NCDP Clips for December 17, 2013


News & Observer: Rucho defends controversial tweet
Dismissing critics as “the socialist elite,” Rucho insisted he was making a valid point for a tweet that seemed to compare the Affordable Care Act with Nazis and terrorists. “Sen. Rucho’s comments are outrageous, but this is exactly the type of theater we’ve come to expect out of him,” Democratic Party spokesman Micah Beasley said in a written statement. “It should be made clear that Sen. Rucho is not some fringe ideologue. Rather, a fixture of Republican leadership in the N.C. Senate.” Rucho went on his own offensive, speaking to reporters from around the state in defense of his statement.

WNCN: Holocaust survivor says state Senator should resign over Nazi tweet
It’s a horrifying story that Susan Cernyak-Spatz of Charlotte lived through. Her mother did not. She was one of the six million Jews killed in The Holocaust. On Monday, Cernyak-Spatz told WCNC-TV, "The Comparisons are so obscene," and said Rucho should resign. "To compare that to the murders of the holocaust, to the battlefields, to the millions that died, it’s insensitive and obscene. absolutely obscene," she said. Rucho is not bowing to critics. He told WCNC he has no regrets and no apologies. North Carolina Democratic Party spokesman Micah Beasley called Rucho’s remarks "outrageous."

MSNBC: NC state Sen. Bob Rucho likens Obamacare to Nazis
Rucho’s comparison likens the Affordable Care Act to symbols of extreme political dictatorships and acts violence. The Nazis and Soviets were behind some of the most oppressive political regimes of the last century, and contributed to the deaths of millions upon millions of people. The fear and senseless violence wielded in acts of terror have forever changed American foreign policy. By comparison, Obamacare would insure nearly 40 million Americans who currently do not have health insurance, provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, and lower premiums by as much as $2,500.

Gaston Gazette: The way you pay taxes changes soon

Gov. Pat McCrory signed the changes into law last summer. Many residents may not be aware of them now, but they will affect 2014 income and expenses, said Ernie Nivens, a financial services consultant in Gastonia. “People don’t think about it until it impacts their life,” he said. A number of deductions and tax credits, which North Carolina residents have grown used to, have been eliminated. Here are a few of the tax credits going away or changing after this year.

Charlotte Observer: Teachers pack sack of coal for N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory
Charlotte educators plan to deliver a holiday message to Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday: You’ve been a bad boy this year. Robert Corriher, a community organizer who worked with Charlotte’s “Moral Monday” protests this summer, will dress as Santa to deliver a bag of coal to McCrory’s Charlotte office at the Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St., at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

WUNC: Professors: NC Conservative Think Tank Trying To ‘Bully’ Chapel Hill Instructor
A group of professors from public and private colleges across North Carolina has for months been criticizing a conservative think tank in Raleigh: They say the non-profit Civitas Institute purports to be independent, but really is an arm of the state Republican Party, and that it is trying to bully liberal academics in the state’s public university system. On Monday morning, members of Scholars for North Carolina’s Future took one step further. They hand-delivered a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory’s office and asked him to speak out against what they say are Civitas’ intimidation tactics.

News 14: Second lawsuit challenges constitutionality of state voucher program
A second lawsuit was filed Monday in Wake County challenging the constitutionality of the private school voucher program. Legislation passed earlier this year will award eligible public school students with state funding to attend a private school. "At the heart of the suit is the use of public money to benefit private schools who really have the choice of who they take," said Bob Orr, an attorney for Poyner Spruill. Orr filed a lawsuit on behalf of four taxpayers and the North Carolina School Boards Association which represents all 115 local boards of education in the state. "They want to see money used for the public school system. These are public revenues," Orr said.


The Kansas City Star: Hagan bill would extend long-term unemployment benefits
Hagan, a Democrat who faces re-election in 2014, asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the Finance Committee chairman, last week to make reinstatement of North Carolina’s eligibility for the federal benefits part of any law that would extend the national program. It expires Dec. 31 unless Congress extends it. In a letter to Reid and Baucus, Hagan said that about 170,000 North Carolinians are no longer able to receive federal unemployment insurance benefits. Democrats included Hagan’s request in a bill that would extend the federal unemployment benefits for one year, but the measure got blocked on a procedural move by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., on Tuesday night.

Reuters: U.S. budget deal clears crucial vote in Senate

A two-year U.S. budget deal on Tuesday cleared a Senate procedural vote that all but assured its passage by a simple majority later this week in the Democratic-controlled chamber. In a vote to limit debate on the measure, the Senate exceeded the required 60 votes, drawing the support of several Republicans. The Senate, controlled 55-45 by Democrats, is expected to vote on final passage of the measure by the end of this week.

McClatchyDC: Sen. Richard Burr says he won’t be one of the 60 needed in Senate to get to budget vote
Burr earlier reportedly signaled he’d be one of them. But on Monday afternoon, he issued a statement that said: "While I applaud Chairman (Paul) Ryan’s efforts to prevent another government shutdown, I have decided upon further review to oppose allowing this bill to move forward. After reviewing in detail the significant changes made to the Senate budget rules that would allow Senate Democrats to circumvent the 60-vote threshold in order to pass a tax increase or increase spending, I have determined I cannot support cloture on the agreement.”

Politico: Nancy Pelosi pushes Obama on deportations

In an interview over the weekend with Telemundo’s “Enfoque,” Pelosi said the administration should exercise some discretion about who is being deported. The California Democrat said she has seen deportations that were “totally unjustified” in her hometown of San Francisco. “Our view of the law is, if somebody is here without sufficient documentation, that is not reason for deportation,” Pelosi said during the interview. “If someone has broken the law or committed a felony or something, that is a different story.”


The Wilson Times: State chairman rallies local Democrats
The state chairman of the Democratic Party made a trip to Wilson Saturday to discuss strategic plans for the 2014 election and beyond. Chairman Randy Voller was the lead guest speaker at the Wilson County Democratic Party’s monthly meeting Saturday held at the library. He said he was glad to be back in Wilson, a place that has a "long tradition of electing Democrats and being a strong force in the state of North Carolina.” Voller said for years North Carolina was known for its forward thinking and investments in education. But now, he said, people from the around the country have a different view of the state.


MSNBC: Secessionists on the ballot
Of all the tea partiers running for Senate in 2014, Greg Brannon, a GOP primary candidate hoping to topple vulnerable North Carolina Democrat Kay Hagan, is one of the most extreme. He opposes public education, claiming it “does nothing but dehumanize” students. He doesn’t believe that states have to follow Supreme Court decisions. He contends bipartisan compromises in Washington “enslave” Americans. He hails the late Sen. Jesse Helms – who died in 2008 without ever renouncing his support for racial segregation – as a “modern hero.” He claims that “all ten of [Karl] Marx’s planks of Communism” – including the abolition of private property – “are law in our land today.”

Roll Call: The Most Expensive Senate Race of the Cycle — So Far

North Carolina has some of the largest and most expensive markets of any top Senate race states this cycle. And given the competitiveness of Hagan’s re-election bid, the early spending figures reflect that. According to media buying figures obtained by CQ Roll Call, Republican outside groups have outspent their Democratic counterparts in North Carolina, $5.7 million to $2.6 million. That includes the $750,000 airtime purchase in early December by Senate Majority PAC and about a $4 million total investment from Americans for Prosperity.

WFMY: DA Phil Berger, Jr. Says He Did Not Listen to Private Courtroom Conversations
It only lasted for two weeks but for some — two weeks was too long. WFMY News 2 is just learning that in 2011, Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger, Jr. had audio from court proceedings broadcast into his office for two weeks. Court proceedings were aired in multiple locations at the old Rockingham County Courthouse but the system was not brought to the new courthouse. Most court employees, even those that oversaw construction plans, did not know Berger had an audio system in his office.

Roll Call: Is Arkansas Really the Land of Opportunity for Democrats?
When we think of political battlegrounds, states like Ohio and Florida come to mind. But every so often, a small state becomes a partisan political battleground. This cycle, that’s Arkansas — about as unlikely a state as you might imagine. While Democrats see Arkansas as a place to mount a counterattack after a series of defeats, Republicans believe that it will be the Democrats’ Waterloo. Eleven months from now we will know who is right.

RealClearPolitics: Poll: Kentucky Senate Race Remains Close
A new poll shows the Kentucky Senate race virtually tied, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell narrowly ahead of his Democratic challenger but still widely unpopular in his state. The survey from Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling shows McConnell leading Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, 43 percent-42 percent, in a hypothetical matchup, with 15 percent of voters still undecided. An October PPP survey showed Grimes ahead by two percentage points.


Charlotte Observer: Enabling the offensive Bob Rucho

Tweeting vitriol isn’t a new thing for Rucho. Last week, he dismissed his critics as "liberal weenies," not exactly the level of discourse you’d want from a Senate leader. So do Rucho’s Republican colleagues — and Republican voters — endorse him? Rucho is not some forgotten back-bencher; he is the co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, chairman of the Redistricting Committee and chairman of three other joint legislative committees. If Senate leader Phil Berger leaves him in these positions, it is a tacit endorsement of Rucho and his ideas.

Raleigh News & Observer: Sen. Rucho tweets into trouble

The tweet could be dismissed as a rabidly partisan exclamation by a fringe zealot, but that’s not the case with Rucho. He was a leading lawmaker behind the GOP’s gerrymandering of the state’s legislative and congressional districts and, as co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, had a major role in cutting taxes. He also was a co-sponsor of legislation that blocked North Carolina from expanding Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of low-income North Carolinians who lack insurance. It’s unsettling that someone with a sense of history and proportion that is so off kilter has a hand on the wheel steering North Carolina. Maybe that’s why the wheel is stuck on a hard right turn.

Fayetteville Observer: Our View: DHHS debacles need fixing, not praise
Through it all, McCrory seemed outraged when Wos came under fire for her department’s messes. The outrage was misplaced. It should be directed at the debacles the Department of Health and Human Services has created. We’re not suggesting that managing the biggest, most expensive department in state government is easy. But we do wonder whether Wos – a physician, political fundraiser and former ambassador – has the expertise to run it.

The Week: Why conservatives just don’t get Pope Francis’s anti-poverty crusade

Since outlining his vision for the Catholic church in late November, Pope Francis has endured an amount of criticism from the American right wing commensurate only with the praise piled on by the remainder of global Christianity. For most, Francis’s moving exhortation to spread the gospel and engage personally with Jesus was a welcome and invigorating encouragement. But for many right-wing pundits in America, Francis’s call to relieve global poverty through state intervention in markets was unconscionably troubling.

Micah Beasley, Communications Director
North Carolina Democratic Party

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