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Entries in Taxes (15)

Thursday
Feb142013

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter - Stop the Sequester

This is chapter twelve of “The Sky is Falling,” authored by Democrats in the House and Senate who opposed the 2011 Budget Control Act and the threat of the sequester it brought about. They warned that the economy would falter if the sequester came to pass. The Republicans, who hold the majority in the House, warned that the economy would fall if America did not pass a dramatic austerity program.  Their tea party members refused to raise the debt ceiling unless there were what they considered to be appropriate cuts to spending and what Democrats considered to be draconian cuts to spending. As America hung on the verge of default, and the tea party in the Republican Caucus refused to yield, the Democratic majority in the Senate and President Obama agreed to the Budget Control Act.

The deal was that there would be a “supercommittee” that would find the spending cuts, but if they could not compromise, the deep cuts would be spread equally between defense and domestic programs.  Everyone just knew, just was positive, that the unthinkable would never happen, that Republicans would blink on defense and Democrats would blink on drastic cuts to everything else, and that there would be compromise.  But there wasn’t, and now the sky might actually fall right on our nation’s economic recovery.  Last quarter is the first time that the nation’s economy has shrunk in almost 40 months, and the reason is the impending sequester, with its deep and irrational cuts that require lay-offs, slow-downs and freezes. When you demand that the federal government spend at least 9% less across-the-board this year, and you don’t even have specific targets, you will have a lot of unintended and unwelcome consequences, ranging from defense to medical research to education to transportation programs, etc.  Those politicians who kept insisting that the government does not create jobs now have to watch their friends, family, and constituents who work for the government or rely on federal contracts face lay-offs, and they will see companies lose business and profits. The consequences of deep cuts are upon us.

The Defense Department has been sounding the alarm more than other Departments. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been going before Congress—the very ones who created this mess—and talking about the damage the sequester will do.  In a letter to Senator John McCain, the Ranking Member of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, Secretary Panetta wrote, “Such a large cut, applied in this indiscriminate manner, would render most of our ship and construction projects unexecutable—you cannot buy three quarters of a ship or a building—and seriously damage other modernization efforts. We would also be forced to separate many of our civilian personnel involuntarily, and, because the reduction would be imposed so quickly, we would almost certainly have to furlough civilians in order to meet the target.”  Panetta goes on to say that this would “seriously damage readiness.” What he is talking about here is national security and jobs.  Is anyone listening yet?  Everyone knows there are savings to be had in the Department of Defense, but we should target those cuts so we do not jeopardize security or jobs.

While Secretary Panetta is warning the country about our national security, the sequester is threatening other programs and jobs.  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says in a report that sequestration would be “deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions.”

We need to stop this impending sequestration. We need to find a compromise that allows us to gradually reduce spending, while we find revenue from closing loopholes, reforming the tax code, and going after waste, fraud, and inefficiency.  There are other suggestions as well.  We could add a public plan to the health insurance exchanges. We could require the government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs for Medicare Part D.  We could raise the cap on Social Security.

But there is very little action on Capitol Hill to do just that.  Even if we wanted to discuss it, we cannot, because the House is not actually in Washington, DC very often these days.

Sequester will hurt our economy in New Hampshire.  It will hurt our national economy.  It will lead to lay-offs, and it will create more misery for the middle class and the poor. Congress has spoken.  Now they need to listen.  It is time to stop the sequester and create a viable plan that reduces spending gradually and keeps the economy growing.

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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.

Saturday
Jan072012

Carol Shea-Porter - Where is our tax money? 

A debate has been raging about the proper role of government and the proper government use of our taxes.  The recession that began in early 2007 under the Bush Administration and then dramatically deepened after the Wall Street fiasco in October 2008 has brought many more Americans into this debate, and it is affecting the political scene.   

Republicans ran in 2010 on a tea-party platform that stated basically two positions, one being that they would never stop tax breaks for the very rich and corporations. The other was that the federal government does nothing good with our money, and it should be shrunk to the size that it “could be drowned in the bathtub,” as Grover Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform, says. (He is the one who got almost every  Republican, including both NH Representatives, to sign his "no taxes ever" oath.)  Presidential candidate Ron Paul and the tea-party congressman from New Hampshire’s First District want to abolish the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education, and the Internal Revenue Service, which happens to be the funding source for our whole federal government.  At this point, reasonable people might look around our state and ask themselves who is right, and where is their tax money? 

Our federal tax money is all over our state, serving people, small businesses and corporations, and helping local and state government provide services. Where is that federal money?

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has received an enormous amount of money to protect our country.  I personally had one single earmark in 2008 that was for almost $10,000,000, for a consolidated components facility that is currently under construction.  These federal tax dollars also create jobs, and these workers spend money in our local economy.  

BAE Systems is a defense contractor, and their NH plants depend almost exclusively on federal contracts. They are the largest manufacturer here, creating thousands of jobs.  GE also has federal money and they create jobs here also, along with many other defense-related businesses who receive our tax money.

Low-income citizens receive health care at Community Health Centers across the state, in places like Manchester, Somersworth, Portsmouth, and Conway. Our federal tax dollars help to fund them.  Our congressmen voted to cut funding while praising the community centers for their cost-saving services. Our tax dollars have provided equipment and building money, as well as funding for uncompensated care.

Transportation is a challenge in our state, and many rural citizens have difficulty getting to work, to the doctor, or to a store.  Our taxes have been returned to NH to help build transit in our state. There is federal money for highways here, and that also creates jobs, but our federal tax money helps people get around on buses, too.  There is now bus transportation from Conway to Wolfeboro via Ossipee, and they used stimulus money—our tax money—to buy the buses.  An assistant store manager said the buses are bringing customers to his store.  This has also created more jobs in these communities.

New Hampshire firefighters, police officers, and other first responders can provide better services to our communities because our tax dollars helped them get better equipment and better technology.  There have been federal grants and earmarks, and also stimulus money to support services and to pay salaries.  Manchester, Rochester, Dover, Portsmouth, and many smaller towns applied for and received federal help that really was our money coming back to serve us.

Education is the key to prosperity in New Hampshire, so federal investment in education helps at every level.  Our taxes come back to help our smallest and poorest citizens get a chance to succeed.  Our dollars help every community put equipment in schools, feed kids who cannot learn if they are hungry, and educate those with extra challenges.  Our tax money helps provide clean-energy buses to carry our next generation of NH leaders to and from UNH, and provides the necessary money for innovative and exciting research that will benefit our state and country.  Our taxes also help provide loans to students—a real investment in New Hampshire’s future.

We benefit when we “pool” our money.  As citizens, we have a common interest in creating and sustaining a great nation that can pay its bills and invest in its people.  Clean up duplicate efforts. Catch the cheats. Hold recipients of our money accountable. But Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. had it right when he said, “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”

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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
Aug222011

Carol Shea-Porter - Our Government, Ourselves

While political discourse has taken a dive in terms of civility and substance, actually something far more sinister and frightening is occurring. There are people who are actually attacking the basic structure of our government and our faith in it.   A few are even talking openly about secession because they truly do not believe in our government and our way of life. (We have always had those people, but they were not politically powerful until now.) But most are being absolutely irresponsible, trying to foment—and gain from—a deeper anger.

In our past, most politicians for office publicly supported our system of government, and believed that we could stand together and solve severe problems. Candidates tried to inspire, or at least tried to be careful to attack the opponent or the platform, not our government itself.  That has changed. The attacks are damaging an already fragile trust, and many Americans and the world have responded by becoming increasingly convinced that America’s best days are behind us. Confidence and faith in our ability to solve our problems are absolutely essential if we are to move forward, but we have irresponsible politicians (and some media and special interest groups) tearing at that faith and trust.  Incredibly, a couple of them are actually running for President of the United States.

Here are some examples of how leaders in the past talked about our country and our problems.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt said at his First Inaugural, “This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper…The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” It was a buoying remark, a call to hope and patriotism, helping people through the dark days of the Depression.  Remember George W. Bush’s talk to the nation after 9/11? “We have seen the state of our Union in the endurance of rescuers, working past exhaustion. We have seen the unfurling of flags, the lighting of candles, the giving of blood, the saying of prayers—in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. We have seen the decency of a loving and giving people …” On January 9, 1961, President-Elect John F. Kennedy said, “Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state, and local, must be as a city upon a hill—constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities.”

Are these current politicians and influential public figures “aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities?”  One of New Hampshire’s members of Congress told the tea-party that the federal government was taking away all their individual freedoms.  And two tea-party Presidential candidates have also made inflammatory remarks about our government.  The Hill reported that Bachmann  “likened America to the sinking Titanic,” and said, “We have gangster government.”  Texas Governor Perry said, “When we came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation…And one of the deals was, we can leave anytime we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.” This is not responsible leadership. These are outrageous comments, meant to denigrate our federal government. The interesting thing is that Michelle Bachmann has sought and received earmarks and Stimulus Act money from the “gangster government” (that would be US taxpayers) and Perry brags about all the jobs in Texas that actually came from United States Oil and United States defense dollars.

There are other reckless leaders. Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, got almost every single Republican in Congress to sign his no-tax pledge even though he was clear about his intention to hurt our ability to administer this great nation. “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

How can this great country recover and grow with this kind of attitude? How can we pay our bills and invest in technology, infrastructure, and medical research with this blind vision? How can we handle natural disasters like Katrina or attacks like 9/11 if we drown our government? How can we educate or defend ourselves, if we drown the major sources of government funding?  

Harry Truman said, “No government is perfect.” We the people have to keep striving, but we need leaders who encourage progress, not defeat, and confidence, not despair.

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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
Jul042011

Cory R. Lewandowski - Legislative Session Ends: The Good, the Bad and the Unresolved 

By Corey R. Lewandowski, State Director, Americans for Prosperity- New Hampshire

New Hampshire voters sent a clear message in last November’s election that they want lower taxes, smaller government and less regulation by electing candidates who echoed and supported that message.

Our legislators deserve credit for passing a state budget that cuts spending by 11% WITHOUT raising taxes or adding any additional fees to New Hampshire residents. 

Each legislative session is marked not only by the individual legislators but also by the times. Given the current economic climate and the reality that our state and our country are still emerging from the recent recession, being able to pass a budget that reduces spending without increasing taxes to pay for the reductions is commendable. Speaker Bill O’Brien and the rest of the members deserve our appreciation for doing exactly what the voters sent them to Concord to do – reduce spending and cut taxes. After an arduous fight, the current budget includes a reduction in the tax on cigarettes. While this does not impact every taxpayer directly, we all reap the indirect benefits as this tax cut helps New Hampshire businesses stay competitive with neighboring states, thus keeping their prices down and enabling them to maintain and create jobs.

The House and Senate passed SB 2 that caps spending on annual budgets in cities and towns in New Hampshire.  Both chambers also approved SB 146 requiring state agencies in addition to their usual budget request to submit an additional budget that shows a reduction in their spending by 10%.

The House also passed CACR 6, a proposed constitutional amendment, which would have required a 3/5 super-majority vote to impose any new increases in taxes or license fees. Sadly, this is one of many pieces of legislation approved by the House which the Senate failed to act upon. The Senate also failed to pass HB 648, the eminent domain bill which sought to assert the rights of New Hampshire landowners against moves from foreign companies to take and utilize their private property. Both of these bills represented opportunities in which the Senate could have acted to protect and preserve the rights and prosperity of Granite State residents.

Perhaps the most notable instance in which the Senate failed to follow the will of the people is on the repeal of New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The House voted twice with veto-proof majorities to end our state’s participation in this failed cap-and-trade scheme. Unfortunately for the electricity ratepayers of New Hampshire, the Senate stalled, amended and watered down the RGGI repeal before finally passing it onto Governor Lynch without the amount of support needed to override the Governor’s expected veto.

Remaining to be addressed when the legislature reconvenes is the move to override Governor Lynch’s veto of the Right-to-Work legislation that was passed this session. This vital piece of legislation will increase New Hampshire’s competitiveness both in the region and around the country. We should encourage our legislators to stand with job creators across the Granite State and support an override of the Governor’s veto when this comes to a vote.

As we continue to monitor the votes in Concord, we must remember that the most important votes cast are those at the ballot box. Every two years we have the opportunity to assess the job performance of our elected officials. While the issues and candidates may change, what remains unchanged is the seriousness with which New Hampshire citizens approach this solemn responsibility.

Corey is a Windham, NH resident

Friday
May132011

Republicans must end the ‘government as usual’ model

By Andrew Hemingway, chairman, Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire

While New Hampshire’s unemployment numbers of 5.2 percent continue to impress by undercutting the national average of 9 percent, it’s important to take a step back from these numbers and consider what the often-quoted comparison doesn’t say.

The state’s unemployment statistics, however low, do not account for people who work part-time and would prefer a more comfortable full-time job. They don’t account for those who have given up looking for a job, because good jobs are too hard to find. They don’t account for the fact that our schools continue to fail us by graduating people unprepared for higher-end jobs, despite the fact that we give these government institutions a greater portion of our shrinking income year after year. They also don’t account for the falling dollar and the resulting increase in prices.

New Hampshire lawmakers certainly cannot address every economic problem, because some are larger than the state, but they can address many of them by developing the political will to rein-in the power brokers in Concord. Unfortunately, many of the Republicans sent to Concord to remove the rules and regulations that stymie jobs and the economy are falling into a government-as-usual mindset.

Rather than listen to the voice of reason and the loud call of the voters who sent Republicans to create a smaller, affordable government that leaves them alone, some lawmakers seem to be listening to the bureaucrats, lobbyists and special interest groups who only have their own interest at heart. “Regulate us” is a cry often heard by those who seek to get rid of the competition. Do Republicans really want to join their Democratic counterparts in support of such job-killing cronyism? It baffles me how politicians are so quick to listen to the people who are on the take and so quick to ignore the people who are having the fruit of their labor taken from them against their will.

Take the bill that repeals the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, for instance. This multi-state program may provide money to some companies for renewable energy projects, but that money is coming from energy producers, manufacturing firms and ratepayers, who are now facing a higher cost of doing business and a higher cost of living as a result. And wouldn’t companies that think renewable energy projects are a good idea pay for such projects on their own? Why should a multi-state bureaucracy pick the winners and losers? That drives up the cost for everyone.

The labor union special interest group has managed to use the law over time to solidify a power position over voters and companies (both employers in this state). A few common-sense efforts to rein-in the unions’ unique power position have had far too much trouble from some. These detractors should note that companies relocate to Right to Work states because they know they can hire workers there who will not force them into contracts they can’t afford. If politicians really cared about those jobs they promised, they would turn down the union money that was taken from workers against their will and support the right to work without interference from a third party. We need those jobs!

Whether Republicans ultimately garner the political will to change the way Concord works for the better really comes down to how they view government. If Republicans do what they said they would and create a limited government that respects free markets, their super majority might mean something come reelection time. If Republicans continue to see government as a mediator in the economy, we will all be losers in November 2012.