Ayotte Strategy for Extreme Right-Wing of Party: If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em
CONCORD - After a morning of fundraisers in Washington, Kelly Ayotte will spend this afternoon meeting with FreedomWorks, an organization famous for bankrolling the extreme right's tea party movement, which worked to derail health care reform this year by drowning out moderate voices within the Republican Party. The organization was a co-sponsor of the Glenn Beck-Fox News anti-reform march on Washington in September [9/12 March Website].
Besides stonewalling health care reform, FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey has declared his support for the ten-point purity test being floated by some members of the Republican National Committee. According to CBS News, "Army said if a candidate wanted the support of the GOP, it was 'very reasonable' to expect they 'demonstrate some allegiance to the primary positions taken by the party. That's not a litmus test. That's just if you want us to give you our money, our support, our troops in the field, our endorsements, then demonstrate that you're someone like us'" [CBSNews.com, 11/29/09]. The Republican establishment largely scorned the purity test as extremist and dangerous to the future of the GOP [Politico, 12/1/09].
"The farther right we look, the more new friends Kelly Ayotte seems to be making in Washington," said Emily Browne, Press Secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. "FreedomWorks, Club for Growth and Kelly's other allies on the extreme right are taking over the Republican Party by working tirelessly to crush any moderate views within their ranks, an unfortunate trend we keep seeing within the New Hampshire GOP as well.. By courting their support, Kelly is once again showing how out of touch she is with the independent voices of the Granite State."
Today's fundraisers are part of Ayotte's increasingly active sprint to the far-right wing of her party. Hours after hosting the "meet and greet" fundraiser with Ayotte, FreedomWorks will bring together FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey, Senator Jim DeMint, and Representatives Marsha Blackburn, Tom Price and Joe Wilson to premiere a movie touting the success of the tea party phenomenon on Capitol Hill. This news comes a week after Politico reported that Kelly Ayotte was reaching out to far-right senator Jim DeMint in pursuit of his support [FreedomWorks Release, 11/30/09; Politico, 11/23/09].
Kelly's meeting with FreedomWorks is the latest step in her recent migration to the far-right wing of her party. Last month, she was down in Washington courting the support of Club for Growth, another extremist organization famous for its efforts to "purify" the GOP [Union Leader 11/12/09]. After the meeting, Executive Director David Keating called Ayotte a "very impressive candidate" [Nashua Telegraph, 11/12/09].
Ayotte Strategy for Extreme Right-Wing of Party: If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em
9/11 NEVER FORGET COALITION SAYS FAILURE TO CONSULT NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER SHOWS AG HOLDER TRIAL DECISION PUT POLITICS OVER SECURITY
Coalition expresses shock at breaking reports that NYC Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Kelly were not consulted prior to Holder's 9/11 trial announcement
New York, December 2, 2009 -- According to breaking news reports, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has stated that city officials were not consulted prior to announcing a decision to bring the 9/11 terrorist conspirators to trial in a New York City civilian court.
Commissioner Kelly was asked whether U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder consulted with the NYPD in advance about security concerns surrounding the possibility of holding the terror trial in New York. Kelly responded: "The fact is we weren't asked. And we will make the best of a situation. We weren't."
A spokesperson for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has asserted that the Mayor was informed of the decision only on the very morning Attorney General Holder made his announcement.
"There was no consultation, no consultation with the police department. That decision was made. We were informed," Commissioner Kelly added on Tuesday.
Debra Burlingame, co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, who is organizing a massive rally this Saturday, December 5th, at Foley Square, stated today, "This shocking revelation makes it crystal clear that the Attorney General's decision to bring Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to New York City was pre-ordained, and he wasn't about to ask for input that would have resulted in his having to defend the indefensible."
According to the New York Daily News, New York City spends $300 million per year for ordinary counterterrorism operations. "The Attorney General told 9/11 families that bringing these monsters to NYC is a 'trust me situation,' " said Burlingame. "The American people should not trust the judgment or competence of the nation's chief law enforcement officer who revealed that he consulted his wife over the decision but not the government officials who are entrusted with our safety and security and who will have to deal with the consequences of that decision."
On Saturday at noon, thousands will rally at Foley Square at the federal courthouse where the trial, if the decision is not reversed, will take place. Two weeks ago, the 9/11 Never Forget Coalition sent a letter signed by 300 family members of 9/11 victims to the President, Attorney General and Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking them to reverse course. The letter has now been signed by over 135,000 Americans and is posted at http://www.911familliesforamerica.org
GREGG'S OBSTRUCTION MANUAL.... If Republican lawmakers put half as much energy into learning policy details as they do into obstructionism, Congress would be a more credible, effective institution.
Sen. Judd Gregg, (R-NH) has penned the equivalent of an obstruction manual -- a how-to for holding up health care reform -- and has distributed the document to his Republican colleagues.
Insisting that it is "critical that Republican senators have a solid understanding of the minority's rights in the Senate," Gregg makes note of all the procedural tools the GOP can use before measures are considered, when they come to the floor and even after passage.
He highlights the use of "hard quorum calls for any motion to proceed, as opposed to a far quicker unanimous consent provision. He reminds his colleagues that, absent unanimous consent, they can force the Majority Leader to read any "full-text substitute amendment." And when it comes to offering amendments to the health care bill, the New Hampshire Republican argues that it is the personification of "full, complete, and informed debate," to "offer an unlimited number of amendments -- germane or non-germane -- on any subject."
The details of Gregg's outline are a clear reflection of the extent to which Republicans are turning to the Byzantine processes of the Senate chamber as a means of holding up reform. And doing so with eagerness.
For the record, Senate Republicans now have a detailed obstructionism plan, but not a detailed health care reform plan.
Sam Stein posted the full text of Gregg's three-page memo, which offers specific instructions on all of the various ways GOP senators can interfere, interrupt, and undermine the legislative process -- not to improve the bill to make it more to Republicans' liking, but just for the same of obstructionism.
Jim Manley, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said, "Just in time for the holidays, here it is in black and white, the Republicans' manual for stall, stop and delay."
In the meantime, debate is in its third day, and thanks to senseless and unnecessary Republican objections, not a single amendment has received a vote. Brian Beutler reported that Democrats are now making it clear that the Senate will "stay in session through Christmas" -- working on Dec. 25 -- if the GOP's blind obstructionism continues.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters, "We're just not going to sit here forever and watch this bill go down."
Please see below for a fact check on comments made by Senators Gregg and Hatch this afternoon on the Senate floor, bringing new, unfounded numbers to the table and continuing to spread fear and lies on Medicare savings:
RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Explained That His Hurried Staff Came Up With $2.5 Trillion Number As Estimate Of Senate Bill Cost. "Now, when my staff took a look at this bill and we only had a brief time to do it, obviously, last week and came up with that number, my budget staff, people said, on the other side of the aisle, regrettably, no, that's a bogus number. The number is $840 billion. It's not a $2.5 trillion bill. However, it is $2.5 trillion." [Senate Floor, 12/2/09]
REALITY: REPUBLICANS MADE UP $2.5 TRILLION COST ESTIMATE; THE CBO, A NON-PARTISAN ARBITER, ESTIMATED REFORM WOULD COST $848 BILLION, CUTTING DEFICITS BY $130 BILLION - AND UP TO $777 BILLION IN 20 YEARS
Claim That Senate Bill Would Cost $2.5 Trillion Was Generated By Senate Budget Committee Republicans. Fox News reported that, “Republicans have countered the CBO estimate with a figure of their own: $2.5 trillion, an estimate that comes out of the Senate Budget Committee minority's analysis of Reid's plan.” [Fox News, 11/19/09]
WSJ: CBO’s Estimate Of Senate Bill Is $848 Billion, Cuts Deficit By $130 Billion. The Wall Street Journal reported that, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid set the stage for a climactic debate in the Senate over health care by unveiling a 10-year, $848 billion bill that would extend insurance to 31 million Americans without coverage…In a boost for the bill's prospects, the CBO estimated the Senate measure would reduce the federal budget deficit by $130 billion over the next decade, and additional amounts over the second 10 years of the program. It achieves that in part through a new Medicare payroll tax and a tax on high-value insurance plans, which has aroused strong opposition…To help ease the financial burden on workers, Mr. Reid lowered the maximum amount the bill would require them to spend on premiums, capping premiums at 9.8% of income, down from 12%.” [Wall Street Journal, 11/19/09]
RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed Medicare Savings Would Not Be Used To Make Medicare More Solvent. "fully implemented, a trillion dollars, and then over a 19-year period, the two decades, by $3 trillion, instead of using those moneys, those seniors' dollars to try to make Medicare more solvent, they're going to be used for the purposes of expanding and creating a new entitlement and expanding Medicaid...Why would you use medicare savings, reductions in medicare benefits, which well definitely affect recipients for the purposes of creating a new program rather -- creating a new program rather than making medicare more solvent and if -- solvent, and if you're going to do that in the first place." [Senate Floor, 12/2/09]
REALITY: SENATE BILL EXTENDS MEDICARE SOLVENCY BY FIVE YEARS
AARP: “Budget Experts Say, Without Cutting Guaranteed Benefits, Both Bills Shore Up The Solvency Of The Medicare Trust Fund For Five Additional Years.” In the AARP Bulletin Today, it was noted that, “[i]n fact, budget experts say, without cutting guaranteed benefits, both bills shore up the solvency of the Medicare trust fund for five additional years.” [AARP Bulletin Today, 12/1/09]
2008: Medicare Chief Actuary Told Congress Paying Medicare Advantage Plans Only As Much As Traditional Medicare Would Lower Premiums, Extend Solvency. On April 1, 2008, the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Richard Foster, testified to Congress that, “if the law were changed such that the Medicare Advantage benchmarks will set up the level of the same cost as fee-for-service, then we estimate that would extend the solvency of the HI [Hospital Insurance] trust fund by about 18 months.” When asked how much Medicare Part B premiums had been increased because of the increased cost of Medicare Advantage, Foster replied, “we estimate that as of 2009, the additional premium for Part B associated with the higher benchmarks for Medicare Advantage is about $3 per month.” [Testimony, Richard Foster: The Financial Outlook for Medicare, House Ways & Means Committee Subcommittee on Health, 4/1/2008]
New York Times: Reform Will Enhance Drug Coverage, Reduce Premiums, and Help Keep Medicare Solvent. “Far from harming elderly Americans, the various reform bills now pending should actually make Medicare better for most beneficiaries — by enhancing their drug coverage, reducing the premiums they pay for drugs and medical care, eliminating co-payments for preventive services and helping keep Medicare solvent, among other benefits.” [New York Times, Editorial, 9/27/09]
RHETORIC: Sen. Hatch Claimed That Medicare Advantage Subsidies Were Required To Extend Care Coverage To Rural America. "So we did medicare advantage and all of a sudden we were able to take care of those people. Yes, it cost more, but it's because we had to go into the rural areas to do it...this would, in my opinion have a massively disruptive effect on people who get medicare because you're going to reduce it, the assumption, the scoring is that there will be a reduction in medicare advantage payments of approximately $162 billion, I believe it is, and there's no way you're going to keep getting medicare -- the advantages of medicare advantage if you have that type of reduction in payments." [Senate Floor, 12/2/09]
REALITY: MEDICARE ADVANTAGE EXTRA PAYMENTS HAVE BEEN WIDELY TARGETED AS WASTEFUL SPENDING
Medicare Advantage Health Economist: 86 Percent Of Extra MA Payments Went To Profits, Only 14 Percent Went To Extra Benefits – “Cuts To MA Should Be A No Brainer.” Health Economist Austin Frakt, a professor at Boston University, has studied Medicare Advantage plans extensively and wrote on his blog about his findings: “Payment to MA plans has gone way up since 2003. Did the payment increase largely benefit beneficiaries or not? This is a current political and policy debate, about which much has been written in the media (both traditional and blogospheric). It turns out the answer is known and quantifiable. My work (with Steve Pizer and Roger Feldman) shows that for each additional dollar spent by the federal government (taxpayers) on the program since 2003, just $0.14 of it can be attributed to additional value (consumer surplus) to beneficiaries (see also: findings brief). What do we make of the other $0.86? That goes to the insurance companies but doesn’t come out “the other end” in the form of value to beneficiaries. In part it is accounted for by the costs of the additional benefits and in part it is captured as additional insurer profit. So, do higher MA payments produce little value to beneficiaries, as Obama claims, or are the benefits they fund important to maintain, as Republicans would have us believe? The balance of the evidence is on Obama’s side. In fact, it is a landslide: for each dollar spent, 14% of the value reaches beneficiaries and 86% of it goes elsewhere (profit or cost). Cuts to MA should be a no brainer.” [Incidental Economist - Austin Frakt, 9/28/09]
Medicare Advantage Provides Extra Perks, Like Free Gym Memberships, That Are Subsidized By The Government And The High Costs Of The Plans Are Passed On To Seniors. "Seniors in this Sun Belt retirement haven and across the country revel in the free perks that private insurance companies bundle with legally mandated benefits to entice people 65 and older to forgo traditional Medicare and sign up for private Medicare Advantage policies. The trouble is, the extra benefits are not exactly free; they are subsidized by the government. And some of the plans pass their costs on to seniors, who pay higher co-pays and additional fees to get care. ... In a health-care debate defined by big numbers and confusing details, the prospect of losing benefits such as a free gym membership through the Silver Sneakers program is tangible, and it has spooked some seniors, who are the nation's most reliable voters and have been most skeptical about reform." [Washington Post, 10/15/09]
The AARP Supports Cutting Back Subsidies To Private Insurers In Medicare Advantage So They Are On A Level Playing Field With Medicare. AARP spokesman Jordan McNerney said: "We are in support of cutting back the subsidies to private insurers over time so they compete on a level playing field with traditional Medicare." [Los Angeles Times, 8/19/09]
GOP Opposition To Medicare Advantage Competitive Bidding Is Interesting: “Republicans Have Mounted A Ferocious Defense Of The Market’s Right To Continue Burning Through Taxpayer Dollars.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein commented on Republican anger at the prospect of competitive bidding to lower overpayments to Medicare Advantage programs: “[i]t is also an interesting moment of insight into the conservative philosophy on these matters. The problem with government programs, we're often told, is that they are expensive and wasteful, and the private market could do better. But faced with an instance where the government program proved relatively lean and efficient, and the private market expensive and wasteful, Republicans have mounted a ferocious defense of the market's right to continue burning through taxpayer dollars.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 9/24/09]
2008: Congressional Medicare Commission: Private Medicare Advantage Programs are “Much Like Traditional Medicare, Except At A Higher Cost.” According to a report by the Medicare Payment Advisor Commission (MedPAC), “By increasing payment to levels significantly above Medicare, we have changed the signal we are sending to the market: instead of efficiency-enhancing innovation, we are getting plans…that are much like traditional Medicare, except at a higher cost.” [Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, Report to the Congress: Medicare payment policy, 2008]
Obama's War Policy
THE SPEECH WE DID NOT HEAR
HAS AMERICA FORGOTTEN PEACE?
by Gordon Duff, Staff Writer
Last night, I listened to our President tell me that it will take years to withdraw from Afghanistan. He, out of political necessity told a series of lies. He lies by omission, failing to tell people that this war, our "good war" was, when the facts are examined, a farce.
There has not been a credible word from Osama bin Laden since December, 2001, when his death was announced in the Islamic press. What other reason did we have to occupy Afghanistan and lead it into total ruin?
The President lies because he has been lied to.
He presented solutions, solutions sending troops into harms way, troops meant to build a government and country that force of arms can only destroy.
Years of propaganda and war mongering has made it impossible for any honest dialog about war. Years of lying, lying for politics, lying for profit, lying in support of treasonous foreign interests has left us with nothing to build on. No honest voice is left, just screaming liars paid by thieves claiming to represent the right or the left.
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