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Entries in Carol Shea-Porter (30)

Friday
Oct262012

Carol Shea-Porter - For the Rest of Us 

The 2012 campaign season is rapidly coming to a close. The commercials are as thick and dark and biting as black flies, and mailers warn voters to beware of Candidate X or Y. Just this week, one special interest group bought $2 million dollars of ads against me, which is more than I will spend for my whole campaign. Voters will have to wade through it all and make a decision. I hope they will vote for me for Congress because I care deeply about our state and our country and I will serve the good people of New Hampshire, not special interests.

I am a proud direct descendent of General John Stark, whose words “Live Free or Die” are frequently quoted. My roots are deep, and I know, love, and respect this great little state of ours. I grew up in a Republican family and I remember how New Hampshire Republicans and Democrats could disagree about policy but still come together to serve our communities. I believe we must do that again—walk away from the tea party agenda that divides us and join together with a renewed sense of purpose and unity to tackle our problems. During my four years in Congress, I was known for my advocacy for the middle class, for small businesses, and for the American dream. As the Seacoast Media Group and the Portsmouth Herald said, “Our interests were her interests.” I never accepted corporate PAC or DC lobbyist money. I cosponsored the Fair Elections Now Act and the DISCLOSE Act, because without campaign finance reform, we cannot tame the extraordinary influences of special interests that hurt ordinary Americans. I want to continue my efforts for campaign finance reform in Congress.

I served our military and veterans on the Armed Services Committee. As a former military spouse and proud wife of a veteran, I was especially happy to pass the new GI Bill of Rights that thanks our combat veterans with great education benefits. I introduced the bill to get a full-service VA Hospital or equal access to in-state care, and succeeded in getting more clinics and an acute care contract with Concord Hospital. Right now, New Hampshire does not have a Representative on the House Armed Services Committee, which is especially unfortunate because the current Congress’ vote for the Sequester has put New Hampshire defense jobs and jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in jeopardy. I want to return to the House Armed Services Committee to advocate for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, its defense mission, and their incredible workforce.

Serving on the Education and Labor Committee, I cosponsored legislation that cut student loan interest rates in half and increased Pell grants for students. I cosponsored the minimum wage increase, which became law, and cosponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restores a woman’s right to challenge unfair pay, also now the law of the land. I want to serve New Hampshire workers, small businesses, and families again in Congress.

I stood up for the New Hampshire environment. From the Ossipee Pine Barrens to land preservation around Great Bay, from the Presidential Range to clean water, I worked for funding to study and protect our environment.

I held seminars and workshops to help small businesses, including one in Manchester in 2010 to help small defense contractors compete for federal contracts that drew more than 150 people. I voted for the Small Business Jobs Act and eight small-business tax cuts. The Seacoast Media Group and the Portsmouth Herald wrote in their endorsement, “Voters who value bipartisanship will remember Shea-Porter’s outstanding work with her Republican colleagues from Maine and New Hampshire to safeguard funding for the new Memorial Bridge and much needed upgrades at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.”

We passed the health care law, saved the American auto industry and all of its jobs, and prevented a Depression. All of these were great accomplishments. But now we need to grow the economy, reduce the debt, protect Medicare from being changed to a voucher program, and help young people get an education and their piece of the American dream. I know we can do it—it is in the American DNA to tackle problems and succeed. I want to work on these issues for the rest of us.  I would be honored to receive your vote on November 6th.

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Former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter represented New Hampshire’s First District from 2007-2011, she is seeking a third term in the November, 2012 election.  She wrote the proposal for and established a non-profit, social service agency, which continues to serve all ages.  She taught politics and history and is a strong supporter of Medicare and Social Security.

Monday
Oct152012

Carol Shea-Porter - Big Faith in Small Business  

After losing more than eight million jobs during the Great Recession, more than 700,000 of them just in December of 2008, we have gotten more than 4.5 million jobs back. The unemployment rate is now 7.8% across the country, and we've had more than 30 months of private sector job growth. Many Americans are still struggling and too many are suffering, but there is more optimism about our future. The newest Federal Survey of Economic Conditions, "The Beige Book," said New England's economic development "continues to expand at a moderate pace" and that manufacturing and business service and real estate sales are up, commercial construction is up, and retail is mixed. It reported that prices are steady, no inflation is expected, and that the mood is "cautiously optimistic" in 2012, and more "bullish" for 2013. While times are still tough and we have a way to travel to return to the "pre-Wall Street crash of 2008" economy, Congress and President Obama were able to avoid another Great Depression and put the country back on the road to full recovery. It's a good time to review what policies helped small business, and what do we need to do next?

 

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Stimulus) put more than $21 billion in new investment in small businesses. Congress eliminated all fees on SBA-backed loans. It also lifted the ceiling on the loan amount that the SBA would guarantee from 85% to 90%. There were significant small business tax cuts as well.  Congress also passed The Small Business Jobs Act. This was supported by both the Small Business Majority and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the President of the National Small Business Association said at the time that "It doesn't matter what aspect of small business you are in, this bill has something for you." We created a new lending fund for community banks. We encouraged small business investments by cutting the capital gains tax on people who invested in small businesses, and passed legislation allowing businesses to use net operating losses in 2008 and 2009 to offset profits from five previous years, instead of the two years that had been allowed.

 

The positive effects of the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act are still being felt in New Hampshire. The Union Leader wrote an article on July 9, 2012, called "New NH Business Start-Up Fund Will Aid High-Tech Firms", and in it, they discuss how $4.5 million in federal funds is being used to back up a partnership between a private company and the NH Business Finance Authority. This will attract private money to invest in high-tech firms. BFA's Executive Director is quoted as saying, "It's a private market solution. We're backstopping the deal through an innovative guarantee mechanism, but it's largely driven by private capital." To which I say, "Perfect!" This is another success story, creating wealth and business in New Hampshire.

 

There is still so much to be done though. We still need a comprehensive jobs bill, and small businesses still need help. What can we do next?

 

Congress needs to cut through some red tape still. While we all know that there have to be rules of the road, we must do only what is necessary, and eliminate some of the paperwork and provide regulatory relief whenever rules are unnecessary or too heavy-handed.

 

To help entrepreneurs launch new businesses, we should let them set up a tax-preferred account like a Roth IRA, instead of dipping into their retirement savings too much.

It's a good idea to double the small business start-up tax deduction, and we should provide tax credits and deductions to encourage new technologies. I believe that we need to help small businesses get more contracts with the federal government and help them export products. We also need to fully fund the Small Business Administration.

Small businesses are the economic engine of our country. Our nation's full recovery depends on their full recovery and success. We have come so far, and they have worked so hard. We must not fail them now.

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Former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter represented New Hampshire’s First District from 2007-2011, she is seeking a third term in the November, 2012 election.  She wrote the proposal for and established a non-profit, social service agency, which continues to serve all ages.  She taught politics and history and is a strong supporter of Medicare and Social Security.

 

Saturday
Sep292012

Carol Shea-Porter - Yes, the Issue is Fairness 

Mitt Romney’s statement about the “47%” has gotten Americans debating  “fairness.” Many families are struggling to pay the rent or mortgage, and many are unable to send their kids to college or save for retirement.  When they read about how income has soared for the top 1% and stayed flat or dropped for them, they wonder who decides fairness.

Until recently, if anyone voiced concerns about fairness, they were accused of  “class envy.” Then Warren Buffet, the third richest man in the world, made his now-famous statement about how he got the tax breaks, and it was not fair to his secretary. And when Buffet was challenged to prove she paid twice the tax rate he did, Buffet released his 2010 tax returns and proved the unfairness.

Buffet turned the conversation to exactly the one we need to have in this country – what’s fair.  He told ABC News, “If this is a war, my side has the nuclear bomb... We have K Street. … We have Wall Street. Debbie doesn’t have anybody. I want a government that is responsive to the people who got the short straw in life” (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2012/01/warren-buffett-and-his-secretary-talk-taxes/).

Wealth creation is good. People want to be able to take care of their children. It’s a lot better to live in a nice house or apartment in a safe neighborhood than in a run down neighborhood.  It’s a lot nicer when a community has the money it needs to offer quality services to its citizens. There are more civic organizations and opportunities for economic success in a community that is not poor.

The issue is not wealth creation.  It is not class envy either.  It is about fairness, about people and corporations paying their fair share.

Americans realize that the very wealthy and corporations have been very effective at lobbying, and that tax codes favor the rich.  Oklahoma Senator Coburn, a very conservative Republican, has written a report called “Subsidies of the Rich and Famous” to show how unfair it is.

People are unhappy enough when they find out they pay a higher percentage of their income than Warren Buffet. They are even unhappier when they find out that, according to CNN Money, two-thirds of US corporations paid zero income taxes.

They are upset that Mitt Romney paid 13.7% and 14% on the only two years of income taxes that he would show.

But then Romney said that 47% of people think they are victims, "entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

That was just too over the top.  Apparently, Mitt Romney and Frank Guinta, who refused to refute it, think that the government is not being fair... to the well off!

Some Republican leaders, to their credit, disavowed those remarks.  But Congressman Guinta stood by Romney and called the comments just “a distraction.” 

Frank Guinta has stood up for fairness for oil companies also.  In Conway, when somebody said it wasn’t fair that oil companies get subsidies, Frank Guinta said if we take that away, to be fair, we have to give oil companies rent-free leases. Congressman Guinta's exact words were, "… the simple point on that issue is if you’re going to get rid of that tax benefit to those 5 companies, let’s also eliminate the lease payments and make it fair…"  (at 9:13: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGdctx1na5A) How is taking away taxpayer subsidies from oil companies so unfair that Americans need to give them free leases to take our oil on our public lands? And why does he now deny that there are subsidies to oil companies, after admitting it in Conway?  I guess he now worries that the rest of us don't find that very fair.

I think this story is emblematic of the selfish thinking of the right wing today.  It used to be “I got mine and will hide it so you have to pay your fair share and mine.” Now it is “I’ve got mine and want yours too.”

This election is about fairness for “the rest of us.” It’s about refusing to allow the right-wing in Washington and Concord to dismantle programs that we all paid into and earned – Medicare and Social Security.

 Is it fair to hire lobbyists to write tax code for politicians to insert into bills to benefit the richest, so they can deduct yachts and horses?

Is it fair for those who claim tax deductions for everything to then turn around and insult the 47% who are really struggling?

It’s not fair, but we can make it fair.

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Former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter represented New Hampshire’s First District from 2007-2011, she is seeking a third term in the November, 2012 election.  She wrote the proposal for and established a non-profit, social service agency, which continues to serve all ages.  She taught politics and history and is a strong supporter of Medicare and Social Security.

Saturday
Sep152012

Carol Shea-Porter - The Truth about the Independent Payment Advisory Board 

There are only two months left before voters go to the polls. They will cast their lot with either President BarackObama or with Mitt Romney, and they will also choose a member of Congress who will be in President Obama's party or in Mr. Romney's camp. Money is pouring into both the Presidential races now, and also into the Congressional races across the country, especially swing states like New Hampshire.  While I abhor the amount of money being spent by outside groups, and wish that Congressman Frank Guinta had agreed to sign a statement with me asking that outside groups stay out of our race, I am more concerned about the inaccurate messages that their money might spread across our state’s television sets.

I have listened to the false charge that President Obama and the Congressional Democrats “robbed” $716 billion from Medicare. The press and factcheck.org have done a good job explaining the facts about the $716 billion—how it actually was savings generated by stopping insurance companies who run Medicare Advantage from charging taxpayers 14% more, and by other administrative cost savings. Seniors now realize that not one dollar in benefits will be cut from their Medicare, and they also know that, as former President Clinton said, it was "brassy" of Paul Ryan to accuse Democrats of "robbing" Medicare and then include those savings in his own budget. Case closed.

However, there is a new claim about Medicare, a scary claim that is also false.  I heard our congressman, Frank Guinta, say it to a room full of seniors this week. This new claim insists that that a new board established under the Affordable Care Act, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), will, in Congressman Frank Guinta's words, "make decisions for every Medicare recipient as to change whether, say you need a hip replacement or some sort of surgical procedure." Congressman Frank Guinta went on to say, "We're talking about every single procedure, this board will make those decisions." If that were true, that would be terrifying. Fortunately, it is false, and we need to reassure people that nobody is going to stop their hip replacements.

So, exactly what is the IPAB, as it is commonly called, and what do they do?  The Republicans falsely accuse them of being "bureaucrats." The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities describes it very well. "The board must include physicians and other health professionals, experts in health finance, health services researchers, employers, and representatives of consumers and the elderly. To prevent control by special interests, health care providers may not constitute a majority of the board's membership.”

So, clearly these are not bureaucrats. But Pat Boone and others have misled seniors in political attack ads that are funded by an outside conservative group called 60 Plus Association.

FactCheck.org says that the health care law, "explicitly says that the IPAB's proposals ‘shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums...increase Medicare beneficiary costsharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.’”

This does not stop Republican politicians from shouting the word "rationing," although it is wrong and shameful to mislead seniors who rely on full access to medical treatment to keep them well. It is particularly "brassy,” since Paul Ryan and the Congressional Republicans actually voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program.

Let's let USA Today, a very sensible, right-in-the-middle newspaper, have the final say on the Independent Payment Advisory Board. In a 4/9/12 editorial called "Medicare Cost Panel is Common Sense," it says, "The Medicare board seems like a common-sense mechanism. The reason it engenders such heated opposition is that like the ‘death panels,’ it's a convenient way to scare people into opposing health reform—facts to the contrary."

Don't be fooled by these false claims, or any others. Educate yourself and your neighbors before Election Day. Facts are stubborn things, as we all know, and we should all be armed with the truth if we are going to be fully informed citizens at the polls. Knowledge is power—use it.

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Former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter represented New Hampshire’s First District from 2007-2011, she is seeking a third term in the November, 2012 election.  She wrote the proposal for and established a non-profit, social service agency, which continues to serve all ages.  She taught politics and history and is a strong supporter of Medicare and Social Security.

 

Friday
Aug312012

Carol Shea-Porter - The Truth about Medicare

Republicans and Democrats have been all over television and radio, and giving speeches all over the country, talking about the Ryan plan for Medicare. The Ryan plan turns Medicare into a voucher plan. Democrats say a voucher plan is an awful idea, leaving senior citizens financially vulnerable when they are most likely to need medical care. Republicans insist that it will give people more choices, as they can shop around for a plan.  To complicate matters, Republicans also claim that Democrats cut billions from Medicare in the Affordable Care Act.  First they claimed Democrats cut $500 billion, and now they have upped the claim to $716 billion. All this leaves senior citizens, their families, and those who will someday be senior citizens wondering what exactly are the facts.

 

First, we need to discuss the Ryan plan for Medicare. The Ryan plan would end Medicare as we know it. It would provide a flat premium support payment, a voucher, that senior citizens would use to shop around to buy private insurance or Medicare. This would intentionally undermine Medicare, since the private plans would take the healthiest away and leave Medicare with the most expensive, least healthy seniors, making it too hard to compete.  Even worse, the Ryan plan ties any voucher to the growth rate of the gross domestic product (called GDP) per capita plus one-half percentage point. It would cost them thousands more out-of-pocket each year, using this formula.

 

If your eyes are rolling already, just consider this.  Health care costs grow faster than the GDP, so seniors would have to make up the difference. They also would be responsible, along with the insurance companies, to pay the bills. Medicare currently is a remarkably easy and efficient program. Older people do not have to submit their paperwork to Medicare. When people are not feeling well, it is extremely difficult to keep track of paperwork, so this is a blessing. Also, Medicare has about a 3-7 percent overhead, so it is very efficient, which helps to hold costs down. All this would change with the Ryan plan.  This is truly a terrible deal for older people in this country, and they should reject it. 

 

As for the Republican claim that President Obama and the Congressional Democrats "robbed" $716 billion, this is an outrageous claim. That $716 billion is just savings from the program, and not one dollar is taken from seniors or traditional Medicare. That savings, a good effort to control costs, comes from several sources. The Affordable Care Act addresses the difference in costs for traditional Medicare vs. private Medicare Advantage plans.  Private Medicare Advantage plans were costing the taxpayers 14 percent more than traditional Medicare. That was stopped, and will save a lot of money. The Affordable Care Act also instituted administrative savings. Everyone should be happy that money is saved. Here is the kicker though. Paul Ryan's own Budget includes that savings—they just don't return it to the Medicare program.

 

This has been a difficult few years, and another ugly campaign season is here. The stakes are high, and every vote counts. But we should not drag our elders into the fight, try to alarm or confuse them, or use them like pawns. We should be better than that. Just in case though, I recommend that people go to FactCheck.org (http://factcheck.org/2012/08/medicares-piggy-bank/) and look for themselves, because knowledge really is power.

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Former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter represented New Hampshire’s First District from 2007-2011, she is seeking a third term in the November, 2012 election.  She wrote the proposal for and established a non-profit, social service agency, which continues to serve all ages.  She taught politics and history and is a strong supporter of Medicare and Social Security.