Sen. Ayotte covers range of fiscal issues at forum in Laconia

LACONIA — The sustainability of the U.S. Postal Service, the growth of the federal deficit, "Obama Care," and even the Financial Resources Management Inc. Ponzi-scheme were on the minds of the nearly 35 people who attended a town-hall style forum yesterday with U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

Ayotte, a Republican, began her program with a PowerPoint presentation about the issues that most concern her — the federal deficit and more recently, her efforts to find alternative savings to pay for an extension of federal unemployment benefits and repeal cuts to military retirement cost-of-living increases for military retirees and their survivors."

"Service members stand to lose thousands in retirement," Ayotte said. "I could not support this."

Ayotte said COLAs to other government retirees were also cut. However, all of those currently in the system are "grandfathered" except the military.

To this end, Ayotte told the audience at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post she has sponsored a bill that would repeal the $6-billion cut in military retirement benefits.

Her bill also proposes that illegal immigrants would be prevented from using child credits unless they can produce valid Social Security numbers.

She claimed there is a "massive fraud" being perpetrated by illegal immigrants who are listing children that aren't in the United States and that may not exist at all as eligible for the child credit.

"Frankly, we should fix this no matter what," she said, voicing her exasperation about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., not even allowing a vote on the matter.

To address the issues raised by the Affordable Care Act — or "Obama Care" — Ayotte she said she is concerned that New Hampshire has only one insurer and that 10 of 26 New Hampshire hospitals are excluded from the exchange, meaning that many people will no longer have access to their current physicians.

She said she voted against it initially and has sponsored or signed on to a number of bills to fix it that range from a complete repeal to reworking portions of the existing bill.

Answering one man's questions, she said she has been having trouble at the state level getting information about the demographics of the people who are signing up for federal health care and worries that a lack of young, healthy people will not provided enough balance the risk pool to make the program sustainable.

She also said much of the health care law is financed by taxes on medical devises that will affect nearly every American in some way.

Responding to questions from the audience, she said the U.S. Post Office has to have the authority to run the organization like a business. She sits on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that oversees the U.S. Postal Service.

She offered her sympathy to one of the victims of the FRM Ponzi-scheme collapse, agreeing in part that the goal of bankruptcy is to protect the victims and not for the trustees, or bankruptcy lawyers, to benefit to a degree greater than the victims.

She took the name of a man who was having some physical problems who was seemingly falling through the health care cracks and told a local man who was concerned about the recent farm bill that she didn't support it as it was written because it gives too many subsidies to wealthy farmers and not enough attention to small dairy farmers like those in New Hampshire.

To one man who feared President Barack Obama was going to issue an executive order requiring registration of all firearms, Ayotte said she was pretty sure that he didn't have that power.

When the man asked her if she would advise gun advocates to disobey any executive order, she said it wouldn't come to that and an emergency injunction would be the remedy. She said she wouldn't support breaking a law simply because someone disagreed with it.