Guest Blogs

Entries in NH CD-1 (12)

Saturday
Mar022013

Congresswoman Shea-Porter - It will take compromise and courage to solve sequester impasse

On Tuesday, I went to the floor of the House of Representatives to say we should do more than just one simple vote a day (Tuesday's only real vote was to develop an academic competition, Monday's was to rename a flight facility), and that we really needed to work on the biggest issue - a sequester compromise.

Suddenly, Republican Speaker John Boehner walked in, repeated his comments about how the House had already passed two bills last Congress to avert the sequester, blamed the Democrats for holding out for a compromise bill, and departed.  While I was there to talk about a compromise to avoid the sequester, the Speaker, the only one who actually can make that happen in the House, basically told anyone watching CSPAN that he had already done his part, that he was finished.

So goes a typical day in Washington. A few insults are hurled at the Senate and around the House, and everyone goes home, a day's work left undone. No debate on jobs. No debate on fair and careful deficit reduction. No legislative solutions offered, none voted upon. And when the sequester hits if Congress does not compromise, we will see the consequences - jobs lost in New Hampshire and across America, many Americans finding it even harder to get by.

Remember the "jobs, jobs, jobs" campaign chant? I can't even hear a whisper of the word now in the House, because everyone is yelling so loudly about the sequester. Is there a path to a solution here? I do believe there is, but it will call for compromise and courage.

Both parties agree the debt is too large. We may not agree on what spending was necessary, but we all agree that going forward, we need to reduce the debt. Since Congress already passed a first round of cuts, amounting to $1.5 trillion in discretionary cuts (which caused the economy to contract last quarter), we should now compromise and limit and slow down a second round, so we can absorb it. We should scrutinize and reduce spending where appropriate, but do it gradually, so we do not shock the economy, increase joblessness, and slow down our recovery. The sequester will cut $85 billion this year, and $1.2 trillion over 10 years. That is too severe for a fragile economy.

The sequester will hurt both defense and domestic programs. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the sequester will reduce economic growth in 2013 by one-third. These cuts will make us lose about a million jobs, force federal workers to take furloughs and lose 20 percent of their pay, and hack services that range from Meals on Wheels to school aid, from work at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to work in the National Guard. Hospitals will suffer, nonprofits will struggle, and small and large businesses will feel the pain also, when people are laid off and cannot spend. Everyone will feel the pain eventually because the sequester calls for the axe to fall evenly across the federal government, half the cuts coming from defense and half coming from domestic programs. The only group that is happy about this is the group that largely caused this, the tea party. As the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, "Although Democratic and Republican leaders are pointing fingers, the tea party and its allies are happily accepting credit for the cuts."

While I believe that many members from both parties would like to work this out, Speaker Boehner and his leadership team control the House. They alone decide what bills will be put on the floor for a vote. To date, they have refused to allow votes on any plans to avert the sequester. They wouldn't even change the schedule so Congress can at least be in session today, the day the sequester hits. We cannot compromise if we aren't there, and we can't vote on a compromise if no compromise bills are brought to the floor for a debate and a vote.

Most Americans want Congress to work together. They want us to reduce costs and find revenue by stopping unnecessary subsidies. They want us to get the job done, but most members of Congress can only do what they are doing - sit, wait, and wonder why we can't have those debates and those votes. Debates and votes require courage and compromise. Maybe that's why we aren't having any, but Americans have a right to demand it.

See more at: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130301/OPINION02/130309987#sthash.rUKSQehx.dpuf

Tuesday
Jan292013

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter - Time for Action

As I write this column, the news is covering still another shooting, this time on a college campus. We will learn who was involved, who was standing where when it happened, who witnessed it, who was hurt, who the hurt people’s friends and families are. Students—reportedly 10,000 students attend the college—will say how terrified they were. And then…the story of this shooting will be dropped from the news cycle, only to be replaced by another shooting story. And Americans will wonder why we can’t seem to stop the violence. Or can we?

When the children and teachers were executed in a mass murder at an elementary school, right before Christmas, while we were talking about love and faith and family and peace, everyone thought that this time, politicians would take action. It did seem for awhile that we had reached our breaking point, and that we would finally be ready to pass responsible gun legislation that would give us both the freedom to hunt and protect our families and the freedom to go about our daily lives without fear of being gunned down in still another act of violence. There was encouraging talk about passing legislation as quickly as possible, and President Obama did sign some Executive Orders with the families of the murdered six and seven year olds and the slain staff in the room.

The fight was already ugly, but that’s where it got uglier. The head of the National Rifle Association said that President Obama was “attacking firearms and ignoring children.” There was a sea of outrage that President Obama had children at the event. Children were at the site of the massacre—I think it is appropriate that children who knew it happened and wrote about it should be in the room when grownups say we are going to try to stop this from happening again to children, or anyone else. The NRA leadership also dragged the President’s own children into the fray, as they falsely warned that President Obama was going to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.

Some in Congress were upset at even the mildest suggestions, such as doctors asking if there are guns in the house so they can talk about safety issues involved when there are children in the residence. Doctors ask if somebody smokes around children. They talk about being safe and careful with candles and stoves, but apparently, they should not ask about a huge killer of children—guns.

It’s time to stop the fighting and work on the solutions here. It is time to stop bowing to special interests and yes, the money they bring to campaigns, and talk about how we are going to protect both the right to have guns for sport and for protection, and the right to be safe from gun violence.

The easiest step should be to require background checks for gun sales. This means gun sales involving most private sales also. The majority of Americans support this plan. We also need to make sure that critical information is available when there is a background check. Records right now are too often incomplete, and do not identify a buyer’s criminal history or a dangerous mental illness.

It is time to end high-capacity magazine sales. It used to be that citizens had a chance to get away from a shooter when he had to stop to reload. But with high-capacity magazines, the killer can just keep firing away a lot longer, murdering many more innocent folks. Hunters do not need to fire 30 rounds. Neither do citizens exercising their right to defend themselves. I support banning magazines holding more than ten rounds. This will help law enforcement and the public to disarm a mass shooter, and it will give people a better chance to escape a madman.

I support President Obama’s call to close loopholes in gun trafficking laws, and to beef up law enforcement in communities. Let’s also step up mental health services, and work together to encourage a reduction of violence in video games and television and movies. All of these ideas should be the easiest to enact. There is another step, an assault weapon ban, that will require more political debate, but these ideas listed here are common-sense ideas that should have no political test of courage attached to them. Can’t we at least get this done now? Let’s get it done now. It already has been a long and deadly wait.

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Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter represents New Hampshire’s First District. She previously served the District from 2007-2011, and she was reelected in the November 2012 election. The Congresswoman is again serving on the House Armed Services Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.

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.

 

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.