NCDP Clips for October 3, 2013

NCDP

Carolina Journal: McCrory Calls Federal Election Lawsuit ‘In The Fringes’
N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller welcomed the Justice Department’s intervention. “This fight is about fairness and equal access to our country’s most fundamental freedom,” Voller said in a statement. U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, 1st District U.S. Rep. G.K. “Butterfield, and other Democratic leaders have been on the forefront protecting the right to vote," Voller said. "It’s time for Republicans to stop playing partisan tricks and stop putting up unnecessary roadblocks to vote in North Carolina.”

High Country Press: N.C. Democratic Party’s Response To ‘Tea Party Government Shutdown’
“Tea Party Republicans were warned time and time again that a government shutdown would harm our economy, the middle class and our service men and women. Despite this, Republicans have shirked their responsibility to keep government open for business,” said NCDP Chair Randy Voller. “The fringe Tea Party minority has seized control of government and lurched from one imaginary crisis to another at the expense of our economy and thousands of hardworking North Carolinians. It’s time for Republicans to get serious by ending this era of obstructionism and focusing on getting Americans back to work.”

Winston Salem Chronicle: As voters sour on GOP, Dems prepare for takeover
With just a little more than a year to go before the mid-term elections, it seems that many North Carolinians are having buyer’s remorse. The honeymoon is over for Republicans who decisively took control of the General Assembly last year. According to a recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey, 53 percent of state residents disapprove of state House and Senate Republicans. The news is even worse for Gov. Pat McCrory. A poll released this week by High Point University shows his approval rating at 38 percent.

SHUTDOWN

The Hill: Dems: Prolonged shutdown will give us leverage on debt limit
Senate Democrats believe the longer the government remains shut down, the more leverage they will wield in the debt-limit debate later this month. There is growing sentiment among Democrats that the short-term funding resolution and debt-limit increase should be combined. They claim the issues should be merged to take advantage of Republicans, who are pided and off balance trying to fend off blame for the shutdown. “This is now all together,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) about blending the two issues.

Political Wire: Taking a Hostage Without a Plan
Jonathan Chait: "Boehner does not seem to share his party’s sociopathic embrace of hostage tactics. Boehner resembles William H. Macy’s character in Fargo, who concocts a simple plan to have his wife kidnapped and skim the proceeds, failing to think a step forward about what happens once she’s actually seized by violent criminals. He doesn’t intend for her to be harmed, but also has no ability to control the plan once he’s set it in motion. In the end, Boehner’s Speakership is likely to end up in the wood chipper, anyway."

Huffington Post: Here’s A Tally Of Which House Republicans Are Ready To Fund The Government, No Strings Attached
In the hours since the government shut down, House Republicans have slowly but steadily been coming forward to say they’re ready to pass a bill to fund the government with no strings attached. As of Wednesday afternoon, the number of those Republicans hit 20 — surpassing the magic 17 votes needed to pass a clean funding bill if all 200 Democrats stick together and team up with them. Of course, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would have to be willing to put that bill on the floor in the first place. But if he did, the votes appear to be there for passage, at which point the bill would sail through the Senate and be signed by President Barack Obama, ending the shutdown. Here’s who those House Republicans are, and why they say they’re done with trying to force through provisions to delay or defund Obamacare in order to keep the government running. We’ll update the list when, or if, more come in.

Reuters: Obama, congressional leaders still deadlocked on shutdown
President Barack Obama met with Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress on Wednesday to try to break a budget deadlock that has shut wide swaths of the federal government, but there was no breakthrough and both sides blamed each other. After more than an hour of talks, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said Obama refused to negotiate, while House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused Republicans of trying to hold the president hostage over Obamacare. Reid said Obama told Republicans "he will not stand" for their tactics. The White House later issued a statement saying that Obama remains hopeful that "common sense will prevail." There was little to encourage hope for a quick solution to the two-day-old shutdown and hundreds of thousands of federal employees remained off the job without pay.

Bloomberg: Obama Says He’s Exasperated With House Republican Faction
President Barack Obama, declaring himself “exasperated,” said he won’t negotiate with Republicans on the U.S. budget until they reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling without conditions. Obama spoke today on CNBC in advance of an Oval Office meeting with the top four congressional leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner. Obama said Boehner should allow a vote on a bill to reopen the government, which the president said would pass on a bipartisan vote. “John Boehner right now has not been willing to say no to a faction of the Republican Party that are willing to burn the house down because of an obsession with my health-care initiative,” Obama said.

Real Clear Politics: A Different Sort of Shutdown
It’s different because Republicans are badly divided over the government shutdown while Democrats are united. President Obama and his party want to say, firmly and unequivocally, that they will never again give in to the Republicans’ abuses of the governing process — or to their willingness to risk catastrophe. In the GOP, by contrast, there was buyer’s remorse about the party’s current adventure even before it began. It’s different because the Republicans are causing fiscal chaos over an issue quite apart from normal budget wrangling, and making a demand — for gutting the Affordable Care Act — that they know Democrats, especially the president, cannot meet. It’s different because the new health care system got up and running on the very day the shutdown began. Conceding to the GOP would take health insurance away from people and ruin a program for which we now know there is a public appetite. It’s not going to happen.

The Wall Street Journal: Centrist Republicans Lobby Boehner to End Shutdown
A coalition of centrist House Republicans is lobbying House SpeakerJohn Boehner (R., Ohio) to find ways to end the partial government shutdown, lawmakers in the group said Wednesday. Some members in the group of GOP lawmakers met with Mr. Boehner twice on Wednesday, looking for ways to ease the budget impasse, including by passing a short-term spending bill stripped of all demands to change the federal health-care law. “We’re looking for ways to break the stalemate and get the government back open as quickly as possible,” said Rep.Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.) en route to his second meeting of the day with the top House Republican. Mr. Grimm said the group of roughly 16 to 18 “pragmatist” House Republicans is growing in size as lawmakers get increasingly frustrated with the partial government shutdown.

CNBC: Obama to Wall Street: This time be worried
Wall Street needs to be genuinely worried about what is going on in Washington, President Barack Obama told CNBC in a White House interview Wednesday. While gridlock in D.C. is nothing new, "this time I think Wall Street should be concerned," Obama said. "When you have a situation in which a faction is willing to default on U.S. obligations, then we are in trouble," Obama said. U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street Thursday. Late Wednesday, Obama met with Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell told CNBC’s "The Kudlow Report" that Washington is still far from resolving its differences over the fight to reopen the government.

Reuters: Democrats say Obama rejected Republican arguments on government shutdown in meeting
President Barack Obama rejected Republican entreaties to negotiate over his healthcare law on Wednesday as a condition for their agreement to approve legislation that would end a government shutdown, Democratic leaders said. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid emerged from more than an hour of talks with Obama, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top U.S. Republican and other congressional leaders to say Obama told Republicans "he will not stand" for their tactics. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Obama will not invoke a clause in the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution as a way to lift the U.S. debt ceiling on his own. The United States will run out of cash to pay its bills by October 17 if the debt ceiling is not raised.

CBS News: Poll: Americans not happy about shutdown; more blame GOP
On day three of the partial government shutdown, a new CBS News poll reveals that a large majority of Americans disapprove of the shutdown and more are blaming Republicans than President Obama and the Democrats for it. Fully 72 percent of Americans disapprove of shutting down the federal government over differences on the Affordable Care Act; just 25 percent approve of this action. Republicans are divided: 48 percent approve, while 49 percent disapprove. Most tea party supporters approve of the government shutdown – 57 percent of them do. Disapproval of the shutdown is high among Democrats and independents. This CBS News poll was conducted after the partial government shutdown began on October 1. Views of the Affordable Care Act are related to views of the shutdown. Those who like the health care law also overwhelmingly disapprove of shutting down the government. There is more support for the shutdown among Americans who don’t like the 2010 health care law. Thirty-eight percent of them approve of the shutdown but even more, 59 percent, disapprove.

CNN: GOP congressman on shutdown: ‘Crazy’ House GOP pushed a ‘silly strategy from the beginning’
Like many of his Republican colleagues, California Congressman Devin Nunes does not support the Affordable Care Act, so-called Obamacare. Unlike many Republicans, Nunes is publicly criticizing some of his colleagues, calling them "lemmings with suicide vests" earlier this week. When Nunes first started hearing of the strategy to shutdown the government in order to defund Obamacare, he did the math, and thought it couldn’t be done. Republicans didn’t have the 67 Senate votes needed to override a veto from the White House. "It’s just a matter of math. It was a silly strategy from the beginning," said Nunes. The resulting government shutdown, said Nunes, is bad for the Republican party.

The New York Times: In Showdown With G.O.P., a Scrappy Reid Plays Hardball
It was not enough for Senator Harry Reid to just dismiss Republican offers as “vexatious” or “kid’s stuff” or “one cockamamie, can’t-pass idea after another.” He called the White House and asked it to issue a veto threat, which it promptly did. It was not enough for Mr. Reid, the majority leader, to accuse his counterpart in the House, Speaker John A. Boehner, of being dragged around by a tribe of rogue “banana Republicans.” He leaked a series of e-mails between their offices in an attempt to humiliate the speaker. With Congress locked in an intractable budget dispute that kept the federal government shut down for a second day on Wednesday, Mr. Reid is not only acting as the public face of the no-compromise posture of Democrats on Capitol Hill, he is the power behind the scenes driving a hard-line strategy that the White House and Congressional Democrats are hoping will force Republicans to crack.

HEALTHCARE

Bloomberg: Overwhelming Demand for Obamacare Shows Potential Success
Obamacare’s opening day drew millions of consumers to the law’s core insurance exchanges, offering supporters and investors hope that if the websites can stay up and running, customers will follow. In New York, officials said their exchange had 2.5 million visitors in its first half hour yesterday. California reported as many as 16,000 hits a second. And U.S. officials recorded 2.8 million visitors to the federal website, healthcare.gov, even as it fought technical problems much of the day.The difficulties with the online insurance marketplaces gave new ammunition to Republicans who say the Affordable Care Act doesn’t work. President Barack Obama countered that the volume gives “a sense of how important this is to millions of Americans,” and administration officials said marketing of the exchanges will now start to pick up steam.

Los Angeles Times: The truth is, Americans love Obamacare
Among the many delusions guiding the Republican campaign against the Affordable Care Act, surely the most consistent is the idea that the public detests the law and is clamoring for repeal. Here’s the truth: The American public loves Obamacare, with as many as 88% in favor, according to one survey. How can that be, when polls regularly show a plurality of respondents with an "unfavorable" view of Obamacare? (In a September Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, the difference was 43% unfavorable to 39% favorable.) The answer, of course, is that most Americans have no idea what’s in the law. In the Kaiser survey, 57% said they didn’t have enough information to know how it would affect them. When they’re asked how they feel about specific provisions, however, they’re almost always thunderously in favor.

Politics NC: To spite your face
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin is telling the truth on the GOP. After news came out that North Carolina’s insurance rates would be, on average, higher than the nation as a whole, Goodwin told us why. It seems that in their effort to delay and obstruct Obamacare, Pat McCrory and the North Carolina legislature screwed the state’s citizens. Not that they care. In those heady days right after they took power, the Republican legislature and McCrory wanted to flex their muscles and showcase their ideological purity by thwarting Obamacare. They rejected the expansion of Medicaid that would have provided insurance, at no cost to the state, to 500,000 people. Then, they told the federal government that the state would not set up an exchange to sell insurance, leaving the task to the federal government. Their arrogant slaps at Obama’s signature program didn’t slow down implementation or make the feds blink. They just cost the people of North Carolina more money. The term “cutting off your nose to spite your face” comes to mind.

News and Record: A poor exchange
Last year, N.C. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin was developing plans for the state to operate a health care exchange. That was before the General Assembly said no. The legislature enacted a bill in February rejecting Medicaid expansion and state participation in the “Health Benefit Exchange” under the Affordable Care Act. The measure directed all state agencies to stop efforts to provide “any services” related to the exchanges and to return unspent federal grant money intended to launch the medical insurance program. That pushed Goodwin to the sidelines. What he sees from there bothers him, he said in an interview last week. The exchanges opened Tuesday, operated in North Carolina by the federal government — despite its partial shutdown. Consumers can look online (healthcare.gov) at medical coverage plans and select what best suits them at a price they can afford. Depending on their income, they may qualify for subsidies. North Carolina residents face fewer choices and significantly higher prices than the national average. Goodwin traces the reason for that to the bill enacted in February and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in March.

NCGA

News and Observer: NC needs to look again at Medicaid expansion
For all the wrong done during this stormy session of the General Assembly, the greatest wrong remains what lawmakers have chosen not to do: expand Medicaid. Republicans who lead the legislature have balked out of spite. The expansion is a key part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and they want no part of “Obamacare.” Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has said he would consider expansion after North Carolina’s “broken” Medicaid system is fixed. The Republicans’ reasons for opting out vary, but the effect is same: A forgoing of federal funds that will leave many low-income people uninsured and will cost the state and hospitals more for uncompensated care. Those consequences did not stop North Carolina and 14 other states – all with Republican governors – from refusing to participate.

News and Observer: GOP senator urges governor to obey unemployment law
A high-ranking Republican state senator said Wednesday that Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is flouting the law. Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, complained that McCrory hasn’t named an independent Unemployment Review Board to review decisions on unemployment benefits made by the state Division of Employment Security. Rucho’s remarks came during a legislative committee meeting where lawmakers were questioning Dale Folwell, the agency’s head. A 2011 law calls for the governor to appoint a three-person board to review appeals of agency decisions on unemployment benefits – regardless of whether that decision approves or denies benefits. The review board’s decisions would be subject to further review in the courts.

FRACKING

Bloomberg: Radiation in Pennsylvania Creek Seen as Legacy of Fracking
Naturally occurring radiation brought to the surface by gas drillers has been detected in a Pennsylvania creek that flows into the Allegheny River, illustrating the risks of wastewater disposal from the boom in hydraulic fracturing. Sediment in Blacklick Creek contained radium in concentrations 200 times above normal, or background levels, according to the study, published today in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The radium, along with salts such as bromide, came from the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility about 45 miles (72 kilometers) east of Pittsburgh, a plant that treats wastewater from oil and gas drilling. “The absolute levels that we found are much higher than what you allow in the U.S. for any place to dump radioactive material,” Avner Vengosh, a professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and co-author of the study, said in an interview. “The radium will be bio-accumulating. You eventually could get it in the fish.”

Smithsonian: Radioactive Wastewater From Fracking Is Found in a Pennsylvania Stream
In the state of Pennsylvania, home to the lucrative Marcellus Shale formation, 74 facilities treat wastewater from the process of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”) for natural gas and release it into streams. There’s no national set of standards that guides this treatment process—the EPA notes that the Clean Water Act’s guidelines were developed before fracking even existed, and that many of the processing plants “are not properly equipped to treat this type of wastewater”—and scientists have conducted relatively little assessment of the wastewater to ensure it’s safe after being treated. Recently, a group of Duke University scientists decided to do some testing. They contacted the owners of one treatment plant, the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility on Blacklick Creek in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, but, “when we tried to work with them, it was very difficult getting ahold of the right person,” says Avner Vengosh, an Earth scientist from Duke. “Eventually, we just went and tested water right from a public area downstream.” Their analyses, made on water samples collected repeatedly over the course of two years, were even more concerning than we’d feared. As published today in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, they found high concentrations of the element radium, a highly radioactive substance. The concentrations were roughly 200 times higher than background levels. In addition, amounts of chloride and bromide in the water were two to ten times greater than normal.

2014

WBTV: Harris unveils campaign for NC Senate nomination
A Charlotte minister is unveiling his bid for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Kay Hagan with an all-day campaign event that will take him to North Carolina’s largest media markets. The Rev. Mark Harris planned to begin his campaign kickoff on Wednesday morning in Wilmington and fly to New Bern, Raleigh-Durham, Greensboro and the Asheville area. He’ll wrap things up at night with a reception at a Charlotte hotel. Harris and three other Republicans are seeking the GOP nomination next May, including House Speaker Thom Tillis. Harris is the pastor at Charlotte’s First Baptist Church and the outgoing president of the Baptist State Convention. His profile rose among social conservatives while speaking out last year for a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage.

Charlotte Observer: Harris joins GOP race with appeal to social conservatives
Republican Mark Harris officially joined North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race Wednesday with an appeal to social and small-government conservatives who helped him win passage of last year’s marriage amendment. Fresh off leading a revival in Eastern North Carolina, the Charlotte pastor wrapped up a day-long tour in Charlotte after a fly-around to six cities from Wilmington to Asheville. Harris, 47, is pastor of First Baptist Church and president of the N.C. Baptist State Convention. In his first try for public office, he hopes to turn political inexperience into an advantage.

2016

Kentucky: Rand Paul says 2016 presidential chatter is ‘good for Kentucky’ .
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said Kentuckians shouldn’t worry that his flirtations with a White House run are coming at their expense. "I’m home every weekend," Paul said Tuesday in an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader. "I go to my kids’ soccer games, my kid’s golf matches. I go to church every Sunday in my hometown." Paul’s presidential aspirations have become a hot topic on the national scene this year, aided by his visits to states — Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — where the first nominating contests are held. "I do travel," Paul said. "I mean, I am making speeches in other places. But I think that if you look closely, I’ve not only been everywhere in Kentucky and continue to be, but our office is very concerned with a lot of legislation peculiar to Kentucky."

OPINION

Politico: Education should rise above partisanship
Gainesville, Mo., is a small town tucked into the foothills of the Ozarks. It is home to about 800 people, in a county with a median income of $32,000. Each morning, a few hundred students wake up and go to Gainesville High, home of the Bulldogs, which sits next to the junior high and grade school on 61 acres, just east of town. It’s a place not that different from hundreds of small towns across Missouri and thousands more across America, where public schools are more than just centers of their communities. They represent hope for the future, the key to grasping the next rung on the economic ladder — and the promise of a better life for our kids. Communities like Gainesville help explain why Republicans and Democrats in Missouri recently came together to sustain my veto of a bill that would have reduced state funding for education by hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Even though Missouri already had some of the lowest taxes in the nation, House Bill 253 would have cut them further, lavishing most of its benefits on corporations and the wealthy at the expense of education and other public services.

Union Leader: Hey, Scott Brown Stop flirting with NH
On Monday night, former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, made yet another high-profile appearance in New Hampshire. He has done so many events in the Granite State this year that we half expect to run into him everywhere we go — apple picking, the Deerfield Fair, any random corn maze. All of that would be fine were Citizen Brown merely partaking of the scenic beauty and rural hospitality of New Hampshire as so many of his fellow Bay Staters do, or helping to build up the New Hampshire GOP’s war chest, as any good Republican with national name recognition might do. But Brown — whose Wrentham, Mass., house is on the market — has let it be known that he is considering a run for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire. Earlier this year he passed on a run for Massachusetts governor, and apparently he needs something to do between FOX News appearances. So he is, at least publicly, toying with the idea of moving to New Hampshire and running against Jeanne Shaheen next year.

Times Dispatch: Today’s top opinion: Just do it
The federal shutdown drags on. The debt-ceiling limit approaches. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who represents Virginia’s 7th District, now have one job — and it does not entail placating the tea party caucus. Their job is to protect the best interests of the nation, which means hammering out a budget deal and protecting the full faith and credit of the United States. To that end, they should cut deals to pass a clean continuing resolution and raise the debt ceiling, with no strings attached. This should be easy to do; they can find more than enough votes by uniting sensible Republicans (such as Virginians Scott Rigell and Frank Wolf) with House Democrats who would happily embrace such a plan. The only thing that stops them is Boehner’s nonsensical insistence on following the Hastert Rule, named after former Speaker Dennis Hastert. The rule stipulates that legislation should not pass without a majority of the majority party.

###

Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
MBeasley
Twitter: @Micah4NC

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