News & Observer: NC tax overhaul takes effect in 2014
A credit for child care expenses and deductions on certain kinds of pension income are gone. Sales taxes are going up on mobile and modular homes and will now be applied to service contracts for appliances and automobiles. Theater chains, arenas and many nonprofit arts groups will have to charge full sales tax on movie and concert tickets and most other live events. Also set to expire Wednesday is the earned-income tax credit, which gives payments to some of the working poor even if they owe no taxes. The credit’s elimination means some low-income families might have to pay a small tax bill again. The corporate tax rate, meanwhile, will decline from 6.9 percent to 6 percent in 2014. Both personal and corporate income tax rates fall further in 2015.
Winston-Salem Journal: Chris Fitzsimon on McCrory’s mediocre 2013
Gov. Pat McCrory has complained often this year that his critics never really gave him a honeymoon after he was elected and started attacking him as soon as he took office. It’s hard to imagine, though, that he ever really expected one when he named prominent funder of right-wing causes Art Pope as state budget director. Then came the 2013 session, where McCrory’s close allies in the General Assembly started working to pass their far-right agenda as soon as the session began. McCrory seemed lost at first, asking the Senate early in the session to slow down legislation to refuse Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, a request Senate leaders promptly ignored.
Politico: Poll: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton most admired
President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lead as the most admired man and woman in America, respectively, by wide margins, according to a new poll Monday. Obama and Clinton top the Gallup poll for the sixth consecutive year.
Reuters: Democrats plan big push on jobless aid in new year
President Barack Obama and Democrats will make a major push when Congress returns January 6 to renew expired benefits for the unemployed and will seek to pressure Republicans over the issue by painting them as uncaring toward the middle class. Federal unemployment benefits will officially expire for 1.3 million out-of-work Americans on Saturday. With Congress in recess, no last-minute fix is possible. Democrats have spent much of the holiday week criticizing Republicans for resisting an extension of the emergency jobless aid program, which began in 2008 under President George W. Bush and has been extended every year since then.
Reuters: Obama calls senators to back extension on jobless benefits
President Barack Obama called Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, and Senator Dean Heller, Republican of Nevada, on Friday to back their proposal to extend emergency unemployment benefits for three months. Those benefits will expire on Saturday for about 1.3 million Americans. A vote on the Reed/Heller bill is likely in early January, when the U.S. Senate returns from recess.
The Hill: Five Senate races to watch
The Senate race in North Carolina could be a bellwether for 2014. Of all the states where Republicans are fighting this election cycle, North Carolina is the one that went for Mitt Romney by the slimmest margin in 2012. If the GOP can’t knock off incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), their bid for the majority may well come up short. Millions of dollars in outside spending is pouring into North Carolina, making it the most expensive race of the 2014 cycle thus far, according to a Roll Call analysis. Republicans are more than doubling the money spent by Democratic groups.
Associated Press: In governor races, Democrats eye wage increase
Democrats vying to challenge a slew of Republican governors, particularly those seeking re-election in states that Obama won last year, are talking up an increase as their campaigns get off the ground 11 months before the election. Polls say it’s publicly popular, it revives the message of economic inequality that Obama wielded effectively last year, and it comes wrapped in a broader jobs and economic message that touches on the top priority of many voting Americans.
Huffington Post: House Republicans Opposed To Extended Unemployment Benefits Could Pay The Price In 2014: Poll
Voters in the four districts surveyed said they were less likely to vote for the Republican incumbent in 2014 — by at least a 9-point margin — were he to vote to cut off extended unemployment benefits. Though jobless benefits are set to expire on Dec. 28 for 1.3 million longterm unemployed Americans, members of the House and Senate have returned home for the holidays without a solution to preserve those benefits. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said it was an "immorality" that the benefits weren’t secured in a recent budget deal, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised to bring the extension to a vote no later than Jan. 7, 2014.
Capital Journal: Former SD Sen. Pressler running as independent
Former U.S. Sen. Larry Pressler said Thursday that he is running for Senate as an independent. Pressler, 71, who grew up on a farm just west of Sioux Falls near Humboldt, served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from 1975 to 1979 and three Senate terms with the GOP from 1979 to 1997. He lost a 1996 re-election bid to Democrat Tim Johnson, who is not seeking re-election next year after also serving three terms.
Bloomberg: Obamacare Enrollments Hit 1.1 Million With December Surge
More than 975,000 Americans signed up this month for health insurance under Obamacare, pushing total enrollment above 1.1 million in 36 states covered by the U.S. healthcare.gov website, the government said today. The December turnout followed an administration announcement that it fixed software problems that had been causing delays and disruptions for consumers since the Oct. 1 debut of the federal program’s enrollment system.
Huffington Post: Former GOP Staffer Asks Fellow Republicans To Stop Bashing The Affordable Care Act
Clint Murphy, a 38-year-old former GOP staffer and testicular cancer survivor, had some harsh words for Republican lawmakers who continue their attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In an op-ed published over the weekend by the Savannah Morning News, Murphy acknowledged problems with the roll-out of the federal insurance marketplace’s website but said that Republicans have confused Georgians further.
Forbes: Papa John’s, Applebee’s And Others Pay Huge Price For Anti-Obamacare Politicking
It turns out that being a good corporate citizen is as important to selling pizzas as the thinness of the crust or the quality of the cheese. If you don’t believe it, just ask Papa John CEO, John Schnatter. As covered—and criticized—in this column in great detail, Mr. Schnatter decided to mix his politics with his pepperoni when suggesting that he would be cutting the work hours for Papa John employees in order to bring them below the 30 hour per week threshold that would require Schnatter to provide his employees with healthcare benefits. It turns out, the pizza eating public did not approve.
New York Times: With Health Law Cemented, G.O.P. Debates Next Move
“It’s no longer just a piece of paper that you can repeal and it goes away,” said Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin and a Tea Party favorite. “There’s something there. We have to recognize that reality. We have to deal with the people that are currently covered under Obamacare.” And that underscores a central fact of American politics since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act during the Depression: Once a benefit has been bestowed, it is nearly impossible to take it away.
USA Today: 13 states raising pay for minimum-wage workers
The minimum wage will rise in 13 states this week, and as many as 11 states and Washington, D.C., are expected to consider increases in 2014, according to the National Employment Law Project. Approval is likely in more than half of the 11, says NELP policy analyst Jack Temple. The trend reflects growing concerns about the disproportionate spread of low-wage jobs in the U.S. economy, creating millions of financially strained workers and putting too little money in consumers’ pockets to spur faster economic growth.
Politico: As critics gain, ALEC gives ground
ALEC is putting 2013 in its rearview mirror. The American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group of state lawmakers and corporations that, among other things, drafts model legislation, saw an exodus of members and a sharp decline in fundraising after it was tied to controversial “stand your ground laws” like the one made infamous following the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
Tampa Bay Times: Blumner: Reasons to smile heading into 2014
Economic inequality continues to widen, undermining America’s once-unrivaled middle class. Voting rights are in danger of being rolled back after the Supreme Court made them harder to enforce. Cutbacks are being made to essential helping-hand programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits. Abortion rights are under direct assault in Republican-controlled states. Heck, the entire notion of personal privacy is on life support now that it has been confirmed that the National Security Agency is in all our business. It’s quite a litany of bleakness. But don’t despair. There are tremendously hopeful signs, too. Despite the country’s do-nothing Congress and solid pockets of resistance to progressive values, positive changes are occurring.
The Daily Reflector: Mooneyham: A divisive, tumultuous year for N.C. politics
McCrory struggled in the highly partisan environment. Media outlets questioned hiring decisions that involved high pay for former campaign aides; some of his appointees, including Raleigh lawyer Kieran Shanahan hired as secretary of the Department of Public Safety, didn’t last long in their new jobs; one who did, Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos, made her own questionable hiring decisions and began taking heat for a decision to move forward with a new Medicaid claims system that health care providers called a nightmare. Changes in state personnel laws, that allow the McCrory administration to replace more state workers with political appointments, led to more questions surrounding personnel decisions. Meanwhile, McCrory stepped on a few landmines with simple words and gestures.
Washington Post: Hey, it’s an election year! Here’s what 2014 might bring.
The Senate majority will come down to North Carolina and Louisiana. If you assume that Republicans have takeovers in South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana strongly in hand (and, at the moment, they do) and that Arkansas and Alaska are going to be very tough holds for Democrats based on the underlying demographics of the two states, then the GOP stands at a five-seat pickup. Republicans need six to retake the Senate majority, which means that they must find a way to unseat Mary Landrieu (La.), Kay Hagan (N.C.) or both.
Micah Beasley, Communications Director
North Carolina Democratic Party
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