Sunday, July 27, 2014

Understanding the Social Security Act

The Social Security Act of 1935

The following is a modified version of a letter to the editor I recently sent to various NH newspapers:

What is the Social Security program?

Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 14, 1935, the program has evolved into three components, each providing distinct benefits 1) to the qualified, retired elderly; 2) to the disabled; and 3) to the children of deceased workers.  These benefits are made possible through taxes imposed on employees, employers, and the self-employed.  The tax just referred to, known as the payroll deduction tax, payroll tax, or FICA – Federal Insurance Contributions Act, also funds Medicare and institutions that provide health care to workers who do not have health insurance, nor sufficient resources to pay for that care.

The current Social Security tax rate is 12.4 percent, 6.2 percent of which is withheld both from employer and employee.  The full 12.4 percent is paid by the self-employed.

It should be apparent that the FICA tax provides sweeping benefits to Americans in ways not fully known by many, and to the detriment of millions if gutted by opponents, who refer to the program disparagingly as “entitlements,” as if a form of undeserved welfare.

Beginning May 21, 1981, President Reagan penned a series of letters to congressional leaders and members of the National Commission on Social Security Reform urging passage of legislation preserving Social Security for current recipients, and future generations.  In one letter, he warns “There has been a great deal of misinformation and, for that matter, pure demagoguery on the subject of social security.” In another, he states “… I deplore the opportunistic political maneuvering, cynically designed to play on the fears of many Americans, that some in the Congress are initiating at this time.  These efforts appear designed to exploit an issue rather than find a solution to the urgent Social Security program.”

Thirty-three years later, that misinformation continues, aided, in part, by the contribution by Pete Peterson of $1 billion towards the destruction of the Social Security program; and by those who call for cuts in benefits or privatization.

As Americans living in a representative democracy, we may enjoy the benefits of whatever the majority agrees upon, is willing to fund, and is legal, and we must not be influenced by the protestations of those who disagree in principle with the existence of social programs.

Also at play is the fatalistic view of too many younger Americans who insist the Social Security program will not be there for them.  History proves them wrong.  The Social Security program has never missed a payment, and is backed “by the full faith and credit of the United States.”

Defying purveyors of misinformation, the 1983 Amendment is credited with leading to the current $2.6 trillion surplus in the Social Security Trust Fund.  Credit must also be extended to President Jimmy Carter for his 1977 contributions to the stability of the Social Security program.

Social Security does not contribute to the national deficit, nor the national debt; administrative costs approximate one percent; is prohibited from borrowing; is financed by those who get direct, guaranteed benefits; and any funds borrowed must be repaid with interest.

A boost in Social Security benefits is warranted:  The annual cost-of-living allowance has not kept pace with inflation; average monthly benefits equal a person working at minimum wage.  At current benefit levels, Social Security spending by recipients adds $775 billion per year to the nation’s economy.  Boosting benefits translates to boosting our economy.

Bills in Congress would raise monthly benefits $70/month, welcome news to the 58 million beneficiaries of the earned-benefit, anti-poverty insurance program known as Social Security.

Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources

Boost Social Security Now by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
www.boostsocialsecuritynow.org.

Social Security Act of 1935 Read the original Act on the Social Security Website  http://www.ssa.gov/history/35act.html

Social Security Act on Wikipedia   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_Act

Administering Social Security Challenges Yesterday and Today on Social Security Administration website  http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v70n3/v70n3p27.html

Image Credits:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_Act
http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v70n3/v70n3p27.html

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The United States Supreme Court concludes corporations are people....

...... but some people have more rights than other people and fewer responsibilities.

On January 21, 2010, our pro-business United States Supreme Court officially determined that corporations are people, and the court continued its expansion of corporate rights in rulings subsequent to 2010.

It is important to note that corporations have always had rights under corporate law, but are now acquiring human rights under the Constitution of the United States, granted by the U.S. Supreme Court, not the authors of the U.S. Constitution.  The founders were well aware of the corporate structure, and had they wanted corporations to be people, they would have enshrined corporate personhood within our guiding document.   They did not.

By way of U.S. Supreme Court edict, the rights of corporations since 2010 include human rights to speech, and most recently human rights to religious beliefs.  Since there are hundreds of religions, perhaps thousands worldwide, the ruling is bound to cause complexities and disruptions, both to consumers and commerce.  The dissenting opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Burwell v Hobby Lobby enumerates many of those complexities and disruptions.  She writes:  “The Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield ...”

Without challenge to these preposterous court decisions, it is only a matter of time before corporations acquire more rights under the U.S. Constitution, including the human right to vote, and the human right to run for public office.   A consequence of the Hobby Lobby decision is that corporations may now seek exemptions based on their religious beliefs, while those same laws remain in effect for the general public.

As to their responsibilities, corporations have not, and will not endure imprisonment or execution for crimes committed.  Therefore, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that corporations are people, it is clear corporations do not have the same responsibilities; and that there is, indeed, a difference in the definition of people as people think of people, versus how the U.S. Supreme Court thinks of people.  I wonder, too, how the rights of corporations will be different, state to state, depending on differences in language among the Constitutions of the 50 states, or whether, henceforth, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on all matters of corporate rights will trump the language in all State Constitutions.   And if a certain billionaire has his way, there will be 56 states, as he attempts to carve California into 6 new states with 6 separate State Constitutions.   Among other things, the legal doctrine that corporations are people could be expressly granted in each of those six new Constitutions, including corporate voting rights and the right to run for public office, an experiment conducted on the world stage.  The State of Silicon Valley might emerge as the most powerful state in the United States.

Below, billionaire Timothy Draper, in a CBS interview, concludes the State of California provides “nothing for anyone” and plans to fix it by creating six states from one.  Admittedly a long shot, never underestimate the power of money to convince people to vote against their own interests.


The Citizens United decision wiped out 100 years of regulation of corporate political expenditures used to influence our elections, including spending to support or defeat candidates, or to influence the outcome of ballot questions.  The decisions following Citizens United – SpeechNow, and McCutcheon – further opened the floodgates to spending by corporate persons and natural persons.   Not surprisingly, candidates for political office feel pressured to raise ever more gobs of money to compete with the new wave of spending by outside organizations.   Generally speaking, raising money from natural persons is more difficult than raising money from corporate persons.

This situation has led to great cynicism.  Indeed, in a recent poll, 96 percent of Americans believe Washington is awash in money; 91 percent believe nothing can be done about it.

I do not share this fatalistic view that American Democracy has run its course.

There is power in the masses to restore integrity to the political process and preserve our representative Democracy, as evidenced by the July 5 Seacoast Walk for Campaign Reform.  See previous post below for video and photographs.

Also serving to inspire hope and trust is passage of a so-called “disclosure” bill to be signed into law later this month by Gov. Hassan.  This law will provide needed information to voters as to who, and to what extent, outside money is influencing our elections.  Some may ask:  What does such a law, whether at the state or federal level, have to do with my economic or social or job security?  The answer is:  Everything.

Citizens … those of you with a pulse, a conscience, and a belly button, your human rights are beckoning your political engagement.

Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources

The New Hampshire Rebellion
www.nhrebellion.org

Billionaire wants to split California into six states on CBS This Morning
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_BISXANE6o

Romney says corporations are people too, what did our founders say about that? on SodaHead
http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/romney-says-corporations-are-people-too-what-did-our-founders-say-about-that/question-2072909/


Image Credits:
http://occuprint.org/PrintLab/CorporationNotPeople
http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/romney-says-corporations-are-people-too-what-did-our-founders-say-about-that/question-2072909/


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Commitment to Campaign Reform Becomes Visible in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Rebellion

The New Hampshire Rebellion is an issue-oriented organization, whose focus is to bring attention to the need for campaign reform to end the corrosive effect of money in politics.  It asks one question of candidates:  How are you going to end the system of corruption in Washington?

On July 5, the New Hampshire Rebellion conducted a 16-mile visibility along the NH Seacoast.  It began at Hampton Beach, and concluded at Fort Constitution at New Castle, and involved hundreds of concerned citizens.  Many of the events of the day were captured on film by photographer Dick Pollock.  With his permission, both video and links to the photograph collection on Flickr are given below.


View The NH Rebellion Walks the New Hampshire Seacoast on July 5, 2014 photos on Flickr.

Below is a musical tribute to the hundreds of committed walkers for campaign reform who were granted a glorious summer day on July 5 to make their point.  Ronnie Dove, 1966 … from a bygone age of innocence.  


Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources

The New Hampshire Rebellion
www.NHRebellion.org

THE NH REBELLION WALKS THE NEW HAMPSHIRE SEACOAST, JULY 5, 2014 on Flickr
https://www.flickr.com/photos/moatphoto/sets/72157645136388918/

Ronnie Dove - Happy Summer Days (1966) on You Tube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO0KWKcjn3M

Image Credits:
http://www.occupy.com/article/new-hampshire-rebellion-and-lawrence-lessig%E2%80%99s-march-end-corruption

Friday, July 11, 2014

Governor Hassan’s Statement on June Revenues

Office of New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan
Tuesday, July 1, 2014                                    
Contact: William Hinkle
Office: (603) 271-2121; Cell: (336) 682-8799

Governor Hassan’s Statement on June Revenues

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan today issued the following statement on June revenues:
"June and fiscal year revenues appear close to on-target, driven primarily by a strengthening economy that has helped the meals and room tax and the real estate transfer tax make up for the underperformance in other areas. We continue to see shortfalls in business taxes and the interest and dividend tax, which appear to be related, at least in part, to a number of changes in the state tax code in recent years, as well as to businesses beginning to apply various tax credits and carry forwards accrued during the recession.
“Despite the challenges posed by the shortfalls in business taxes and the interest and dividend tax, we have worked to keep the state’s bipartisan commitment to a balanced budget. We provided stability to the state's budget by issuing a preventative, preemptive Executive Order and by passing our bipartisan legislation implementing the Medicaid Enhancement Tax agreement with 25 New Hampshire hospitals, while we also continued working across party lines to support priorities that are critical to our economy and high quality of life.
“We must continue working together in a fiscally responsible manner in order to ensure that we protect the state’s budget, but the preliminary data reinforces that the bipartisan progress we have made on our shared priorities is keeping New Hampshire’s economy moving in the right direction.”

 # # #


Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources


Image Credits:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Update on the Fight Against Climate Change

MSNBC Reports

Two MSNBC videos on climate change, and what one political party is doing about it; and what one car company is doing about it:

This report by Alex Wagner, MSNBC, of June 18:



And this June 17 Chris Hayes, MSNBC interview of Elon Musk, creator of the world's most successful electric car, the Tesla electric automobile:





Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources

GOP threatens government shutdown over EPA’s new standards on Now with Alex Wagner
http://www.msnbc.com/now-with-alex-wagner/watch/gop-threatens-govt-shutdown-over-epa-rules-283871811917

Elon Musk talks Tesla and climate change on All In with Chris Hayes
http://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/elon-musk-talks-tesla-and-climate-change-283249731810


Image Credits:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Update on Consumer Protection: Labeling GMOs

Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food

Vermont is the first state to pass into law a stand-alone GMO labeling bill.  It is a stand-alone law, because it does not require other states to pass similar legislation before its law goes into effect.  A review of New Hampshire's House Bill 660, posted at this site on Friday, January 31, 2014, (see months listed in right-hand of this page - scroll down), will reveal a requirement that several other New England states must pass a labeling law before New Hampshire's would go into effect.

Vermont will now become the first state required to defend in court a consumer's right to know what they are eating.





Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources

Food fight for GMO labeling on The Ed Show
http://www.msnbc.com/the-ed-show/watch/food-fight-for-gmo-labeling-284658243788

Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful? on ProQuest
http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php

Genetically modified food on Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food

Control the World through Genetically Modified Food on Our Breathing Planet
http://www.ourbreathingplanet.com/control-the-world-through-genetically-modified-food/


Image Credits:
http://www.ourbreathingplanet.com/control-the-world-through-genetically-modified-food/

Monday, June 23, 2014

Governor Hassan’s Statement on Signing HB 1555

Office of New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan

Thursday, June 19, 2014                                   Contact: William Hinkle
Office: (603) 271-2121
Cell: (336) 682-8799


Maggie Hassan
CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan released the following statement after signing today HB 1555, a measure relative to the neglect of elderly, disabled, or impaired adults and financial exploitation:

“Fully including all Granite Staters in our communities means standing up for the most vulnerable among us. This common-sense, bipartisan legislation takes an important step toward confronting abuse of vulnerable victims by strengthening protection against financial exploitation for elderly, disabled and impaired adults. I thank Representative Rogers for her leadership on this issue, as well as legislators from both parties and victims’ advocates for their commitment to protecting our citizens, and I am happy to sign HB 1555 into law.”

*****
Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources

Governor Hassan’s Statement on Signing HB 1555
http://www.governor.nh.gov/media/news/2014/pr-2014-06-19-hb-1555.htm

Image Credits:
http://www.maggiehassan.com/about/