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Entries in Party Politics (25)

Tuesday
Jun302015

Rep. Max Abramson - New Hampshire's Dumbest Lawmakers 

In response to the Red-Tailed Hawk disgrace, during which a group of fourth graders from my district were forced to watch from the Gallery as their simple bill was “mocked and ridiculed” by legislators, some of us have put together a family friendly contest for school age kids.  Called “New Hampshire’s Dumbest Law,” school and college students in New Hampshire are invited to find an outdated law on the books that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  It is illegal, for example, to collect seaweed on the beach at night, to sell your clothes to pay a gambling debt, or to check into a motel under a nickname.  Several of us will select the silliest and most ridiculous rule still on the books, then cosponsor a bill to repeal that outdated, improbable law that no one could believe in.  There is a Facebook page of the same name with directions for how to search for and submit their idea for the silliest law before the September 15th deadline.
 
The New Hampshire House of Representatives looks very different from the inside, to be sure, than it does to the public.  As a freshman representative, the workload and effort to catch up and understand the process are tremendous.  Speaking directly with the likes of former speakers Bill O’Brien and Gene Chandler, Representative Pam Tucker, Senator Nancy Stiles, John Reagan, and Russel Prescott is a very different experience in person than seeing them on the news.
 
Seated on the bench just a few yards from the podium, waiting to speak in favor of the bill that would have made the Red-Tailed Hawk the state raptor, I watched in embarrassment as Representatives Bartlett, Burt, and Groen ridiculed the bill and brought the House of Representatives to a new low, something that few then realized would go viral and make us all infamous nationwide.  Rather than apologize for his own inaction during the fiasco, Speaker Shawn Jasper took the opportunity to write the fourth graders (see NHInsider April 1, 2015), who are in my district, and criticize members of the House for their behavior.
 
From the outside, though, the public is being told that the legislature just can’t agree with Governor Maggie Hassan, who has just vetoed an $11.3 billion budget, already 7% larger than the last one, because it doesn’t provide $40 million in pay raises and Medicaid Expansion.  The impression is given that the elected officials can’t get their act together.  The impression is largely correct.
 
From the outside, the mainstream media continues to report on the “civil war” going on among House Republicans, a problem that we don’t see on the Senate side.  Shawn Jasper, described by many legislators who knew him as a “self-inflated bully” (NHInsider, Japser Boasts About His Bullying Abilities, February 27, 2012) aligned with Democratic leadership to narrowly take the Speakership, giving the Democrats the power to defeat countless NHGOP “platform” bills.  Efforts to restore local control and parental oversight of schools, improve transparency in local government, strengthen self-defense rights, and reduce the burden of regulations and unfunded state mandates on businesses and towns has been defeated repeatedly by a coalition of 60 Jaspercrats (“Republicans” who vote like Democrats) and 160 Democrats who must vote as Flanagan and Shurtleff, respectively, tell them to.  For three months, every Republican platform bill went to defeat or was amended to death, finding only the support of about 140 conservative or “liberty” Republicans, often followed by derisive laughter from Jaspercrats and Democrats.
 
From the anteroom (formerly a bar, according to lore) behind the Hall of Representatives to the hallways of the Legislative Office Building, I am asked almost daily why Jasper still refuses to assign me to a committee, why he continues to ostracize pro-life conservatives, why he “acts like a 61 year old baby.” I am warned by over 30 different reps not to go into his office alone, that he is liable to just make things up afterward and perhaps later claim that I threatened or came at him. “That’s a set up!” several warned.  All bullies are cowards, and all are two-faced.  Even Jasper had friends before he had the power to hurt those who wouldn't kiss up to him.
 
From the outside, there remains a need to appear congenial and bipartisan, giving the appearance of professionalism and working together.  From the inside, Democrats are holding the entire state hostage and threatening a winter shutdown of our highways in order to squeeze a few tens of millions more out of the taxpayer.  In other states, they turn whole communities into ghettos and fill states with people dependent on handouts in order to build safe Democratic holdouts, albeit at the expense of dramatically higher crime, taxes, and urban sprawl.
 
From the inside, platform Republicans are asking what our message is after Hassan has followed through with her threat to veto the budget.  Myself having consulted with authors, business owners, inventors, and tech startups about marketing and branding decisions that have to be made early, I am left wondering why no one is working on this critical part of the NHGOP effort.  Again I propose “smaller government, local control,” which everyone agrees with, but no one remembers to repeat it.  No other message is brought forward, and I wonder what people are thinking in caucus.
 
As a member of Laurie Sanborn’s Business Caucus, Bill O’Brien and Pam Tucker’s Republican Majority Caucus, Carol McGuire and Leon Rideout’s House Republican Alliance, and the Pro-life Caucus, I am amazed at how much legislators talk over each other.  As something of an expert on many areas of public policy, I watch members raise their voices and argue over each other.  Their heart is in the right place, but they are pushing efforts and positions that should never leave the room, some of which turn into proposed legislation.  Watching the sausage get made with the wrong ingredients is often a frustrating view of Amateur Hour, adults acting like ten year olds.  Advocates of SB113, the casino bill, were stunned when it went down to a terrible defeat, losing by about 50 votes in the House.  Now that it’s too late to resurrect, they are only now talking about actually getting input from legislators who were reluctant to support it.
 
Governor Hassan and the Democrats are now going against the will of suburban moms, an act of political suicide and sheer insanity in the modern two party marketplace.  Democrats have voted against and vetoed everything from giving local control to school boards to making the unpopular Common Core optional, from increased funds for charter schools to keep them open to letting parents opt out of politically motivated or objectionable material on these standardized PACE or SBA tests.
 
Jaspercrats are even joining Democrats to oppose letting businesses buy health insurance from out of state preferred provider networks (HB128), adding an obscure mold remediation licensing mandate ( SB125, despite the fact that the EPA already offers a free course and certificate that won’t count toward this new mandate, and that only two other states require one), enacting a very unpopular fee schedule set by the Department of Labor (SB133, even though both parties vocally decried fee schedules as terrible policy), and adding many other regulations that will just make life more difficult for Granite State businesses, a longtime Republican mainstay.
 
Worse, Jaspercrats and Democrats locked together to push through numerous “crony capitalist” bills, including the infamous SB30 “Balsams Bailout,” the $28 million loan guarantee that we were repeatedly told had nothing to do with the Balsams.  I’d love to be able to live out in the middle of nowhere and get to force the taxpayers to back a huge five star resort in my backyard so that my offspring won’t have to go to the trouble of moving to southern New Hampshire to get work like the rest of us schmucks.  While we’re telling people with physical and mental disabilities to go take a hike because the State is broke, maybe we could spend another $28 million on job training and scholarships for those recovering from work injuries, disabled vets, or those with permanent disabilities instead.
 
Questions were raised about SB221, which sounded like it would turn over $950 million in assets to private investors for just $100 million, with rates guaranteed by ratepayers in order to convince some wealthy investors to take nearly a billion in assets off our hands for about ten cents on the dollar.  With careful money management like this, it’s no wonder that our elected officials are so handsomely compensated.  Our annual reimbursement of $100 would almost be enough to bring half of your family to Water Country for the day, provided that you walk there and don’t eat, drink, or rent a locker for your sport blazer and winter boots.
 
Under the ever-present threat of removal from their various “leadership” positions, chairs, vice chairs, majority leaders and whips must steadfastly vote as N.H. Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley tells Speaker Jasper to tell Majority Leader Flanagan to tell them to vote, no matter what the cost to the taxpayer or Republican party unity.  Only three votes against “leadership” will get any chairman removed.  Rep. Laurie Sanborn was pulled from the House Finance Committee after she steadfastly refused to support the ill-fated 8 cent per gallon gas tax increase.  Others have been threatened with being pulled from Committees of Conference if they will not do what Ray Buckley tells Jasper to tell Flanagan to tell them to do.
The tragedy of the House of Representatives is that the Speaker wields absolute, unaccountable power.  Since the Democrats vote as they are told (or get removed by the union officials at the upcoming election) this gives a few wealthy liberals total control of the output of the House, even though the voters actually voted Democrats out for these very reasons.  This is the real reason why 240 Republicans cannot currently downsize government, root out waste, fraud, and abuse, or take on the power of the trial lawyers.
 
The response to New Hampshire’s Dumbest Law from the House Clerk and the Speaker’s Office is that cannot be announced to the full membership or included in the House Calendar as it would not be fitting with “the decorum of the House.” New Hampshire’s Dumbest Law can be discussed and promoted anywhere else.  The “self-inflated bully” was chosen by House Democratic leadership to turn the House into a fiasco and a national embarrassment.  It worked.
 
Representative Max Abramson
representing the towns of Hampton Falls and Seabrook
 
(Despite numerous requests of the Speaker, I am still the only member of the House without a committee assignment.)
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)

Thursday
Oct022014

ICYMI: Gov. Maggie Hassan's toxic partisanship poisons Concord

Published in the Union Leader, October 1, 2014

 

Gov. Maggie Hassan's toxic partisanship poisons Concord

 

By Sen. Jeanie Forrester

 

LATELY GOV. Maggie Hassan has been taking credit for the bipartisan budget we passed last year. She wants you to forget the scathing rhetoric she unleashed on the Senate Republicans before she reversed course and signed that budget into law.

 

After submitting an irresponsible budget proposal that relied on fatally flawed revenue estimates that included a significant reliance on unproven gambling revenues, Hassan spent the rest of the budget debate taking shots at Republicans, without actually participating in the process. She accused Senate Republicans of choosing “the fiscally irresponsible approach of sweeping, across-the-board cuts,” and claimed that the modest increases in social service spending would be “nothing short of devastating.” She warned of “hundreds of layoffs” that never happened.

 

Sitting on the Senate Finance Committee at the time, I didn’t hear once from the governor about the budget. She didn’t take part in the budget negotiations, except by news release. Republicans passed our balanced budget without a single Democratic vote.

 

Two weeks later, when the Senate budget bill came out of the Conference Committee with few changes, Hassan reversed her position and starting patting herself on the back for a budget she spent months bashing. It was a shocking reversal, given the venom she had unleashed on us so recently. But we were happy to have the governor’s belated support, and we passed the budget with a unanimous Senate vote.

 

We shouldn’t forget Hassan’s track record of budget disasters. As Senate Majority Leader, she watched as two consecutive Democratic budgets fell apart. She supported more than 100 increases in state taxes and fees, and that still wasn’t enough to pay for the massive increase in state spending.

 

New Hampshire was forced to borrow more money to pay its bills, to cut state aid to cities and towns, and to employ gimmicks like booking phantom revenues that never materialized.

 

The 2009 budget was such a mess that the Legislature was forced to come back into special session to fill a $295 million deficit. This required dramatic cuts to senior citizen programs, juvenile placement programs, and catastrophic aid to hospitals. And even this was only a stop-gap measure.

 

The 2011 Legislature inherited an $800 million hole in the budget. Republicans reversed some of Hassan’s massive spending increase, and to this day she still blames all of the state’s problems on the budget that cleaned up her mess.

 

Hassan refuses to take responsibility for the recent downgrade of our state’s bond rating outlook. She again tried to blame the Republican Legislature, even though the S&P decision specifically cited the Medicaid lawsuit spurred by cuts she supported, the growing liability in the New Hampshire Retirement System, and our state’s inadequate Rainy Day Fund. Hassan has consistently opposed Republican efforts to address these looming fiscal challenges.

 

Time and again, Maggie Hassan has ignored problems under her watch. Unlike her claims of working in a bipartisan way, she doesn’t work with the Legislature to solve these problems. She prefers to step in once the Legislature reaches a bipartisan solution, and then claim credit for it. She is not leading. She is not solving problems.

 

I respect my Democratic colleagues in the Senate, and our counterparts in the House. We share a common dedication to making New Hampshire a better place to live, even as we disagree on how to do it. But the partisan bitterness coming from the governor’s office is toxic. It poisons the political atmosphere at the State House, making it harder for Republicans and Democrats to reach across the aisle.

 

New Hampshire citizens expect more and deserve better.

 

Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Monday
Jan142013

Ed Mosca - MYTH OF THE MACHINE

It seems to be an article of faith among some in the New Hampshire GOP that the down-ticket losses suffered by the NH GOP in the 2012 elections were primarily or even exclusively due to the Obama “ground game” or “machine.”  The numbers, however, do not support that explanation.

 

            Let’s begin with US House races in other states commonly labeled as “swing” or “battleground” states:

 

US House


GOP seats 2010

GOP seats 2012

% Change


Colorado

Obama +4%

4

4

0.0%


Florida

Obama +1%

19

17

-10.5%


Iowa

Obama +5%

2

2

0.0%


Nevada

Obama +6%

2

2

0.0%


New Hampshire

Obama +6%

2

0

-100.0%


North Carolina

Romney +2%

6

9

+50.0%


Ohio

Obama +2%

13

12

-7.7%


Virginia

Obama +3%

8

8

0.0%


Wisconsin

Obama +7%

5

5

0.0%


 

The NH GOP clearly underperformed other battleground states.  For example, although Obama won Wisconsin and Nevada by similar margins as New Hampshire, the GOP lost no seats in those states.

 

            The only other battleground state where there was a gubernatorial election was North Carolina, where the Republican candidate won by 55 to 43 percent, ten points better than Romney’s margin of victory.  In New Hampshire, Democrat Maggie Hassan also won by a twelve-point margin, which was double Obama’s.

 

            State legislative elections also fail to show a correlation between Obama’s performance and down-ticket results:

 


President

GOP state senate seats ’10-‘12


% Change

GOP state house seats ’10-‘12


% Change

Colorado

Obama +4%

15

16

+6.67%

33

28

-15.15%

 

Florida

Obama +1%

28

26

-7.14%

81

74

-8.64%

 

Iowa

Obama +5%

24

23

-4.17%

59

53

-10.17%

 

Nevada

Obama +6%

9

10

+11.11%

16

15

-6.25%

 

New Hampshire

Obama +6%

19

13

-31.58%

288

179

-37.85%

 

North Carolina

Romney +2%

31

32

+3.23%

67

77

+14.93%

 

Ohio

Obama +2%

23

23

0.00%

59

60

+1.69%

 

Virginia

Obama +3%

No State Elections in ‘12




 

Wisconsin

Obama +7%

15

18

+20.00%

58

60

+3.45%

 























            While the state senate races are not pure apple-to-apple comparisons because only Florida and North Carolina do not hold staggered elections, there clearly is no correlation between Obama’s performance and down-ticket races.  For example, in Nevada and Wisconsin, which Obama won by similar margins as NewHampshire, the GOP actually picked up senate seats.  The house races tell a similar story.  In Wisconsin, the GOP picked up house seats. And while the GOP lost house seats in Nevada, the degree of loss was insignificant compared to New Hampshire.     

 

            The next tables compare the GOP as a percentage of battleground state legislatures from 2010 to 2012, to take into account that the NH GOP held supermajorities in 2010. 

 


Total # Senate Seats

GOP seats 2010

% of Senate

GOP seats 2012

% of Senate

Change

Colorado

35

15

42.9%

16

45.7%

+2.9%

Florida

40

28

70.0%

26

65.0%

-5.0%

Iowa

50

24

48.0%

23

46.0%

-2.0%

Nevada

21

9

42.9%

10

47.6%

+4.8%

New Hampshire

24

19

79.2%

13

54.2%

-25.0%

North Carolina

50

31

62.0%

32

64.0%

+2.0%

Ohio

33

23

69.7%

23

69.7%

0.0%

Virginia


No State Elections



Wisconsin

33

15

45.5%

18

54.5%

+9.1%

Average without NH


54.4%


56.1%










Total # House Seats

GOP 2010

% of House

GOP 2012

% of House

Change

Colorado

65

33

50.8%

28

43.1%

-7.7%

Florida

120

81

67.5%

74

61.7%

-5.8%

Iowa

100

59

59.0%

53

53.0%

-6.0%

Nevada

42

16

38.1%

15

35.7%

-2.4%

New Hampshire

400

288

72.0%

179

44.8%

-27.3%

North Carolina

120

67

55.8%

77

64.2%

8.3%

Ohio

99

59

59.6%

60

60.6%

1.0%

Virginia


No State Elections



Wisconsin

99

58

58.6%

60

60.6%

2.0%

Average without NH


55.6%


54.1%


 

            While no battleground state went into the 2012 election with as high a GOP majority in the state senate as New Hampshire, three states had majorities near or above 60 percent and in only one of these states did the GOP lose seats.  And while the Florida state senate declined from 70 to 65 percent Republican that was nowhere near the 79 to 54 percent drop in New Hampshire. 

 

            House results were similar.  The Florida house declined from 67.5 to 61.7 percent Republican, in comparison to the precipitous 72 to 44.8 percent decline in New Hampshire, while the GOP extended its sizable majorities in Ohio andWisconsin.

 

            In sum, the data indicates that it would be a mistake to primarily attribute the down-ticket losses suffered by the NH GOP in 2012 to the Obama “machine.”  This is not to suggest that the NH GOP should not improve its “GOTV.”  Rather, what I am suggesting is that it would be a mistake not to also consider why the gubernatorial nominee substantially underperformed Romney and why the New Hampshire House, at 44.8 percent GOP, is well below the 54.1 percent average in battleground states.

 




Edward C. Mosca

Thursday
Nov222012

Ed Mosca - SOME THOUGHTS ON THE 2012 ELECTIONS AND THE FUTURE FOR THE NH GOP 

The 2012 elections confirm that New Hampshire is a blue state, but a unique shade of blue.

            You have togo back to 2000 for the last time the Republican presidential candidate got more votes than the Democrat, but that only tells part of the story because George W. Bush only got 48 percent of the vote while Al Gore (47 percent) and Ralph Nader (4 percent) combined for 51 percent.  You have to go back all the way to 1988 for the last time the Republican presidential candidate got more than 50 percent.  And the trend has been in the wrong direction.  While George W. improved to 49 percent of the vote in 2004, McCain garnered only 45 percent in 2008 and Romney essentially matched that with 46 percent in 2012.

            The elections for Governor have been almost as barren for Republicans.  With the exception of the 2002 election, Democrats have won all of the gubernatorial elections since 1996.  A good number of these victories were landslides.  The only really close race was in 2004, when Lynch knocked off Benson 51 percent to 49 percent.  Even in the tsunami year of 2010, Lynch won by a comfortable margin of 7.5 percent.

            Clearly, the Democrat success in electing governors is based on “taking the pledge.”  From 1988 through 1994, Republicans didn’t just beat pro-tax Democrats in the gubernatorial races; they demolished them.  In 1994, Steve Merrill won an incredible 70 percent of the vote.  But that changed in 1996, when Merrill decided not to seek a third term and Jeanne Shaheen took the pledge.   She easily defeated Ovide 57 percent to 40 percent, and with the exception of the single Benson term, Democrats have held the governor’s office ever since.

            No Democrat, with the exception of Jeanne Shaheen in 2000, has been elected Governor without taking the pledge.  Mark Fernald ran explicitly on an income tax in 2002 and didn’t even crack 40 percent.  And in 2000 Shaheen did not crack 50 percent, although it should be pointed out that she might have had not Mary Brown (6 percent) run as an independent on a pro income tax platform.   Mark Fernald’s blowout loss to Benson only two years later in an election that was a referendum on an income tax suggests that Shaheen’s victory in 2000 was despite of, not because of, her abandonment of the pledge.

            And that is what makes New Hampshire a unique shade of blue.  While the Democrat mantra in this past national election was that income tax rates on the “rich” need to go up, in New Hampshire Maggie Hassan repeatedly pledged to veto an income tax.  A good call on her part when you consider the constitutional amendment to ban the income tax, while it did not get the necessary two-thirds, did get 57 percent of the vote.   

            And while the ban-the-income-tax amendment came up short, the 57 percent of the vote it garnered is especially impressive considering that a significant percentage of the voters may have been voters who were inclined to vote a straight Democrat line.

            There were over 99,000 same-day registrations in 2012, which is 14 percent of total voters.  Some of these undoubtedly were new voters turned out by the vaunted Obama machine, while others were voters who had to re-register because they had moved or because of redistricting.   Let’s assume that only one-half of same-day registrants were new voters turned out by Obama.

            That is still a swing of 7 percent, which suggests that absent this turnout effort the state would have gone to Romney and, assuming the voters turned out by Obama voted straight Democrat and an even split between districts, Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass would have won as well, which is what one would have expected given the sorry condition of the economy.  However, Hassan still would have handily defeated Ovide.

            Clearly the New Hampshire GOP, and the GOP in general, has to do a much, much better job of identifying persuadable voters and getting these voters to vote.  But just as clearly that will not be enough to win gubernatorial elections or, it is probably safe to assume, down-ballot state elections in anti-tax districts where the Democrat takes the pledge.  

            The major problem that the New Hampshire GOP has in state elections is that it still has not figured out how to run against candidates that take the pledge.  Here are some suggestions.

            Update the pledge:  Instead of pledging just to veto an income and sales tax, pledge to veto any new tax.  Or any new tax or any increase in existing taxes.  Or expand the pledge to veto any budget that increases state spending more than the rate of inflation. 

            Pick your battles wisely:  I cannot understand the position that civil unions are ok, but civil same-sex marriages are not.  What’s the point in fighting that battle?  

            Draw clear and meaningful distinctions with the Democrats:  Any Republican who advocates gambling on the ground that the state needs more revenue should be flogged with a cat o’ nine tails and then be made to walk the plank.  Saying the state needs more revenue is just a lovely euphemism for saying we need to grow government.  To the extent that Republicans support gambling, it should be as a tax relief measure.  The condition antecedent for Republican support of any casino-gambling bill is a statutory guarantee that every penny in taxes collected from casino-gambling reduces existing taxes.

            Run better candidates:  In many respects, New Hampshire has changed dramatically since the halcyon days of Sununu/Gregg/Merrill.  Understand how it has changed and run candidates who can make Republican principles relevant to today’s New Hampshire.