Guest Blogs


Jim Rubens - GPOs: Crony Capital Poster Child & How To Fix It 

Combined, Trump, Sanders and Carson now outpoll their establishment rivals, lopsidedly in New Hampshire. We are at the leading edge of a national political revolt, driven less by ideological litmus testing, far more an expression of open disgust for the Washington insider class who give lip service to average Americans and enrich and aggrandize themselves by selling power and economic privilege to the high bidder.
Into the weeds with a blatant case in point …
… which is the Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) safe harbor exemption, an obscure one-paragraph law written by medical industry lobbyists and snuck into a 1987 Medicare/Medicaid reform bill. The six dominant GPOs are middlemen, supplying most of the $300 billion in generic drugs and medical equipment and supplies used by U.S. hospitals.
The GPO safe harbor is unique in federal law, permitting GPOs to pay kickbacks to hospitals and hospital executives in return for sole-source contracts. This legalized banana republic corruption warps traditional free market incentives that give us continuously improving products and services at lower cost.
Combined with lax anti-trust enforcement, legalized GPO kickbacks have sharply suppressed competition, manufacturing capacity, and innovation in the generic drug and medical equipment and supply industries. Additionally, American healthcare costs are increased by at least $30 billion annually, $17 billion of this paid by taxpayers. Doctors are stuck with periodic shortages and price spikes for commodity anesthetics, antibiotics and even bagged sterile saline. Patients are subjected to unnecessary risk.
For fifteen years, doctors, healthcare entrepreneurs, muckraking journalists and a handful of Senators (Grassley, Coburn, Kohl and Leahy) have fruitlessly pressed Congress to end this corrupt, crony capitalist market distortion by simply repealing the GPO kickback safe harbor law.
Why no action by Congress? Leadership barons in bothparties get millions in campaign contributions from GPOs, hospitals, manufacturer cartels and their lobbyists. The Democrats’ lead handmaiden and recipient of GPO campaign money is Chuck Schumer, who went ballistic during a 2006 Senate hearing because GPO kickbacks were even being discussed in public.
What to do?
Repealing the GPO kickback safe harbor is but one of thousands of discrete and widely supportable reforms that would end crony capital corruption and restore government of, by, and for the people. But Congressional party barons use their hammerlock over procedure to block reform bills like these on behalf of their donors.
One simple solution is to break procedural gridlock by allowing every member of Congress to do what every member of the New Hampshire legislature can do: bring bills to the House or Senate floor for a straight up or down vote.
Under U.S. Senate rules and custom, only Senate majority leader McConnell can offer a motion to proceed to floor debate on a bill. I propose a change to Senate rules allowing a simple majority of 51 Senators to agree to allow floor debate and a vote on specific, single-subject bills. Under this special rule, debate time limits would be agreed to by sponsors in advance, only germane amendments permitted, and the right to filibuster retained. Specific, broadly-supported legislation could come directly and promptly to the Senate floor for open debate.
Subject to heightened public attention on open floor debate, wavering Senators would break from Chuck Schumer’s grip and be embarrassed into voting for a stand-alone bill to repeal the GPO kickback safe harbor.
As in the New Hampshire legislature, this procedural change would not grind Congress to a halt. It would force debate and votes on more issues. Senators would spend more time on our nation’s backlog of pressing and unresolved issues. They would stop spending half their time groveling for money from the crony capitalists who have corrupted Washington and stifled the general prosperity that would otherwise flow from free market competition.

Every citizen in our first in the nation primary state should be asking the candidates what they will do to break Washington gridlock and end crony capitalist corruption.
I’ll be speaking tomorrow in Rochester
How an Article V convention to propose constitutional amendments can save America from national bankruptcy and political corruption
Rochester 9-12 Group
Monday the 14th, 6:30 pm
Church of Christ, 336 Salmon Falls Road, East Rochester


NH Rep Max Abramson - New Hampshire's Dumbest Law

When we reuse or recycle old milk jugs to water our plants, we rarely think that we may find ourselves facing criminal charges and one year in corrections for each offense.  It's unlikely that this would actually happen, yet there are still many old laws on the books that were never repealed as technology, society, and our economy has changed.  Enacted in 1907, the legislature made only one modification in 1961, changing this to a misdemeanor.
Perusing the Revised Statutes Annotated at your local library or online, we find that it is illegal to hunt with ferrets or destroy a muskrat house.  It is perfectly lawful to collect seaweed in all 50 states, but in New Hampshire, you cannot do so at night.  If your GPS gives you a notice on the highway, you must now pull over to hit OK under the new hands free driving law. warns of a $150 fine for ”maintaining the national forest without a permit.” (no relation) warns of RSA 353:10, which makes it a crime to check into a motel or inn under an assumed name.
While some of these laws may have made sense long ago, some are leaving more confusion and questions than answers.  School age kids from around the state are being invited to find the silliest, most outdated, nonsensical laws that they can find.  Interested students can get on the Internet and start putting words into the search field at:
They can then find the RSA number and post your suggestion to the Facebook page, New Hampshire's Dumbest Law before the September 15th deadline.  Students can also mail their suggestion to New Hampshire's Dumbest Law, PO Box 746, Seabrook, N.H. 03874.  A number of legislators will select from those suggestions and file a bill to repeal that law.  The winning class will get to come to the State House and argue before a House Committee to repeal this law and learn the legislative process in person.  This is a great learning experience for students, and should be a good chance for youngsters to affect the laws of our state.
Rep. Max Abramson
Rockingham 20

Jim Rubens - Drug War Rethink Overdue 


Drug War Rethink Long Overdue

Illegal drug overdose deaths have rocketed into a crisis policy challenge, claiming a staggering 325 New Hampshire lives last year, three times our traffic fatalities. Unfortunately, we are hearing same-same from most of our political leaders: tinker around the edges with good ideas that will help (but not nearly enough) and toughen up on the drug war.
The global 50-year, $1 trillion war on drugs is a flagrant policy failure in urgent need of a thorough, evidence-based rethink. Here are the facts: 
  • Supply interdiction drives up violence and drug supplier profits.
    • Global illegal drug demand is now $320 billion annually.
    • Since 2006, drug trade violence stemming largely from U.S. demand has killed over 100,000 people in Mexico alone.
    • U.S. taxpayers spent $7.5 billion last year attempting to eradicate production of opium (the raw material for heroin) in Afghanistan, yet cultivation there has reached record levels, supplying ¾ of global demand and occupying a cultivated land area the size of Rhode Island, and providing a major source of funding for the Taliban.
  • Drug addiction and abuse is pervasive and massively damaging.
    • Nationally, illegal drug use costs almost $200 billion annually in crime, lost work productivity and healthcare.
    • 9.4 percent of Americans are past-year users of illegal drugs, 7.5 percent for marijuana. 39 percent of 12th graders are past-year illegal drug users, 35 percent for marijuana. At my local high school, MJ can be had free for the asking every day and is easier to obtain than alcohol.
    • Only 11 percent of 23 million Americans needing treatment for illegal drug or alcohol use are getting such treatment.
    • New Hampshire is #12 among the states at 11.2 percent of 12+ population using illegal drugs or abusing pharmaceuticals.
    • Substance abuse costs New Hampshire $1.84 billion annually, nearly 3 percent of state GDP.
    • U.S. prisons are filled with non-violent drug offenders. With 5 percent of world population, the U.S. has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Illegal drugs are readily available even in prisons with many drug offenders leaving prison as hardened criminals and more addicted.
    • Drug law enforcement is racially discriminatory. Six in ten drug crime prisoners are black or Latino, though proportions of drug suppliers and users are similar for whites.
Here’s how I’d change policy, specifically for heroin and marijuana.
For heroin, we can learn from the eight European nations and Canada which operate “heroin assisted treatment” programs. Generally, heroin addicts who have failed methadone or other forms of drug treatment are given access 2-3 times per day to clinical healthcare facilities where they receive controlled doses of pharmacological grade heroin in addition to medical care, drug treatment counseling and social services. The measured outcomes include sharp reductions in illegal drug use, drug crimes, disease, overdose deaths and major increases in addiction treatment retention. In Switzerland, property crimes among enrolled heroin addicts dropped by 90 percent.
In 2001, Portugal became first in the world to decriminalize all drugs and to make drug treatment services fully accessible. In Portugal as generally in the 24 other nations adopting drug decriminalization, use rates did not increase. Drug violators are referred to treatment providers, but not compelled to accept services. Drug-related deaths since 2001 have declined by 80 percent. Rates of past-year drug use have decreased. New AIDS cases among drug injectors resulting from dirty needle sharing declined by 93 percent. In most of the U.S., sterile needles are illegal to possess and one-third of all new AIDS cases result from dirty needle sharing.
For marijuana, Washington should grant states the power to legalize and regulate like alcohol. For New Hampshire, I’d allow sale at state liquor stores if locally approved. Require child-proof packaging and labels disclosing potency and health effects, including the fact that MJ use involves performance and brain developmental effects (though far less in the aggregate than tobacco or alcohol). Prohibit advertising and public use. License in-state wholesale producers and allow personal production in limited quantities. Extend DUI laws to cover marijuana metabolite blood levels.
Washington State is one of four to have legalized and taxed the sale of cannabis products.  Over its first year in full effect, Washington saved most of the $20 million previously spent on minor MJ law enforcement and collected $83 million in tax revenues, with revenues used to fund prevention, treatment, research and education programs. Early data show that traffic fatalities and youth marijuana use have not increased.
To sharply reduce human suffering, violence and death, political leaders must confront the fact that the drug war is an abject failure. Real solutions must sharply increase public funding for substance abuse and addiction treatment, which can be more than paid for via reduced drug interdiction and non-violent drug user imprisonment. By dropping rigid thinking about drug policy, we can increase racial harmony and defund criminal drug empires and Afghan terrorists.
Jim Rubens is former GOP state senator and past President of Headrest, a Lebanon-based substance abuse and suicide prevention and counseling center. 

George Landrift - Postal Service shortfalls impact rural areas


Before the United States was a country, even before it declared its independence, the United States maintained a letter delivery service. In fact, the very first “long distance” route went between no other than Williamsburg, Va., and Portsmouth. Though the makeup of the service, which employs 600,000 workers nationwide, including almost 3,100 in New Hampshire, has changed greatly between then and now, its core function has remained the same – to provide a letter mail delivery service to every American, no matter where they live, at a reasonable rate.

Yet due to constantly evolving technologies and lack of effective leadership from the U.S. Postal Service, the quasi-government agency continues to stray far from that function. While this ultimately hurts all Americans, it especially threatens states with large rural populations, such as New Hampshire.

Today, we have other means to share information. But rural America lags behind more urban areas in internet use, which only makes the USPS that much more important in many areas of the country.

“Federal law requires the Postal Service to provide ‘a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services’ to rural areas and small towns,” the Washington Post reports.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Postal Service seems to be increasing service and product offerings in metropolitan centers like San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York, while they are shutting down mail processing facilities and decreasing service in other areas.

This past January, the U.S. Postal Service announced its intention to close 82 mail processing facilities across the country, reducing post office hours, and increasing delivery times. From this proposal, the areas that would be hurt most by these closures are small towns and rural areas. “Some of the nation’s poorest communities, many of them with spotty broadband Internet coverage, stand to suffer most,” the Post analysis found in 2012 when closures were only rumored.

Because of these closures, mail sometimes travels 90 miles out of the way before it reaches its intended recipient on the other side of town. Many have questioned the strategy to close the processing facilities in light of the resulting decline in service standards, which have steadily deteriorated over the last three years. “The postmaster general doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on in rural America, and it shows,” Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of the very rural state of Montana recently said.

Examples are the elimination of overnight delivery for local first class mail that would arrive the very next day and the lagging delivery times for first class mail. According to the USPS, first class mail, which is supposed to reach its recipient within 3-5 days, failed to meet that standard for over one-third of all mail delivered in the first seven weeks of 2015.

While service is languishing throughout most of the country, urban areas are seeing a bump in services from the USPS. Recently they expanded a service called Metro Post to other cities even though it earned $1 for every $10 invested – a 90 percent financial loss. Add this to other new ventures like grocery delivery – now expanding in New York City – as well as a potential move into banking services, and it’s clear that the trend has been to cut back on standard mail service, which everyone relies on, in order to move into other business ventures in big city markets.

All told, customers may not be getting what they pay for. Considering the stamp price increases, we can’t help but wonder if we are subsidizing their ill-fated experiments.

While the USPS will fail to elicit attention from the 2016 Presidential field, the issue is still important. The tentacles of the USPS touches too many corners of this nation to ignore its problems. Now is the time for the USPS to refocus its mission and remember its rural customers.

(George Landrith is the president of Frontiers of Freedom, a think tank in Fairfax, Va.)



David Holt - New Hampshire Follows Trend, Supports Arctic Energy Development

By David Holt


A new poll shows what’ll be at the top of New Hampshirites’ minds when they hit the voting booths next year to elect a new commander-in-chief – energy production.


A survey administered recently by Consumer Energy Alliance shows that more than 80 percent of voters in New Hampshire said that candidates’ energy policy would be a key decision point on who they vote for in next year’s presidential election. This resonated not only with Republicans but also with Democrats and the much-coveted Independents.


It’s hard to come any closer to showing cross-party unity on an issue than that.


This probably comes as a surprise for very few. Energy policies significantly impact the pocketbooks of residents in New Hampshire. All consumers, regardless of party affiliation, want to ensure stable and low prices for all forms of energy, and the energy sector continues to be the most significant pillar of the strengthening economy.


What is likely surprising for many is where voters in New Hampshire suggest energy policy will be crucial: the U.S. waters in the Arctic, a resources-rich region thousands of miles away. Support for offshore energy development in the Arctic Circle dwarfed its opposition by substantial double-digit percentage points.


What voters want to know – and what each candidate will have to answer – is how each candidate, if elected, will utilize the U.S. Arctic to expand the nation’s record-setting energy renaissance, which has resurrected the national and state economy by mass-producing jobs and helping make the U.S. a worldwide energy leader.


While several polls show that an overwhelming majority of Alaskans support energy development in the Arctic, the region remains a hot-button issue because of its beautiful geography and immense untapped oil and gas potential.


The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates that the Alaska Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) has about 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That’s enough to fuel every domestic flight for over 120 years and heat every American home for more than 30 years. Furthermore, the Chukchi Sea, off Alaska’s northwest coast, offers more resources than any other undeveloped U.S. energy basin. In fact, experts believe it may be one of the largest untapped oil and gas sources in the world.


The National Petroleum Council (NPC), an advisory council to the U.S. Department of Energy, says that the development of these resources would not only create more jobs nationwide but also generate billions in additional revenue while keeping domestic energy production high and consumer costs and imports low. These resources would also help pull Alaska out of its multibillion-dollar budget shortfall and extend the longevity of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), a major energy artery for the lower 48 states and the energy-guzzling West Coast that continues to be hampered by declining throughput.


These polls and analyses illustrate how New Hampshirites support a common sense energy policy that includes Arctic offshore energy exploration. Most Alaskans, whose state is funded almost entirely by the petroleum industry, strongly echo these sentiments.


Now the White House – which just gave conditional approval to drill in the Arctic this summer – might be following the trend.


“When it can be done safely and appropriately, U.S. production of oil and natural gas is important,” said President Obama. “I would rather us – with all the safeguards and standards that we have – be producing our oil and gas, rather than importing it, which is bad for our people, but is also potentially purchased from places that have much lower environmental standards than we do.”


We at Consumer Energy Alliance could not agree more. With overwhelming public support by New Hampshire for offshore development in the U.S. Arctic and the importance of the region to our energy and economic security, we hope the Administration implements President Obama’s vision by taking the steps necessary for U.S. Arctic development to commence – and that the next President follows suit.