"Bass EPA vote comes under fire"
The Nashua Telegraph, Letters, March 14, 2011
Granite Staters voted for many things in November, but they certainly did not vote for more asthma attacks and more contaminated drinking water.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what Rep. Charlie Bass helped bring upon New Hampshire by voting for the outrageously anti-environmental House funding bill (HR 1).
Passed under cover of night on a Saturday, this bill endangers the health of New Hampshire’s children, elderly citizens and other vulnerable populations by blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from doing its job and cleaning up coal-fired power plants and other large sources of dangerous carbon dioxide pollution.
It also cuts EPA’s overall budget by the largest percentage in 30 years, severely threatening the agency’s ability to ensure that all New Hampshire residents have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.
To his credit, Rep. Bass did vote against amendments that made this atrocious legislation even worse. He opposed efforts to block clean-up of mercury pollution in our air and water, as well as cuts to funds that protect wild places.
Nevertheless, New Hampshire is the tail pipe of the nation. I am dismayed that Rep. Bass voted in support of a final bill that eviscerates our core environmental and public health programs that protect us from Midwestern emissions.
Environment New Hampshire
"Bass and Guinta vote to Overhaul Medicare and Medicaid"
By Matt Laslo, NHPR.org - April 15, 2011
New Hampshire’s two Republican House members have voted to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid. NHPR Correspondent Matt Laslo has the story from Washington.
The vote on the Republican budget resolution for next year includes big changes to the nation’s historical social safety nets. The legislation would provide seniors with a check that would go to an insurance company instead of a doctor. President Obama and Democrats claim the change would burden seniors with thousands of dollars in extra health care costs.
First District Congressman Frank Guinta calls that claim the Democrats' “talking point.” And he said the legislation would decrease the nation’s health care costs.
“A more free market choice approach where the individual has greater power in the decision making process. And when that happens you typically see people more aware of what they are purchasing.”
The proposal also turns Medicaid into a block grant program that unwinds federal standards for how it’s administered.
The Second District’s Charlie Bass also supported the sweeping changes.
"Medicare should not be taken down"
By Ann McLane Kuster, May 15, 2011
When I read about Congressman Charles Bass voting to abolish Medicare as we know it, I thought about the impact on the lives of seniors all across New Hampshire and I thought about my own family.
My 87-year-old mother-in-law lives on her own in a small apartment on a widow’s pension and her Social Security. A few weeks ago, she was hospitalized for a few days with pneumonia, and her hospital stay was covered by Medicare.
In 2008, over 200,000 people in our state received benefits from Medicare, which is why I am so disturbed that Bass and his colleagues voted to jeopardize the health and well being of future retirees. In order to pay for a large tax cut for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, the Republican budget would replace the successful Medicare program with a system of private insurance vouchers, leaving tomorrow’s seniors without adequate coverage when healthcare costs inevitably continue to rise.
This private mandate and voucher system sets up an unstable, hurtful, and discriminatory system for seniors. In essence, the only element it keeps from our current, successful program is the name “Medicare”.
At town hall meetings across New Hampshire in the days after the vote, Bass defended his vote by attempting to argue that his plan relied on “premium support systems,” not “vouchers”. It was Washington-speak from his partisan leadership’s talking points — and we flinty constituents in New Hampshire are not buying it.
Even FOX’s Chris Wallace, no Democrat by any stretch, called the bill Bass voted for “a major overhaul of Medicare and turning it into a voucher system.”
And according to Kathleen Hennessey of the L.A. Times, who covered a town hall discussion at the American Legion Post 59 in Hillsborough, Bass “struggled with the tax part of the plan, flatly denying that the proposal would cut taxes on wealthy individuals and saying incorrectly that the reduction applied only to corporations.”
Hennessey concluded, “Now, it’s hard to separate how much of the muddying is Bass honestly not understanding the budget he voted for, and how much is him deliberately obfuscating. But when you’re trying to convert abstract beliefs into support for wildly unpopular particulars, obfuscation is pretty much the only play.”
Even in this day of cynicism, that’s a sorry commentary on the motives of our elected officials.
I am a frugal Yankee, and I do believe we need to cut spending when it is truly wasteful. We can find prime candidates for those cuts in the billions of subsidies for oil companies, the corporate tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas, and the billions more spent on redundant weapons systems that our military leaders have identified as wasteful and not needed. These are all expenditures that Bass has voted to support in his seven terms in Congress — including his votes as recently as this winter.
But ending Medicare as we know it in order to make room for corporate tax breaks? No way. That’s not the America I want to pass on to my sons. It’s not the country that Nanny worked hard for her whole life, nor the country that is looking out for her now. We can do better.
Democrat Ann McLane Kuster of Concord was a candidate for New Hampshire’s 2nd District House Congressional seat in 2010.
"From Bass, an appalling vote"
The Concord Monitor, Letters, May 9, 2011
Rep. Charlie Bass blames "outside special interest groups" for scaring seniors about his vote to cut Medicare. Well, I'm not a special interest group. I'm a 29-year New Hampshire resident who recently enrolled in Medicare, and I'm appalled by Bass's vote.
He claims that he did not support a "voucher" system for seniors to buy medical insurance. Whatever you call it, giving a fixed amount to an insurance company in my name, a "premium support," might as well be called a voucher. If it's too paltry to buy the insurance I will need (it will be), the balance will be out of my pocket. And if a pre-existing condition makes the insurers refuse me, I will be out of luck.
We all know we have a budget problem. The House Republican budget proposes to cut $30 billion from Medicare over 10 years but it would also repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates would cut the federal deficit by $210 billion over the next 10 years. And repealing the new health law brings back the prescription drug coverage gap known as the "donut hole," passing on $6,000 in additional out-of-pocket prescription drug costs to me by 2020.
This $6,000 per year passed on to us seniors and a "voucher" system that won't even keep up with health care costs is a bad deal for seniors and for working Americans paying into Medicare now.
If Bass and House Republicans get their way, they will increase the deficit and break the promise of guaranteed health care benefits to seniors and people with disabilities. That's not only scary, it's shameful.
M. CHRIS HANSEN
"House rejects debt limit increase without cuts"
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent, May 31, 2011
WASHINGTON – House Republicans dealt defeat to their own proposal for a $2.4 trillion increase in the nation's debt limit Tuesday, a political gambit designed to reinforce a demand for spending cuts to accompany any increase in government borrowing.
The vote was lopsided, with just 97 in favor of the measure and 318 against.
House Democrats accused the GOP of political demagoguery, while the Obama administration maneuvered to avoid taking sides — or giving offense to majority Republicans.
The debate was brief, occasionally impassioned and set a standard of sorts for public theater, particularly at a time when private negotiations continue among the administration and key lawmakers on the deficit cuts Republicans have demanded.
The bill "will and must fail," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., the House Ways and Means Committee chairman who noted he had helped write the very measure he was criticizing.
"I consider defeating an unconditional increase to be a success, because it sends a clear and critical message that the Congress has finally recognized we must immediately begin to rein in America's affection for deficit spending," he said.
But Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., accused Republicans of a "ploy so egregious that (they) have had to spend the last week pleading with Wall Street not to take it seriously and risk our economic recovery."
He and other Democrats added that Republicans were attempting to draw attention away from their controversial plan to turn Medicare into a program in which seniors purchase private insurance coverage.
The proceedings occurred roughly two months before the date Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said the debt limit must be raised. If no action is taken by Aug. 2, he has warned, the government could default on its obligations and risk turmoil that might plunge the nation into another recession or even an economic depression.
Republicans, who are scheduled to meet with Obama at the White House on Wednesday, signaled in advance that the debt limit vote did not portend a final refusal to grant an increase.
The roll call vote was held late in the day, and there was little, if any discernible impact on Wall Street, where major exchanges showed gains for the day. At the same time, it satisfied what GOP officials said was a desire among the rank and file to vote against unpopular legislation the leadership has said eventually must pass in some form.
Republicans said they were offering legislation Obama and more than 100 Democratic lawmakers had sought.
But Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat, accused the GOP of staging a "demagogic vote" at a time lawmakers should work together to avoid a financial default.
All 97 votes in favor of the measure were cast by Democrats, totaling less than a majority and far under the two-thirds support needed for passage.
For its part, the administration appeared eager to avoid criticizing Republicans.
"It's fine, it's fine," presidential press secretary Jay Carney said when asked about the Republican decision to tie spending cuts with more borrowing.
"We believe they should not be linked because there is no alternative that's acceptable to raising the debt ceiling. But we're committed to reducing the deficit," Carney said.
The government has already reached the limit of its borrowing authority, $14.3 trillion, and the Treasury is using a series of extraordinary maneuvers to meet financial obligations.
By no longer would making investments in two big pension funds for federal workers and beginning to withdraw current investments, for example, the Treasury created $214 billion in additional borrowing headroom.
At the same time, the Obama administration and congressional leaders are at work trying to produce a deficit-reduction agreement in excess of $1 trillion to meet Republican demands for spending cuts.
Political maneuvering on legislation to raise the debt limit has become common in recent years, as federal deficits have soared and presidents of both political parties have been forced to seek authority to borrow additional trillions of dollars.
Because such legislation is unpopular with voters, presidents generally look to lawmakers from their own political party to provide the votes needed for passage. In the current case, though, Republicans control the House, and without at least some support from them, Obama's request for a debt-limit increase would fail.
However, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced months ago that he would demand spending cuts as a condition for passage.
"It's true that allowing America to default would be irresponsible," he said on May 9 in a speech to the Economic Club of New York. "But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt limit without simultaneously taking dramatic steps to reduce spending and to reform the budget process."
He added that any spending cuts should be larger than the increase in borrowing authority, a statement meant to lay down a marker for the deficit-reduction talks led by Vice President Joe Biden.
Few details have emerged from those negotiations, although Biden said recently the negotiators had made progress. He expressed confidence they would be able to agree on specific cuts in excess of $1 trillion over the next decade, and then look to procedural mechanisms known as "triggers" to force further automatic deficit cuts adding up to another $3 trillion or so.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a participant in the talks, said afterward, "I am confident that we can achieve over a trillion dollars in savings at this point, and hopefully more."
Earlier, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., had said the discussions centered on deficit cuts totaling in the range of $150 billion to $200 billion over a decade, but that was from a relatively small category of programs.
Among the areas eyed for spending cuts is the federal pension program, where the White House has signaled it is receptive to a Republican proposal for employees to make greater contributions.
Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.
"Bass disingenuous on Medicare position"
The Nashua Telegraph, Letter to the Editor, March 27, 2012
My Republican congressman, Charles Bass, sent me a flier to assure me that he’s working to “protect” Medicare.
Or rather, it comes from outside New Hampshire, from the American Action Network in Washington, D.C., an entity that cannot legally engage in political activity. The flier highlights an acute anxiety of Bass and his supporters.
The flier doesn’t say just what Bass is doing to “protect” Medicare. His record shows him “protecting” Medicare by dismantling it. He voted for Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare as it is now and, instead, to hand out vouchers to buy insurance plans from private companies.
What the vouchers are worth would vary year to year. There’s no assurance they would cover the cost of an insurance plan. There’s no assurance private plans would cover pre-existing conditions.
With less care, seniors would be more vulnerable to health risks as they age and more vulnerable to high costs associated with such risks.
Seniors haven’t been slow to perceive this. A Republican candidate in New York lost a safe seat over this issue.
In New Hampshire town meetings and forums, Bass has heard barbed questions from constituents. He’s worried. In a particularly low blow, the flier even revives Sarah Palin’s “death panels” canard from the last presidential election, the outrageous claim that under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, bureaucrats would decide which sick persons are worthy of care and which are not.
Bass is a Medicare wolf posing as Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma.
"AG: Bass campaign tried to duck responsibility for 2010 push poll against Kuster"
By JOHN DiSTASO, Senior Political Reporter, New Hampshire Union Leader, April 3, 2012
CONCORD -- The Attorney General’s Office has filed a civil suit against U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass’ 2010 campaign committee, charging it “deliberately avoided” identifying itself as a sponsor of a negative push poll against Democrat Ann McLane Kuster during the 2010 campaign.
If the state is successful in its suit, the Bass campaign could be fined as much as $400,000 for the alleged violations of the state's push poll statute. The campaign said it "strongly denies" the allegations and will "vigorously defend the suit."
It is the fourth time in the past 18 months that the Attorney General has reached settlements or initiated civil enforcement actions related to election laws on push polling and so-called “robo” calls.
Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards said Tuesday, “There was an attempt at settlement” in this case, “but we couldn't come to terms.”
In a statement Tuesday night, the Bass campaign said, "The poll in question was a legitimate message testing survey, not a push poll. Our survey was the same type of message testing poll conducted by virtually every major candidate for a federal office.
"It tested voters' attitudes and opinions among a relatively small sample of voters, unlike a push poll, which targets a much larger group of voters, with the intent of negatively persuading the voter,” said Bass Victory Committee spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne.
According to the Attorney General's petition filed in Merrimack County Superior Court, the Bass Victory Committee, with the help of an outside political shop called the Tarrance Group, failed to properly identify who was paying for about 400 negative push poll calls made in the fall of 2010 against Kuster, who was Bass' Democratic opponent for the U.S. House that year and is challenging him again this year.
The Attorney General's Office charged that at the request of Bass' campaign manager, the identification of the group paying for the negative calls was changed from the “Bass Victory Committee” to the “National Republican Congressional Committee” because, according to an email by the campaign manager released by the Attorney General, "they (the NRCC) are paying for half of it" and:
"I'd rather have any issues about ‘push polling' be blamed on them (the NRCC) rather than us _ especially with the date rape drug question in there.”
The NRCC, a Washington-based group that supports GOP House candidates across the country, later gave its approval for the disclaimer change.
The Attorney General says that “as a result of the alleged deliberate attempt to avoid the requirement of the New Hampshire push poll law, the lawsuit against the Bass committee seeks civil penalties of up to $1,000 per call.
The Attorney General's petition does not identify the campaign manager who wrote the email seeking the change in disclosure, either in its press release or in its petition to the court.
But Edwards confirmed the person who wrote the email was David Kanevsky, an out-of-stater who was hired by Bass to oversee his close election victory over Kuster. He is not involved in the Bass campaign this year.
Kanevsky was last known to be at a political research firm called American Viewpoint in Alexandria, Va. The phone numbers at that firm's office were disconnected on Tuesday.
The state's push poll law allows telephone calls that convey either positive or negative information about a candidate for public office under the guise of a legitimate poll or attempt to gather information.
But the law requires the caller to say that the call is “being made on behalf of, in support of, or in opposition to a particular candidate for public office; identify that candidate by name; and provide a telephone number from where the push polling is conducted."
In its petition to the court, the Attorney General's Office charged that the Bass Victory Committee deliberately tried to misidentify who was sponsoring the call.
But Bass campaign spokesman Tranchemontagne said, “The Bass Victory Committee has never conducted a push poll. The poll in question does not adhere to the form, purpose or statutory definition of a push poll. Though we are disappointed that the Attorney General has chosen to litigate this matter, we are confident that we have the law on our side and will ultimately prevail."
The Attorney General's Office says its investigation began in September 2010, when it received a complaint about a push poll from state Rep. Kathleen Taylor, D-Franconia. The suit says the calls “were described as being negative against” Kuster.
The petition says the Attorney General's Office subpoenaed the Bass Victory Committee on Oct. 24, 2011, more than a year after the initial complaint was made, seeking documents related to the calls.
In response, the petition says, the Bass committee provide a script for the poll, but its legal counsel told the Attorney General the campaign “had checked its records and could not locate any correspondence between the campaign and the Tarrance Group.” The Attorney General's Office then withdrew its subpoena.
But on Feb. 2, 2012, “after further investigation,” a second subpoena was issued “to verify the accuracy of prior representations that no correspondence between the campaign and the Tarrance Group could be located.”
The office specifically sought “all communications between the Bass Committee and the Tarrance Group relating to polling calls made in September 2010,” the petition says.
In response to the second subpoena, the Bass campaign “provided the Attorney General's Office with over 500 pages of email records, including drafts of the script and numerous email communications between employees and agents of the Bass Committee and the Tarrance Group.”
The petition says the final version of the script “demonstrates that the calls were made on behalf of the Bass Committee” and the documents provided in response to the second subpoena “establish the Bass Campaign was involved with editing the final drafts of the script.”
According to the Attorney General, the first four drafts of the script said at the end, “The Tarrance Group wishes to thank you for participating in this survey, which was commissioned and paid for by the Bass Victory Committee, 603-226-6000.”
But, according to the suit, in an email to the Bass campaign dated Sept. 16, 2010, the Tarrance Group attached a fifth draft of the script and stated:
“I changed the disclaimer to the NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee), BUT I need Brock's permission to do that.”
The petition does not identify “Brock.”
Brock McCleary is currently deputy political director at the NRCC and its past Northeast political director, according to his “LinkedIn” profile.
The petition says the NRCC then approved replacing the Bass Victory Committee with the NRCC, and the fifth and sixth (final) draft of the script contained the same closing line except it said the calls were “commissioned and paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee, 202-479-7050.”
Edwards, asked if the Bass campaign deliberately withheld the documents until a second subpoena was issued, said, "We are not sure why we received all of these documents after the second subpoena but not the first. We have never received a clear answer on this."
Edwards said violations of the push poll law formerly called for criminal penalties. But, she said, the Legislature changed it in recent years to a civil penalty “because it was a challenge to enforce because generally we couldn't prove that someone intentionally violated it, which is necessary for a criminal penalty.”
She said, “At this time the investigation is focused on the push poll and the push poll violation and not any other potential inappropriate acts.”
The action against Bass is the most recent development in stepped up enforcement of the push poll law by the Attorney General.
- In October 2010, polling company Mountain West Research reached a $20,000 civil settlement for a poll made on behalf of Democrat Paul Hodes' campaign for the U.S. Senate.
- In August 2011, the New Hampshire Democratic Party paid a $5,000 fine for pre-recorded political messages made on behalf of the party. The Attorney General said the messages did not properly identify who paid for the call.
- In January of this year, OnMessage, Inc., a Virginia polling company, paid a $15,000 fine for a poll made for Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta that provided neither the telephone number nor the name of the candidate on whose behalf the call was being made.
News reports last month that the Attorney General has been intensifying its enforcement prompted criticism from leading national pollster Whit Ayers, who told the New Hampshire Union Leader that, by "harrassing" pollsters, the Attorney General was "handing ammunition to those who would like to supplant New Hampshire's primary as first-in-the-nation."
But in a statement Tuesday, Attorney General Michael Delaney said, "My office will continue to enforce New Hampshire's election laws that require disclosures to citizens by candidates or political organizations engaging in campaign-related telephone calls or push polls. Our elected officials are calling for these investigations, and it is my obligation to enforce violations of the laws brought to my attention."
"I'm with Kuster"
For the Concord Monitor, Letter, August 6, 2012
Tea Party loyalists have taken control of the Republican Party with the apparent sole purpose of bringing the country to a halt and preventing the re-election of President Obama. Rep. Charlie Bass has been right there, casting his vote in lock-step with his party, against funding for Planned Parenthood, against funding for the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio, against tax breaks for the middle class and against Medicare. He has voted for tax breaks for the richest people and corporations in the country and for repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
He has voted for eliminating Medicare as we know it and changing it to a voucher system. If the coverage we need is more than the voucher, we pay the difference. If we can't afford it, we go without. If the cost of insurance goes up, we pay the increase. He proposes that competition between the insurance companies will keep the premiums down. We've seen how that has worked over the past 10-20 years. Premium increases of 20 to 40 percent every few years are not unheard of.
Medicare isn't broken. Bent maybe, but not broken. Relatively small changes would bring it back to fiscal solvency so that 48 million Americans can be assured of complete health care coverage into the future. Annie Kuster is committed to working with member of both political parties to make this happen. Bass has shown that he in not interested in working with anybody to ensure the strengthening or survival of Medicare.
Kuster is in tune with the majority of the country socially, is fiscally conservative, and has a reasoned, reasonable approach to solving the problems our country faces. She will have my vote in November.
- Jonathan Melle
- Amherst, NH, United States
- I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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