Speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Monday, Gov. Pat McCrory defended his decision not to expand Medicaid but said a new federal rule could force his hand. U.S. Health and Human Services officials, speaking on background, say the governor’s interpretation of the rule is flawed. In a 45-minute question-and-answer session with Heritage Vice President Becky Dunlop, McCrory said he decided not to expand Medicaid because he didn’t feel the state’s Department of Health and Human Services could handle the expansion. "In a very short period of time, I would have had to put a brand-new bureaucracy together at a time period that I couldn’t meet. I knew I couldn’t meet it when my current bureaucracy couldn’t handle the Medicaid costs overruns that were currently happening," he said. But McCrory hinted that that decision could change. "We just got a new reg which might, in fact, force us to do Medicaid expansion, whether we want to or not, in the upcoming year," he told the audience.
Gov. Pat McCrory says he feels President Barack Obama’s pain. Obama has pulled out the stops in trying to fix the technical problems that have plagued the HealthCare.gov website since it opened for health insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act on Oct. 1. The president on Monday made a high-profile statement in the White House Rose Garden to stem criticism of the site, noting that he was also frustrated by the site delays and vowing to get things straightened out. McCrory has been on a similar hot seat in recent months, standing by his Department of Health and Human Services as it tries to address problems with two computer systems implemented this year. NCTracks has been slow in handling Medicaid claims, while NC FAST has left some people without food stamps benefits for months.
Gov. Pat McCrory suggested Monday that new federal regulations could force North Carolina to expand Medicaid eligibility to more low-income people under the Affordable Care Act. McCrory spoke in Washington at an event held by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Medicaid spokeswoman program Emma Sandoe said Monday the regulation McCrory was referring to has nothing to do with forcing the state to expand eligibility for the health care program. The rule concerns how hospitals treat certain patients and bill the government for it.
A story Tuesday on North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s visit to Washington on Monday mischaracterized a statement of his about college education. He said that more emphasis should be placed on vocational education. It also gave the wrong date for when he was invited to speak and the wrong location for the speech. McCrory was invited Sept. 20 to speak at the Heritage Foundation. Less than a week after the government shutdown ended, Gov. Pat McCrory traveled to the nation’s capital to give a talk to a group that championed the effort to tie government funding to defunding the health care law. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy group, introduced McCrory as the kind of Republican reformer that Washington could emulate.
A CNN host confronted a Republican congresswoman on Tuesday for dismissing some of the successes uninsured people have had in signing up for Obamacare, accusing the GOP lawmaker of rooting for the law’s failure. The heated exchange came in response to comments made by Gov. Steve Beshear (D-KY), who told CNN that his state-operated exchange, Kynect, is working well in Kentucky. “We’re signing up people at roughly a thousand a day. It’s a great rate and a great success so far,” he told on CNN’s “New Day,” describing the market as “a gold standard because it’s working.” Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) dismissed the state’s progress, however, insisting that Obamacare has “completely failed” and arguing that the governor is praising the program for political purposes:
Houston Barnes, a Democrat who heads a business law firm in the Research Triangle Park, announced Tuesday, that he would seek to challenge Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers next year. “We need a non-wavering voice in Washington that understands the needs within our communities and businesses,” Barnes said in a statement. “I’m proud of my record as an entrepreneur who works every day helping to develop and grow small businesses in our community, and in Congress, I will continue to fight for the people of North Carolina.” Barnes said he was filing the official paperwork for his candidacy this week. Also former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco said he is looking at seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2nd congressional district next May.
U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers is off to a tough start this week. Her Republican voters arewavering on their support. Two Democratic opponents have emerged. A CNN interview Monday ended in a tiff. And now this: her husband reported an AR-15 rifle stolen from the family’s home in Dunn last week. The weapon had been left leaning against a gun locker in an unlocked garage on Kingsway Drive, according to a police report. The rifle, a gun case and a GPS, with a cumulative value of $1,100, were reported stolen, according to Chief J.D. Pope. Police think the theft happened on the night of Oct. 15.
WRAL: AR-15, other items stolen from Ellmers’ home
Police say an unsecured AR-15 semi-automatic rifle was stolen last week from an unlocked garage at the family home of 2nd District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers in Dunn. Dunn Police Chief Jimmy Pope said Tuesday that the break-in was reported by Ellmers’ husband, Dr. Brent Ellmers, last Wednesday. Their 18-year-old son, Ben, a North Carolina State University freshman, also lives at the home. The AR-15 was left out in plain sight, next to a gun safe. It was stolen along with a gun case and a GPS unit. The last time the weapon was seen was on the evening of Oct. 15. The theft likely occurred overnight, Pope said. Asked if Brent Ellmers explained why the gun wasn’t locked up, Pope said, “I think they’d been out shooting, and it was just one of those things. They probably laid it down and planned to come back and put it away and just forgot about it.” Pope said the thief also went through at least one of the two cars in the garage, also unlocked, but that nothing else was reported missing.
Frank Roche, a 50-year-old Cary Republican, tells me he is planning to run in next year’s Republican primary against U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Dunn Republican, for the 2nd District. Roche used to be the host on Raleigh’s RUSH radio 106.1-FM station but now operates his digital show online at www.thefrankrocheshow.com. Roche said he considers himself to be “to the right” of Ellmers, whose district includes about half of Cumberland County. Ellmers has come under attack by some tea party groups for her record in Congress. “The second district needs a candidate who campaigns as a conservative and votes and serves as a conservative,” Roche said.
Forest was joined by Congressman Mark Meadows, who represents North Carolina’s 11th district (which includes Burke County). “I ask myself, ‘Where are the Ronald Reagans today? Will America see another Ronald Reagan?,’” said Forest. “But I see glimpses of Reagan in elected officials like Congressman Meadows… Meadows is the smartest man in Washington today.” Forest spoke of the recent turmoil regarding the debt ceiling in Washington, referring to the government shutdown as “bad math.” He explained to dinner guests that China recently downgraded America’s credit rating, saying that “America believes that it’s OK to continue to max out your credit card.”
A bitter Washington budget battle that partially closed the government for 16 days and took the United States to the brink of a debt default has hurt the labor market this month and will cost the economy vital growth, the White House said on Tuesday. "There is no question that this brinkmanship is going to cost us a couple of tenths (of a percentage point) on our growth rate in the fourth quarter and a decent number of jobs in October," White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman told CNBC television. The shutdown also delayed the release of last month’s jobs report by several weeks. It was published earlier on Tuesday and showed that a weaker-than-expected 148,000 jobs were created last month.
A new CNN/ORC poll finds that 64% of Americans say they have an unfavorable view of the Republican party, an all-time high dating back to 1992 when CNN first asked the question. Only 30% say they hold a favorable view of the party. Meanwhile, 56% say they have an unfavorable view of the tea party movement, another record high in CNN polling.
The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin, says that a House Republican leader told off President Barack Obama during a negotiation meeting, and that they are so disrespectful it’s practically impossible to have a conversation with them. “In a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you,’” Durbin wrote in a post on his Facebook page over the weekend. Calling a government shutdown strategy from Republicans “disastrous,” Durbin did not specify which leader made the comment, what the context was or how the president responded. The Senate majority whip offered the comment as rebuttal to the Republican argument that Obama does not do enough to communicate with Republicans, essentially saying to do so is impossible. “What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful?” Durbin wrote. The office of House Speaker John Boehner, Durbin’s office and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The “bugs” that have plagued the rollout of U.S. health-insurance exchanges will be fixed by Dec. 15, said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, the lead author of the 2010 health-care law. Baucus said earlier this year that he saw a potential “train wreck” occurring if President Barack Obama’s administration didn’t improve efforts to inform the public about the law. The federal exchanges, which opened Oct. 1, have suffered from technical problems in signing up Americans, most of whom are required to have insurance starting in January 2014. “I have the utmost confidence that every amount of energy is being devoted to solving — getting these patches out to fix the bugs,” Baucus said on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. “We’ll find a way.” For coverage to start Jan. 1, signup by Dec. 15 is required. Speaking in an interview later in the program, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, echoed Baucus’s remarks, saying the administration is making “strong progress” on the health-care law.
When Mike Lee toppled longtime Republican Sen. Robert F. Bennett here in 2010, it was the tea party’s first big triumph. But now, after a 16-day government shutdown, it’s Lee who faces a revolt within his own party. Utah, one of the most Republican states in the nation, has a long tradition of being represented by pragmatic, business-minded conservatives in the U.S. Senate. Lee broke that pattern by governing as an ideological firebrand — standing alongside Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in the push for a shutdown in a failed bid to undermine President Obama’s health-care law. As a result, Lee’s approval ratings in Utah have cratered, and prominent Republicans and local business executives are openly discussing the possibility of mounting a primary challenge against him. Top Republicans are also maneuvering to redesign the party’s nomination system in a way that would likely make it more difficult for Lee to win reelection in 2016.
The White House said on Tuesday there was no evidence President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare program is driving up the number of part-time workers, challenging the view of many business owners in the country. Conservative Republicans have pointed to the high level of part-time employment as evidence businesses are cutting hours for their staffs in response to the new healthcare law, which will require them to offer health insurance to full-time workers. And, indeed, one in five businesses in the service sector think the program, popularly known as "Obamacare," has hurt employment at their firms over the last three months, a National Association of Business Economics survey showed on Monday.Many businesses polled by the NABE said they were holding back on hiring due to the costs imposed by the law, and the survey also showed 15 percent of service sector firms planned to shift to more part-time workers due to Obamacare. But economic data on employment has been less compelling. The number of people with part-time jobs who want full-time work, for example, was essentially flat in September at 7.9 million."We are not seeing any effect in the data," Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told Reuters Insider.
As expected, he’s supporting Democrat Patrick Cannon. But his most enthusiastic statements were condemning the state GOP he believes would influence Republican candidate Edwin Peacock. “Unfortunately the Republican Party won’t allow anyone to be moderate anymore… a Republican candidate is going to be controlled by external forces in the Republican Party, and that’s not going to be good for the city of Charlotte."
Politico: Paul Ryan joins Ken Cuccinelli on call
Paul Ryan phoned into a conference call with Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday evening to warn that the federal government will never follow through on its funding promises to states that expand Medicaid. The Wisconsin congressman also joined the Republican candidate for Virginia governor in calling for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign over the botched Obamacare website rollout. Whether to grow the Medicaid rolls will be perhaps the biggest decision facing the winner of the off-year election, and Democrat Terry McAuliffe has promised to make it a priority. “I understand Ken’s opponent is claiming that the Medicaid expansion is going to pay for his many promises,” said Ryan. “I see it as one big empty promise. … So-called free money from Washington isn’t free and isn’t going to come.”
Speaker of the House Thom Tillis? Not as popular with campaign donors as the $1 million he said he’d raise might lead you to believe. The Associated Press moved this a little while ago: Almost a fourth of the money North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis says he’s raised for his U.S. Senate campaign came from his own pocket. Tillis’ latest campaign report shows the Republican lending $250,000 to his Senate bid on the report period’s last day. He announced last week raising more than $1 million since entering the race in May. The actual report lists $550,000 in contributions for the three months ending Sept. 30 and $830,000 to date. The debt brings the amount over $1 million. Tillis’ campaign has raised the most money and has the most cash among announced candidates for the Republican nomination. Campaign spokesman Jordan Shaw says the loan shows Tillis’ level of commitment to the race. The May primary winner will take on Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan. By the way, you might wonder why we’re talking about campaign fundraising announcements here instead of just quoting actual campaign finance documents, which are typically readily available online shortly after they’re filed. The answer is, because the United States Senate prefers to pretend it’s not 2013. From .
WRAL: Ellmers draws potential 2014 rivals
Second District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers has been booking a lot of time on cable TV news over the past few days, acting as a media spokeswoman for House Republicans’ opposition to the Affordable Care Act. But the second-term congresswoman’s rising profile isn’t dissuading potential challengers. One of them is former North Carolina Commerce secretary Keith Crisco, a Democrat, who said Tuesday that he’s weighing a 2014 bid for Ellmers’ seat. "It’s a consideration," Crisco said in a phone interview with WRAL News. "It’s early, and we’ve got a lot of work to do." "Some mighty nice people have encouraged me," he added, declining to name any of them. Crisco, a former Asheboro textile executive, was Commerce secretary under former Gov. Bev Perdue."My style was to work across the aisle," he said, "and I’ve been supported by Republicans, Democrats and independents." Asked why he might choose to challenge Ellmers now, Crisco alluded to the current stalemate in Congress. "I think people are ready for someone who’s willing to talk and find solutions – someone more centrist," he said. "I think that’s a better working approach." He says he expects to make a decision within the next month.
The women candidate-focused group EMILY’s List is showcasing some of the Democrats’ leading female figures in New York City next week, with Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful Allyson Schwartz and North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan focusing on how to elect more women in the coming years. The most high-profile work done by EMILY’s List this cycle has been its events about electing a woman as president, forums that have taken place in the abstract but very much with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in mind.
Hard-line conservatives are rising out of the ashes of a weekslong government shutdown, emboldened by the possibility of adding to their ranks in the Senate next year — whether by picking up Democrat-held seats or taking out Republican incumbents. Just two Republican senators have lost in primaries in the last two election cycles, but that’s not stopping a growing number of intraparty challengers this cycle. Conservative third-party groups and candidates hope to give more backup to folks like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, who led an effort to defund the health care law. The GOP brand overall may have taken a significant hit this month and caused at least some concern within the party about obtaining or keeping the majority in either chamber in the next couple of election cycles. But the shutdown only fueled challenges to sitting Republicans. It’s still too early to know exactly how competitive many of the challengers can be. At this point, there is a big difference in the competitiveness of the races from the top three to bottom three on this list. And as the most recent fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission illustrated, nearly all of the incumbents’ opponents are starting out in deep financial holes.
WRAL: Tillis borrows $250K from self for US Senate race
Almost a fourth of the money North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis says he’s raised for his U.S. Senate campaign came from his own pocket. Tillis’ latest campaign report shows the Republican lending $250,000 to his Senate bid on the report period’s last day. He announced last week raising more than $1 million since entering the race in May. The actual report lists $550,000 in contributions for the three months ending Sept. 30 and $830,000 to date. The debt brings the amount over $1 million. Tillis’ campaign has raised the most money and has the most cash among announced candidates for the Republican nomination. Campaign spokesman Jordan Shaw says the loan shows Tillis’ level of commitment to the race. The May primary winner will take on Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan.
The Republican Party is in trouble. A new Washington Post/ABC News survey shows just 32 percent of Americans hold a favorable opinion of the GOP, while 63 percent see Republicans in an unfavorable light. More than half of Americans, 53 percent, say Republicans in Congress were mainly responsible for the government shutdown, while just 29 percent pin the blame on President Obama. And by an 11-point margin, Americans say they will vote for a Democratic candidate for Congress rather than for a Republican. But given the challenges Democrats face and the heavily gerrymandered districts that work to protect incumbent members of Congress, it would take a political wave to unseat the House Republican majority. And at the moment, the Democratic advantage isn’t large enough to suggest that a wave is building. Let’s take a look at the Democratic advantage: Democrats lead the generic congressional ballot by 11 points among all adults, 49 percent to 38 percent. Among registered voters, that advantage shrinks to an 8-point gap, 48 percent to 40 percent.
If there’s anything I could get people to understand about the next election, it’s this: Even a 2006 or 2010-esque tsunami might not give Democrats control of the House. That might seem shocking. In 2006, Democrats won 31 seats; Republicans won 63 in 2010. Today, Democrats only need 17 seats—which might not sound like much. But the fact is that Republicans just aren’t exposed. To turn the “tsunami” into an extended metaphor, an unprecedented share of the Republican caucus has evacuated to high ground. There are only a handful of Republicans on Democratic-leaning turf—just two with a Cook PVI of D+2 or more, which measures how a district voted in recent presidential elections compared to the country. In 2006, there were 18 Republicans on similarly Democratic terrain, while a whopping 59 Democrats held lean-Republican districts heading into 2010.
Virginia Governor Democrat Terry McAuliffe has jumped to a 17-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia gubernatorial race following the federal government shutdown that hit Northern Virginia hard and Hillary Clinton’s weekend visit to the state. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Virginia Voters finds McAuliffe with 50% support to Cuccinelli’s 33%. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis is a distant third with eight percent (8%) of the vote. Three percent (3%) like some other candidate, while five percent (5%) remain undecided. The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters in Virginia was conducted on October 20, 2013 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
WRAL: State denies elections law violates rights
State officials responded Monday to two lawsuits filed over sweeping changes to elections laws, denying allegations that the legislation violates voters’ rights. The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, Common Cause of North Carolina and several individuals sued Gov. Pat McCrory and the State Board of Elections in August, alleging that regulations requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls, limiting early voting and ending same-day registration were designed to suppress voter turnout. The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a third lawsuit, alleging that North Carolina’s law is racially motivated. State officials haven’t yet responded to it. McCrory and Republican lawmakers who crafted the legislation contend that North Carolina is merely trying to combat voter fraud and ensure the integrity of its elections, and they note that many other states already have similar laws for voter ID, same-day registration and other provisions in North Carolina’s law.
Texas, beneath the radar of higher-profile national races, will hold elections this fall to address a number of proposed constitutional amendments. Though none of the nine proposed amendments are exactly headline-grabbing (one officially eliminates a state agency that shut down more than 25 years ago, for example) the election will be the first in which the state’s infamous new voter ID laws will be in effect. The anticipated impact of these new laws on suppressing minority votes has been well documented, but the effect of new laws on women has received markedly less attention. The new Texas law requires all voters to provide a photo ID that reflects their current name. If they cannot, voters must provide any of a series of other acceptable forms of identification all of which must match exactly and match the name on their birth certificate. Supporters of these new laws insist that requiring voters to have an ID that matches their birth certificate is a reasonable requirement. As Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has repeatedly said, "Almost every single person either has a valid photo ID … or it is very easy to get one." What they don’t say, however, is that the people who don’t are largely married women who have taken their husband’s name.
AS IF a global financial-market meltdown, the deepest U.S. recession in seventy years, an existential crisis in the euro zone and upheaval in the Middle East hadn’t already created enough trouble for one decade, now the unrest and anxiety have extended to some of the world’s most attractive emerging markets. Just in the past few months, we’ve seen a rough ride for India’s currency, furious nationwide protests in Turkey and Brazil, antigovernment demonstrations in Russia, strikes and violence in South Africa, and an ominous economic slowdown in all these countries. Adding to the uncertainty, as the carnage and confusion in Syria remind us, is the fact that there is no longer a single country or durable alliance of countries both willing and able to exercise consistent global leadership. The Obama administration and congressional Republicans don’t want to alienate a war-weary U.S. public by spending blood in the Middle East or treasure in Europe. Europe’s leaders have their hands full with the euro zone. And though the governments of emerging markets want a more prominent international voice, they face far too many tests at home to welcome new responsibilities abroad. Because no one is providing predictable leadership, international problems are more likely to become crises in the years to come, and the world’s wildfires will burn longer and hotter.
There are some who say the essence of the N.C. State Fair is on display each day in a white tent tucked behind the Kerr Scott Building. There, up on a stage at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m., cloggers, singers, musicians and other dancers perform in an array of delightful bursts, all of it with a nod to old-time, traditional entertainment. Some who cross the stage are 7 or 8 years old. Others are in their 70s and 80s. Almost all of them are competing for trophies, plaques, ribbons or cash prizes of no more than $125 in about 20 categories. A few show up and perform just for fun. It’s been going on for 65 years.
Pork Chop Shop fans, this is the last year to sit down at this beloved institution to enjoy a vinegary chopped barbecue sandwich or a pork loin plate at the N.C. State Fair. The N.C. Pork Council has been running the 178-seat restaurant during the fair’s now-11-day run for a quarter century. But the council’s executive director Deborah Johnson said it’s time to move on. Johnson said a number of factors went into the decision to end the Pork Chop Shop, which was started in 1988, a year after the pork industry launched the highly successful “The Other White Meat” ad campaign. State officials saw the Pork Chop Shop as an opportunity to leverage that brand at the State Fair and raise money for the council. Having succeeded at those aims, Johnson said the council wants to think about other ways it can be a presence at the fair, possibly hosting cooking demonstrations or debuting new food products.
WHERE SHOULD YOU LIVE?
The irony is not obvious, but it’s there. Last week, Thom Tillis, the Republican speaker of the North Carolina House and U.S. Senate candidate, joined two rivals for the GOP Senate nomination in saying that he would have voted “no” on the measure that ended the federal government shutdown and averted a deadline in raising the federal debt limit. Joining Tillis in criticizing the deal were Charlotte pastor Mark Harris and Cary doctor Greg Bannon, two other Republican contenders vying to replace Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. Tillis tried to couch his criticism as best he could, blaming the entire Washington crowd and noting that the deal may just delay the fight for another day. Still, that position, while catering to a conservative primary electorate, does neither he nor any of his GOP opponents much good once a primary is over and the real contest against Hagan begins. With polls showing North Carolinians unhappy with shutdown, it doesn’t require much insight to envision the political hay that the Hagan camp can make of the positions taken by her Republican challengers. Whoever emerges from the GOP primary will be accused of siding with “Washington tea party Republicans” in continuing a shutdown. The worst financial-related predictions of a fall off the fiscal cliff will be assumed, including a drop in Americans’ retirement savings, and the Hagan campaign will attempt to wrap those predictions around the neck of her eventual Republican opponent.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
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