Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mitt Romney’s Secret Donation to Race-Baiting NOM

Mar 30, 2012 | By ThinkProgress War Room

Romney Helped Fund Race-Baiting, Anti-LGBT Group, Secret Document Shows

Earlier this week, we told you about the previously secret documents that revealed the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) divisive, race-baiting strategy for combating marriage equality — a strategy which was quickly denounced by leading civil rights organizations including the NAACP.
Another secret document revealed today by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) shows that NOM’s hateful effort to take away marriage equality in California in 2008 was funded by none other than leading Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, via his Free and Strong America PAC.
Check out the previously secret document, via HRC:
In a move that raises several questions, it appears that Romney’s PAC used an elaborate scheme to evade disclosing its donation. If the federal account of Romney PAC had made the donation, it would have been quickly disclosed in Federal Election Commission reports. Instead, the more obscure Alabama chapter of Romney’s PAC made the donation to NOM. As the Huffington Post notes, Alabama’s lax campaign finance laws make it a haven for questionable political spending activities.
Read the entire article at Think Progress War room here:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Small Businesses say "Yes" to the Affordable Care Act

Harrisburg, PA TODAY, in Harrisburg, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, Senate candidate Steve Welch, national Committewoman Christine Toretti, state vice-chairman Joyce Haas and Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry gathered to discuss the impact of the Affordable Care Act on Small Businesses.

But the GOP presser lacked significant representation by actual small businesses.

So, in response, Know Your Care and Keystone Progress held a press call with the businesses that will actually be impacted by the Affordable Care Act.

Pennsylvania based small business owners Richie Tabachnick, Charlie Crystle and Pat Clark joined Rhett Buttle of the Small Business Majority to discuss via teleconference the ways in which the previous insurance system was unsustainable, and how they will benefit from the Affordable Care Act, as well as the consequences of repeal.

“Nationwide, we expect that the Affordable Care Act will allow small businesses to really leverage their buying power when it comes to health insurance,” said Rhett Buttle, Government Affairs Director of Small Business Majority.

The tax credit is also expected to impact their bottom line. Companies with 25 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees averaging less than $50,000 annually in salaries can claim a tax credit of up to 35 percent on health-insurance costs.

Anyone who says the Affordable Care Act is damaging to the economy and small businesses are misrepresenting the facts. These tax breaks will help us create jobs. This law has benefited us by lowering our costs and allowing us to hire more people,” said Ritchie Tabachnick, President of Equipment and Controls Africa.

“I have taken advantage of the small business tax credits, I am excited to find out we are going to see more choice and quality under the Affordable Care Act,” said Pat Clark Managing Partner of Jackson/Clark Partners.

Ultimately, the Affordable Care Act provides excellent opportunities for businesses to provide better care for their employees.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Affordable Care Act Is Clearly Constitutional

Monday marked the beginning of the Supreme Court oral arguments on the legality of the Affordable Care Act. The central question in the case now pending before the Supreme Court is whether Congress the authority to require individuals to have health insurance. Opponents of the law argue that it exceeds the legitimate authority of the national government.

However, the legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act are not about the law but about political games that will take away benefits from millions of Americans and put insurance companies back in charge. These political games and misleading rhetoric have been the basis for much misinformation surrounding the landmark legislation, which have ultimately led arguments to the court.

But, at the Supreme Court, nearly 200 years of precedent establish that Congress has the power to regulate the economy. Leading experts suggest that there can be no doubt that the economic effects of the health care industry on interstate commerce are huge, comprising more than 17 percent of the entire national economy. Thus, whatever the merits of the individual mandate in terms of public policy, there seemed no serious question about its constitutionality.

Further, leading conservative judges have agreed that challenges to the health care law have no basis in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent.

While it is unclear how the court will rule, it is obvious that repeal would have a direct impact on millions of people nationwide who have already benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

Former Insurance Executive and Author Calls for Healthcare Reform in Allentown

 ALLENTOWN, PA – Tomorrow, March 29, 2012, former insurance industry executive and author Wendell Potter will join Reverend David Charles Smith to call for healthcare reform and discuss the consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act at the Jordan United Church of Christ in Allentown.    

WHO:             Wendell Potter, Former Insurance Executive and Whistleblower,
                        Reverend David Charles Smith, Congregations United for Neighborhood Action and 
                        PICO National Network

WHAT:           Former insurance industry executive and congregation leader call for 
                        healthcare reform, and discuss consequences of repeal

WHEN:          March 29 at 7 PM

WHERE:        Jordan United Church of Christ, 1837 Church Road, Allentown, PA

About Wendell Potter; after a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, he left his job as head of communications for one of the nation's largest health insurers to try his hand at helping socially responsible organizations -- including those advocating for meaningful health care reform -- achieve their goals.

About Rev. David Charles Smith began his ministry as the fifteenth Pastor and Teacher of Jordan United Church of Christ in June 2002.


Know Your Care is a 501c3 organization affiliated with Keystone Progress Education Fund and is dedicated to educating the American people about the Affordable Care Act’s life-saving consumer and patient protections that are already benefiting millions of Americans and will benefit millions more in the coming years as additional provisions are implemented –

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Affordable Care Act Works

This week marks the beginning of the Supreme Court oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act. But what does repeal mean for real people?

In this tri-state region, 375,000 seniors are now saving on drug costs, another 2.6 million people received free preventive-health screenings, and nearly 140,000 young adults who were brought under their parents' insurance plans because of the Affordable Care Act. Thousands of small businesses, as well, have utilized federal tax credits to help them provide their workforce with health insurance.

Across the United States, the Affordable Care Act works, and is benefiting millions.

· Works for women, children, seniors – everyone. More than 86 million Americans received preventive care such as mammograms and colonoscopies for free in 2011.

· Works for young adults: 2.5 million young adults are now insured because of the new health care law.

· Works for seniors: 3.6 million Medicare beneficiaries saved more than $2.1 billion on prescription drugs because of the new health care law.

· Works for those with pre-existing conditions. Expanded coverage for those with pre-existing conditions: Nearly 50,000 Americans who were denied coverage now have insurance through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.

· Works for small businesses: A growing number of businesses offering health care coverage are taking advantage of tax credits available under the law.

Ultimately, taking away any of the provisions of the law would mean repealing real benefits away from seniors, women, children, young adults, and people with pre-existing conditions.

Check out an audio file of the Supreme Court arguments here.

Citizens Deliver Pie to Lawmakers with Message to Close Loopholes

PA can avoid cuts that will hurt families, children and seniors without raising taxes
HARRISBURG, PA (March 26, 2012) — With a pie in one hand and a list of tax loopholes in the other, Pennsylvania citizens delivered a message to state lawmakers today — we can restore cuts that have hurt seniors, children and families without raising taxes. By closing loopholes and delaying tax cuts for corporations, lawmakers can enact a better budget.

“Close the loopholes, grow the revenue pie, and make our tax system fair for all,” said Stephen Drachler, executive director of United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania and co-chair of Better Choices for Pennsylvania. “That way we can meet the needs of all our citizens and improve their lives."

Better Choices for Pennsylvania, a coalition of organizations working for a responsible state budget, organized the “grow the revenue pie” event Monday, along with the faith community, and advocates for women, school children, college students, and people with disabilities.

Volunteer pie deliverers stopped by each lawmaker’s office to drop off a pie and a handout that contrasts existing tax loopholes with funding cuts that could be restored by closing the loophole. In each case, additional revenue could help fund vital services without raising taxes.

The handout shows, for example, that funding could be restored for education, colleges, General Assistance, and other health and human services by closing the Delaware loophole, delaying the planned phase-out of the capital stock and franchise tax, and closing other tax loopholes.

View the full table here.

After delivering the pies to lawmakers, several citizens gathered in the Capitol Rotunda to share their stories. One of them was Jake Fleming of Philadelphia, who said the small General Assistance benefit he received a few years ago saved his life. Fleming was homeless and sick in 2008. After 30 years of addiction, he decided it was time to get help.

“I’ve been clean and sober for four years now,” he said. “I’m employed, I’m paying taxes, I’m supporting myself, I’m supporting my 14-year-old daughter.” 

Fleming said the Governor’s budget, which eliminates the General Assistance program, would be devastating for communities across the state.

“Homelessness will skyrocket,” he said. “People seeking treatment in recovery houses and treatment programs will have nowhere to go.”

Joseph Martin of Cumberland County found himself homeless last year. Thankfully, a friend gave him shelter while he got back on his feet, but even today his housing costs are close to half his income.

“The citizens of the commonwealth need affordable housing available in their communities,” Martin said. “Without a safe and affordable place to live, recovery is hard to find.” More people will end up being hospitalized or incarcerated at higher costs, he added.

Schuylkill Haven School District Superintendent Loraine Felker outlined the dramatic impact that state budget cuts for schools have had on her rural Schuylkill County district. 

“If the state doesn’t change its support for education right now, within three, if we’re lucky four, years, we will be totally bankrupt,” she said. 

“Education is our future, our students are our future. If we want to have a thriving state 20 years form now, we need to do right by our children now.  And that means we have to educate them well.”

Dr. Steve Hicks, President of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, raised concerns about budget cuts putting affordable college out of reach for more and more Pennsylvanians.

Peg Dierkers, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and co-chair of Better Choices for Pennsylvania, summed up the coalition’s message: “We are here today asking our governor and our state legislature to increase the size of the funding pie. After five years of cuts, families can no longer afford education, get supports they need to go to work every day, to take care of their elderly parents.”

Drachler added that it was important that Pennsylvania meet its moral obligation to the hungry and homeless, to people who are sick or disabled, to children and seniors by closing loopholes and funding the services that struggling families need.

Better Choices for Pennsylvania is a coalition working for a responsible state budget. The coalition is built on the principle that before making deep service cuts that hurt Pennsylvania families and the economy, policymakers should close tax loopholes and end special interest tax breaks. Learn more at

‘Republicans For Mandating Coverage’ Calls On The Supreme Court To Uphold Health Reform

March 26 – Republicans For Mandating Coverage (RMC) — a 51-member coalition representing Republicans who supported a federal health care mandate before President Barack Obama endorsed it — urged the Supreme Court on Monday to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate:

As Republicans who have co-sponsored or supported legislation requiring all Americans to purchase individual health insurance in 1993, 1994, 2007, and as recently as 2009, RMC believes that the mandate is based on the fundamental American principle of personal responsibility, rooted in conservative jurisprudence surrounding the Constitution’s Commerce and Necessary and Proper clauses.

In the words of Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Republicans “don’t think the free market ever envisioned an idea that people would be able to do something and make other people pay for it.” “People are either going to buy insurance or they’re going to pay for their own care. They’re not going to say, ‘I got care and you Mr. Tax Payer or You Mr. Premium Payer are going to pay for me.”

‘Republicans For Mandating Coverage’ believes that this is an “American principle” — a principle of “personal responsibility” — that can be constitutionally enforced by the federal government.
Since nearly all Americans are already part of the health care marketplace and health care affects 17 percent of the economy, Congress is authorized to regulate health care behavior under the Commerce Clause. As conservative Judge Laurence Silberman put it: “At the time the Constitution was fashioned, to ‘regulate’ meant, as it does now, ‘[t]o adjust by rule or method,’ as well as ‘[t]o direct.’ To ‘direct,’ in turn, included ‘[t]o prescribe certain measure[s]; to mark out a certain course,’ and ‘[t]o order; to command.’ In other words, to ‘regulate’ can mean to require action, and nothing in the definition appears to limit that power only to those already active in relation to an interstate market.”

The Supreme Court can also find justification for the mandate in the Necessary and Proper Clause. In Gonzales v. Raich, the Supreme Court decided not to strike down a provision of law when that provision is an “essential part of a larger regulation of economic activity.” Justice Antonin Scalia explained in a concurring opinion that “where Congress has the authority to enact a regulation of interstate commerce, it possesses every power needed to make that regulation effective.”

Whole article at Think Progress: