Guest Blogs

Sunday
Feb222015

Jim Rubens - Hillary's Corporate Cronyism: US State Department for Sale, Perfectly Legal 

Hillary Clinton, as former Secretary of State, near-certain Presidential candidate, and through her family’s Clinton Foundation, has perfected to a fine art the legalized bribery and pay-to-play corporate cronyism that powers Washington politics.
 
The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that corporate giants, such as General Electric, Boeing, Exxon Mobil and Microsoft, have been able to enlist the State Department as their private marketing department and Mrs. Clinton has been able to shake down these companies for millions in cash to boost her personal standing.
 
The Journal found that of 425 corporate donors to the Clinton Foundation, the 60 who lobbied the State Department during her four years as Secretary contributed $26 million.
 
Before every overseas diplomatic trip, Undersecretary of State and former Goldman Sachs investment banker Robert Hormats prepared a list of corporate interests for Mrs. Clinton to shill.
 
In one instance in 2009, Mrs. Clinton flew to Russia to pump sales for Boeing. Seven months later, Russia purchased $3.7 billion worth of the company’s jets. Two months later, Boeing made its first contribution to the Clinton Foundation, $900,000.
 
In 2012, Mrs. Clinton flew to Bulgaria, specifically to lobby its Parliament on behalf of Chevron to reverse a ban on natural gas fracking.  While Bulgaria did not reverse its policy, in 2013, Chevron gave $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
 
In another instance reported by the Journal, in 2012, Mrs. Clinton went to bat for GE to persuade Algeria (successfully) to purchase its power plants.  One month later, GE made its first contribution to the Clinton Foundation.
 
While campaign finance regulations prohibit foreign governments from giving money to candidates, both before and after Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, 28 foreign governments have given a combined $51 million to the Clinton Foundation, knowing full well that she is the likely Democratic nominee for President.  Saudi Arabia has given at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.
 
It’s time to fix Washington’s corrupt political money system. Both national and international policy is for sale to the highest bidder and politicians like Hillary Clinton can get very, very rich and maintain a lifetime career in politics by extorting those with an interest in those policies. All of this is legal and this system of corruption involves both parties.
 
Here in New Hampshire, many on the left and right support passage of HCR2 which, if passed in 34 states, would launch an Article V convention of the states tasked with crafting an amendment to the Constitution to address rampant legalized political bribery and extortion.  Any amendment proposed by a convention must then be ratified by at least 38 states, a high bar designed by the framers to weed out any constitutional changes not supported by a broad supermajority of Americans.

I urge you to call your Rep, respectfully and briefly asking them to support the House State-Federal Relations Committee recommendation to pass both HCR2 and HCR3 (which would launch a convention to propose amendments relative to fiscal restraint, term limits, and enhanced federalism).

 

Thanks for listening,

 

Jim Rubens

Saturday
Jan312015

Public Citizen - Defeating Citizens United Decision is a Bi-Partisan Issue

Op-Ed submitted on behalf of NH state Senator Fuller Clark and Representative Elliott.

The op-ed is below,

Thanks very much 

Sriharsha

************************************************************************

As Americans, we take pride in our Democracy and in the notion that in our Government we all have equal voice.  However, the New Hampshire legislature is currently debating the very meaning of this word. The State House and Senate will consider a constitutional amendment that would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling. On January 29th, ordinary citizens, both Republicans and Democrats, argued for its necessity at the Capitol in Concord. They understand that the Supreme Court decision has opened the floodgates to unlimited campaign spending in our State by outside groups, drowning out their voice and that of the average New Hampshire voter.  While an open debate on the best way to rally support for or against individual candidates is important, let it be clear that the citizens of New Hampshire have already overwhelmingly decided on the issue of allowing outside money to influence the outcome of our elections. 

 

According to a University of New Hampshire Survey Center Granite State Poll, 72 percent of residents have said they oppose the Citizens United ruling, and 69 percent saying that they would support a constitutional amendment that would limit outside campaign contributions and spending from special interest groups and corporations 1. Our citizens understand that the presence of money in politics means that politicians are not necessarily beholden to their citizens, but rather to special interests.

Ignoring the support of New Hampshire's citizenry for a constitutional amendment, those supporting defeat of HB and SB try to wedge a partisan divide by claiming that this is only a liberal issue. However, the fact remains that this issue is popular amongst voters across party lines - Republicans, Democrats and Undeclared. The average conservative voters understand that when outside money from special interests become the priority for their Representatives, their own voice is diminished. They understand that liberal special interest groups are no less culpable when it comes to big spending. For example, in the 2014 election, the top two highest spending superPACs in the country were both liberal.  Furthermore, the wealthy liberal donors, George Soros and Fred Eychaner spent more than the top 22 disclosed conservative donors including the Koch Brothers2. What proud conservative voter in New Hampshire would have outside liberal donors such as Mr. Soros and Mr. Eychanar speak louder than any one individual voter does in our state and local elections? 

 

For any American, whether liberal or conservative, we must face a harsh reality. A recent Princeton study demonstrates that America is no longer a Democracy, when any major policy initiative only gains traction with the Government after wealthy special interest groups fight for them 3. In this day and age, if you want your issue taken seriously, you better have a billionaire on your side. 

 

Detractors continue to argue that spending unlimited money for or against a politician is a matter of freedom of speech. But, by that logic, why not allow them to give unlimited amounts of money ("bribes") to a politician and call that freedom of speech? Why not allow lobbyists freedom of speech by allowing them to buy politicians free dinners and cruise trips as a means of gaining votes? Why shouldn't the voices with the most money be allowed to control our elections? Most of us do not believe that this is what the Founding Fathers intended when they passed the first amendment protecting freedom of speech or what the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for our county meant when they spoke of freedom.  And that is why it is so important for our democracy that the Citizens United decision be overturned. 

 

Clearly, if the legislature should represent its people, there is only one outcome possible - the bills are currently being considered in both the New Hampshire House and Senate this week should resoundingly pass in both bodies. How can any politician who votes against this legislation claim to represent his or her constituents?

 

1       Azem Z., and Smith A., Granite State Poll: New Hampshire Coalition for Open Democracy. The Survey Center, University of New Hampshire.April, 2013. 

2       2014 Top Donors to Outside Spending Groups. <https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/summ.php?cycle=2014&disp=D&type=V&superonly=N.>

3       Gilens M and Page B., Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average CitizensPerspectives on Politics. Vol. 12: 03. September, 2014, pp 564-581.

 

Wednesday
Jan282015

Jim Rubens - New CBO Projection: $1.4 Trillion O’Care Deficit Spending by 2025 

New CBO Projection: $1.4 Trillion O’Care Deficit Spending by 2025

 

The Congressional Budget Office yesterday released its updated Obamacare net cost analysis:  $1.4 trillion over the coming eleven years, all of it borrowed and printed money. 
 
Obamacare costs (net of tax income) are divided about equally between $1.06 trillion for health insurance purchase subsidies and $920 billion in Medicaid expansion costs. This year or next, the New Hampshire legislature must decide whether to continue our state’s participation in Medicaid expansion, thereby burdening New Hampshire taxpayers with the risk that the federal government will be forced by currency or bond markets to curtail borrowing and printing and to welch on its promise to pay 90 to 100 percent of the $2.5 billion cost for our state through 2020.
 
The fiscal recklessness embodied in Obamacare must be restrained by two systemic reforms:
 
Ratify a Balanced Budget Amendment to the US Constitution. Medicare Part D, Obamacare, Washington under either party cannot stop itself from promising more spending without paying for it. Congress has refused for decades to give a BBA to the states to ratify. So, it’s time for an Article V convention of the states to draft one for potential state ratification.
 
End the corrupt, crony capitalist campaign funding system.  Rather than implementing reforms to reduce America’s highest-in-the-world healthcare costs and using these savings to pay for expanded access, Obamacare was fashioned by entrenched special interests in the healthcare industry.
 
After the fight to pass Obamacare, PBS Frontline reported that healthcare industry (insurance and pharma) refused back Obamacare unless the President backed off his campaign promise for a “public option” (government run health plan), included the individual mandate to purchase private insurance, and continued to prohibit the federal government from negotiating lower prices for pharmaceuticals. Obama caved and to make this deal to pass Obamacare, the White House delegated then-Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), who had taken over $440,000 in campaign contributions (2nd most in Congress after John McCain) from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries during the 2006-2010 election cycles.  
 
Howard Dean told Frontline, “There were two senior staffers in Max Baucus's office, one who used to work for United Health Care and one who used to work for WellPoint, who wrote the bill.” Forbes Magazine reports that Obamacare expected to increase pharma industry profits by $10 to $35 billion over ten years ending 2025.
 
If voters want a fiscally responsible Congress accountable to the people, we must demand an alternative to bought and paid for public policy. When they come to our state asking for your vote, ask the Presidential candidates what they will do to end this system corruption that gave us Obamacare and $1.4 trillion in new debt.

 

 

Jim Rubens

Wednesday
Dec312014

Jim Rubens - A Remedy for Bipartisan Political Corruption 

“A Rare Bipartisan Success” crowed the Wall Street Journal on passage of the $1.1 trillion Cromnibus spending bill, supported by House and Senate leaders Boehner and Reid, President Obama, and the New Hampshire Congressional delegation, other than Rep. Shea-Porter.

The bipartisan success is that Congress was once again able to duck its core obligation to craft a fiscally sustainable budget, adding another several hundred billion dollars to the nation’s credit card. Another bipartisan success is the gargantuan incumbent protection amendment snuck into the 1,603 page bill just hours before the House voted on the bill without reading it.

The amendment protects incumbents because a single donor and spouse can now give up to $3.1 million over each two-year election cycle to the national political party committees. The two parties and the entrenched incumbents they nearly always protect will now have even bigger war chests to fend off challengers. A small number of big-money donors with their usually narrow, self-serving agendas have now gained hammerlock control over our already bought and paid-for Congress.

Apologists claim that the mega-donor incumbent protection amendment is needed to offset the burgeoning mega-donor super PACs, ostensibly not controlled by the two parties. Having lost my primary against party-backed Scott Brown, I can testify with certainty that most super PAC money hews to the preferences of party leaders in the House and Senate.


Read More (as it appears in the Concord Monitor)

Friday
Dec192014

Speaker Jasper - Time to Get to Work For the People of New Hampshire

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/VtOLTKp5k70QT_b_dWXTh2dedWS5wiXat3NFpwNjMsvgwgX-aFoMqXT6YEG2hPIf-Hg_Wf3W6YXt2GOIzaC0jgK9fegH1a6GiFf1osIUHzCXfoZKrSgviOk-wg

Here in New Hampshire, we have long prided ourselves in having a truly representative government. We have the largest state legislature in the United States.  It is truly a citizen legislature made up of young and old, with diverse backgrounds, beliefs and life experiences.  With 400 house members, by its very design, we are meant to reflect the state we are all proud to represent.

While there has been much political analysis of my recent election as Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, it is with great humility and seriousness that I begin this new legislative session. It is about how best to serve the people of my hometown of Hudson and the state of New Hampshire. It is about taking the confidence expressed by a majority of my colleagues in the House, both Republican and Democrat, and working together to make our state a better place for our families.  It is about making New Hampshire a stronger place to start and grow a business, and assuring that the next generation of granite staters has even more opportunities to succeed.

For the past thirty-five years, I have been committed to public service at both the local and state level.  As a member of my town's Budget Committee and Board of Selectmen, I have always understood the need to make sure that hard earned tax dollars are used cautiously and with maximum benefit.  As a state representative for 20 years, I have always made it a point to listen, gather information and make informed decisions that would benefit my community and state.  There is never a shortage of well-meaning ideas, new programs to be offered or needs to be met.  But without strong stewardship by elected officials, government will always look to grow and consume more revenues.  I have made the tough decisions to keep spending in check , balancing wants with needs, throughout my career.  Through these efforts, I have been fortunate to earn the support of conservative minded groups because of my priority of low spending, from business groups for keeping regulations and impediments to their success out of the way and from law enforcement officials for supporting policies that keep our families and streets safe. It is a record grounded in conservative principles and carried out with a passionate understanding of the people I was elected to represent.

In New Hampshire, we face challenges that must be addressed.  The new biennial budget has built in deficits that must be overcome through sound management and a review of spending to see where we can generate further efficiencies.  We have an energy crisis produced by a lack of new supply that has rates for homeowners and businesses soaring to record heights. Without addressing the need for additional energy sources, we are leaving our families with the potential for overwhelming natural gas and electric costs and our business community at an economic and competitive disadvantage when compared to their peers in New England and across the country.  And while New Hampshire prided itself in leading our region out of times of recession, we are seeing our neighbors with stronger economies than ours, attracting new businesses and offering more opportunities for the next generation to find educational opportunities and jobs without migrating to another state.  These are all challenges that we must face together.  As elected officials, we are all entrusted with a temporary power to lead the state in problem solving. The problems don't require a Republican or Democrat solution.  They require a New Hampshire solution.

As Speaker, I pledge to make the next two years as productive as possible by working with those who are truly committed to public service.  Yes, I have my beliefs and am guided by conservative principles. But, I am excited about the opportunity to join with all 399 of my colleagues to do the people’s business and make sure we leave our beloved state of New Hampshire a better place than we found it.

 

Speaker Shawn Jasper

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