NCDP Clips for January 7, 2014

MCCRORY ADMINISTRATION

WRAL: McCrory shifts blame on Medicaid card mix-up from DHHS leaders (VIDEO)
Gov. Pat McCrory defended DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos after the latest in a series of technical errors at the agency.

Citizen-Times: Top Dems call for leadership change at DHHS
House Democratic Leader Hall acknowledged the agency was in trouble before McCrory took office but said that’s reason to hire leaders with experience. “Unfortunately, Governor McCrory only saw fit to hire political donors and campaign aides — all at the expense of families and small businesses across North Carolina,” he said in the statement. “If the governor is going to reclaim the confidence of the people, then he needs to start by making sweeping changes in leadership in DHHS.”

Dome: Morning Memo: McCrory jobs message obscured by DHHS mess
Democrats renewed their call for the leader of the state health agency to be replaced after the department violated federal privacy rules by sending nearly 50,000 children’s insurance cards to incorrect addresses last week.

News & Observer: McCrory touts ‘Carolina Comeback’ economy
McCrory cited the 2 percent drop in the state’s unemployment rate since he took office last January as evidence of the success of his administration’s agenda. That state’s 7.4 percent unemployment rate is still higher than the national average, which has also declined in the past year. The size of the state’s total labor force has also declined as economists have said many unemployed people gave up looking for jobs, while the number of people actually employed has grown very modestly by about 6,100 workers.

KAY HAGAN

News & Observer: On offense, Hagan amps up attack on GOP for unemployment benefit cuts
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan on Monday amplified her criticism of Republican state lawmakers for blocking long-term federal unemployment benefits for North Carolina workers, calling the move “irresponsible and cold-hearted.” Republican legislative leaders “willingly and knowingly” violated a federal law that led to the end of the benefits in July for 170,000 workers, Hagan said, as she highlighted her effort to restore the payments in a bill that faces a U.S. Senate vote Monday evening.

WRAL: Hagan pushes for restored jobless benefits as Republicans blame her for loss
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican state lawmakers traded barbs Monday as Congress prepared to take a series of votes that could restore long-term unemployment benefits to the state’s unemployed workers. The Congressional votes could lead to the restoration of benefits for thousands of unemployed North Carolina workers who lost weekly unemployment checks when a recently passed state law conflicted with federal unemployment rules. Monday’s exchange also reads like a preview of the coming U.S. Senate campaign in which Hagan, a Democrat, is seeking re-election and a leading lawmaker is her best known Republican rival. "This current General Assembly, controlled by the Republicans, knew that they would, in effect, cut off access to 170,000 North Carolinians, to the tune of $780 million," Hagan said.

WAYNE GOODWIN

News & Observer: Insurers seek 25 percent increase in NC homeowners insurance rates
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin blasted the industry’s request, which overall ranges from a decrease of 2.7 percent in some areas to an increase of as much as 35 percent in some regions along the coast, and urged the industry to withdraw it immediately. Goodwin ultimately would have to approve any rate increase.

Wilmington Star-News: Homeowner insurance rates in N.C. could jump up to 35 percent
In a statement released late Friday, Goodwin said he was "appalled" by the industry’s request just six months after the latest homeowner rate hike went into effect. "I believe the insurance companies should withdraw this rate filing immediately. If they do not, the insurance companies should expect a full hearing on this matter," he stated. "I will not entertain any settlement negotiations." Goodwin added that he took "offense at the insurance companies’ concerted efforts to file this request late on a Friday afternoon, when they think the public won’t be paying attention."

U.S. CONGRESS

Huffington Post: Unemployment Benefits Extension Advances In Senate

The razor-thin margin of victory was a major and unexpected boost for Democrats and President Barack Obama, who had made calls to Republicans on Monday night in hopes of wooing the necessary votes to overcome a filibuster. One hour before the vote was cast, in fact, operatives working on the issue were told that they would end up one short of the 60 needed. But passage by itself doesn’t restore assistance to the 1.3 million Americans whose benefits lapsed on Dec. 28.

Reuters: Obama-backed jobless bill clears Republican roadblock
A White House-backed bill to renew jobless benefits for 1.3 million Americans narrowly cleared a U.S. Senate Republican procedural roadblock on Tuesday. On a largely party-line vote of 60-37 – 60 were needed to prevail – the Democratic-led Senate agreed to begin consideration of the measure, which would extend recently ended benefits for three months at a cost of $6 billion.

The Hill: Boehner says jobless aid must be paid for
Democrats have latched on to the expired benefits and see the issue as potent politically, both because it allows them to press a message on income inequality and siphon attention away from the healthcare law. Six Republicans voted for the Senate unemployment extension — which does not contain any offsets — to clear an initial procedural hurdle, allowing the measure to proceed with the bare minimum of 60 votes.

Reuters: Yellen punches through ‘glass ceiling’ at U.S. Fed
Janet Yellen – a skilled economist who likes to hike and cook – made history on Monday as the U.S. Senate confirmed her to be the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve in its 100-year history. Yellen, 67, the central bank’s No. 2 since 2010, will take over as chair of the Fed after Ben Bernanke’s term comes to a close at the end of this month. In doing so, she will take the reins of the world’s largest economy and become the most powerful person in the world of finance.

2014

News & Observer: Millions in outside money behind attacks on Hagan
How low will they go? Well, Republican-connected groups probably haven’t found the bottom of the barrel yet. It’s early, after all, in the 2014 campaign against Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. This much is certain, however. Republicans, including House Speaker Thom Tillis and his people, are perfectly prepared to try to buy the Senate seat with outside dollars, notably from groups associated with the ultraconservative Koch brothers. The two fund front groups to push their agenda while obscuring who is behind the effort. Even though Tillis has a tough primary fight ahead, the Kochs and their crowd may be betting that the speaker who presided over one of the most destructive legislative sessions in North Carolina history will be the GOP nominee.

Charlotte Observer: Special House election for Watt seat to overlap regular schedule

Before a White House ceremony, Watt was sworn in at the agency by his Charlotte protégé and one-time campaign manager, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. The special election to fill his seat will involve the first special primary election in the state’s history – and create what might be the longest vacancy – according to legislative counsel Gerry Cohen. With an expected July runoff and November general election, it means the district will be without representation for nearly a year.

WRAL: Former NC commerce secretary announces bid for US House
Former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco formally announced his bid for Congress Monday. Crisco, a Democrat, plans to run against Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Republican representing North Carolina’s Second Congressional District. "We need representatives in Washington who will focus on the important issues facing the country," he said in a statement. "Leadership is the ability to bring people together, to work to find consensus and forge government policies that make life better for the people across the Second Congressional District."

OPINION/COMMENTARY

Slate: Pay Our Teachers or Lose Your Job If you talk to a teacher in North Carolina, you will hear the bitter truth of how difficult it is for them to make ends meet. Most teachers at Ben’s school work at least one extra job. An elementary school teacher told me that his daughters do not have the chance to play soccer or cello like his students. He has no discretionary income left to spare. What are we teaching our children about the value of education? When my boys see a teacher outside school, they rush up to say hello, eyes bright with admiration and respect. How I wish our children could minister to the adults in my state. While the majority of us remain quiet, North Carolina teachers face incessant reminders that they are not valued.

The Daily Reflector: N.C. Editorial: McCrory unwavering
If you thought — as some have speculated — that Gov. Pat McCrory was wavering on his decision to reject a federal Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, his office stomped on that notion the week of Christmas with a harsh holiday statement. McCrory and Republican lawmakers have been taking heat this year since declining the expansion, which would have extended health care coverage to anyone at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The expansion was paid for with federal funds through 2016, with the federal government also paying 90 percent after that.

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Micah Beasley, Communications Director
North Carolina Democratic Party
MBeasley
@Micah4NC

Paid for by North Carolina Democratic Party. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.