Governor McCrory and legislative Republicans have a theory: Cut taxes and regulations, and jobs will flow in. What if they’re wrong – not only on the economics, but also on the politics? What if their theory leads to North Carolina becoming a more Democratic state? The question arises from two recent conversations: one with an experienced economic developer and the other with a local real estate agent. Both said their prospects today are asking: “What’s going on in North Carolina?” (Which was the first question, though he used more colorful language, that John Oliver asked in his show Saturday night. He added: “North Carolina is the meth lab of democracy.”) That word is getting around the country. If McCrory, Berger, Tillis & Co. are wrong, companies aren’t saying: “Let’s get on down to North Carolina where taxes are low and regulations are non-existent.” They’re saying: “Are the smart, creative people I need going to go there – or stay there?” And: “Does my family want to live there?”
North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker says the state’s effort to reduce unemployment is being hurt because the state is attracting jobless people. The Charlotte Observer reported ( http://bit.ly/184IShS ) that Decker says the state is also suffering because of a gap between the skills workers have and the skills employers require. Decker told a Charlotte women’s commercial real estate group Tuesday the state has had problems lowering its 8.3 percent unemployment rate because North Carolina attracts people looking for work. She says the state will have to take several approaches to solve the problems. Decker pointed out that rural areas have different problems than the Charlotte and Research Triangle Park areas.
NC Policy Watch: Berger’s telling bluster on NC PreK ruling
Last week’s narrowly written North Carolina Supreme Court decision about NC PreK didn’t really break any new ground. It mostly reinforced the status quo, affirming again that all children in the state have a constitutional right to a sound, basic education that includes access to pre-k programs for at-risk kids. It also vacated a lower court decision that found new specific barriers to pre-kindergarten access unconstitutional because the General Assembly removed the new barriers that it had earlier imposed. But if the decision itself wasn’t earth-shattering, the reaction to it spoke volumes, particularly from folks like Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who couldn’t have been more pleased, saying that the ruling was “a clear affirmation of the General Assembly’s central role in shaping education policy – and the size and scope of North Carolina’s pre-K program.” Berger went on to claim that the vast majority of at-risk kids are currently being served by the budget that lawmakers passed this year. That will come as news to the parents of the 40,000 or so at-risk four year olds who cannot enroll in the program because Berger and his colleagues didn’t see fit to provide enough funding.
Senate Republicans blocked another one of President Barack Obama’s nominees to a key appellate court, enraging Democrats and further raising the prospects of a battle over changing the rules that govern the chamber. Nina Pillard fell short of the 60 votes needed to clear a Republican filibuster of her nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, with the Senate voting 56-41 on Tuesday with one lawmaker voting present. She is the third nominee to the D.C. Circuit that Republicans have blocked this year, joining Caitlin Halligan and Patricia Millett in being unable to persuade even a handful of Republicans to support their confirmation to a bench that is often seen as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court.
It’s not just red-state Democrats who want to take aggressive steps to mend controversial provisions in Obamacare. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that she will co-sponsor a bill by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) to require insurance companies to continue offering their existing health care plans — a way to make good on President Barack Obama’s promise that consumers can keep their current coverage if they like it. “This bill provides a simple fix to a complex problem,” Feinstein said in a statement Tuesday, calling Landrieu’s proposal a “commonsense fix” and urged Congress to pass it “quickly.”
Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is asking for an official probe into the failed launch of the website portal for the Affordable Care Act. In a draft letter to the Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Inspector General, Hagan urges them to investigate the design, implementation and launch timeline for HealthCare.gov, as well as how contracts were awarded to the 55 companies that worked on the rollout. She’s also asking for an accounting of how much fixing the site will cost and whether the federal government can recoup any of the money it has already paid to vendors who failed to meet performance standards.
North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan said Tuesday that she’s seeking more answers about the poor rollout of the federal health insurance exchange. The Democrat is again trying to balance support for President Barack Obama’s signature health overhaul law – which she voted for – while responding to constituent displeasure with it a year before her re-election bid. Hagan told reporters she’s asking Senate colleagues to sign a letter she drew up that seeks information from federal auditors about the run-up to the web portal’s Oct .1 launch. She wants to know more details about the dozens of contractors who worked on the project, how much they were paid and whether fixing problems will require more taxpayer dollars.
The defense industry’s glory days on Capitol Hill are coming to an end. The past year has been tough for some of the industry’s stalwarts. In December, the defense establishment lost Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), a Medal of Honor recipient who then chaired both the Appropriations Committee and its subcommittee on defense. Just last month Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, died. And a few days later, former Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), a longtime leader of the Armed Services Committee, died nearly three years after he was defeated for reelection. Still ahead is the retirement of Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who announced in March he’s not seeking reelection next year.
State Sen. Mark R. Herring padded his still-narrow lead over state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain on Tuesday night in the race for Virginia attorney general, giving the Democrat an apparent 163-vote advantage before the results of the contest are certified. The Fairfax County Electoral Board finished reviewing provisional ballots – mostly cast by people who did not have ID or went to the wrong polling place – and added 160 votes to Herring’s (Loudoun) total and 103 votes to the Republican’s. Herring already led on the State Board of Elections Web site by 106 votes.
Political Wire: McAuliffe Kept Digital Edge for Democrats
Politico: "A year after the 2012 election in which the Obama campaign dominated on data and Republicans wondered how they could catch up, both parties saw 2013 as not only a testing ground for new digital strategies but also a test of how much ground the GOP has made up. Democratic Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe’s campaign, building on the foundations of Obama’s 2012 data operation, was able to adapt many of Obama’s data strategies to a state-level race."
For Virginia Republicans, this month’s gubernatorial race demonstrates that standing in place means losing ground.A comparison of two governor’s races – the relatively close 2013 contest and the 2005 election when Democrat Tim Kaine defeated Republican Jerry Kilgore – illustrates the dangers for the GOP if the party does not respond to a rapidly changing state electorate. Eight years ago, when the GOP’s socially conservative message had more traction, Kaine received 61.3 percent of the two-party vote in populous Fairfax County. Earlier this month, Republican Ken Cuccinelli held Democrat Terry McAuliffe to 61.6 percent of the two-party vote in the county. But that that nearly identical percentage in both years translated into nearly 13,000 more votes for the Democrats – but only 6,600 more for the GOP – in 2013.
On Tuesday, the party of Lincoln notched a big win. No, not the GOP, but the Whig Party, the original party of Lincoln. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Robert Bucholz defeated Democrat Lorretta Probasco to become the judge of election for the Fifth Division of the 56th Ward by a margin of 36-24 to become the first elected Whig in Philadelphia, if not the entire country, in roughly 150 years. Bucholz is a member of the centrist Modern Whig Party, which was founded in 2007 and claims to be successor to the Whig Party, which was one of the two major parties in the United States during the early 19th century. (The Modern Whigs are not to be confused with the True Whig Party, which ran Liberia as a one-party state for over a century until a military coup in 1980.) The original Whig Party elected two presidents, William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor and was led by such notable statesmen as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. However, it broke up in the 1850s as the issue of slavery came to the fore in American politics.
Conservative author Ann Coulter, in her Twitter feed, endorsed Dr. Greg Brannon in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, and blasted House Speaker Thom Tillis for his position on immigration. The state Democratic Party relished prospects of a bloody GOP primary. “Ann Coulter’s endorsement of Greg Brannon shows the outsize influence the fringe of the party will have in the May primary,’ wrote Democratic Party spokesman Ben Ray. The winner of the GOP primary will face incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in the general election.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is tied with Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, according to a new Democratic poll. McConnell and Grimes each take 37 percent in the poll, conducted for MoveOn.org Political Action by the Democratic firm Lake Research Partners. Just under a fifth of voters are still undecided. The race is a top priority for Democrats, who see Grimes as a legitimate threat to McConnell and plan to spend heavily on her behalf. Still, it’s an uphill race for her against McConnell, a tough campaigner with a large war chest.
Let’s take a look at the Greg Brannon coalition announced so far: Rand Paul and Ann Coulter. And let’s consider the new Public Policy Polling numbers that put Brannon as the only Republican candidate besting Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan right now. All GOP candidates – including the more prominent challengers, Thom Tillis and Mark Harris – are within the margin of Hagan. But the idea that Brannon may have the “best” chance of beating Hagan is intriguing, especially given the unanswered questions hanging over his plagiarism controversy.
Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan has seen her lead over prospective GOP opponents melt away because of the unpopularity over Obamacare and TV attacks, according to a new poll. Her Republican opponents have pulled even with Hagan, according to a new survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm based in Raleigh. Cary physician Greg Brannon leads her 44-43 percent. Hagan leads House Speaker Thom Tillis 44-42 percent, Charlotte pastor Mark Harris 43-41 percent, and nurse Heather Grant 43-40 percent.
The Democrat who was appointed to fill powerhouse Marc Basnight’s seat in the state Senate – and then narrowly lost it last year in his first election – is running to regain the seat. The Outer Banks Voice newspaper reports that Stan White has announced his candidacy for the position held by Sen. Bill Cook, whose first term ends next year. White, who owns a real estate agency, claims the Republican-controlled General Assembly failed to deliver on its promise for jobs and a better economy. The state GOP was quick to slam him as “Stan The Tax Man White,” apparently for his support of the Democratic agenda in the legislature and opposition to Republican budget cuts.
If it takes an imagined presidential run to generate interest in her signature issue of banking reform, freshman Senator Elizabeth Warren won’t be issuing any Shermanesque statements. A professor turned politician, she was among the first to sound the alarm bell on a runaway banking industry, and now she’s using her seat on the Senate Banking committee to warn of another “too big to fail” crisis in the making. Praised for her tenacity in penetrating the obscurity created by Wall Street to shield high-risk derivatives from scrutiny, and her clarity in exposing these practices to the American people, Warren would be a dream candidate for those who cheered last year’s Occupy Wall Street movement, and for progressives in general.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is accelerating efforts to explore another bid for the presidency. But few Republicans, including some past supporters, are excited at the prospect of him launching a second White House campaign.Perry is making all the moves of a traditional candidate, with multiple visits to Iowa, an upcoming trip to South Carolina and a flurry of recent appearances on cable news networks. But following his disappointing 2012 campaign, and heading into an election where the GOP field appears to be much stronger, few strategists think he would stand a real chance of winning the 2016 nomination. The Texas governor’s biggest hurdles, say strategists, are overcoming voters’ memory of his infamous “oops” moment in a 2011 GOP debate, and convincing the big donors who fueled his campaign last time to stick with him over other contenders.
Morning Money: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gets all the love as the current GOP front-runner for 2016 (to the extent there can even be a front runner three years out.) But there is growing chatter in elite New York financial circles that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is giving more serious consideration to getting in the race, especially if it appears at any point that Christie is not drawing big national appeal beyond the northeast. Several plugged in GOP sources said Bush has moved from almost certainly staying out to a 30 percent chance of getting in. The ’70/30′ odds pop up in so many conversations they almost seem like circulated talking points."
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday he is going to take a hard look at running for president after the 2014 elections. Ryan —Mitt Romney’s former vice presidential running mate in 2012 —said he is not currently “worrying about my own personal ambitions and career moves.” “I’ve decided I will consider this later,” Ryan told The Des Moines Register. “Once I’m through with this term, then I’m going to give a hard look at it.” He is slated to headline Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s (R) birthday party over the weekend. Another presidential prospect, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), keynoted the event last year. It will be Ryan’s first return to the early presidential nominating state, a testing ground for potential 2016 candidates.
Fifty years ago, North Carolina was a different place. In 1960, this was still a very poor state with a poverty rate of 37 percent. Half of all North Carolina students dropped out of school before obtaining a high school diploma. Of adults 25 and older, one-fourth had less than a sixth-grade education and were, for all practical purposes, illiterate. Like the rest of the country, North Carolina’s poverty rate sharply declined through the rest of the century as living standards improved. North Carolina’s poverty rate fell to 20.3 percent by 1969, to 14.8 percent in 1979, to 13 percent in 1989, and to 12.3 percent in 1999. Much of that drop was because of a growing economy. But most economists also believe that social programs passed by Congress in the ’60s such as Medicaid, Medicare, federal housing programs and food stamps also played an important role. Since 2000, North Carolina has been marching in reverse.
During what now feels like a lost golden age, most North Carolina lawmakers once thought it was a good thing if more people voted. North Carolina was among the nation’s leaders in making it easier to register and allowing a generous window of time for early voting. The effects of fostering better voter turnout showed in 2008 when Barack Obama became the first black president in part because of North Carolina’s surprising support from new voters. With Obama’s election, the consensus that encouraging maximum participation seemed to evaporate. Republican-controlled state legislatures raised alarms about voter fraud. They began passing laws that make it harder to register and to vote. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University reports that at least 90 bills restricting voting were introduced in 33 states this year. In an encouraging opposing trend, 10 states passed 13 bills that aimed to make it easier for citizens to register and vote.
As the nation recovers from the Republican shutdown of government, the question Americans should be asking is not "Why did the GOP do that to us?" but "Why were they even relevant in the first place?" So dramatically have the demographic and electoral tides in this country turned against the Republican Party that, in a representative democracy worthy of the designation, the Grand Old Party should be watching from the sidelines and licking its wounds. Not only did Barack Obama win a second term in an electoral landslide in 2012, but he is also just the fourth president in a century to have won two elections with more than 50 percent of the popular vote. What’s more, the party controls 55 seats in the Senate, and Democratic candidates for the House received well over a million more votes than their Republican counterparts in the election last year. And yet, John Boehner still wields the gavel in the House and Republican resistance remains a defining force in the Senate, frustrating Obama’s ambitious agenda.
A network of elected officials across the state has formed to advance rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in North Carolina. Calling itself N.C. Electeds for Equality, the group so far has 31 members, including representatives of the Council of State, General Assembly, and local mayors, commissioners and council members. The network was announced at Saturday’s Equality N.C. Foundation gala in Greensboro, where Attorney General Roy Cooper gave the keynote address.
North Carolina’s most prominent gay rights organization says it’s assembled elected officials who are interested in advancing policies it says will promote equal rights and justice. Equality North Carolina announced Tuesday it’s created what’s called "NC Electeds for Equality." There are initially more than 30 local and state officials such as Attorney General Roy Cooper, State Treasurer Janet Cowell, mayors and legislators. Equality NC says the group will help officials learn more about issues affecting gays and lesbians and bisexual and transgendered people. Equality NC unveiled the "NC Electeds" group at its annual fundraising gala last weekend.
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is expected to sign a bill Wednesday legalizing gay marriage, expanding the state’s aloha spirit and positioning the islands for more newlywed tourists. Abercrombie was expected to sign the bill Wednesday morning at an invitation-only ceremony at the Hawaii Convention Center, near the tourist heart of Waikiki. The measure will allow thousands of gay couples living in Hawaii and even more tourists to marry in the state starting Dec. 2. Another 14 states and the District of Columbia already allow same-sex marriage, while a bill is awaiting the governor’s signature in Illinois.
A North Carolina judge is taking stock of whether state officials are making progress in their duty to give every child a chance at a sound, basic education. Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. opens a hearing in Raleigh on Wednesday. It will measure the states compliance with state Supreme Court rulings dating back almost two decades that require the state to do more for children in its lowest-performing and poorest counties. The hearing comes after two developments last week. New statewide test results show that students in four of the five counties that are the focus of the case still lag way behind the statewide average.
JAY CARNEY: I think as you saw the president say in an interview with NBC last week, the answer’s yes. The president has asked his team with looking at a range of options — as he said — to make sure that nobody is put in a position where their plans have been canceled and they can’t afford a better plan even though they’d like to have a better plan. You heard the president address this very issue in his interview last week. And I think it’s important to note that President Clinton, in that interview, also said, and I quote, ‘the big lesson is that we are better off with this law than without it.’ And he said, quote, ‘the enrollment period did not come off well because the national website wasn’t ready. But this happened once before. It happened when President Bush put in the Medicare drug program for seniors, which was not as complicated but had exactly the same problem with the rollout. It was a disaster. There were people that lost their prescriptions for their existing medicine and they fixed it.’
Have women won the gender war? Looking at the debate following last week’s release of data on women’s earnings in 2012 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you might think so. Commentators have rushed to point out that women now out-earn men in part-time jobs. Some suggest that the “77 cent to the dollar” factoid ignores important factors such as career choice or the tendency for women to work fewer hours. These arguments echo books such as Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men and Liza Mundy’s The Richer Sex, which argue that women are pulling ahead of men. But are they really? And critically, are wage gains for women translating to more social mobility?
Reproductive rights in Texas have made headlines this year with the implementation of a law that has halted abortion services at one third of the state’s clinics, including both of the clinics in the Rio Grande Valley, and is ultimately expected to close 37 of the 42 abortion providers in the Lone Star state. But the stories compiled here, by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the Center for Reproductive Rights, are a reminder that abortion is only one of many services that women need—and that as Republicans target family planning clinics in their siege against abortion, they shut down medical centers that provide this larger battery of women’s health care, too.
Salon: Sarah Palin, Richard Cohen and today’s sad, sad GOP
As I said on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation,” “white privilege” can be a tough term to define precisely, but I’d say Palin ran a clinic on it in Iowa. White privilege consists of either being so ignorant about slavery that you can compare it to the national debt, or so entitled that you know it’s an absolutely bogus and invidious comparison but you go ahead and make it anyway because … free speech! Or something. But this is the main political capital that the Republican Party seems to have today: the anger and grievance of older white voters, most of them male, at the multiracial country that’s emerging in their lifetimes, as personified by President Obama. The mainstream media, though, is having a very hard time deciding how big a deal that is, and so they highlight someone – in this case, me – calling it a big deal, in order to suggest, well, liberals are going a little too far on this race stuff, too. Aren’t they? No, we’re not.
Last week’s news included the latest in what has become a regular pattern of violence in Wilmington involving young men, as well as yet another case in which law enforcement officers felt it necessary to use force to defend themselves. Also last week, the state released the first test scores measuring how North Carolina students did on the Common Core exams taken last school year. As expected, proficiency dropped significantly across the board. And with few exceptions, schools with the highest percentage of students from low-income families and troubled neighborhoods had the lowest levels of proficiency. While some may consider these topics unrelated, the inherent link involving poverty, student achievement and gang violence cannot be denied or wished away.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
|Paid for by North Carolina Democratic Party. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.|