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NY-26 aftermath: Paul Ryan unravels on Moanin’ Joe

7:25 am in Uncategorized by Cliff Weathers

On Morning Joe this a.m, Congressman Paul Ryan seemed manic, defensive, and vexed. His frustration, anger, and paranoia were palpable. Those hypnotic blue eyes are now puffy and red from exhaustion. Dare I say that Ryan’s beginning to look disheveled? He couldn’t stay on message while he continued to drone on about the GOP’s “premium support” Medicare plan, but he’s beginning to sound like a hostage reading his own ransom demand.

In the segment, it seems that Ryan is trying to recast his message. His new plan is to tie his Medicare plan to the Brookings Institution and Bill Clinton’s health care task force. That’s right, Ryan is saying it was the liberals idea all along. Unfortunately Ryan’s plan doesn’t come close to resembling the “Premium Support” espoused by Brookings. In fact, Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution denies the similarities and even exposes Ryan’s plan as not being premium support at all, but smoke and mirrors.

And while the public may not be able to articulate it, they know that it’s odd for the Republicans to want to disassemble the Affordable Health Care act, only to turn around and try to create market-based exchanges for the elderly and poor. The public also knows that they will rely on health care services extensively in the final few years of their life, and probably even more in those final days. So, if you’re throwing your seniors out into the private-sector marketplace, you know that the health insurance companies will do whatever it takes not to enroll these people. It’s not very profitable to be stuck with the sick and dying after all.

Aaron pulls no punches when talking about the GOP’s health-care initiative:

There’s one provision of the Ryan bill that stands out as being hands-down the worst, and that is giving the seniors who are poor enough to also be on Medicaid a medical savings account. Does he know who these people are? They’re very sick, they’re very poor and many of them have cognitive as well as physical problems. They would be asked to cope with the inevitable headaches of dealing with private insurance and managing a personal checking account to pay periodic bills. This is not a sensible proposal.

No, not sensible at all and not what the Brookings Institution originally prescribed, it seems.

Ryan’s primary goal has not been for properly caring for the elderly, but to confuse the public mind and create yet another giveaway to the bloated health insurance behemoths. It has been to reduce the financial security of the middle class, while insuring the financial security of corporations.

However, yesterday’s vote clearly shows that a majority of Americans have seen through his charade. And now you are seeing one of the greatest political meltdowns since Joe McCarthy was called out by Joseph Nye Welch during his communist witch hunt.

If the Democratic Party plays it smart, it will ride this message until November 2012.

GOP Congresswoman Gets Sham Award From Big Pharma Front Organization

11:17 am in Uncategorized by Cliff Weathers

Nan Hayworth‘s office sent out a press release on Thursday that included a picture of the Congresswoman receiving an award beneath a sign saying, “Senior Citizens Thank You For Protecting Medicare and Social Security.” It appeared to be a perfect photo opportunity for Hayworth, being honored by a group known as the “60 Plus Association” for legislating in their best interests.

But there are two big problems with this picture. First, Nan Hayworth just voted to kill Medicare, if you’re one of the few that has forgotten. And second, the 60 Plus Association is not a senior citizen’s group at all, it’s just a front organization for the pharmaceutical industry. This is a crass attempt by Hayworth to once again deceive her constituents, particularly the elderly.

Back in 2003, the AARP Bulletin recognized 60 Plus as a front group for Big Pharma. The publication claimed that the organization wasn’t even receiving membership dues from seniors at the time and that “virtually all of their largest contributions in recent years have come from the same source—the nation’s pharmaceutical industry.

The Bulletin revealed that 60 Plus was well funded by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Citizens for Better Medicare, and four pharmaceutical companies, Hanwha International, Merck, Pfizer, and Wyeth-Ayerst. Currently, as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization may legally accept corporate donations, but is not required to disclose its funding sources, which it doesn’t.

60 Plus has also been a favorite cause in among Beltway conservatives. Lobbyist, Republican operative, and convicted felon Jack Abramoff once instructed an Indian tribe he represented to contribute to 60 Plus. Abramoff told the tribe that a donation would help it get support among GOP leadership for its legislative causes.

Since its inception, the 60 Plus Association has had the back of Big Pharma, helping the industry with mass mailings, press releases, and lobbying efforts. It was one of three industry-backed associations that backed the infamous “astroturf” issue ads of Citizens for Better Medicare (another drug industry front group) during the 2000 elections.

Also notable was 60 Plus’s support of lawsuit by PhRMA against the state of Maine, in their issuance of a “friend of the court” brief. PhRMA sued to stop the State from implementing Maine Rx, a law that reduces prices for Medicare drugs by enabling the state to offer discounted prescription drugs to the working poor and elderly through bulk purchases from manufacturers. The trial ultimately went to the Supreme Court, which eventually allowed Maine to implement the trail-blazing program.
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NY-19: Hayworth’s Campaign to Answer Fraud Charges

4:24 am in Uncategorized by Cliff Weathers

Explosive news comes out of New York’s Lower Hudson Valley, where the campaign of a GOP congressional candidate hoping to face Rep. John Hall in November is tainted with allegations of fraud.

Republican candidate Nan Hayworth’s campaign manager, John Hicks, will soon appear in New York Supreme Court on charges that notaries used by the campaign engaged in a petition campaign drenched with fraud. Hicks, along with 10 other of Hayworth’s notary publics, are currently being served subpoenas.

Hicks, the manager of the GOP hopeful in New York’s 19th Congressional District, is scheduled to appear in court on September 25. At question are petitions carried by Hayworth’s notaries for the Independence Party, a minor New York party. Petitions must either be carried by members of the party or by notaries, public servants appointed by state government to witness the signing of important documents and administer oaths. Typically, notaries are used for signature gathering because of a scarcity of party members willing to carry petition sheets.

Petitioning is often problematic, even when carried out for major parties. But using notaries for minor, or fusion, parties is meant to reduce errors and petition mishandling. Importantly, notaries must swear in each person before they sign a petition sheet. So, problems like repeated names or dubious identifying information on petition sheets are quite rare and often easily spotted as deception.

Hayworth’s Independence Party petition seems to have obvious problems, with more than 250 signatures being thrown out at the Board of Elections. But the charges brought to the court seek to demonstrate Hayworth’s notaries consistently perpetrated fraud when gathering signatures.

For example, one allegation submitted to the court tells of a notary who signed her name at the bottom of petition pages, but she was not identifiable by those that signed the petitions later. Multiple signers, in fact, claim that a solitary male collected their signatures instead,. If this notary had not been present when the signatures were collected, fraud was committed.

The notary section on a petition page is a written legal declaration. The document must not only attest to the identity of those signing it, but the identity of the person carrying the petition. It is also required that notaries not just identify petition signers, but witness that signers wish for the candidate to be the party’s nominee, thus they are sworn in. Notaries who have violated this process are found to have committed fraud.

Hicks is a notary himself and his petitions among those alleged to contain fraud. Affidavits have been collected that specifically showing wrongdoing by him.

Staff for Hall, the Democratic incumbent from the 19th Congressional District, discovered the alleged fraud and they released a press release this morning:

“These charges are very serious. The Hayworth Campaign has systemically committed fraud during their Independence Party petition process,” Said John Hall Campaign Manager Patrick McGarrity. “What is even worse than Hayworth notaries committing fraud is their Campaign Manager training them to do so. This devious attempt to fraudulently obtain the Independence Party ballot line is both morally reprehensible and illegal.”

“A State licensed notary committing fraud is a betrayal of the public trust,” said Attorney Josh Ehrlich, who represents the Plaintiffs as well as the John Hall for Congress Campaign. “John Hicks is an experienced Attorney and Political Operative who thoroughly understands the petition process. It’s a shame he is using that knowledge and experience to commit fraud rather than run a clean campaign.”

According to New York State Law, a notary public who practices fraud by issuing a document knowing that it contains a false statement or false information is guilty of a Class E Felony and may be imprisoned up to 4 years.

Hayworth, a retired Mt. Kisco physician with no previous political experience, still faces a primary challenge against Wall Street compliance officer Neal Di Carlo. In a twist of irony, Hayworth had implied Di Carlo’s campaign mishandled petitions. On a July 27 posting on her Facebook page, Hayworth responded to a query on her campaign’s attempt to challenge Di Carlo’s petitions and disqualify him from a September 14 primary:

…our volunteers followed the rules, and it’s fair to ask that everyone follow those rules.

Hayworth remains on the Independence line.

This diary is crossposted at Left of the Hudson.