NCDP Clips for January 29, 2014


WRAL: NC jobless rate falls to 6.9 percent
North Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent in December, its lowest level in more than five years, but Tuesday’s news came with signals that the rapid fall was related to thousands of discouraged people giving up on finding work. December’s unemployment rate, down from 7.4 percent the previous month, was the lowest since September 2008, when a building financial crisis shook the world’s economy and brought on the risk of a new Depression.

South by North Strategies: 2013 Another Weak Year For Job Growth
“The sizable drop in the state’s unemployment rate in December does not alter the fact that 2013 was yet another underwhelming year for North Carolina’s labor market,” observed Quinterno. “Job growth lagged behind the pace recorded in 2012 and was consistent with the uninspiring performance of the past four years. While the unemployment rate did fall sharply over the course of 2013, the number of employed persons barely changed, meaning that unemployment fell due to people leaving the labor market altogether rather than finding work. None of the 2013 data suggests that North Carolina’s labor market has turned a corner and has moved onto a more robust, more sustainable trajectory.”

News and Observer: NC Sen. Bill Rabon apologizes for profane remarks about McCrory, puppy mill legislation
Democrats used the incident to question Republicans’ ability to govern. “Unfortunately for Governor McCrory and legislative Republicans, even work on a bill about the humane treatment of animals devolves into a contest to see who’s top dog,” spokesman Micah Beasley said in a statement. “At every level, it’s increasingly clear that North Carolinians, and even their pets, deserve better than this.” The leaked tape led Senate leaders on Monday to declare the puppy mill legislation dead for the 2014 session, calling the advocates’ move extortion. But as Rabon made clear in the meeting, the bill was not going to get considered.


Dome: Dan Forest is trying to recruit Sean Hannity to North Carolina
The verdict is still out on Hannity’s potential move, but in an open letter on his website, Forest offered a range of convincing arguments favoring North Carolina. “Home is where you protect the unalienable rights that have been endowed upon us by our Creator… that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Forest wrote. “And while I can neither confirm nor deny this claim—most intentional pursuits of happiness conclude with a plate of North Carolina BBQ. Just Saying.”


Washington Post: 5 takeaways from President Obama’s State of the Union address
President Obama wrapped up his fifth State of the Union moments ago and, in the midst of live-tweeting the proceedings, we jotted down a handful of major takeaways from the night.

Huffington Post: Obama’s Big-Time Small Ball
The polls say that President Barack Obama is at a low point, but you couldn’t tell it from the tour de force of his State of the Union speech. He was standing at the podium, but seemed to have a spring in his step. His smile was winning; his enthusiasm for America’s future infectious. Masking the modesty of his proposals in the energy and confidence of his presence, the president launched the pivotal year of his second term with a shrewdly relentless focus on the use of his own power to change policy and convene, shame and inspire other sectors of society. With the exception of a few minutes on foreign policy –- the core of which was to declare an end of the era of “permanent war” –- Obama zeroed in on proposals to extend the economic recovery to all Americans, not just to Wall Street investors and CEOs. Some were merely aspirational: “convening” meetings, “hosting” summits. Others were small tweaks in federal policy, sold on the basis that they would inspire or implore the rest of America –- Republicans in Congress or leaders in the private sector –- to go along.

Real Clear Politics: Wounded War Hero Is State of the Union High Point
Wounded veteran Cory Remsburg had met President Barack Obama three times before Tuesday night- once in France and twice since a roadside bomb in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on his 10th deployment. Number four was at Obama’s State of the Union address, when the Army Ranger inspired the emotional high point of the evening. Toward the end of Obama’s policy-heavy address, the president gestured toward the uniformed man from Phoenix seated next to first lady Michelle Obama and described the difference between the Remsburg he’d met the first time- "sharp as a tack"- and the wounded warrior his fellow soldiers found face-down in a canal, underwater, with shrapnel in his brain. "The next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move," Obama said to the now-silent crowd in the House chamber. "Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, and hours of grueling rehab every day."

News NY 1: Rep. Grimm Apologizes to NY1 Reporter For On-Camera Threat
Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm has apologized to NY1 political reporter Michael Scotto a day after physically threatening him at the conclusion of an interview in the Capitol Rotunda following the president’s State of the Union address. Grimm called Scotto Wednesday morning and offered the verbal apology saying he "overreacted." Scotto tells NY1 he accepted the apology and believes that it was sincere.

Forextv: US Sen McConnell Signals GOP Fight Against Min Wage Hike Bill
SenateMajority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday the Senate will take up minimum wage increase legislation in the coming month or two and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that Republicans will strongly oppose the legislation. In back to back briefings, Reid and McConnell indicated that minimum wage legislation is likely to be the point of tough partisan battles in the coming months. Speaking first, Reid praised President Barack Obama for issuing an executive order than would increase the minimum wage for federal contractors and said the Senate will take up minimum wage legislation soon.

Roll Call: Farm Bill, Military Sexual Assault, Nominations on Reid’s Agenda
Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Monday his plans for the chamber’s business for next month — warning of the potential for another long slog on nominations. “The Senate must also consider a number of critical national security and judicial nominations in the coming weeks,” Reid said. “With the help of my Republican colleagues, we could process these nominations swiftly and painlessly, without late nights or weekend votes, but as always it will depend on the level of cooperation we receive from the Republicans.” The Nevada Democrat’s latest warning of possible weekend sessions came in the opening minutes of a three-week work period, after only the daily prayer and pledge of allegiance. “This work period, the Senate will also consider a farm conference report. This legislation is a compromise reached thanks to the leadership of Chairwoman Stabenow. It’ll reduce the deficit and cut waste and fraud, all while protecting hungry children and families.”

Politico: House Clears Farm Bill
Given up for dead just months ago, a new five-year farm bill cleared the House Wednesday morning, raising hopes that Congress can send it on to President Barack Obama no later than next week. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow wants to complete Senate debate before next Wednesday, and the strength of the 251-166 House vote could mean the Michigan Democrat will meet her goal even sooner.


Winston- Salem Journal: Editorial: Release those emails on new election laws
House Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate President pro tem Phil Berger and 11 other Republican legislators have a novel attitude about their standing in court. They say that they shouldn’t have to defend themselves for their official actions. The Republicans are arguing against release of email and other correspondence related to the new Voter Identification Law that was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in August. They’re claiming legislative immunity, a well-recognized privilege, but expanding its reach. They contend that immunity extends not only to traditional protections against criminal and civil prosecution, but also to defending their decisions when the constitutionality of legislation is questioned.

Dome: Morning Memo: Democrats push equal pay; Flynn loses campaign manager
Democrats are using the fifth anniversary of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to draw a contrast with North Carolina where legislation to ban women from being paid less based on their gender went nowhere in the 2013 legislative session. The juxtaposition is aimed at House Speaker Thom Tillis, the leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. Former state Rep. Deborah Ross, a Raleigh Democrat, introduced the Equal Pay Act (HB 630) in the N.C. House in April but Tillis sent it to the House Rules Committee, the place many bills go to die.


The Hill: 57 Dems endorse Hillary for 2016
Fifty-seven Democratic lawmakers say they would endorse Hillary Clinton for president if she launches a 2016 White House bid, according to a survey conducted by The Hill. Twenty-two congressional Democrats had already publicly endorsed Clinton. An additional 35 members told The Hill that if Clinton runs, they would back her in the Democratic primary. The level of support is astounding, especially 2 1/2 years before the Democratic Party hosts its nominating convention. The total represents more than 20 percent of the 253 Democrats in the House and Senate. It is also more than half of the lawmaker endorsements Clinton received in 2008. The list of 57 includes liberals and centrists who represent states from California to Ohio to New Hampshire.


Progressive Pulse: Why NC (surprisingly) is a national leader in Affordable Care Act enrollment
While North Carolina has refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and many politicians continue to complain about the federal health exchange, the roll-out of Obamacare in N.C. tells a far more positive story. North Carolina is enrolling uninsured people at a rate at least twice that of any other state that has refused to set up its own health exchange and refused to expand Medicaid. In short, among states that are dragging their feet on the Affordable Care Act – no advertising campaigns, no speeches by the governor on how important it is for everyone to have access to health care, no Medicaid expansion that guarantees the lowest income workers coverage – North Carolina is by far leading the pack in private plan enrollment.


Huffington Post: Fox News Gets Four Men To Debate The War On Women
Even Fox News host Bret Baier had to admit that choosing four guys to discuss the "war on women" was "not the best booking of this panel":Whatever the merits of the panel, at least it made a good companion to the network’s all-white forum on the Richard Sherman controversy.

Talking Points Memo: Claire McCaskill To Rand Paul: Don’t You Dare Play The Lewinsky Card
Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is incensed that Rand Paul dredged up a scandal from the 1990s.McCaskill ripped the Kentucky senator on Tuesday for saying that Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky undermines Democratic claims of the GOP’s "war on women" and that, fair or unfair, the scandal could be a factor in Hillary Clinton’s anticipated presidential campaign. "I think I can speak for most women to say that I found what he said infuriating. I think most women understand they should not be held accountable for the behavior of their husbands," McCaskill told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. "You know, frankly, it was a long time ago. Our country did very well under the leadership of Bill Clinton."


LA Times: Solar jobs climb almost 20% in 2013
Solar jobs in the U.S. climbed nearly 20% in the 14 months through November as cheaper panels and rising electricity rates spurred people to turn to solar. As of November, solar companies had almost 143,000 solar workers on their payrolls, up more than 23,000 from September 2012, according to a report from the Solar Foundation, a nonprofit research group. That job growth is 10 time faster than the national average for job gains.

The Columbus Dispatch: Fracking: So where’s the economic boom that was promised?
But out-of-state workers weren’t among the economic benefits touted by politicians and industry leaders who predicted that shale drilling would create a much-needed infusion of jobs and cash in Appalachian Ohio. More than three years after the first Utica drilling permit was approved, transient workers are among the most-tangible signs of the shale “boom.”


News & Observer: Sen. Rabon embarrasses himself with puppy mill rant
Republican State Sen. Bill Rabon of Southport is only a two-termer, but the GOP’s short bench has made it possible for some ill-equipped members to move up the ladder quickly. Rabon, for example, is chairman of the powerful Finance Committee in his chamber. And perhaps it was both his relative inexperience and quick ascension that got the best of him in a meeting earlier this month with animal welfare advocates and the Brunswick County sheriff.

The Daily Beast: Can the GOP Get Out of Its Own Way? Recent Comments Make You Wonder
Another day, another idiotic comment by a Republican—or at least that’s what it seems like. At this point I have to wonder if the advisors hired by the GOP actually hate the Republican Party. Could it be that Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus accidentally hired Democratic consultants? Or perhaps certain Republicans have a fear of success, so they are subconsciously sabotaging their own party? Of course, there is the possibility that what many of us view as cringeworthy statements are actually the views held by most in the GOP. Whatever the reason, the Republican Party in the last month alone has churned out more jaw dropping sound bytes than Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus combined. And that’s no easy feat

Star News Online: Editorial – McCrory calls for raises, but does he have the clout to win over legislators?
Gov. Pat McCrory has finally mustered the political courage to pledge that increasing teacher pay will be a priority for the coming year – or perhaps he’s seen surveys showing the public supports such a move. The question is whether he’ll be able to persuade the N.C. General Assembly to follow suit. Over the past two years the Honorables have passed laws that come with the message that public school teachers in North Carolina are the problem with our education rather than one of the solutions. Last year the General Assembly eliminated additional pay for earning a master’s degree and passed other laws that showed a lack of knowledge and respect for what teachers do. They also eliminated McCrory’s token 1 percent pay increase request for state employees, including teachers.


Micah Beasley, Communications Director
North Carolina Democratic Party

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