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James Pindell - Would Ayotte run for Senate & VP at same time?

Some U.S. senators, like Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, have to weigh their home state laws preventing them from running for both president and re-election to the Senate in 2016. If that year it comes to U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte getting tapped as the Republican vice presidential nominee next year, only politics will stop her.

Ayotte as a potential vice presidential candidate continues to be the talk of Washington and Republican donor circles. In fact, a recent gathering of major Republican donors in New York drew four big name potential presidential candidates. Ayotte was also there as the only person the crowd heard from who could be the vice presidential pick.

The New Hampshire Secretary of State's office said this week there is legally nothing blocking Ayotte from running for Senate and vice president on the same ballot next fall. In fact, the idea of someone running for two different positions on the same ballot is hardly new. The late North Country icon Ray Burton spent decades running and winning seats on the state's Executive Council and the Grafton County Commission.

So logistically Ayotte might be fine, but maybe not politically. Consider the case of Joe Biden. In 2008, Biden was on the fall ballot running for re-election to his Senate seat and as the vice presidential nominee to Barack Obama. Logistically it is the same situation Ayotte would face. Politically it is another world.

That year Biden beat his opponent by 30 percentage points. Ayotte is likely to be seeking re-election in one of the most competitive campaigns in the entire country.

Just consider the very real choices she would have to make were she to continue running for re-election and run as the vice presidential candidate:

Would Ayotte participate at a New Hampshire Senate debate? Would she spend more time raising money for her campaign or for the national campaign? What happens if the Republican presidential nominee has a position on an issue that is unpopular in the Granite State? If she says no to any of the questions above could it make the difference in her not getting re-elected and what would that say?

Threading the political needle could make it impossible for Ayotte to be picked as the 2016 running mate. Republicans are considering holding their national convention in June 2016. The convention could either be during or immediately after the New Hampshire candidate filing period. Ayotte could sign up to run and if she doesn't face a primary, she could drop her bid for re-election and Republicans could name someone else to run. If she faces even a token primary for someone random this scenario wouldn't work.

But for the sake of argument let's suppose it did work and Ayotte removed her name from the ballot. (And there is a serious question as to whether she would legally be able to do that.) If Republicans found a new candidate — let's call that person Scott Brown — he would have to immediately raise funds from scratch for a five-month sprint to the November election. This scenario would be wild for political observers, but it would also put Republicans at a major disadvantage.

This disadvantage is so great that could be make the whole Ayotte for VP thing a nonstarter idea for incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Republicans will only have a 54-seat majority in the next session. There isn't a large margin for error for Republicans to keep the Senate in 2016. McConnell probably believes that Ayotte is the best candidate to win in New Hampshire and doesn't want anything to jeopardize that.

Being tapped for vice president is something that would not happen for another year and isn't in Ayotte's control. What she can control, however, is increasing her profile and finding a good Republican candidate for governor.

After all, she if wins the jackpot and wins both re-election and becomes vice president, she'll want a Republican governor to pick her replacement in the Senate.

(James Pindell covers politics for WMUR. You can see his breaking news and analysis at WMUR.com/politicalscoop and on WMUR-TV.)

Last Updated on Monday, 15 December 2014 10:30

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Pat Buchanan - An honest liberal

Brought before a House inquisition, MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber burbled a recantation of his beliefs about how that triumph of liberalism had been achieved.

Yet, something needs to be said in defense of Gruber. For while he groveled and confessed to the sin of arrogance, what this Ivy League con artist boasted about rings true.

Here, Gruber explained, is how we got Obamacare passed: "This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure (the Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay? ...

"Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever ... that was really, really critical to get the thing to pass. Look, I wish ... we could make it all transparent, but I'd rather have this law than not. ...

"(I)f you had a law which explicitly said that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed."

Call it the new candor. Yet, is Gruber not right on almost all counts?

The "tortured way" the bill was written led a narrowly divided Supreme Court to uphold the act. As for the "lack of transparency," did not Speaker Pelosi, midwife to Obamacare, say, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."

Under Obamacare, "healthy people pay in and sick people get money." Is that not true? Is it not true that had Obama and his party been honest like Gruber — that this was another rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul wealth transfer scheme — Democrats could not have passed it?

"Look, I wish ... we could make it all transparent," said Gruber, "but I'd rather have this law than not."

Gruber is saying that, though the selling of Obamacare required obfuscation and deceit, it was worth it! We got Obamacare!

Liberals are beating up on Gruber for spilling state secrets.

And what did Gruber do that Obama himself did not do? For the most persuasive lie in selling Obamacare was the one Obama told again and again: "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan."

Indispensable to running the Big Con, said Jonathan, was "the stupidity of the American voter."

Here Gruber was wrong. The American people are not lacking in intelligence, but they are trusting, often lacking in knowledge, and they do rely on elected representatives to read and understand those thousand-page bills in Congress. And their faith is often misplaced.
Bottom line: Gruber & Co. won; America lost. Though the nation did not discover how badly it had been swindled until Obamacare began to be implemented.

The victory of Obamacare raises a question addressed by this writer 40 years ago in "Conservative Votes, Liberal Victories."

Why, even when conservatives win elections, does the nation continue to move inexorably leftward? As a friend from that era wrote me recently, other than our victory in the Cold War, what do we conservatives have to show for all of our political victories?

In the half century since 1964, the GOP won the White House in seven of 12 elections. Since 1994, the GOP has won more off-year elections than it has lost, including the major wins in 2010 and 2014.

Republican strength on Capitol Hill today rivals that of the 80th Congress of 1946, and the dominance the party enjoyed in the 1920s. Yet, from past disappointments, current hopes and expectations are not high.

What is it that pushes the nation leftward even when conservatives win at the ballot box? The permanent powers and the deep state.

While there are conservative enclaves within the major media, they are few. Our mammoth bureaucracy — 22 million municipal, county, state and federal employees — has a vital interest in the preservation and growth of government.

Add up the beneficiaries of all social programs, and the number now approaches 100 million. They don't tend to stay committed to folks who will take away what they have come to depend upon.

Higher education is dominated by tenured leftists and radicals. The Ivy League is "No Conservative Need Apply" country.

Our popular culture, from movies to music to TV, is dominated by the left. Conservatives in Hollywood meet in catacombs.

There are conservative judges and justices on the courts, but few counter-revolutionaries. The decisions that come down either advance or confirm decisions handed down half a century ago by the Warren Court.

Yet, as Herb Stein observed, "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop." From Illinois to Puerto Rico to France, Italy and Greece, debt-ridden Western social welfare states seem to be coming to the end of the line.

Like the shepherd boy in Aesop's fable, the right has often cried, "Wolf!" This time, the kid may be right.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Sanborn — Winni Waterfront Sales Report November 2014

There were only six single family waterfront transactions on Lake Winnipesaukee in November of 2014 at an average sales price of $1,353,467 and a median price point of $842,900. That brings the total number of waterfront sales this year on Winnipesaukee to 114 at an average price of $1,090,655. For the eleven months in 2013, we posted 130 sales at an average of $950,496. At this point it would take a miracle to tie last year's total of 134 sales as there are just 18 properties pending or contingent on the lake and they aren't all going to close right away.

The entry level sale, yet again, was an island get-a-way. This home, called the Owl's Nest, is at 291 Cow Island in Tuftonboro and is a 1995 vintage, 1,424 square foot cottage that also has a 12' x 15' bunkhouse. The cottage has a light, bright decor, a fully applianced kitchen with a breakfast island, a living room with cathedral ceilings, wood stove, and an entire wall of sliders that lead out to the composite deck, a full bath, and a first floor bedroom plus two up. There are five decks on different levels from which to view the lake.This house sits on a 4 acre lot with 105' of frontage and a 30' dock. The home was fully furnished and ready to go. Too bad they'll have to wait until spring to enjoy a dip in the lake. This property was listed by Rick Edson of Big Lake Realty, LLC. It was listed for $264,900 and sold for $250,000. The current tax assessment is $326,800.

On the high end of the spectrum, the largest sale for the month was at 197-199 Kingswood Road in Wolfeboro. This 5,500 square foot luxurious residence was constructed in 2003 on a level 2.33 acre lot with 262 feet of frontage with two sandy beaches. The home has 15 rooms, four bedrooms including a first floor master suite, three and a half baths, in-law quarters and kitchen, library, family room, three fireplaces, and a two car garage. Off course the house has great lake views from practically every room and is protected from heavy boat traffic and weather by Grant Island. This property was listed and sold by Adam Dow of Keller Williams Lakes and Mountains in Wolfeboro who had been working with the buyers and knew the property would be available. It was sold for $3.275 million. It is currently assessed for $3.178 million.

Unfortunately, there were no waterfront sales on Winnisquam during the month of November. But don't despair, the serious waterfront buyers are out there looking right now for a little piece of the Lakes Region for themselves for next season. It is never a bad time to own or sell waterfront property in the Lakes Region!

P​ease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 12/10/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012

Last Updated on Friday, 12 December 2014 09:42

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James Pindell - The most important relationship in Concord

CONCORD — Now what will we tell fourth-graders when they visit the statehouse?

For decades tour guides have pointed out to endless groups of fourth-graders who visit the statehouse on field trips the House chamber, the Senate chamber and the governor's office. These guides said that important things happened in those rooms.

Someone should brief the New Hampshire state house tour guides that things have changed.

When the election results came in there appeared to be an interesting, but elementary dynamic of the state house. All legislation would need to somehow get support from three equally strong elements: a Republican-dominated House, a Republican-dominated Senate and a Democratic governor. Power in all three rooms mattered.

This changed last Wednesday when the New Hampshire House fell into all-out civil war among House Republicans. Instead of choosing the expected path, they ended up with Hudson Republican Shawn Jasper as House speaker instead of Mont Vernon Republican Bill O'Brien. By rejecting O'Brien's return to the gavel, the House created new infighting divisions that render the House such a hot mess it is irrelevant on larger policy issues. House votes on issues like the budget obviously matter, but the House won't be driving any policy issues.

This means that the most important relationship in Concord is the one between Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan and Senate President Chuck Morse.

That duo and their deputies will decide what does and doesn't happen in state government this year. Will the state legalize marijuana? Will the death penalty be repealed? Will the university system get more money? All these questions are basically answered with where Morse and Hassan stand on the issues.

Probably the two biggest results of the House out of the picture this week could be on casino gambling and on reauthorizing Medicaid expansion. If O'Brien had become speaker he was open to doing the first and deeply against doing the second. He would whip votes and shape legislation to conform to his wants. A powerless Speaker Jasper may try to do the same things, but it is unclear if a majority of any sort will follow his lead.

To be sure, Jasper is trying to change this by developing his own power center. He is an 11-term veteran of the House and served in his party's leadership last session. He understands the ways of Concord.

But power exists with leaders who have the power to implement. Right now there are only two people with the power to follow through on their words: Morse and Hassan.

State House guides would be smart to just skip showing the House side of the building. What they see inside there might not be appropriate for children to see anyway.

(James Pindell covers politics for WMUR. You can see his breaking news and analysis at WMUR.com/political scoop and on WMUR-TV.)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 December 2014 09:37

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Henry D. Lipman & Andy Patterson - Spreading inaccurate info about Critical Care Hospitals is harmful to patients and the community

A recent New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) story by reporter Jack Rodolico, "Lack of Transparency Leaves Some Medicare Patients in Dark at Half of N.H.'s Hospitals," was picked up by a local writer to the editor of the Laconia Daily Sun. As in the NHPR story, the author misses the mark on the value that New Hampshire's Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) provide to the patients and communities they serve, and encourages unfortunately the spread of information that is inaccurate.
Quoting from a recent blog of the N.H. Hospital Association President Steve Ahnen . . ."(a)ll of New Hampshire's hospitals, including our 13 CAHs, take very seriously their responsibilities in sharing information with their patients about their hospital bills and the patient's portion of that bill. The story further misses the point by implying that CAHs get reimbursed anything more than the actual cost of care. They do not. The final payment received by a CAH is a reflection of their allowable costs that are paid by Medicare and the beneficiary. The story further implies that those Medicare beneficiaries without supplemental insurance don't get substantial financial assistance for what they can't afford. " (for the full blog, see http://www.nhha.org/index.php/blog/1157-nhpr-story-misses-the-mark-on-the-value-of-new-hampshire-s-critical-access-hospitals)
Here are five key points:
1. The financial difference to the patient cited in the letter and story is only for those who don't have secondary/supplemental insurance. Statewide that applies to about 26,000 people according to the NHPR story; that is out of an estimated 231,444 Medicare beneficiaries (http://kff.org/medicare/state-indicator/total-medicare-beneficiaries/).
2. The reality is that most of those who can't afford secondary/supplemental insurance get help from hospitals, including CAHs, in the form of charitable care or they don't pay. Medicare patients who don't have secondary/supplemental insurance in actuality pay Franklin Regional Hospital $0.07 on a dollar of the charges, a figure we suspect is similar for most of N.H. CAHs.
3. By federal statute and via audit by the Federal Government, a CAH's reimbursement is limited to cost; CAHs can't, and don't, inflate billing to get more than their actual cost.
4. A patient might wrongly infer from the billing accusations that they should avoid seeking care from a CAH. If people delay or avoid treatment, it can have greater costs to themselves and society in the form of greater illness, injury or even shorter lifespan.
In the Federal Government's budget, the funds spent on the CAH program are minimal, compared to the overall Medicare budget, but the benefits to rural communities are substantial by ensuring access to high quality of care for their residents.
No comprehensive research has been has been done to date that would support the potential savings to the government of eliminating the CAH program without negatively impacting our rural communities. The CAH program has ensured continued necessary hospital-level services to rural communities throughout the country and it is a program that should be maintained into the future.

5. Franklin Regional Hospital and Lakes Region General Hospital have a staff member dedicated to provide written price estimates for services that we will guarantee within a narrow range. Moreover, we have multiple staff to help patients obtain financial assistance readily for those patients who need help with covering the cost of their care.
In closing, we as a community (quoting from the N.H. Hospital Association's President Steve Ahnen's blog post) ". . . can't expect rural access without the real cost of care coming from a combination of payment from Medicare and beneficiaries. The allocation between the two is the real public policy issue." And we welcome the opportunity to find solutions that address concerns of patients and that protect access to care in our rural communities.
Moreover, we would submit that for our regions' Medicare beneficiaries, assuring and preserving that the right care at the right time and the right place is available is the more substantive issue to the vast majority of Medicare beneficiaries both in terms of their health and finances.
The community at large should also see the CAH program as an important source of economic development to attract businesses and industry to open or relocate to New Hampshire.
Please spread this important information!

(Henry D. Lipman is chair of the New Hampshire Hospital Association and senior vice president for Financial Strategy and External Relations at LRGHealthcare in Laconia; Andy Patterson is senior vice president of Provider Relations and Contracting and executive director of the Laconia Clinic.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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