable Care Act.  Even though the Affordable Care Act has lowered healthcare costs for millions of middle class Americans, and tens of thousands of Granite Staters.

Garcia also wants to destroy the Department of Education, and essentially eliminate the federal student loan program – another program that the middle class depends on, so their children can go to college.  According to her financial disclosure, she herself owes between $15,000 and $50,000 in student loan debt to Sallie Mae – but she doesn’t want other families to have access to the program.  As a State Representative, Garcia voted to slash the budget, cutting $95 million from the New Hampshire University system, forcing tuition increases and massive layoffs.  That hurt thousands of middle class families.

Garcia opposes the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would shrink the wage gap between men and women.  Giving working women a little more in their paychecks would help middle class families – but Garcia is opposed to it.

Garcia even boasted on a local radio show that she voted against raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage.  Raising the minimum wage would help lift more than 100,000 Granite Staters out of poverty.  A recent Gallup showed that more than 75% of Americans support raising the wage.  Yet Garcia said it was nothing more than a “petty, short-sighted type of little issue.”  Voters who support raising the wage, workers who depend on the minimum wage – these are real people, the same people Garcia wants to represent.

She may be a candidate for Congress, but she’s not a member of the middle class.  Fight for middle class families?  I can’t see it.  Garcia doesn’t even bother to show any respect for us.

She is living at her parents’ house and earning about $6,000 a year.  How is she paying for her student loan and whatever health insurance she bought, wherever she bought it?  Maybe Garcia’s parents could be considered middle class – with two adult children living back at home – but Marilinda herself hardly qualifies.

Granite Staters need a Congresswoman who understands what real middle class Americans are going through – someone who will vote to help us, not hurt us.

Garcia has a proven track record of voting against the middle class.

The middle class needs a real representative, like Annie Kuster.

(Sharing and re-publishing of this post is welcomed and encouraged. Please link to this page and give full credit to Matt Murray of the NH Labor News.) 

AFL-CIO Announces Targeted Mail Campaign In Select States

AFLCIO MailMail to hit nearly 1 million households in AK, CO, CT, FL, IA, IL, KY, ME, MI and WI

(Washington, DC)—This week the AFL-CIO will launch its 2014 mail program, designed to persuade voters to support working family candidates. The mail is part of the AFL-CIO’s massive political mobilization program, which includes knocking on doors, distributing worksite fliers and phone banking. With more than 12 million members, the AFL-CIO’s boots on the ground make it one of the largest grassroots efforts in the country.

This week’s mail program includes 25 different pieces in 10 states: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan and Wisconsin. The mail specifies the economic stakes this fall for all working people. The program is built on the trust and solidarity within unions and is designed to encourage voting even among working people who are discouraged by the weak economy.

Subjects include the need for working people to vote to counteract corporate control of politics, hold accountable pro-Wall Street politicians, support public education and enable paid sick leave. This mail program will continue through Election Day, and conversations with union members about working family candidates will continue into 2015 and beyond.

To view individual mail pieces, click on this link or paste it into your browser: http://www.aflcio.org/Legislation-and-Politics/2014-Printed-Mail-Political-Ads

Will Senator Sanders Run? After This Speech, I Hope So!

Bernie Sanders

There is a war out there and whether you know it or not, you are a part of it.  This is a war between a few ultra-wealthy families and the rest of us living here in America.

These ultra-wealthy 1%’ers have been buying elections and forcing policy changes that weaken our labor laws, weaken environmental protections, and most importantly take money from hard working Americans and put it into the pockets of Wall Street hedge fund managers.

What is a middle class worker supposed to do?

Every year we sit and watch, as our paychecks appear to shrink and our grocery bills get higher and higher.  Corporate run healthcare is costing us more and more, and yet our employers refuse to increase wages.  Effectively Corporate is slowly eating away at our take home pay.

We need someone who will fight back against Corporate America, the Koch brothers, and the Walton family greed.  We need someone who will fight to rebuild the middle class, and reach down to help those who are not there yet.

Who could that person be? Hillary Clinton? Maybe, well have to see. Elizabeth Warren? Love her, but we need her in the Senate right now.

Have no fear, Bernie Sanders is here!  

The truth is that nobody knows if Bernie Sanders is officially going to run for President or not, and trust me I tried to ask him at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast.  Even though I did not get a straight answer, after watching Senator Sanders speak there is no doubt in my mind he is running. And that makes me very happy!

As an avid political commentator, and devoted follower of politics, sadly I do not think Bernie will win the Democratic Party nomination.  That being said it is vitally important that Senator Sanders puts his name in the race, because he is going to ask the questions that absolutely nobody on the right will dare answer, and he is going to change the entire debate on the left, which may make Hillary a little uncomfortable.

The fact that Senator Sanders is even considering to run has many 1%’ers running scared. The more Bernie talks about running, the more speeches like this one, get pushed into the mainstream media.  The 1% does not want you to know that they are secretly creating policies that suppress your wages, and boost their profits.  The 1% does not want you to know that they have been working to break our unions, and repeal the minimum wage. The 1% does not want you to know that they are secretly changing our environmental laws to make it easier to pollute our planet.

“The problems we face today are probable more serious than at any time since the Great Depression” warned Sanders.  “From the bottom my heart, I believe these problems are solvable, but they will not be solved unless working people come together and have the courage to take on the greed and the selfishness that we are seeing all over this country.”

At one point Senator Sanders talked about how our entire tax structure is unbalanced and that we have to do something about the vast income inequality currently dividing our country.  This is effecting our communities as local budgets are getting tighter and tighter. Lack of revenue and budget cuts have forced teachers to be laid off.  Laying off teachers is the worst thing we can do if we are trying to build strong community.  Teachers are forced out while Wall Street hedge fund managers collect obscene amounts of money.

“24 of the most lucrative hedge fund managers made more money than 425,000 public school teachers. That makes sense to nobody I know,” Sanders said.

Senator Sander also talked about David Koch’s Libertarian agenda when he ran for Vice President in 1980.  All of the things that were too extreme for main stream Republicans in 1980 like, repealing the minimum wage, the repeal of Social Security, repealing campaign finance laws, the abolition of the USPS and the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid, are now the basis of the modern day TEA Party led Republican Party.

All of these policy changes favor those ultra-wealthy 1%’ers and basically screw the rest of us.  That is not what our founding fathers wanted when they created our democracy.

Senator Sanders said, “We live in a Democracy not an Oligarchy!”

I say RUN, Bernie, RUN!!!

 

Watch Senator Sanders entire speech at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast below. 

 

Jeanne Shaheen Is Making A Difference For New Hampshire Women

Jeanne Shaheen outside

“Women deserve the right to make decisions about their health care.  These decisions should not be made by an employer, they shouldn’t be made by the government – they should be made by women.”
– Senator Jeanne Shaheen

For more than two decades, Jeanne Shaheen has worked to make a difference for women in New Hampshire.  She stands up for what she believes in, like equal pay for equal work and a woman’s right to make health care decisions independent of her employer or the government.

Jeanne is the first and only woman in the country elected to serve as both a Governor and U.S. Senator.

As our Governor, Jeanne Shaheen signed bipartisan legislation to protect women’s access to basic preventive health care.  In the Senate, Shaheen won bipartisan passage of the “Shaheen Amendment” to provide health care coverage for abortion to women in the military who are victims of rape, cosponsored and was a leader in reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and fought to protect funding for Planned Parenthood including access to birth control and cancer screenings.

ADVOCATING FOR WORKING WOMEN AND FAMILIES

Jeanne co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a historic step toward workplace equality for women and signed pay equity legislation into law as Governor.  She has championed the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.  Existing pay inequities mean a woman and her family can lose more than $400,000 over the course of her career.  That is money that doesn’t go toward her owning a home, helping her children afford a college education, or providing economic security for her retirement.

Continuing on her work as Governor, Jeanne Shaheen is fighting to make childcare more affordable for working mothers.  In 1998, she established the Governor’s Business Commission on Child Care and Early Education.  In the Senate, she introduced the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act to increase the amount of eligible child care expenses used to calculate the tax credit that helps make child care more affordable.

Jeanne Shaheen understands the economic challenges New Hampshire families face as they struggle with the rising cost of childcare.  It can cost a New Hampshire family more than $11,000 per year for infant and toddler care.

PROTECTING WOMEN’S ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

For more than two decades, Jeanne Shaheen has been fighting to expand affordable access to health services for New Hampshire women.  As New Hampshire’s Governor, she signed into law bipartisan legislation requiring insurance coverage for contraceptive services.  In the Senate, she has been an outspoken advocate for women’s reproductive rights and expanded access to basic contraception and family planning care with no out of pocket costs to 253,000 women in New Hampshire.

When the Executive Council waged a war on women’s access to health care, Jeanne Shaheen fought back. She urged the federal Health and Human Services Department to provide a direct federal contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England to restore these critical health services.

Jeanne Shaheen makes a difference for the more than 17,000 women in New Hampshire who count on Planned Parenthood for affordable access to basic health services like breast exams, birth control, and cancer screenings.

Jeanne Shaheen’s leadership gained passage of history-making legislation, known as the Shaheen Amendment. It ended more than 30 years of unequal treatment of women in the military and provides health insurance coverage for abortion for women serving in the military who are victims of rape or incest.

SUPPORTING WOMEN SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

As a former owner and manager of small business, a governor, and a mother, Jeanne Shaheen knows the challenges New Hampshire’s small business owners face in balancing their budgets and meeting payroll.  This is why she is working hard to support women who own and operate New Hampshire small businesses.

Small business make up for more than 96% of all New Hampshire employers, and more than 25% of them are owned by women.  As member of the Senate Small Business Committee, Jeanne Shaheen authored bipartisan legislation so women owned small businesses would have a fair shot at federal contracts.  And she worked with the Small Business Administration to open the Center for Women’s Business Advancement at Southern New Hampshire University to help women in business.

A SENATOR NEW HAMPSHIRE WOMEN CAN COUNT ON

In Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire women have a Senator they can trust to fight for equal pay, champion the Violence Against Women Act, and protect their access to critical health services like preventive care and mammograms.  Her commonsense leadership makes a difference for Granite State women.

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