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Laughable outrage: NH Dem, GOP attacks backfire

December 21. 2013 7:41PM

Politics these days is all outrage all the time. And sometimes that backfires in humorous ways.

Last week the U.S. Senate approved a federal budget, the first one in years. Sen. Kelly Ayotte voted against the deal. She cited a provision that would reduce pensions for working-age military retirees. Service members can retire after 20 years.

The bill would trim by 1 percent the pension cost of living increases of those who retire before age 62. The change is estimated to save $6 billion over a decade.

Ayotte announced that she would vote against the budget because of that provision, and naturally the New Hampshire Democratic Party immediately pounced. On Tuesday state Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley mocked Ayotte for opposing the pension cut and called her opposition to it "desperate and pathetic."

He should have waited. Four hours and 23 minutes after that press release went out, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen announced that she had introduced the Military Retirement Restoration Act to undo the pension pay cut. The next day, Shaheen sounded like Ayotte, saying, "There are plenty of other ways that we can find budgetary savings rather than cutting retirement benefits for the men and women who have served our nation in uniform."

Also on Wednesday, Democratic Reps. Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter announced that they would help introduce Shaheen's bill in the House to undo the pension cuts all three of them voted for, and which their own state party chairman had mocked Ayotte for opposing.

Republicans should not laugh too hard; the New Hampshire Republican Party stepped in it too. Friday a week ago, just after the House vote on the budget, the state GOP issued a statement that read: "Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster have turned their backs on America's bravest, voting to cut military benefits rather than have the spine to cut bloated federal spending."

But Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, and 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan all supported the same cuts and the same budget bill that Shea-Porter and Kuster did. Does the New Hampshire Republican Party think its own U.S. House Speaker and two of the people it wanted to send to the White House have also "turned their backs on America's bravest?"

Cranking out misleading, exclamation-filled press releases denouncing the other party's moral degeneracy is how New Hampshire's two major political parties think they should engage the public these days. Is it any wonder that more and more Granite Staters are registering as independents, tuning out politics and detaching themselves from the civic life of the state?

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