Guest Blogs

Wednesday
Feb032016

Ralph Benko - The Buck Starts Here: The Missing Issue In The 2016 Presidential Election 

Something is missing from the front-and-center of the presidential campaign. The American economy has long been stagnant. We are growing at maybe half the historic trend line and far beneath that of the robust growth of Reagan and Clinton. 

Anemic 2% growth may not seem like a big deal. It is. A 1% - 2% annual shortfall may seem trivial. It’s not. Compounded over 15 years that means that the American economy, and each of our paychecks and net worth, is around a third lower than it should be. Most everyone outside the “1%” feels this hole in our pocketbooks.

This stagnation has implications for the federal deficit, for the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, and for our ability to afford a robust defense. Most of all it means that the vast majority of voters are struggling economically.  The growth gap occurred under both Republican president George W. Bush, and Democratic president Barack Obama. It is unseemly forcandidates to criticize Party Elders, which may in part explain their diffidence. But it’s so.

A feckless Fed torpedoed the economy under both Presidents Bush and Obama. As TheWashington Post’s Ylan Q. Mui noted in Why nobody believes the Federal Reserve’s forecaststhe Fed has gotten 50 out of 50 of its last economic forecasts badly wrong. If the National Weather Service had a track record that bad heads already would have rolled. The Fed enjoys a strange impunity. 

Reagan and Clinton’s robust job growth occurred under the Volcker-Greenspan “Great Moderation.” That policy was abandoned around the year 2000 thrusting America into a miserable “boom-and-bust” cycle. 

The sign on President Truman’s desk, “The Buck Stops Here,” in a very literal sense applies. Still, the buck — Federal Reserve Notes — starts at the Fed.  The candidates’ tax plans also are relevant to economic growth. But monetary policy is paramount.

The candidates have been strangely quiet about it, possibly not wishing to impugn their Party Elders. Still, voters can dig down and find where they stand.  We should.

Donald Trump has presented a disturbing criticism of Fed Chair Janet Yellen for not raising interest rates, observing in the next breath that doing so would plunge America into a “recession-slash-depression.”

Gov. Christie has called for an audit of the Fed as have Sens. Rubio, Cruz, and Paul. Gov Christie has attributed partial blame to the Fed for the widening gulf between the rich and poor and blasted it for keeping interest rates at zero.

Gov. Bush has been almost mute on this topic.

Sen. Ted Cruz and, less directly, Sen. Rand Paul have called for a restoration of the gold standard (a policy also commended, in passing, by Trump and Carson). This controversial policy correlates closely with some of the best economic growth in American history, including America’s post-war economic boom era. 

As James Carville wrote, “It’s the economy, stupid!” Voters, in deciding for whom to vote, would do well to look at the candidates’ positions on the Federal Reserve.  The buck starts there.

Tuesday
Jan052016

Carly Fiorina: We must tackle the addiction crisis 

Carly Fiorina

TIME 
January 4, 2016

 

If you’re criminalizing drug abuse and addiction, you’re not treating it—and you're part of the problem

When our daughter Lori was just 34 years old, my husband Frank and I lost her to the demons of addiction.

I had known her since she was 6 years old. I fell in love with her and her big sister, Tracy, almost before I fell in love with their father—my husband, Frank. Lori had long blond hair and bright, sparkling eyes.

It broke my heart to watch the look that grew in Lori’s once-bright eyes as her addictions overcame her. There is an old saying: “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” As Lori grew progressively sicker, the potential disappeared from behind her eyes. The light, the sparkle she once had, left her. What remained was a dull, flat void. It was the look of hopelessness. And that look is what haunts me most.

Lori had been battling addictions for years. She had been in and out of rehab three times. As anyone who has loved someone with an addiction knows, you can force someone into rehab, but you can’t make her well. Only the addict can do that.

Virtually every minute of every day after those two police officers stood in our living room, Frank and I wondered what signs we had missed, what we could have done differently to help Lori overcome her demons. It is the torture of second-guessing that every parent who has lost a child to addiction goes through.

Unfortunately, too many of the men and women I have met on the campaign trail have experienced tragedies like ours. They have lost fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters. Drug addiction is an epidemic, and it is taking too many of our young people.

This is a battle that we must fight. There are things that we can and must do.

We must invest more in mental health and in the treatment of drug addiction.

We shouldn’t be criminalizing addiction. If you’re criminalizing drug abuse, you’re not treating it. In New Hampshire alone, 85% of state prisoners have a substance abuse problem. These men and women need help.

We need to reform the criminal justice system and make sure we’re putting the right people in prison. The federal prison population has nearly doubled in the last 20 years—and nearly half of the inmates in federal prison are in there for non-violent drug offenses.

It’s important to keep violent criminals out of our communities—but it’s also true that prison is not always the right answer. Drug offenders who go into treatment—rather than through the normal criminal justice system—are about 25% less likely to be re-arrested in the two years after leaving the program.

It’s clear that there is a better way—and a number of states are on the forefront of this fight, developing innovative solutions to a problemthat the federal government has failed to solve.

Texas now has specialized drug courts that allow more flexibility in addressing non-violent offenses. Georgia has made it a priority to help inmates earn a degree and gain skills that will help them get a job and stay out of prison.

In New Hampshire, I have gotten to see some of these innovations firsthand. Last month, I visited CADY (Communities for Alcohol- and Drug-free Youth), an organization that has had success in offering youth with substance abuse disorders a pathway to recovery that does not take them through the traditional criminal justice system. Instead, CADY gets them the help they need. We need to empower states like Texas, Georgia, and New Hampshire to implement the solutions they know are working.

At the moment that those two police officers delivered the news to my husband and me, we lost both the woman Lori was and the woman she could have been. All our hope for her and her life died. We grieved for Lori, for our family, for ourselves.

Unfortunately, I have seen the look from Lori’s eyes in too many people around the country. People are losing the sense of limitless possibility that has always defined this nation.

In too many cities, young people are getting access to drugs—and then getting arrested—and then turning back to drugs. It’s a terrible cycle.

We need to create a circumstance where people have a stake in their community—and they will only have that stake if they believe that their community offers them possibilities for a future. It’s time to take our country back from the professional politicians and return that sense of possibility to the people of this nation.

I look forward to discussing these important issues at the New Hampshire Forum on Addiction and the Heroin Epidemic at Southern New Hampshire University on January 5.

Thursday
Dec102015

US Sen. Gregg & Gov. Lynch - Something We Can All Agree On

This column first appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Something We Can All Agree On
By Senator Judd Gregg andGovernor John Lynch
 
The 2016 Presidential contest iswell under way.  We in New Hampshire areabout to make choices in our First in the Nation Primary that will havefar-reaching ramifications for our nation.
We have an incredible responsibilityevery four years to use our strong New Hampshire values and judgment to helpshape the national debate and select who our next President will be.
 
We also get to witness first handjust how frustrating and polarizing the political process can be, and how theissues that divide us often seem to control the discussion of the day. Yet ascitizens and neighbors, we know we share common ground.
 
As representatives from oppositeparties, we strongly believe in an issue that transcends politics andstrongly reflects our core values: support for national service. Nationalservice harnesses America’s most powerful resource – the energy and talents ofour citizens – to improve communities, impact lives, and tackle some of thebiggest challenges facing our nation. Not only is this an issue that we bothagree on, voters across the country overwhelmingly support an increasedinvestment as well.
 
recent poll conducted in nine presidentialbattleground states, including New Hampshire, shows overwhelming supportfor robust federal investments in national service. After learning the detailsabout national service, 83% of voters said they would like to maintain orincrease the levels of spending and investment, including 78% ofRepublicans, 84% of Independents, and 90% ofDemocrats -- and even 78% of Tea Party supporters.  

New Hampshire, where residentshave long embodied what it means to be active citizens, relies heavily onvolunteers whether its neighbor helping neighbor, mentors andteachers guiding children, or communities coming together to clean up parks,stock food pantries and support one another. National service is makingthat happen and has fueled our growth in volunteerism over the past20 years. In fact, each AmeriCorps member leverages more than 40 communityvolunteers by providing regular volunteer management. The bang for thebuck is compelling and badly needed: economists estimate that every dollarinvested in national service generates almost $4 returned to society in higherearnings, increased output, and other community-wide benefits.
 
One proven, cost-effective nationalservice program helping to make a difference here is City Year NewHampshire (CYNH). Serving in eight of Manchester's high-povertyschools, City Year AmeriCorps members provide struggling students with theadditional support they need to advance toward high school graduation preparedfor college, careers, and successful lives. And it's working. According to arecent third-party study, schools that partner with City Year across thecountry are two to three times more likely to improve on state assessments inEnglish and math -- and an overwhelming 98% of students tutored by CYNHimproved their literacy scores.
 
Other well-known New Hampshireorganizations that use national service members to deliver their missions anddrive results include the Student Conservation Association, which engagesAmeriCorps members in environmental stewardship projects, and the US FIRSTFoundation, which fuels innovation in education focused on science, technology,engineering and math.  
 
Americans overwhelmingly agree thatnational service prepares young people for the workforce, builds strongneighborhoods and communities, and restores the American values of patriotismand civic duty.  Four-in-five voters alsosupported the education awards offered to AmeriCorps alumni, which help todefray ever-rising college costs. (AmeriCorps members earn a college scholarship worth $5,775.)  With the largest average student loan debt inthe nation, this is likely a benefit Granite Staters in particular can getbehind.
 
As we hear more from thepresidential candidates and learn details about their plans for the country’sfuture, a commitment to expanding funding for national service, which is paidfor, should be included. It not only makes moral and fiscal sense, but goodpolitical sense too. Sounds like a great combination for any presidentialcandidate to embrace. We hope we’ll hear them talk about it out on the trail.
 
Judd Gregg, a Republican,represented New Hampshire in the U.S. Senatefrom 1993-2011. John Lynch, a Democrat, wasthe Governor of New Hampshire from 2004-2013.  
Tuesday
Nov102015

Richard Hinch - Opioid Epidemic is and Will Continue to be a Top Legislative Priority

By: House Majority Leader Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack)

In a recent op-ed, Governor Hassan laid out her reasons for calling a special session of the legislature to deal with the state’s ongoing opioid epidemic, which is directly affecting so many New Hampshire families. Addressing this crisis has been and will continue to be a top priority for the legislature.

A week prior to the Governor's special session request, House and Senate leaders held a press conference where they presented an array of legislation that would be taken up in an expedited manner when the regular session convenes in January. These proposals aim to bolster the state’s response to the crisis, and include funding for more regional drug courts, improving access to long term recovery services, increasing penalties for fentanyl, and improving the state’s efforts in prevention and interdiction. With broad consensus in the legislature that addressing the opioid epidemic is our top priority, there was no disagreement that a bill could reach the governor's desk in a matter of weeks, not months, as she claims.

The governor’s recent level of concern is a remarkable change of course from what we experienced this past summer, where millions of dollars in new funding for treatment and enforcement were delayed for 10 weeks by the governor’s veto of the legislature’s budget. While the governor was busy vilifying Republicans for changes to New Hampshire’s business tax code, much needed funding was delayed to the very things she is hoping to support today.

In the legislature’s budget, funding for drug and alcohol treatment and recovery programs was increased by 75% from the previous budget. The substantial growth in dollars budgeted for these types of services was a steadfast commitment by the legislature to help our state respond to the crisis. We had hoped the budget would become law as soon as possible, but the governor’s veto stopped this new wave of dollars from reaching our overwhelmed addiction treatment and behavioral health service providers.

Included in these funds was a doubling of the budget for theGovernor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery. Because of the delay caused by the budget veto, the Commission could not set or approve their budget until October 23rd. Had the governor let the budget become law in June, her own Commission could have approved their budget in July or August, and the additional dollars could have been utilized months ago, rather than just now reaching programs and service providers.

Also included in the legislature’s budget were funds earmarked for additional personnel in the State Police crime lab. The crime lab is facing an enormous backlog of work as a result of increased drug related crime requiring substance analysis. The legislature listened to the concerns of the Department of Safety and stepped up by fulfilling their request for additional dollars. Due to the governor’s budget veto, these dollars are just now reaching the Department of Safety, and recent reports suggest that postings for new job openings are only now happening this week.

These are just two examples of a failure by Governor Hassan to recognize the important steps forward we were able to make in 2015, and a failure to recognize that her actions impeded the ability of her own executive branch of government to have the resources they need to do an effective job.

Governor Hassan’s change of course suggests that she believes it is now more politically expedient to devote time and resources to the issue than it was in June or July. Rather than focus on the pragmatic policy implications of the legislature’s budget, the governor chose to focus on politically driven talking points provided to her by staff and consultants whose business it is to manufacture disagreement.

During the 2015 legislativesession we were proud to not only put forward a statewide spending plan with an emphasis on supporting programs to aid in the state’s efforts to address this crisis, but we also passed legislation that gave first responders greater access to Narcan, passed a Good Samaritan law to protect those who report drug related emergencies, and increased funding for more community based mental health services.

 

We don’t disagree with the governor that more needs to be done. But, in recent weeks, we’ve seen what a rushed process void of stakeholder input can produce, when the Board of Medicine rejected most of the Governor’s proposed rule changes to prescribing practices. We want to avoid similar situations as we move forward.

 

The governor would like us to believe that a special session of the legislature is the solution to New Hampshire’s drug crisis when, in fact, it is a deflection of her responsibility as governor. The solution won’t merely be a set of bills that come before the House and Senate. It requires a leader capable of managing the executive branch of government to effectively deploy the resources the legislature has appropriated, and the ability to seek results instead of headlines. Up to this point, we have not seen these qualities manifested by the governor.


The legislature will continue to act in a proactive manner as we have demonstrated throughout this year, and are willing and able to work in a bipartisan, coordinated manner to pass the best legislation we can with the resources we have available. It is up to the executive branch to manage delivery of funds and services, and in turn produce measurable results.

Friday
Oct232015

Dudley Sharp - THE DEATH PENALTY: SAVING MORE INNOCENT LIVES

The death penalty saves more innocent lives, in three ways, than does life without parole (LWOP) (1,2).
 
The (now) 155 "exonerated" or "innocent" from death row, as its offshoot, the 4.1% "innocent" on death row, are both deception, very easily discovered by fact checking, wherein the anti death penalty folks have just redefined "exonerated" and "innocent" and stuffed a bunch of cases into those fraudulent definitions (1,3).
 
There is no verifiable case of an innocent executed, in the US, at least since the 1930's (1,2).
 
Since 1973:
 
(a) there have been 14,000 - 28,000 actual innocents murdered by those known murderers that we allowed to murder, again - recidivist murderers (two different recidivism studies from different years) (1).
 
(b) up to 200,000 innocents have been murdered by those criminals we have released or not incarcerated (1).
 
DETERRENCE
 
The evidence that the death penalty deters some is overwhelming (1,2).
 
The evidence that the death penalty deters none does not exist (1,2).
 
Death is feared more than life. Life is preferred over death. What is feared more deters more. What is preferred more deters less.
 
Media and Fact Checking
 
The anti death penalty "innocent" and "exoneration" frauds are, very easily, confirmed, yet, most often, are simply passed onto the public by the media, aiding in that fraud, even though the anti death penalty folks have admitted the deceptions (1,2, 3).
 

1) The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter? A Review of All Innocence Issues
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-death-penalty-do-innocents-matter.html
 
2) OF COURSE THE DEATH PENALTY DETERS: A review of the debate
and
MURDERERS MUCH PREFER LIFE OVER EXECUTION
99.7% of murderers tell us "Give me life, not execution"
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/03/of-course-death-penalty-deters.html
 

3) The "Innocence" Frauds
 
a) 70-83% of the anti death penalty folks claims of death row "exonerations" are false.
 
Start with Sections 3&4
 
The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-innocent-frauds-standard-anti-death.html
 
b) The 4.1% "Innocent" on Death Row: More Nonsense
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-41-innocent-on-death-row.html  
 
c) Innocence Project Invents False Confessions
250% error rate in "confessions"
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-innocence-project-invents-false.html
 
d) Journalism professor accused of framing innocent man for murder as part of his campaign to abolish death penalty in Illinois, Daily Mail, November 10, 2014,
www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2829019/Journalism-professor-accused-framing-innocent-man-murder-campaign-abolish-death-penalty-Illinois.html