NCDP Clips for Monday, March 4, 2013


POLITICO – 3 sequestration scenarios
The era of austerity may have arrived.
President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans are dug in on the sequester, and there are no signs of a quick fix to the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts that both sides say they disdain. That could certainly change after a few bad months of economic numbers or a public outcry. But until average Americans feel the cuts, neither side looks willing to budge on the key issue of revenues without some game-changing factor. And neither party is inclined to risk a government shutdown on sequester politics. “I don’t think anyone quite understands how the sequester is really going to work,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) conceded in an interview aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

NBC NEWS – A truce – for now
After their fifth budget battle in the past two years and after the sequester cuts went into effect on Friday, both sides seemed to wave the white flag and declare a political truce — for now. President Obama, during his press conference on Friday, suggested little appetite for a showdown over government operations, which will expire later this month. “If the bill that arrives on my desk is reflective of the commitments that we’ve previously made, then obviously I would sign it because I want to make sure that we keep on doing what we need to do for the American people.” And in interview on “Meet the Press,” House Speaker John Boehner did the same. “We, the House next week will act to extend the continuing resolution through the end of the fiscal year, September 30th,” he said. “The president this morning agreed that we should not have any talk of a government shutdown. So I’m hopeful that the House and Senate will be able to work through this.” What does this mean? Frankly, both sides have to be politically exhausted. Obama wants to move on to other issues like immigration reform and guns, as he said on Friday. (And it’s no coincidence that Obama’s job-approval numbers seem to decline during these budget battles.) Republicans, meanwhile, want to pass their budget and move on to the appropriations process. Bottom line: Everyone wants a timeout.

CBS NEWS – With sequester in place, what’s next?
The government is not going to shut down on March 27, lawmakers from both parties are assuring their constituents, three days after an axe dropped indiscriminately across the federal budget leaving millions of jobs and government-funded projects in flux.

It’s a mad scramble to save face following yet another failure by Congress in recent years to avert a budget crisis, but it comes with a stipulation: To agree on a drama-free measure to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year, legislators are unlikely to include in the deal a replacement package for sequestration, despite pressure from all sides to do so.


WRAL – Voter ID coming
As of yet, no lawmaker has filed a bill to require voters show identification when they go to the polls, but that may be about to change.
House Speaker Thom Tillis told those attending a conservative political action conference in Raleigh Friday that such a bill may be coming soon.
Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for Tillis, confirmed that a voter ID "process" would begin next week, although Tillis did not mean to indicate a specific piece of legislation would be moving.

THE DAILY HERALD – NC lawmakers, gov looking at lottery changes
The North Carolina Education Lottery sold its first tickets in March 2006, but seven years later it appears the lottery’s luck with state government could be wearing thin.
Members of the General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory are interested in scaling back or altering how the lottery advertises. Doing so could hurt annual sales that reached $1.6 billion last fiscal year and helped send $457 million to the state for education initiatives — records that have a chance to be broken again this summer.

In contrast to Govs. Mike Easley and Beverly Perdue — both Democrats who supported the lottery — McCrory called out the lottery in his recent State of the State address.

WRAL – House GOP buries proposal to cut commission salaries
House Republicans on Thursday praised the proposed overhaul of state boards and commissions for cutting the size and cost of state government.
But at the same time, caucus leaders used a procedural move to bury a proposal to slash the six-figure salaries of members of the state Utility Commission.
The amendment, run by Rep. Susi Hamilton, D-New Hanover, would have cut the salaries from more than $120,000 a year to about $80,000.
With the amendment before the House for a vote, Republican Rules Chairman Tim Moore used a parliamentary maneuver – a motion for the amendment "to lie upon the table" – to bury the proposal.

THE HUFFINGTON POST – North Carolina Bill Would Dismiss Democrats From Various Boards
North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature is set to do battle over legislation that would allow the state’s new Republican governor to make a sweeping overhaul of several of the state’s regulatory boards.

Lawmakers are scheduled to consider legislation that would remove Democratic members from a series of powerful boards, including those overseeing public utilities, coastal issues and the state lottery, and would allow Gov. Pat McCrory (R) to appoint his own members in their place, reports. The current board members are serving fixed terms, which prevents McCrory from having any immediate affect on the agencies. The legislation is not going unchallenged, however, as GOP state House committee members are seeking to change the proposal, which originated in the Senate.

FOX CHARLOTTE – Senate Bill Would Allow Bible Study in NC Public Schools
Students in grades nine through 12 may soon be able to take a Bible study course for credit in public high schools – as early as next school year. Senate Bill 138 calls for an elective course on the Old Testament, New Testament or a combo of both, that maintains "religious neutrality" and one that doesn’t "endorse, favor or promote any particular religion." Students would learn about Biblical characters, poetry and stories. The goal: better understanding of today’s society by reflecting on the past.

It’s being sponsored by 17 North Carolina legislators, including Democrat Gene McLaurin. The District 25 State Senator says, "I feel the opportunity for future generations to gain wisdom and knowledge from the Bible is a real positive for North Carolinians." McLaurin says this is an issue above party politics. He says only a few of his constituents have expressed concerns. "There is no intent to show any hostility towards any other religion," he says.

WINSTON-SALEM CHRONICLE – Parmon: current session is the worst
With the election of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, the North Carolina Legislature became a supermajority, with Republicans controlling the House, Senate and the Governor’s Mansion, and local Democrats say they are feeling the effects of that change in Raleigh.

In November, prior to the start of the 2013-2014 session, Parmon had voiced concerns about Democrats’ ability to get any progressive legislation passed.
“I think we’re going to see a complete right wing agenda trying to be accomplished, and having the General Assembly under Republican control, the governor will just rubber stamp the legislation,” she told The Chronicle shortly after her election to the NC Senate’s District 32 seat. “I’m afraid that we’re going to see the kinds of things that we’ve seen in Washington in the last few years in terms of gridlocks and a lot of fighting.”


THE WASHINGTON POST – How JFK’s mistake led to the sequester mess
Blame it on JFK.
Fifty years ago, President Kennedy made a decision that, with hindsight, ranks as the biggest mistake of domestic policy since World War II. In many ways, it led directly to today’s “sequester” debacle.
What Kennedy did was this: In early 1963, he proposed a $13.6 billion tax cut (today: about $320 billion) even though the economy was not in recession and the tax cut would enlarge the budget deficit. Kennedy adopted the theory that government could, by manipulating its budgets, increase economic growth, reach “full employment” (then a 4 percent unemployment rate) and reduce — or eliminate — recessions.

It was a disaster.

NEWS & OBSERVER – Voting Rights Act: Conservatives trying to have it both ways
It’s been a week of big events in the voting rights world, and I’ve been privileged enough to witness much of it first-hand.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Even Justice Samuel Alito has acknowledged that this law is “one of the most successful statutes that Congress passed in the 20th century and one could probably go farther than that.”


Clay Pittman
Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
Twitter: @ClayPittman