Political News

The Free Press WV

Clinton shows big lead over Sanders: Poll

Hillary Clinton has increased her lead over Bernie Sanders in the wake of the first Democratic debate, now besting the Vermont senator by at least 20 points among Democratic primary voters, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

With Vice President Joe Biden included in NBC/WSJ poll of Democratic voters, Clinton now gets the backing of 49 percent of respondents, up from 42 percent last month. Sanders has sunk from 35 percent to 29 percent support.

Biden now garners 15 percent backing, down from 17 percent last month. No other Democratic candidate received more than two percent in the poll.

When Biden, who has not yet announced a presidential run, is eliminated from the hypothetical Democratic matchup, Clinton’s lead is 58 percent to Sanders’ 33 percent. In September, without Joe Biden in the race, her lead over Sanders was 53 percent to 38 percent.

Clinton won accolades for her strong performance in the first Democratic debate last week. She faces another major test on Thursday, when she will appear for testimony before the House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks.

Jim Webb withdraws from race for Democratic presidential nomination

Former Virginia senator Jim Webb announced Tuesday afternoon that he would no longer pursue the Democratic presidential nomination.

“More people in this country call themselves political independents than Republicans or Democrats. I happen to agree with them,“ Webb told reporters at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington.

“...I am withdrawing from any consideration of being the Democratic Party’s nominee for the presidency,“ he said. He added that he had not yet decided on his next move, but would weigh his options in the coming weeks. His campaign had said Monday he was weighing an independent bid.

The move further narrows a primary field that has been dominated by former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Webb, who served as the secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, entered the race in July with a heavy focus on foreign policy, highlighting his opposition to the Iraq War while criticizing the Obama administration’s military intervention in Libya and its nuclear negotiations with Iran. He was immediately seen as a long shot candidate but was believed to bring to the race a formative foreign policy voice to challenge Clinton, whose tenure at the State Department has remained at the heart of her White House bid.

But the former one-term senator struggled to raise interest in his candidacy over the three months since he launched his campaign, polling at 1 percent in the most recent Washington Post/ABC News survey and maintaining a scant campaign schedule, with few campaign events in early-voting states. His announcement follows an underwhelming performance at the first Democratic debate last week, where he was challenged for being out of step with the Democratic base on affirmative action and gun control.

“Actually, I believe that I am where the Democratic Party traditionally has been. The Democratic Party, and the reason I’ve decided to run as a Democrat, has been the party that gives people who otherwise have no voice in the corridors of power a voice,” Webb told CNN moderator Anderson Cooper when challenged on his concerns over extending affirmative action to all minorities.

His performance was panned by critics, who said he appeared unprepared for a tough line of questioning; the liberal magazine Mother Jones said he had “misse[d] his moment.“ A Saturday Night Live skit that aired days after the debate lampooned Webb’s frequent complaints to Cooper that he was not being given as much time to speak as other candidates – which ironically only further cut into the time he was given.

Webb’s departure from the field removes its only Vietnam veteran, a fact not lost on Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who’d known him even before he ran for Senate.

“I’ve always respected Jim Webb on national security and defense,“ said McCain. “He obviously has the credentials for the job, including Secretary of the Navy. I’ve been a great admirer of Jim Webb’s, for a lot of reasons, including the Vietnam War.“

According to McCain, Webb’s failure to get traction in the Democratic Party said something about who voted in primaries. “I don’t know if he ever had a base,“ said Webb. “Elizabeth Warren—she has a base. Sanders has a base. I’m not sure Jim Webb really had that, unless it was with defense-oriented people, and they’re more in the Republican Party.“

Gary Johnson, a two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, had an even rougher experience in the primaries than Webb. In 2011, he was locked out of all but two televised debates, a marginalization that contributed to his lack of traction. Shortly before the New Hampshire primary, he bolted the GOP for the Libertarian Party, and became the highest vote-getter in its history without making much of an impact on 2012. That experience gave him some pointers for Webb, if he indeed decides to mount a new bid.

“I didn’t go off and run as an independent,“ Johnson told the Washington Post. “I ran as a Libertarian where you have organization in place in every single state. I think he’s in for a rude awakening—perhaps he’s already taken this into account, but it may be an $8 million endeavor to get on all the ballots. In half the states, it’s easy to do; in the other half you need to put some real money behind it.“

Johnson, who has joined other third-party veterans in a lawsuit aimed at opening the presidential debates, said an independent campaign by Webb would struggle to get traction.

“I sure get his frustration with having served and not getting any airtime whatsoever,“ said Johnson. “Now, the parties are going to ignore him. They’re going to say he doesn’t make any difference whatsoever. That’s what happened with me.“

A Federal Election Commission financial disclosure filed last week also showed the Webb campaign had failed to raise the money necessary to run competitively for the nomination, particularly against Clinton and Sanders, who have already raised tens of millions of dollars.

For his part, Webb raised nearly $700,000 and spent nearly $400,000, according to the filing. He ended the quarter with just $318,000 cash on hand.

Here’s Why Carly Fiorina Is Fading Fast

A CNN poll out Tuesday has bad news for Carly Fiorina: In one month, she’s gone from 15% to 4% and slipped from second place into a tie for seventh. Her support seems to be cratering even as support for the other two “outsider” candidates, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, is rising. What’s going on? For one thing, the GOP hasn’t had a debate in weeks, and that’s where Fiorina has shined, writes David Graham at the Atlantic. She’s also struggled to get what Graham calls “earned media,“ or consistent attention in the press. “It’s also possible, though, that Fiorina’s support was never really there, that she was a paper tiger erected by the press,“ writes Graham. “She doesn’t seem to have a natural constituency, doesn’t have much establishment support, and doesn’t have the same mix of charisma and outlandish comments that has boosted Trump.“

At the Christian Science Monitor, Peter Grier writes that Fiorina has gone through a classic cycle of an underdog candidate—“discovery, scrutiny, and decline.“ Her performance in the debates got her discovered, but then negative headlines followed about her tenure as CEO at Hewlett-Packard and then over allegations that she exaggerated the content of Planned Parenthood videos. But here’s the upside for Fiorina backers: “The ‘decline’ part of the new candidate cycle does not have to be permanent,“ writes Grier. “Some hopefuls survive the scrutiny phase, take some lumps, and then rise again.“ Considering that Fiorina got a big fundraising bump during her rise in the polls and has $5.5 million on hand, she has a chance to do just that. Click for Grier’s full column, or for Graham’s.

Nixon Predicted Trudeau’s Rise 43 Years Ago

Richard Nixon predicted the result of Monday’s Canadian election 43 years in advance with accuracy that would be spooky if he hadn’t been talking about the prime minister’s baby son. “I’d like to toast the future prime minister of Canada: to Justin Pierre Trudeau,“ Nixon said at a state dinner in Ottawa in 1972, when the just-elected PM was just four months old, the CBC reports. “I hope he has the grace and skill of the president,“ then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau replied. The younger Trudeau won a huge victory in Monday’s election on a platform that included taking in more Syrian refugees, boosting infrastructure spending, and legalizing marijuana, the BBC reports.

How Trump Might Destroy Jeb Bush

If you followed political headlines over the last few days, you know that Donald Trump has been going after Jeb Bush by attacking his brother. After noting that 9/11 occurred on George W. Bush’s watch, Trump boasted that his policies would have prevented the attacks. Essentially blaming Bush for 9/11 is “laughable,“ but it’s also “brilliant politics,“ writes Ben White at CNBC. In a post at Vox, Ezra Klein has a similar take. Even if Trump doesn’t end up the nominee, “it’s increasingly clear he’s going to destroy Jeb Bush before he loses.“ Trump has realized that Bush’s biggest weakness is his brother, and he’s relentlessly piling on. On Twitter, Trump asked, “Jeb, why did your brother attack and destabalize the Middle East by attacking Iraq when there were no weapons of mass destruction? Bad info?“

Bush, meanwhile, is defending his brother while twisting himself in knots trying to answer questions like this one from CNN’s Jake Tapper regarding 9/11: “If your brother and his administration bear no responsibility at all, how do you then make the jump that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are responsible for what happened at Benghazi?“ Trump is reminding Republicans that if they choose Jeb Bush, they’ll have to answer questions like that one—and answer for George Bush’s polices—all through the general election, writes Klein. Click for his full column.

Is Paul Ryan Now Considering Speaker Of The House?

The Free Press WV

For weeks, Paul Ryan was adamant that he did not want to be Speaker of the House.  He had a sweet gig that he didn’t want to give up and he did not want to expose himself to all sorts of investigations and investigative reporting.

Per CBS News, Ryan has stopped playing hard to get and is now trying to negotiate an even sweeter deal with himself.  One thing is clear though, Ryan will not negotiate with terrorists, er, I mean the House Freedom Caucus:

After weeks of insisting he would not run for Speaker, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan - according to those close to him - is now open to leading the fractured Republican conference, and seriously considering launching a bid for speaker of the House.

But there’s a caveat. And it’s a big one.

Ryan’s confidants tell CBS News he will not horse trade with the House Freedom Caucus, a group of 40 or so deeply conservative members who have been demanding changes to House rules and other very specific promises from candidates for Speaker in exchange for their support. Ryan’s confidants say he is not going to negotiate for a job he never sought, and that he has a record of conservative leadership that should be clear to every member of the GOP conference.

They say Ryan hasn’t ruled out meeting with the House Freedom Caucus if asked, but “he’s not going to go to the Freedom Caucus and say, ‘I’ll do this and this’...otherwise you’ve sold yourself to them from the very beginning, and set yourself up for failure” said someone with knowledge of his deliberations.‘ “He still really, really does not want to do this. He has his dream job. If he’s Speaker, his whole career path changes. He’s not going to make concessions to get a job he didn’t want in the first place.“

Either members believe in his conservative leadership, or they don’t - and if Ryan concludes that he’s unlikely to get a near-unanimous vote of support from republicans, his allies say he is happy to stay exactly where he is as the chair of the House Ways and Means committee.

Hmmm, maybe Ryan was just stalling for time to cover up the paper trail of his investments and those of his wife.

The fact that some Republicans are worried that Ryan isn’t conservative enough is laughable and shows just how far to the fringe the GOP has gone.  A look at Ryan’s voting record shows that he would be the most far right wing nut job speaker in the past several decades.

No one is talking about what kinds of things Ryan is looking for in making his decision, but some possibilities include:

  • Changing the title to Speaker , Policy Wonk and Grand Poobah of the House
  • Free hunting and fishing licenses in all fifty states
  • A formal resolution that kissing fish is not strange
  • An unlimited per diem for expensive wines
  • Never having to speak to people that aren’t worth at least a million dollars

Whatever Ryan is holding out for, I hope it’s worth it to him because it’s going to cost him dearly in the end. Then again, it’s not the first time Ryan has shown that he has poor decision making skills.

~~  capper ~~

Democratic Debate on SNL

‘Tricks’ and ‘Treats’

Jeb Bush Offers Both ‘Tricks’ and ‘Treats’
The Free Press WV

Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush released a two-page policy outline for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Monday. Like many of the policy proposals offered by Bush, his plan to send Obamacare to the grave includes both “tricks” and “treats” that will leave many conservatives in his party unsatisfied.

Bush’s proposal includes a number of goodies for free-market health care advocates. First, Bush aims to end some of ACA’s highly unpopular mandates. “No employer mandate, no employee mandate, no mandated benefits,” promised Bush to a crowd of supporters in Iowa.

Second, Bush would hand back much of the regulatory power to the states, allowing each one to determine for itself the best way to tackle local health care concerns, including giving states the power to keep existing health insurance exchanges or remove them entirely. The plan also promises to put caps on federal payments to the states.

Third, Bush would help individuals without employer-based health insurance purchase health insurance plans by providing tax credits based on age – as opposed to an income-based credit – and expanding contribution limits for health savings accounts (HSAs) up to $6,550 for individuals, which Bush says could be used to cover growing out-of-pocket expenses. This would effectively double the current limit placed on HSAs today.

Fourth, the proposal, in vague terms, promises to enhance innovation, alter or replace regulations imposed on the health care industry by the Food and Drug Administration, require able-bodied Americans to work while receiving Medicaid, and limit damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Bush says the focus of his plan is to help every American afford a catastrophic health insurance plan and then let individuals determine how much more they would like to pay for additional benefits, a model many conservatives have espoused over the past six years.

Although Bush’s repeal and replace effort offers many positive reforms of the ghoulish Obamacare system that has kicked millions of Americans out of health insurance plans they liked and created countless regulatory nightmares that have kept small business owners up at night, there are many parts of Bush’s proposal that will likely frighten away conservative Republicans still looking to rally around one nominee in a crowded field of presidential contenders.

Bush’s plan would retain several important Obamacare provisions, including allowing children to remain on a parent’s health insurance plan until age 26. Bush would also keep Obamacare’s coverage guarantee provision for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

One part of Bush’s health care reform platform that’s sure to receive pushback from many conservatives is his plan to cap the value of the deduction allowed for high-quality employer-based insurance plans, essentially establishing a quasi-Cadillac tax, one part of Obamacare virtually all Republicans and many Democrats now oppose. However, Bush’s cap is much higher than the current, highly unpopular Cadillac tax threshold. The cap for individual plans would be $12,000 for individuals and $30,000 for families.

Bush’s plan, which will likely be revealed in greater detail over the next week, deserves praise for promoting innovation, removing onerous Obamacare regulations, and putting more power into the hands of states – precisely where it should be. However, Bush’s health care reform plan still leaves a lot to be desired.

Bush’s proposal doesn’t appear to offer the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, one of the most popular conservative reform ideas that’s already been suggested by many of his GOP competitors, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). Bush’s plan also fails to address the significant shortage of primary care doctors or the exploding debt held by medical students, both of which greatly contribute to rising health care costs.

Perhaps most importantly, Bush’s focus on government-created health insurance tax breaks is, as Jindal once said about similar proposals, “Obamacare lite.”

Although Bush’s plan does limit the role of the federal government in the health care industry compared to the monstrous, Frankenstein system put into place under the Affordable Care Act, it still maintains a great deal of centralized power for bureaucrats in Washington, DC, and it’s not difficult to imagine how Bush’s system could easily be transformed by future presidents into a system that closely resembles the disastrous one in place today.

Successful health care reform would fully embrace free-market principles, and Bush’s plan falls well short of that. It’s an improvement over Obama’s failed system, but it’s still a government-focused plan that refuses to exorcise the big-government demons that have prevented the United States from entering an era of unprecedented innovation that is well within the nation’s reach – but only if zombie bureaucrats and regulators get out of the way.

~~  Justin Haskins ~~

Political News

The Gilmer Free Press

Bush Picks on Trump’s Military Prowess in New Video

The middle-school-style Bush-Trump smackdown continues, this time with Jeb going on the offensive. After a Twitter squabble that started Friday—in which Trump blamed Jeb’s brother George W. for 9/11, Jeb called Donald “pathetic,“ and Trump made America great again by firing back, “No @JebBush, you’re pathetic”—Bush struck again Sunday, this time with a video. The GOP candidate posted a two-minute clip on Twitter, along with the accompanying tweets: “Our national security isn’t a reality TV show” and “@RealDonaldTrump’s absurd comments again raise questions on whether he possesses the judgment to be President.“

After pointing out that the POTUS is in charge of 4,650 warheads, the video uses what CNN dubs “circus music” in the background and features Trump making ill-informed statements about the military and other issues, including his diss of John McCain’s POW status. The clip also mentions how Trump wiggled out of going to Vietnam with deferments, showcases media criticism directed toward him, and throws in some Trump hyperbole such as “I will be so good at the military, your head will spin.“ There’s been no official comment from the Trump camp, though Donald did go back to haranguing Bush on Twitter Sunday morning and mentioned in a Fox News Sunday interview that 9/11 wouldn’t have happened on his watch since he’s “extremely, extremely tough on immigration” and there would’ve been a “good chance” the 9/11 attackers never made it into the US, per CNN.

Trump: I Would Have Prevented 9/11 Attacks

Donald Trump continued his recent attacks on the Bush family by implying today that he would have prevented the 9/11 attacks, CNN reports. The Republican presidential contender said on Fox News Sunday that he’s “extremely, extremely tough on immigration,“ which may have thwarted the 9/11 terrorists. “There’s a good chance that those people would not have been in our country,“ says Trump. (The Guardian, however, notes that all of the terrorists legally entered the US on tourist or business visas—except one, who used a student visa.) “I’m not blaming George Bush,“ adds Trump. “But I don’t want Jeb Bush to say, ‘My brother kept us safe,‘ because September 11 was one of the worst days in the history of this country.“ Cue the reactions:

  • “My brother responded to a crisis, and he did it as you would hope a president would do,“ says Jeb Bush on State of the Union. “He united the country, he organized our country and he kept us safe. ... And I don’t know why [Trump] keeps bringing this up.“
  • “I would probably ask [Trump] what he meant by that. I seriously doubt that he’s saying that—that George W. Bush is to blame for [9/11],“ says Carson, per ABC News. “I certainly—I certainly don’t think so.“

And Jeb recently fired back at Trump (who’s been attacking the Bush brothers on Twitter) with a video that mocks Trump as a foreign-policy lightweight while fanciful clarinet music plays in the background.

6-figure fundraising hauls for West Virginia’s 3 congressmen

CHARLESTON, WV — West Virginia’s three Republican congressmen each brought in six-figure fundraising hauls last quarter.

In campaign finance reports, Congressman Evan Jenkins raised $175,500 from July through September, the most out of West Virginia’s delegation. The 3rd Congressional District representative ended with $558,200 in his campaign account, and has no challenger for 2016 yet.

Congressman David McKinley raised $152,400 and had almost $408,000 in campaign cash on hand. Democrat Mike Manypenny, who is running against McKinley in the 1st District, has not filed campaign finance reports yet.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Alex Mooney raised $116,900 and had $257,400 left in his account. His GOP primary challenger, Ken Reed, raised $225 and had about $1,400 left.

In 2014, Reed put $525,000 of his own money into an unsuccessful 2nd District bid.

West Virginia attorney general’s hiring choice criticized

CHARLESTON, WV — West Virginia’s Republican attorney general has hired a veteran political operative for a new position as his deputy chief of staff, drawing criticism from Democrats.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey eliminated a job in his office’s consumer protection division to hire Lance James Henderson, 51, of Walla Walla, Washington. His salary is $99,500.

In 2014, Henderson worked for Maine Governor Paul LePage’s re-election campaign. For the past 25 years, he’s been a consultant to politicians on field operations and building voter databases.

On his online resume, Henderson lists his areas of expertise as “strategy, message and branding, management and organization, media relations, direct and digital marketing, fundraising, research and targeting.“

Henderson’s hiring was criticized by Democrats seeking Morrisey’s office and by party leaders.

“Hiring a political operative at a huge salary on the public’s nickel is an inexcusable breach of trust and ethics,“ said Chris Regan, vice chairman of the state Democratic Party. “Patrick Morrisey has hit a new low in diverting $100,000 in taxpayer money directly to his political campaign.“

Morrisey spokesman Anthony Martin said Henderson helps manage scheduling and communications at the Attorney General’s Office.

Asked about Morrisey’s elimination of a job to make room for Henderson, Martin said, “We have been, and continue to, actively recruit additional investigators for our office.“

Henderson did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

Henderson, who graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla with a degree in politics, started working in Morrisey’s office on September 08.

Attorney Tom Ewing announces State Senate campaign

LANSING – Local attorney Tom Ewing has announced the start of his Republican campaign for State Senate in the 10th District.

Ewing made the announcement of his first run for public office October 8 at Chetty’s Pub in Fayette County.

“I’m coming from a different perspective than the people that are currently there,” Ewing said.

Ewing plans to focus his campaign on three major issues: the economy, education, and drug abuse.

“The economy of West Virginia and particularly my county, Fayette County, have both been hit very, very hard,” Ewing said, pointing to recent news from the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research that reported West Virginia’s growth rate remains flat.

Ewing blamed the economic lag on failures in education.

“My kids go to public school in Fayette County, and the state has taken over the education system there. It has let us down. It’s time for them to get out of our way, and let us doing something, because our education system is in shambles.”

Tying West Virginia’s struggling economy and education system together, Ewing said, is it’s dire need for drug reform. As an attorney, Ewing said that he has been appointed to many abuse and neglect cases.

“Every one of those cases, some how, some way, has some kind of drug aspect to them. It’s ravaging our communities, and harming our children. And it ties the economic issues and education issues together – if somebody can’t pass a drug test, they can’t be employed. If we aren’t able to control [this problem], it doesn’t look good for our next generation,” said Ewing.

In order to address these problems, Ewing plans to give power to businesses and limit the role of the government.

“I think the important thing is listening to the businesses out here on the ground, and seeing that they need for success… the government doesn’t make jobs, the government costs private jobs. Its job is not to create jobs, but to create a level playing field,” said Ewing.

Ewing is a lifelong resident of Fayette County, leaving only to attend college and law school at Glenville State College and West Virginia University College, respectively. Formerly a certified teacher and coach for the Fayette County school system, Ewing is now an equity member of the law firm Kay Casto & Chaney, PLLC. He opened the firm’s Fayetteville branch in April of 2015 as the branch’s managing member. Ewing and his wife, Mindy, have been married for 16 years and have four children.

He said that his activity in ministry programs at the Sunday Road Baptist Church and the John A. Flournoy Youth Basketball league are what drove him to run for public office.

“It helps me to know the struggles of real people,” said Ewing. “Being involved in those organizations, helping kids and teaching them about life, you can help some. But you can help a whole lot more people in the position that I’m trying to get to, so that maybe those kids that I coach now stay around here and get involved in West Virginia’s community.

The election is set to take place on November 08, 2016. The 10th District includes Fayette, Summers, Monroe, and Greenbrier counties.

WV Legislative Update: Delegate Brent Boggs - Minority House Finance Chairman


For the first time this season, I’ve noticed numerous homes beginning to fire up the wood stoves and fireplaces to knock down the chill in the air the last several evenings.  I’m glad I keep an old coat in my work grip for evenings on the train when the sun drops behind the hills and the cold replaces the sunny October days.

This Sunday evening, I’m preparing for important interim meetings on Monday regarding education funding and a recent report that was requested by the Legislature, along with meetings of the Joint Committee on Government and Finance and the Finance Committee.  Current low energy prices are good from consumers but the State is now suffering from a major downturn in revenue that is hitting all state agencies, including public education.  Severance tax collection is estimated to continue well below projections.  With the Governor’s four percent cut to state agencies, including one percent to public education, some services will be at risk.

The rainy day fund has been tapped in the past in a very strategic way to not damage our state credit rating.  Now it seems the majority and Governor may have to dip more deeply than planned, along with reducing agency budgets.  And when budgets get reduced, loss of services.  As an energy producing state, it’s often feast or famine when prices rise and fall.

Of greatest concern is the recently announced massive cuts/increase in deductibles in PEIA benefits next year for both active and retired participants.  Since the funding surplus has been used to offset what would have been previous cuts and increases, the fund is down to the statutory levels that cannot be reduced further.  It will be a monumental task to find additional revenue at a time when the current leadership seems to be focused on tax cuts for big businesses.  That would not be good for working families, retirees and small businesses. 

Two years ago, as Finance Chairman, I signed a joint letter with Senator Prezioso commissioning a study of racing subsidies to the horse and dog racing industries.  While there are major differences between the two industries in terms of the number of jobs created, the greyhound industry creates by far the fewest jobs and receives approximately $45 million in state support.  It only generates a fraction of that amount in revenue.

As a result of the study we commissioned, and the current state of finances, it is time to revisit the issue and consider the most important places where these dollars can be used.

Road funding is drastically less than what is necessary to keep pace with our needs.  Jobs are not going to come in the numbers needed unless we drastically increase our college going and graduation rates.  We need a massive research program to find additional uses for coal that will boost production levels and increase employment.  And, the needs of our citizens for healthcare, senior programs and those for the aged and disabled are priorities that affect all West Virginians.

In the next few months leading up to the 2016 legislative session, answers to realigning our revenues and prioritizing legislative agendas will be paramount.  We cannot afford to devote valuable time on partisan political issues.  Instead, we need to have a session where we reach across the aisle to do what is best for our state and forgo scoring political points for the tomorrow’s news.  It’s time we learned from the gridlock lesson on Washington, DC and make a 180 degree turn from what’s going on there.  It’s time to work together for the citizens of our State.  Without that cooperation, we all loose and that should never be an option we’re willing to take.

In the interim, send your inquiries to my home office at:  151 Park Street, Gassaway, WV 26624; call 304.364.8411; or fax 304.364.8711.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my legislative e-mail address is:

You may also obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and leave me a message on the Legislature’s web site at  When leaving a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and the state government phone directory, may be found at Also, you may follow me on Facebook at “Brent Boggs”, Twitter at “@DelBrentBoggs” , as well as the WV Legislature’s Facebook page at “West Virginia Legislature” or on Twitter at

Continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Until next week – take care.

Political News

The Free Press WV

Points of view on airline industry’s lobbying agenda

The three U.S. legacy airlines — Delta, American and United — have been lobbying Congress and the administration to ward off competition from foreign airlines they say are heavily subsidized or use cheaper labor. At the same time, airlines are opposing Obama administration attempts to impose regulations aimed at protecting consumers. The carriers say they don’t see why the government should intervene on consumers’ behalf.

What people on both sides have to say:


“If the government let airlines run like any other business, that’s really what we’re looking for. Don’t impede us. Let us function and grow and be profitable and do the things that profitable companies do. How is that in conflict with customer or consumer protection?“ — Jean Medina, spokeswoman for the trade association Airlines for America.


“We’ve seen airlines trying to grow through mergers instead of competition because they’ve realized that if they try to grow through a merger it’s a much more effective and safer means of controlling gates and routes and fares than it is to try to go in and beat the other airline to death where you both lose money.“ — Joshua Schank, former president of the Eno Center for Transportation, a think tank.


“There are many airlines in the world that are subsidized, but when you look at the degree, the amount of subsidization from these two countries (United Arab Emirates and Qatar) to these three airlines (Emirates, Etihad and Qatar), it dwarfs anything else being done out there. The level of subsidization is actually distorting the market. It is not making it free, fair and level.“ — Tim Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association.


“What I think is at stake is basically the free market in aviation. ... Their agenda in Washington is really to eliminate comparison shopping and competition. A free market works by having open pricing and by having competition, and that allows comparison shopping.“ — Charlie Leocha, president of the consumer group Travelers United.


“Delta’s efforts alongside other U.S. airlines and airline labor groups on both the (Export-Import) bank and Gulf carrier issues are focused not on gaining government protection from competition, but on allowing healthy competition across borders free of government subsidy and distortion.“ — statement by Delta Air Lines.


Delta, American and United “don a fat necklace of garlic around their necks to ward off the government when it talks about consumer welfare and consumer protections. But they roll out the welcome mat for government efforts to block innovators and disruptors coming in to upset their cozy oligarchy.“ — John Byerly, a former State Department official who advises, but does not speak for, the Gulf carriers.

Government: No benefit hike for Social Security next year

WASHINGTON — Older Americans got a double dose of bad news Thursday: There will be no cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits next year, and Medicare bills are set to soar for many.

It’s just the third time in 40 years that Social Security payments will remain flat. All three times have come since 2010.

The annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, by law is based on a government measure of inflation that was released Thursday. Low gas prices — a boon to all Americans — are driving down consumer prices. Currently the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline is $2.30, about 90 cents less than it was a year ago, according to AAA.

Regardless of inflation, the lack of a COLA isn’t sitting well with many seniors, especially those on a fixed income.

“The price of food has gone up. (The) price of where you live has gone up unless you live in a government-assisted place. Where are you going to get the money to live on?“ said Susan Bradshaw, who lives in a retirement community in Atlanta.

The COLA announcement did bring some good tax-related news for high-income workers.

Social Security is financed by a 12.4 percent tax on wages up to $118,500, with half paid by workers and the other half paid by employers. The amount of wages subject to Social Security taxes usually goes up each year. But because there is no COLA, it will remain at $118,500.

But as far as benefits are concerned, the lack of a COLA will affect more than 70 million people, over one-fifth of the nation’s population. Almost 60 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security benefits. The average monthly payment is $1,224.

It will also trigger a spike in Medicare deductibles and premiums, though dozens of advocacy groups are lobbying Congress to prevent that.

Most Social Security recipients have their Medicare Part B premiums for outpatient care deducted directly from their Social Security payments, and the annual cost-of-living increase is usually enough to cover any rise in premiums. When that doesn’t happen, a long-standing federal “hold harmless” law protects the majority of beneficiaries from having their Social Security payments reduced.

But that leaves about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries on the hook for a premium increase that otherwise would be spread among all. Those who would pay the higher premiums include 2.8 million new beneficiaries, 1.6 million whose premiums aren’t deducted from their Social Security payments, and 3.1 million people with higher incomes.

Their premiums could jump by about $54 a month, to $159. Those with higher incomes could get bigger increases.

States also would feel a budget impact because they pay part of the Medicare premium for about 10 million low-income beneficiaries.

Also, all Medicare beneficiaries will see their Part B annual deductible for outpatient care jump by $76, to an estimated $223. The deductible is the annual amount patients pay before Medicare kicks in.

Senate Democrats, led by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, have introduced legislation that would freeze Medicare’s Part B premium and deductible for 2016, but its prospects are uncertain.

The White House, meanwhile, has said administration officials are exploring options to mitigate the increase in Medicare costs.

“The COLA announcement not only fails to reflect the actual health care and other expenditures of Social Security beneficiaries, but will actually contribute to a large increase in out-of-pocket health care costs for millions of Medicare enrollees,“ Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s executive vice president, said in a letter to lawmakers.

The COLA also affects benefits for about 4 million disabled veterans, 2.5 million federal retirees and their survivors, and more than 8 million people who get Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor. Many people who get SSI also receive Social Security.

Congress enacted automatic cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries in 1975, when inflation was high and there was a lot of pressure to regularly raise benefits. Since then, increases have averaged 4 percent a year.

But in the past decade, the COLA has been that big only once.

The cost-of-living adjustment is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W, a broad measure of consumer prices generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is calculated by comparing consumer prices in July, August and September each year with prices in the same three months from the previous year. If prices go up, benefits go up. If prices drop or stay flat, benefits stay the same.

The CPI-W numbers for September were released Thursday. The numbers show that gasoline prices are down by 30 percent from last year. Airfares have fallen by 5.9 percent and clothing prices are down by 1.3 percent.

But other prices are up. For example, medical care has risen by 2.4 percent, housing costs climbed by 3.2 percent and food prices were 1.6 percent higher.

Advocates say the government’s measure of inflation does not accurately reflect price increases in the goods and services that older people use.

“The CPI-W reflects the purchasing patterns of workers, many of whom are younger and healthier than most Social Security recipients,“ LeaMond said in her letter.

Duke won’t seek re-election in 2016

MARTINSBURG, WV –  State Delegate Walter Duke says he believes in term limits. That’s why the veteran lawmaker has decided he will not seek re-election in 2016.

The 68-year-old Republican had originally planned on serving only eight years in office when he was first elected to the house in 2002, but says after no one stepped up to run in 2008, he re-evaluated his position.

“I decided that, well, maybe 12 years would be better,” Duke said. “That would be four senate terms or six house terms.”

Duke (R, Berkeley) was defeated in 2012 by Democrat Jason Barrett, but regained the seat in last fall’s general election.

The retired teacher was part of the group that made reforms to the state school aid formula that Duke says while not perfect, did end up benefiting county school systems.

“Every county did get more money for education as a result of those reforms than they would have without those reforms,” he said.

Duke joins Eastern Panhandle lawmaker Herb Snyder, who announced he would not be running to retain his 16th District Senate seat next year.

Trump May Not Show Up at Next GOP Debate

Republican presidential front-runner and ratings magnet Donald Trump is threatening to bail on the next GOP debate if his demands for format changes aren’t met, the New York Times reports. According to the Hill, Trump was upset about CNN’s three-hour Republican debate and doesn’t want a repeat at CNBC’s upcoming October 28 debate, which currently has no set running length. “Why is the @GOP being asked to do a debate that is so much longer than the just-aired and very boring #DemDebate?“ Trump tweeted Thursday. He claims the lack of a set run time is just a ploy by CNBC to sell more commercials. The Hill reports Trump helped bring record ratings to the debates on Fox News and CNN, whom he said should send him flowers and a thank-you note.

But it’s not just Trump complaining about the CNBC debate. Ben Carson joined Trump in threatening a boycott if the debate runs more than two hours, CNN reports, and the Times reports aides for Carson, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Huckabee all raised concerns—largely about the plan to do away with opening and closing remarks—during conference calls with the Republican National Committee Wednesday and Thursday. “If we don’t have opening and closing statements, CNBC can go f—- themselves,“ Politico cites Rand Paul aide Chris LaCivita saying during the Thursday call. A representative of the poorly polling Lindsey Graham reportedly said his candidate would be more than happy to take the place of anyone who bows out of the debate.

Clinton ‘Looking Hard’ at Castro for VP

Clinton-Castro 2016? Hillary Clinton was in San Antonio on Thursday for a “Latinos for Hillary” rally and she told reporters that she was seriously considering Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro as a potential running mate, Reuters reports. At the rally, the former San Antonio mayor gave Clinton his endorsement, saying she is someone who “appeals to Americans of all backgrounds and colors, different perspectives, and walks of life,“ and that “she has always, always been there for us, and today we’re here for her.“ Asked if she might pick the 41-year-old for VP, Clinton said, “I am going to look really hard at him for anything, because that’s how good he is.“

Castro is the second member of President Obama’s Cabinet, after Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, to endorse Clinton, Reuters notes. “Now that the campaign is getting into gear, I felt like it was time,“ Castro tells the New York Times. The San Antonio event is part of a Clinton push to register more Latino voters, reports the Times, which notes that Clinton registered Latino voters in the area as an organizer for George McGovern’s 1972 campaign. “I was a blond girl from Chicago. I hardly knew a word of Spanish, but I drove around South Texas and the Valley,“ she told the rally. “I made friends of a lifetime, so for me this is personal.“

5 Big Reveals About 2016 Candidates’ Finances

The latest campaign fundraising and spending reports are in and they reveal a lot about which campaigns are richer or poorer—and which are in sickness or health. Some highlights from the July-September reports:

  1. Donald Trump is no longer self-funding. According to the latest reports, Trump only had to spend $100,000 of his own money during the quarter despite expenses that ran into the millions, the Hill reports. He hasn’t been holding fundraisers, but his campaign says it took in $3.9 million from “73,942 unsolicited donations during this time period with an average contribution of $50.46.“
  2. Bobby Jindal is running low on cash. He had to dip into reserves over the summer and started October with just $261,000, reports Politico, which has a full rundown of the campaign filings. “This is an election, not an auction,“ a spokeswoman says. “We are tied for fifth right now in Iowa and plan to win it on February 1st.“ The other two governors in the GOP race, John Kasich and Chris Christie, have more money than Jindal but a lot less than most of their rivals, the AP reports.
  3. Democratic candidates are raising funds a lot faster than their Republican counterparts. Between them, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders started October with around $60 million in the bank—about as much as all 15 GOP hopefuls put together, reports the Washington Post. GOP-allied super PACs, however, are believed to have a lot more money than Democratic ones, though they’re not required to file financial reports until January.
  4. Ben Carson is the GOP’s top fundraiser. The campaign filings show that he raised $20.1 million over the period, while second-place fundraiser Jeb Bush took in $13.4 million, reports the AP. Ted Cruz came in third with a haul of $12.2 million, most of which has yet to be spent.
  5. GOP dropouts Scott Walker and Rick Perry ran out of cash. Perry spent more than $1 million during the filing period but raised only $252,000, the Washington Post reports. Walker raised $7.4 million during the same period, but he spent it quickly and had less than $1 million when he left the race, according to the AP.

Sanders Rejects Donation From Price-Hiking Drug CEO

The nation’s most notorious drug CEO tried to give Bernie Sanders a $2,700 campaign donation—but Sanders is giving it to a clinic instead, reports the Boston Globe. Martin Shkreli, whose Turing Pharmaceuticals >made headlines for raising the price of a drug 5,000%, gave the Sanders campaign the maximum individual contribution in the hopes of getting a private meeting to give his side of the story to Sanders in person. “We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed,“ says a campaign spokesman. Instead, the money will go to an HIV clinic in DC known as Whitman-Walker, reports Mediaite, which notes that the drug whose price was raised astronomically is commonly used to treat HIV patients who are suffering from the parasitic infection toxoplasmosis.

Shkreli had made no secret of his support and contribution to Sanders, even tweeting about it during Tuesday’s debate (“Damn @BernieSanders is my boy…“)—even though Sanders has gone after Big Pharma in general and Shkreli in particular. His tweeting (Shkreli tried to engage Hillary Clinton, too) apparently drew the campaign’s attention to the money, however, which had initially accepted it. “I think it’s cheap to use one person’s action as a platform without kind of talking to that person,“ Shkreli tells the Globe. “He’ll take my money, but he won’t engage with me for five minutes to understand this issue better.“

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