Category Archives: Mazie Hirono

Want to End Medicare? Privatize Social Security?

This week, the extremism of the national Republican Party was on full display for the whole country to see as they nominated the Romney-Ryan ticket.

Make no mistake. Romney, Ryan and the national Republican Party want to end Medicare as we know it, make devastating cuts to Social Security, and cut taxes for millionaires, big oil and corporations on the backs of seniors and middle class families.

What would Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan need to pass their agenda? A Republican majority in the U.S. Senate. And, there’s a candidate right here in Hawaii that they’re counting on to make that happen: Linda Lingle.

As an honorary chairwoman of the Romney-Ryan campaign, our opponent is working to defeat Hawaii’s own island son, Barack Obama. And, if elected, she would put Republicans one vote closer to the majority they need to pass their extreme right-wing agenda.

Please help us ensure that the Romney-Ryan-Lingle agenda doesn’t go anywhere by clicking here and “sharing” the below graphic with your friends and family on Facebook — it will help us spread the word about Linda Lingle’s extreme Republican Party!

The Romney-Ryan-Lingle Agenda: Too extreme for Hawaii!

Hawaii’s next U.S. Senator needs to work with President Obama to get our families working again, as well as work to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare for our kupuna and future generations.

With your help, that’s exactly what Mazie Hirono will do.

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Mazie Hirono

GOP trying to kill Medicare

Tuesday, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and his Republican colleagues unveiled a misguided new budget plan on Capitol Hill.

Their plan ends Medicare as we know it, shifting costs directly to seniors and essentially turning the program over to the big insurance companies.

I am completely committed to getting our nation’s long-term fiscal situation in order, but balancing the budget on the backs of seniors and working families is wrong, period. It’s inconsistent with our values as Americans, and on that I hope all of us — including Republican Linda Lingle — can agree.

Take a stand against GOP efforts to end Medicare as we know it: Please sign my petition opposing Paul Ryan’s Republican House budget, and demand a national budget that reflects our values of fairness and equality!

The hypocrisy on display in the Republican budget is mind-boggling.

The Republicans want to break the promises we’ve made to seniors who paid into Medicare and Social Security their entire working lives. That’s why the AARP has come out forcefully against the plan, which could lead to increases in out-of-pocket costs of up to $5,900 per year for Medicare beneficiaries, while re-opening the “donut hole” in the prescription drug benefit for tens of thousands of Hawaii seniors.

But at the same time, Republicans want to continue — and in some cases actually increase — special taxpayer-funded giveaways to big oil companies, millionaires and billionaires, and corporations that are already making huge profits.

That’s right: The GOP’s proposed tax giveaways to the wealthy are actually LARGER than the massive cuts to Medicare and other vital services that working families depend on. As a result of these giveaways to the wealthiest among us, the Republicans’ proposed budget plan would actually increase our deficit.

That’s wrong, and it’s no way to build an economy meant to last. The GOP budget is an extreme plan based on partisan ideology, not a legitimate, balanced approach that finds real solutions to our problems.

But that isn’t going to stop Republicans from trying to force this scheme through the House of Representatives. I will be a loud and proud “no” vote to prevent this budget from passing — and I hope you’ll stand with me to speak out against it.

Click here to sign my petition opposing the Republicans’ new budget plan, which would end Medicare as we know it while continuing taxpayer-funded giveaways to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can keep the promises we’ve made to seniors, while investing in our future and making government more efficient — as long as we ask all Americans to shoulder this responsibility, not just seniors and working families.

If I’m fortunate enough to become your senator, I will continue this important fight in the United States Senate.

Mahalo,

Mazie Hirono

Mazie Hirono Stands Up Against Fraudulant Foreclosures

Mazie Hirono co-sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 85 (H.Con.Res.85), a resolution expresses the sense of the House of Representatives on the proposed settlement between the Department of Justice, State Attorneys General, and mortgage servicing companies

H. Con.Res.85 was introduced on November 3, 2011 by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. This non-binding resolution would express the sense of the House of Representatives that the Department of Justice and State Attorneys General should agree to a settlement consistent with three goals. These goals include:

  1. opposing  immunity for mortgage companies,
  2. expanding federal investigations into fraudulent practices by mortgage companies,
  3. ensuring that any financial settlement adequately compensate all victims.

Background

Beginning in 2007, the U. S. economy was exposed to a shock unlike nearly any in its history. The crisis began in the housing market where for a number of years people had been approved for loans they could never really afford, on terms they barely understood.

These loans were then pooled and sold as a kind of bond—presumed to be a safe, easy, income-generating investment. However, when the terms of many of these mortgages reset—at higher levels—millions of homeowners began defaulting.  The mortgage crisis that these defaults triggered forced Congress to take unprecedented steps to prevent a complete economic collapse. Even with these federal efforts our economy remains weak with too many people remain looking for work and too many families facing foreclosure. 

The financial crisis has given rise to serious allegations regarding predatory practices and misconduct by mortgage service companies. The Department of Justice, Attorneys General from many states, and mortgage companies have been working to develop a nationwide settlement agreement to resolve these allegations. These negotiations remain ongoing.

In addition to supporting H.Con.Res. 85, Rep. Mazie Hirono has also supported legislation to improve federal investigations of financial crimes and needed reforms of our nation’s financial laws. She supported the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, which amended the federal criminal code to include mortgage lending businesses in the definition of “financial institution”, made other changes to financial criminal law, and authorized additional resources for financial regulators to carry out investigations. She also supported the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which contained needed reforms of our federal financial laws to protect consumers and prevent another crisis like this from ever taking place. 

In the 112th Congress Rep Mazie Hiron is also cosponsoring H.R. 1350, the Financial Crisis Criminal Investigation Act. This legislation was introduced by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) on April 4, 2011 and would provide for the hiring of additional financial crimes investigators at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, and Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mazie Hiron said, “Please be assured that I will continue working to support policies to protect consumers and crack down on financial fraud throughout the 112th Congress.”

Mazie Hirono

Mazie on the Grinches…er…GOP

The holidays are almost here — a time when we gather with our families, hope for good cheer, and open our hearts to the less fortunate among us.

So, especially in that context, I could hardly believe my eyes when I first read what congressional Republicans proposed: allowing states to require mandatory drug testing for out-of-work Americans who apply for unemployment compensation. And that unemployment benefits only be paid to those who can prove they have earned at least a high school diploma.

It is an outrage.

As someone who has lived the struggles these families are facing, I am outraged by this insult to more than 13 million unemployed Americans. Because I know what happens when the breadwinner in the family loses a job and what the loss of security and stability also means to personal dignity.

When I was just eight years old, my mother courageously left an abusive marriage in Japan to give my brother and me the opportunity of America. We arrived in Hawaii with little more than the clothes on our backs.

The ensuing years were anything but easy financially. My mother struggled to make a living and put food on our table. At one point, my mother was laid off from her job. It was a miracle that my mother was able to keep a roof over our heads.

Yet, now, Republicans in Washington deliver a punch in the gut to the dignity and decency of unemployed Americans who want to work, but cannot find it. And they scapegoat our fellow Americans who lack a quality education, rather than doing anything to strengthen our public schools. It is painful to know that my Republican colleagues could add that insult to injury.

America is a land of opportunity, not ostracizing. A land of hope, not humiliation. I know this about our remarkable country firsthand.

It’s about time congressional Republicans figured it out, too, especially as the holidays draw near.

Mazie Hirono on the Wars

Mazie Hirono at Da Kitchen in Kahului

On October 21, 2011, President Obama announced that all U.S. troops serving in Iraq will be returning home by the end of the year: I welcomed President Obama’s decision to end the Iraq war responsibly and bring our troops home by the end of this year. I opposed this unwise war from the beginning. Its cost – in the nearly 4,500 lives lost and the $1 trillion that has been added to our national debt – has been tragic.

We also need to work toward a safe and significant drawdown of our military presence in Afghanistan and focus resources on our economy and national security threats closer to home.  Some 1,800 American troops have died as a result of the war in Afghanistan and almost 15,000 have been wounded. We owe more than we can ever repay to these young men and women and their families. 

 

While I am glad that the President decided to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by summer 2012, rather than the smaller number many had expected, I hope we are able to bring our remaining troops home well before the current target of December 2013. 

I am a cosponsor of legislation (H.R. 651) calling on the President to sign a status of forces agreement with the Afghan government that establishes a redeployment date for U.S. troops. H.R. 651 has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for consideration. 

 

I am also a cosponsor of H.R. 780, the Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act. 

H.R. 780 ensures that funds made available for military operations in Afghanistan are used only to provide for the safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. military and Defense Department contractor personnel in Afghanistan. H.R. 780 has been jointly referred to the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Armed Services for consideration. 

  

Our focus must continue to be on keeping our nation safe and honoring our commitment to our returning troops and our military families. The best way to do that is for the leaders of this country to maintain a strong military that is powerful enough to deter and take action against threats, use diplomacy to achieve and keep the peace, and oppose ill-considered international military entanglements.

Mazie Hirono Updates Us on APEC

The successful conclusion to the APEC Summit in Hawaii served notice to the world that our state is fully capable of hosting a large-scale international event.  Congratulations to the APEC Host organizers, including Chairman Peter Ho and Executive Vice Chair Tim Johns, for creating a safe and productive environment where the 21 Asia Pacific member economies came together to strengthen our economic ties, promote sustainability and clean energy, and continue our cultural exchange.

Congresswoman Hirono welcomes President and Mrs. Obama home after their arrival on Air Force One.

At the APEC Leaders Dinner, President Obama stated: “We are 21 leaders from across the Asia Pacific.  We represent close to 3 billion people, from different continents and cultures: North, South, East and West; men and women of every faith, color and creed.

“Yet whatever our differences, our citizens have sent us here with a common task: to bring our economies closer together, to cooperate, to create jobs and prosperity that our people deserve so that they can provide for their families, so that they can give their children a better future.”

For Hawaii, APEC 2011 was a step forward in moving Hawaii closer to a sustainable future and to create real opportunities for our youth.

Now is the Time for Clean Energy

Developing and commercializing clean energy is one of the most critical needs that we face in the 21st century. So it was only fitting that one of the goals of this conference was to promote a green economy.

I was fortunate to listen to several panels last week on topics like clean energy and sustainable development. You could feel the energy as Hawaii’s top innovators met with their counterparts who traveled from across the Asia-Pacific to share ideas and build relationships.

Tourism has been the bedrock of Hawaii’s economic foundation, and we will always work to keep it strong. However, we need new industries that supplement—not supplant—tourism as the driver of Hawaii’s economic success.

Let’s start changing the way we power our lives – our homes and businesses, our cars and airplanes. The momentum we gain will also help us to attract new green industries and new jobs for our keiki.

Congresswoman Hirono shares her thoughts on the importance of pursuing clean energy in Hawaii at the Asia-Pacific Business Symposium.

Strengthening relationships

Before speaking at the APEC CEO Summit in Honolulu, President Obama signed the APEC Business Travel Card Act of 2011 into law. This initiative, described by the President as an “APEC business gold card,” makes travel to APEC countries easier for both Americans and our APEC partners. It was introduced by Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel K. Akaka and I was proud to cosponsor it in the House.

As the APEC host, Hawaii proved its mettle as a business destination. Easier travel with the APEC Business Travel Card will help us build on our relationships beyond the summit and forge partnerships that will increase jobs, helping to grow our economy and to support our families in Hawaii and the U.S. for years to come.

Hawaii’s Leaders of Tomorrow

The strength of a nation is only as powerful as its youth. In support of our youth, the APEC Voices of the Future brought together students and educators from the member economies to share in the APEC discussions. Five island high school students were able to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Under their theme, “Engage, Discover, Forge,” these bright young people brought a new perspective and engagement to the issues we’re facing today.

In addition, students across the state were invited by the APEC 2011 Hawaii Host Committee to answer the question “why is sustainability important to you, Hawaii, and APEC?” Five winners were chosen to attend the APEC CEO Summit and hear from President Obama and other world leaders. Alexander Bitter of Waiakea High School, wrote in his winning essay:

“In making Hawaii more self-sufficient, it is imperative not to destroy what makes it unique. The key to sustainability is not simply increasing local production; rather, it is using available resources and environment to meet society’s needs without abusing them. Striking such a balance between humans and our environment will be what keeps the standard of living high as Hawaii forges its future.”

Congresswoman Hirono meets with the U.S. student representatives to the 2011 APEC Voices of the Future.

APEC gave these students the voice to share their thoughts with leading members of their various countries. As they develop as future leaders, we must continue to provide our students with the tools they need to keep their voices heard.

As one of the student leaders told me, APEC gave them a chance to see themselves on a world stage.

Building relationships with our APEC partner economies is important to moving Hawaii forward, and this week’s summit gave us all the opportunity to share what Hawaii offers. Companies like our APEC Innovation Showcase winners: Skai Ventures, Sopogy, HNU Energy, Big Island Carbon, and TREX Enterprises, did just that. Now we must work together to see the momentum from APEC continue so that Hawaii can be the leader in a global green economy, create more opportunities for our youth, and continue to support jobs in Hawaii.

How do you see Hawaii moving forward as a leader in the Pacific region? Please let me know: visit my website www.hirono.house.gov, call my District Office at (808) 541-1986 or send me a tweet at @maziehirono to share your thoughts on this or any other issues. The direct numbers from the neighbor islands are:
Hawaii Island — 935-3756
Kauai & Niihau — 245-1951
Lanai — 565-7199
Maui — 242-1818
Molokai — 552-0160

Mahalo,

Mazie K. Hirono
Member of Congress
2nd District of Hawaii

Mazie Hirono Urges Passage of Hire Vets Act

In recent months, Republicans in Congress have made it their mission to stonewall any of the Democrats’ job-creating proposals.

They’ve killed legislation to put hundreds of thousands of teachers in our classrooms, police on our streets, and construction workers at sites to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

But then late last week, this pattern of obstructionism was pushed aside with the Senate’s overwhelming passage of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which would help our veterans find work.

As soon as tomorrow, it comes to the House of Representatives for a vote — and I need your help to make sure it passes.

Join me in urging House leaders to agree to the Senate version, so that we can pass this bill and send it to President Obama’s desk without delay. Click here to sign my urgent petition to House leadership now!

Our veterans, who have so heroically put their lives on the line to protect our country, shouldn’t have to fight for work when they come home.

But that’s increasingly what is happening, with nearly one million veterans unable to find civilian work. That’s unacceptable, and we have a rare opportunity to do something about it NOW.

So please, sign my urgent petition — before this week’s vote.

Mahalo,

Mazie Hirono

Mazie Hirono

Celebrating Hawaii’s Workers

by Rep. Mazie Hirono

Mazie Hirono

Labor Day is a time to celebrate our country’s hard-working women and men, the backbone of our nation’s economy. We rely on the American worker to produce the goods and services that power our industries and help us all lead better lives.

On this day, we not only recognize our American work force but also the labor movement that has given working women and men a powerful voice in our country. Hawaii is no exception. Our island workers continue a legacy that was born in the plantation fields and has weaved its way throughout the history of our state’s visitor industry. Through organized labor, workers in Hawaii and across the country have successfully fought for fair pay, good benefits, and safe work environments.

I’ve visited with shipyard workers at Pearl Harbor, road crews on Molokai, and pineapple workers on Maui. Each shared their pride in knowing that the work they do helps shape their communities.

As President Obama once said, “Much of what we take for granted—the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, health insurance, paid leave, pensions, Social Security, Medicare—all bear the union label. So even if you’re not a union member, every American owes something to America’s labor movement.”

Yet, we all see efforts in Congress and in other states to cut back on these hard-earned rights, which is why now more than ever I continue the fight to protect them from being whittled away. I believe that if you work hard and play by the rules, you should have a chance to make it in this country.

To further support our middle class, we need to focus on creating jobs. Whether by strengthening Hawaii’s infrastructure or supporting small businesses, I will continue to champion legislation that provides opportunities for our families to get through these challenging times.

On this and every Labor Day, let us remember the hard working women and men who continue to make this nation great and the union leaders and advocates who help protect them.