NEC Poll: 66% favor tax increase on higher income

A survey from New England College finds Granite Staters favor a tax increase on upper income earners by a two to one margin. 66% of New Hampshire voters agree taxes should be raised on families with incomes over $250,000, with 54% agreeing strongly. Just 28% oppose the tax increase.

A plurality of voters support increasing the eligibility age for Medicare benefits by a 48% to 43% margin. Women oppose the change 46% to 42%, while men favor it 55% to 39%. 51% of Democrats oppose the increase compared to 39% who support it. Republicans favor raising the age by a 54% to 40% margin.

The results are based on automated calls to 658 registered voters with a +/- 3.8% margin of error. The survey was conducted on December 4-6, 2012.

'I will not break a social, economic and moral contract'

If the 112th Congress fails to address the so-called fiscal cliff, writes 1st District Congresswoman-elect Carol Shea-Porter, she and the 113th Congress will be prepared to act on day one.

Shea-Porter acknowledges Democrats and Republicans will need to compromise, but she draws a line in the sand over cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits:

I will not compromise on Medicare and Social Security benefits. The Congressional Budget Office says if we do nothing, spending on Medicare and Medicaid will rise to 10 percent of the economy by 2037. We cannot ignore this. … I want to see us control costs and hold down spending increases, but I will not support forcing seniors and people with disabilities to dig into their wallets to make up for bad policies, lobbyists’ influence on Congress and our tax code, for “subsidies for the rich and famous,” … and for waste, fraud and mismanagement across the spectrum.

I simply will not break a social, economic, and moral contract with working men and women in America….

Bowser doo-wops the vote

H/T: Patch

Lamontagne disavows own Medicare position

In today’s gubernatorial debate at New England College in Henniker, Republican candidate Ovide Lamontagne ran away from his support for a state takeover of Medicare. Kevin Landrigan has the story:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne Thursday tried to distance himself from his own support for the state to eventually manage Medicare coverage for seniors.

During a debate at New England College in Henniker, Lamontagne stressed Medicare is federally financed and a state playing any role in the future would rely on congressional approval.

“I am running for governor, not for Congress,” said Lamontagne, who did seek seats in the U.S. House in 1994 and the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Lamontagne’s health care reform plan on his own campaign website supports block grants for Medicare and the Medicaid, the health care program for the poor and disabled. [link added]

Congressman Frank Guinta’s breathtakingly cynical campaign to ‘save’ Social Security

Today, New Hampshire Congressman Frank Guinta wrote of a “responsibility” to keep Social Security and Medicare “on a solid footing” for his two young children.

I am the father of two young children who are in grade school. I don’t want to face them 25 years from now and have to tell them why Social Security and Medicare won’t be available for them. Rather, I hope I will be able to tell them in 25 years, “Because Americans acted responsibly back in 2012, you will be able to count on Social Security and Medicare being there for you when you reach retirement age.”

Just two years ago, while campaigning for Tea Party support, Guinta spoke of a very different future for his children: “They shouldn’t know what Social Security is!”

Government’s the problem here, ladies and gentlemen. When Social Security was created, you didn’t have the wealth of private sector solutions for lifetime savings that you have today. We have to honor the obligations that have been made to those who are reliant on the federal government — older generations. But future generations should seek different private sector solutions and have personal responsibility start to lead the way. My kids are 6 and 5. They shouldn’t know what Social Security is!

Vote Republican to protect Medicare? Are you crazy?

In a Concord Monitor op-ed, Katy Burns has a question for “people of a certain age” who trust Republicans to protect and preserve Medicare. “Are you crazy?" she asks.

Republican leadership opposed Medicare from its beginnings and over the years has floated one proposal after another to weaken the much-cherished lifeline for older and (some) disabled people.

Medicare was enacted in 1965. It has been a smashing success, one of the few perks reserved for the wrinkled set in a culture otherwise besotted with youth. It’s wildly popular…. But that hasn’t stopped the GOP from continuing to target it. Just as the Democrats have consistently opposed and beaten back those efforts.

Romney and Ryan, about to be anointed to lead the GOP presidential ticket, are following in their footsteps. …

Medicare does need to be reformed, and today’s defenders have to resign themselves to carefully wrought changes. But reform and changes aren’t the same as the destruction of the program that is the real goal of so many of yesterday’s and today’s Republicans.

"As flawed as the Democrats can be at times," concludes Burns, "we folks who cherish Medicare should remember the old Texas admonition to ‘dance with the ones that brung us’ to the ball."

NH-02 campaign ‘ground zero in fight for Medicare’

Friends of Democracy, the SuperPAC currently running an ad campaign targeting Rep. Charlie Bass, calls the 2nd District congressional contest between Bass and Democrat Ann Kuster “ground zero in the fight for Medicare.”

Bass is “part of a growing epidemic of members of Congress raking in millions from the insurance lobby while voting to end Medicare,” points out co-director Ilyse Hogue. Friends of Democracy notes Bass voted for the Ryan budget in 2011 while taking in at least $349,875 in campaign contributions from the insurance industry and $10,000 from Congressman Paul Ryan’s leadership PAC.

The Ryan budget would transform Medicare into a system of vouchers to help seniors buy private insurance coverage, which is seen as a boon to the insurance industry. “Paul Ryan and the insurance industry have placed their bets on Rep. Charlie Bass and he has voted their way,” said co-director David Donnelly.

'Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid Work for NH'

Social Security

• Social Security provided benefits to 254,752 New Hampshire residents in 2010, 1 out of 5 residents, including 167,720 retired workers, 42,504 disabled workers, 15,956 widow(er)s, 7,922 spouses and20,650 children.

• Social Security provided benefits totaling over $3.4 billion in 2010, an amount equivalent to 5.5 percent of the state’s annual GDP (the total value of all goods and services produced).

• The average Social Security benefit in 2010 was $13,386.

• Social Security lifted 73,000 New Hampshire residents out of poverty in 2008. Without Social Security, the poverty rate of elderly women would increase from 8.3 percent to 46.5 percent.

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Guinta Praised by Group Working to Privatize Medicare

Congressman Frank Guinta has earned accolades from a front group working to privatize Medicare.

The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) is comprised of the CEOs of the country’s biggest insurers, drug companies, hospital chains and medical device manufacturers. Tuesday, at an award ceremony in Washington, the group honored Guinta as a “Champion of Healthcare Innovation.”

The HLC is notorious for the fear-mongering campaign it ran against the Clinton health care reform proposal in 1993. Wendell Potter, former head of public relations for CIGNA, writes that the HLC is now leading the charge to move forward with the Ryan plan and privatize Medicare — “albeit with a few tweaks and a new sales pitch to make it seem more consumer-friendly.”

While Ryan would move all Medicare beneficiaries into a privatized system in one fell swoop, the HLC’s plan would do it more gradually. It would, in the words of the press release, “create a new ‘Medicare Exchange’ in which private plans would compete on the basis of cost, quality and value.”

But buyer beware. Rest assured that the HLC is far more interested in the special interests of its member companies and organizations than in what is in your best interests. And the very existence of the HLC shows why it has been so difficult to get Congress to enact comprehensive health care reform. The executives who fund the HLC want first and foremost to preserve their profits and protect their incomes.

Guinta has hailed the Ryan plan, which would replace Medicare with vouchers that beneficiaries would use to buy coverage from private insurance, as “a bipartisan, practical approach to safeguarding Medicare for future generations.” It’s no surprise that the HLC and Guinta are allies — nor that he has received over $180,000 in campaign contributions from the insurance industry, health professionals and hospitals.

Rep. Frank Guinta’s Giant Medicare Fraud

Congressman Frank Guinta and I agree on one thing, spiraling health care costs are a threat to the future of Medicare.

The blank-check system in Medicare, in which the government pays most costs with no incentive to save or be efficient, threatens the solvency of this critical program.

"The failure is to not act," he says. So what action does he take? He votes to do away with a key program specifically designed to keep Medicare costs from zooming out of control!

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), introduced in President Obama’s healthcare reform, would make recommendations to Congress to help reduce Medicare costs. The board only acts if the projected growth rate of Medicare exceeds targets; it is prohibited from recommending policies that ration care, raise taxes, increase premiums, restrict benefits or change eligibility requirements; and its recommendations are subject to Congressional approval.

Yesterday, Guinta voted to eliminate the IPAB. How did he justify this vote? Demagoguery. The board would “greatly restrict” access to health care, he claimed.

IPAB is tasked with reducing medical costs, and it would do that by restricting healthcare access for seniors. Granite State seniors deserve better than a 15 member panel of unelected bureaucrats intruding into their relationship with their doctor. They shouldn’t have to cut through red tape just to get the medical care they need. Hardworking Granite Staters who have paid into Medicare for decades have the right to receive the healthcare they’ve counted on. IPAB would greatly restrict that, and that’s why IPAB has to go.

Writing in Forbes, Rick Ungar calls repeal of the IPAB a “giant Medicare fraud.”

Sometimes, the willingness of Congress to so blatantly act on behalf of special interests to the out-and-out detriment of the average American — or to waste time and frighten the taxpayer all for the benefit of a good political narrative —astounds even me.

According to the House GOP, other political players and the storied think tanks whose pockets are lined by special interests such as the pharmaceutical companies, hospital associations, or just about anyone who might lose a few bucks if someone has to actually do something to get medical costs under control, this IPAB is the mechanism that the socialists (and you know who you are) will use to ration our healthcare.

Except, as the facts would have it, it turns out that this small board of medical experts can’t ration a thing — whether they want to or not.

Let’s see. The Center for Responsive Politics reports Guinta has raised over $97,000 in campaign contributions from the insurance industry, $56,000 from health professionals and $30,000 from hospitals and nursing homes.

Bass Targeted in “Medicare March Madness” Campaign

2nd District Congressman Charlie Bass is accused of choosing millionaires over Medicare for his “Medicare March Madness” brackets in a campaign launched today by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

Politico reports the Medicare March Madness campaign includes automated phone calls that will patch voters through to Bass’ office, phone banks manned by grassroots supporters, and a new online Medicare Action Center:

Phone script running against Bass:

“Hi, this is Anne from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee calling about Congressman Charlie Bass and House Republicans’ newest scheme to end Medicare.

"Republicans in Washington have a new budget that chooses millionaires over Medicare. One independent analysis found that the plan would ‘shift substantial costs to beneficiaries’ and ‘lead to the demise of traditional Medicare.’

"Congressman Charlie Bass has the wrong priorities… We all agree Washington needs to cut spending, but it should be done the right way, not on the backs of seniors.

Press 1 to be connected to Congressman Bass’s office and tell him to protect Medicare for seniors, not tax breaks for Millionaires.”

D.J. Bettencourt on GOP Values and the NHCSL

When state House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt congratulated Rep. Marilinda Garcia on her appointment to the Business and Economic Development Task Force for the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), he praised the organization as a group “whose values are consistent with Republicans.”

Perhaps Bettencourt is not all that familiar with the NHCSL. Last year, the group adopted a resolution opposing “any effort to reduce the federal budget deficit at the expense of patients and seniors who rely on the Medicare and Medicare Part D programs for access to health care.”

Protecting Medicare from budget cuts is hardly consistent with Republican values. Just ask GOP Congressman Frank Guinta. 

On the topic of Medicare, Guinta said it and the Medicaid program need major reform.

"They are going to have more of an impact on long-term debt," Guinta said, adding that Congress will begin to address the issue this year.

Everything needs to be on the table,” in terms of Medicare reform, Guinta said….

Miscellany Blue