NCDP Clips for October 8, 2013

SHUTDOWN

Citizen Times: Is Meadows running from shutdown involvement?
What an interesting week for congressman Mark Meadows. Or should I call Meadows, R-Glenville, “the architect” of the federal government shutdown? CNN called him the “architect of the brink” in an article last week, referring to a letter Meadows penned in August in which he suggested to Republican Party leaders that they work to dismantle Obamacare by hobbling federal funding. The letter cited founding father James Madison’s assertion that “the power over the purse, may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon … for obtaining a redress of every grievance …” Meadows then got 79 fellow House members to sign it, and he forwarded it to House leadership. CNN also noted Meadows led a group of 40 congressmen to demand the “short-term government funding bill at issue, zeroes out funding for President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement so far.”

Citizen Times: Shutdown, default could affect NC credit rating
Even when Congress reopens the federal government and raises the debt ceiling, North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell worries the recent gridlock could still cost state taxpayers. As one of only nine states with a AAA credit rating, North Carolina could lose that distinction if the nation sees another downgrade in its creditworthiness, the state treasurer said. “It’s discouraging. We could see higherinterest rates to build schools and roads,” Cowell said. “And we would lose that Good Housekeeping seal of approval that affects business confidence.” Regulations prevent North Carolina or any state from having a credit rating two levels above the nation, Cowell said. A national credit downgrade could also affect the credit rating of local governments, such as Buncombe County, which also enjoys lower interest rates , thanks to a Triple A rating.

The Hill: Obama dares Boehner to hold vote on ‘clean’ funding bill
Republicans are rejecting all Democratic efforts to pass a “clean” spending bill that would reopen the government. President Obama dared Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) Monday to prove there aren’t enough votes in the House to pass a clean measure. “The House should hold that vote today,” Obama said during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday. “If Republicans and Speaker Boehner are saying there are not enough votes, they should prove it.” The move is in response to Boehner’s assertion Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that there aren’t enough votes in the House to pass a government funding bill without additional concessions to Republicans, and it is meant to raise public pressure on the Speaker to end the shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday accused Boehner of being “afraid” to vote on a clean bill.

The Guardian: Dear President Obama: don’t cave to the GOP’s extortion politics
To a casual observer of American politics the ongoing government shutdown and prospect of a cataclysmic debt default in the next two weeks may look like just another round of "DC dysfunction" between two parties hopelessly polarized and ideologically divided. It’s not. While the government shutdown is nominally about the Republican crusade against Obamacare, the issues at stake are far bigger than one law or even one president or one Congress. In reality, the psychodrama playing out in Washington is about the future of democracy in America. And no, I’m not exaggerating. Unless the GOP’s brand of extortion politics is thwarted, America’s democratic institutions will be so badly subverted that the nation will simply find itself in the position of staggering from one manufactured crisis to another with potentially both political parties threatening economic and political Armageddon if they don’t get their way. That is, quite simply, no way to run a democracy and it’s why the only option facing President Obama and the Democratic party is to win this showdown and force the GOP to concede defeat.

The Washington Post: The 13 reasons Washington is failing
The government is shut down. Confidence in Congress is at all-time lows. The American people haven’t believed the country to be on the right track in almost a decade. Congress might do something truly crazy and default on the national debt. At this point, it’s almost cliche to say Washington isn’t working. But the truth is harsher: Washington is actively failing. It’s failing to craft policies that make the country better. And it’s failing to avoid disasters that make the country worse. It’s nice to imagine these failures are temporary or aberrational. It’s comforting to believe that they’re the result of bad people, or dumb people, or incompetent people. But the truth is more unnerving: The American political system is being torn apart by deep structural changes that don’t look likely to reverse themselves anytime soon. A deal to reopen the government won’t fix what ails American politics. And so we need to look deeper than just this battle. The sooner we recognize that something is wrong with Washington, the sooner we can begin the hard work of fixing it. Here, then, are 13 of Washington’s problems — ordered, subjectively, from small to big — and there are, of course, many more.

BuzzFeed Politics: How Washington’s Budget Crisis Is Screwing Over One Family
But the budget battles in Washington have turned some of the country’s most stable careers into uncertain ones. That’s especially true for people like Penders, whose job as a cultural resources manager, which includes inspecting launch and landing pads at the Cape Canaveral Air Force base, has been affected twice in recent months; first by sequestration and now by the government shutdown. “They are saying we are going to get paid when the shutdown is over. I am living paycheck to paycheck. My wife can’t work, I’m the bread winner for our family,” he said in a phone interview with BuzzFeed. “We are already in the hole from the last furlough. We had to go to Ohio to get a service dog for my daughter, and we have expenses from that. Now I’m sitting here wondering how I’m going to pay my utility bills.”

The Nation: Yes, Federal Workers Are Essential
House Speaker John Boehner says of his government shutdown: “This isn’t some damn game.” He is right. When the federal government shuts down, as it has because of Boehner’s decision to play politics with the traditionally perfunctory continuing resolution process, the people that Americans trust to serve the common good and the national interest are sidelined. Yes, of course, politicians pick on federal employees in general and public workers in particular. But even the most over-the-top members of Congress recognize that a civil society is made possible by dedicated public servants who manage our parks, maintain our highways, process claims for pensions, keep job-training programs up and running, investigate civil rights violations and do their best to protect a fragile environment. Government workers form the human infrastructure that underpins a great deal of what is good and necessary in the American experiment. We the people care for one another, we take on great challenges, we achieve great things, and we do this by forming a more perfect union and asking some of our fellow citizens to do perform the tasks that are necessary to its maintenance. Federal workers are essential. Those workers take on responsibilities that are required by law, in positions established by the Congress, in fields that have been determined to be essential to the maintaining of the American enterprise. Yet, they are now deemed “nonessential”—sent to the sidelines so that John Boehner can play what he certainly seems to be treating as a game.

Talking About Politics: Get the Congressman Some Coffee
The government is shut down, so Congressman George Holding got some shuteye. On camera. At the moment one of his Republican colleagues declaimed, “It’s about time to do what’s right for the whole country,” the distinguished gentleman from North Carolina was catching a few winks.CSPAN’s camera caught him. Unfortunately for Holding, he was presiding over the House at the time. Now, I will not criticize Congressman Holding. I feel his pain. It was the House. It was a Republican congressman speaking. It was 3:36 pm. A lot of us need a mid-afternoon shot of caffeine. But think back to the infamous clip of ex-Congressman Bob Etheridge throttling an obnoxious political operative on the streets of Washington. The clip haunted Etheridge and hounded him out of office.

Bloomberg: Republican Insurgents Forget Their Political ABCs
“I am not a member of any organized political party,” the humorist Will Rogers said. “I am a Democrat.” Even Will Rogers would be shocked at the disjointed and self-destructive congressional Republican Party of today. By forcing a government shutdown and possibly a credit default in a few weeks, a minority of rank-and-file Republican members have run roughshod over the leadership. They are pushing a futile effort to kill President Barack Obama’s health-care law, enacted in 2010, upheld by the Supreme Court and hotly debated in last year’s presidential campaign. In so doing, this band of proud right-wingers has violated almost every important political precept, including: HAVE AN ENDGAME: In war, football, politics or other pursuits, it’s incumbent to fight with an endgame in mind; sometimes the goal isn’t achieved and needs adjusting. The Republicans forcing this crisis planned no endgame other than their hope that the president would cave to their demand to gut the Affordable Care Act. Republicans such as Bob Corker and John McCain in the Senate, and Paul Ryan and even Speaker John Boehner in the House, warned this was a fool’s errand, To no avail.

Huffington Post: GOP senators weigh blocking Democrats on debt ceiling
Senate Republicans are weighing whether to kill a bill to increase the debt ceiling later this week, a procedural decision fraught with major political and economic ramifications as the country confronts an Oct. 17 deadline. Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) were the only two members of the 46-member GOP caucus to say Monday evening they support advancing a bill to increase the debt ceiling. “I would,” Kirk said when asked if he would vote to cut off debate on a clean increase of the $16.7 trillion national debt ceiling. Graham said he could back a clean increase — but not of the length being mulled by Democratic leaders through the 2014 midterm elections. Hungry for a big deal, Graham said he could only support a short-term increase that allows Washington leaders to finally craft a long-sought deficit reduction “grand bargain.”

Watauga Democrat: NC reps refuse pay during shutdown
As the federal government shutdown continues, North Carolina’s congressional delegation is among those refusing or donating their pay.As the closure hit day four on Friday, Rep. Virginia Foxx and Sens. Kay Hagan and Richard Burr had pledged to turn down or give to charity the portions of their $174,000 salaries received during the shutdown. More than 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or are working without pay since Oct. 1, due to Congress’ failure to pass a budget or continuing resolution. Some in Congress have elected to join them in solidarity. Foxx has asked the chief administrative officer of the House to suspend her pay until the shutdown is resolved, Press Secretary Ericka Perryman said Friday."The congresswoman made that call because she felt it was the right thing for her to do, and she remains focused on finding a fair, bipartisan solution to reopen the federal government for the American people as soon as possible," Perryman said in an email. Hagan is taking a similar route. She plans to donate her pay for the duration of the shutdown to a North Carolina charity, communications director Sadie Weiner said. The senator has not yet decided which charity will receive her donation. h

Examiner: Nancy Pelosi: Can’t negotiate with GOP, they can’t negotiate with each other
With the U.S. government officially shut down, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi pointed out a very interesting fact about the current state of the Republican party. When the clock struck midnight on October 1st, the government was shut down for the first time in nearly 20 years. The finger pointing soon followed in what has turned into the ultimate blame game, with the American people as the pawns and playing pieces. Speaking to reporters on Friday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) attempted to put the Republicans in the drivers seat, insisting that they wanted to sit down with Democrats and now famously shouted "this isn’t some damn game!"

Huffington Post: Senate Republicans Hesitate On Back Pay For Furloughed Workers
A bill the House passed to guarantee that furloughed federal workers receive back pay after the partial government shutdown is resolved seems to have hit a snag in the Senate. The second-ranking Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said Monday that "it’s premature to do it right now." The measure passed the House unanimously on Saturday and has the backing of the White House, so eventual passage through the Senate seems assured. Federal workers have received back pay in previous shutdowns, even as they’re left with unscheduled days off. Unless a worker is deemed essential under agency guidelines, it is illegal for them to work or receive pay during a lapse in federal funding. "I hope that since we’re going to pay these people anyway that they would allow them to come back to work right now," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. "Because it doesn’t make sense to say you’re going to pay and then leave people home when they could be doing their work and want to do their work." Majority Leader Harry Reid, however, isn’t inclined to devote a lot of the Senate’s time to the bill. He may seek to pass the measure by voice vote, a step that could be blocked by any senator.

MSNBC: Boehner frantic for shutdown exit (VIDEO)
Rachel Maddow reviews the years-long Republican plan to sabotage the Obama presidency at any cost, and talks with Ryan Grim, D.C. bureau chief for the Huffington Post, about House Speaker John Boehner’s struggle to find a way out of the government shutdown he allowed his party to force America into.

MCCRORY ADMINISTRATION

NC Health News: McCrory Administration Officials Suppressed Insight Into Medicaid
The original response to the audit created in December 2012 by outgoing officials from Gov. Bev Perdue’s administration was revised in successive editions of the document throughout January, with a decisive, near-final edit by Steckel. In a document that displays “track changes” that include Steckel’s electronic signature, whole paragraphs were deleted, with evidence that, for example, North Carolina’s administrative costs are lower than most states rather than 30 percent higher, as maintained by McCrory administration officials. Incoming administration officials also deleted whole sections explaining that budget overruns were in large part a function of under-budgeting by the General Assembly.

Dome: Morning Memo: McCrory administration slanted Medicaid report
"In a document that displays "track changes" that include (Medicaid director Carol) Steckel’s electronic signature, whole paragraphs were deleted, with evidence that, for example, North Carolina’s administrative costs are lower than most states rather than 30 percent higher, as maintained by McCrory administration officials. "Incoming administration officials also deleted whole sections explaining that budget overruns were in large part a function of under-budgeting by the General Assembly. And in her first week in her new office, Steckel struck through paragraphs explaining that Community Care of North Carolina had been studied by two national groups that found cost savings. Instead, she inserted language casting doubt on the efficacy of CCNC and suggesting further study of the statewide program that’s been lauded nationally and that is being replicated in several states.

Fayetteville Observer: NC lawmakers ready to scrutinize DHHS operations
North Carolina state legislators are spending a full day scrutinizing the Department of Health and Human Services, especially a pair of computer systems that aren’t working well for some doctors and food stamp applicants. Two General Assembly committees scheduled a joint meeting in Raleigh on Tuesday to examine the NCTracks and NC FAST networks, They cost several hundred million dollars to build and operate. Hundreds of medical providers are waiting to collect payments through NCTracks to treat Medicaid patients. NC FAST glitches have led to slow processing of food stamp requests.

The Progressive Pulse: Editorial: Time to ask the tough questions, take quick action
As members of a joint legislative committee devote today to questioning the head to the Department of Health and Human Services, the editorial board of the Charlotte Observer says it’s time for lawmakers to put politics aside and “demand better and quicker action” to fix recent problems within the agency. ‘The urgent need for solutions is clear. The troubled implementation of the Medicaid processing system known as NCTracks, and an equally problematic roll out of NC FAST, the state’s new benefits distribution system that handles food stamps and other such services, is hurting businesses and residents. No time should be wasted Tuesday posturing and painting rosy, misleading pictures of what is going on, nor in pointing fingers in a fruitless game of pin the blame. That, of course, will be the inclination. Already, many Democrats and Republicans have retreated to their corners on this matter. Gov. Pat McCrory, his staff and some other Republicans have downplayed the problems, noting that they inherited from Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue an agency that was plagued with problems. NCTracks and NC FAST were approved before his administration took over, and the issues originated with Perdue’s administration. Some Democrats, of course, have seized on the three-month long mess as another knock against McCrory’s chosen leader of DHHS, Aldona Wos, and the governor’s determined push to privatize the state’s Medicaid program.

WRAL: Five questions DHHS oversight may (or may not) answer

It hardly sounds like the venue for a blockbuster meeting: The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services. But Tuesday’s all-day session has the makings of pop-the-popcorn, appointment viewing for the state capitol set as top executives of a troubled agency that has been in the news for a myriad of wrong reasons, including DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos, meet a group of skeptical lawmakers. The morning session, scheduled to begin at 8 a.m., will focus on two major IT systems meant to help deliver benefits to those in need and reimburse health care providers for services rendered to low-income patients. Both have been the subject of vociferous complaints by those who use them. The afternoon session, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., will begin with an update on the department’s budget and questions about the governor’s agenda to remake Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Wos is then scheduled to field a potpourri or questions about high salaries given to former campaign aides to Gov. Pat McCrory and high-dollar, no-bid contracts given to politically connected individuals, ongoing changes to the state’s mental health program, whether the department has been able to carry out legislative changes to the state budget and whether the department is carrying out drug screenings of those who apply for some benefits, something McCrory said he would not do.

WNCN: Health care providers express frustration at DHHS hearing
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos opened an oversight committee hearing Tuesday morning by defending her department, saying progress had been made, but saying she was willing to listen to how DHHS could improve. After Wos spoke, multiple medical providers testified, expressing frustration with the new North Carolina Tracks program and their inability to get answers and to get paid. Wos opened the hearing with comments about her department, saying she had been willing to ask tough, but necessary, questions, and that she welcomed feedback. She also defended the performance of DHHS, saying, "We are already operating more efficiently and more effectively." "I know that together, we are tackling the hardest issues," Wos said. "No system is perfect." But she said North Carolina had an obligation to help those in the greatest need. "We must be good stewards of the taxpayer resources to do that," she said.

VOTING RIGHTS

Huffington Post: Arizona To Ban Residents From Voting If They Lack Proof Of Citizenship
Arizona officials will seek to ban residents from voting in statewide races if they can’t prove citizenship — a move that critics called vindictive in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said the state couldn’t require such documentation to cast ballots for federal offices. The change was announced Monday by Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, both Republicans. "Because Arizona law requires a registration applicant to provide evidence of citizenship, registrants who have not provided sufficient evidence of citizenship should not be permitted to vote in state and local elections," Horne wrote in an opinion that was intended to give guidance on how to conduct the 2014 elections. The Supreme Court in June struck down part of a 2004 voter-approved state law that required proof of legal U.S. residency to vote in any Arizona elections. The only federal offices on Arizona ballots next year will be U.S. House seats. If Monday’s change isn’t overturned through legal action, residents who haven’t submitted proof of citizenship won’t be able vote for such offices as governor, secretary of state, attorney general and candidates for the state Legislature.

Fayetteville Observer: Inside Politics: Forum to push for nonpartisan election districts
The Democrats who ran for North Carolina’s 13 congressional seats last year won 81,190 more votes than the Republicans. Yet, the Republicans took nine of the 13 seats. How does it happen that the party that won fewer votes got more of the seats? It’s largely about the redistricting maps, the state Democratic Party says. The Republicans who controlled the state legislature in 2011 redrew the congressional districts. Their mapmakers packed as many Democrats as they could into three of the districts, aiming to leave the remaining 10 districts with just enough Republican-leaning voters to reliably elect GOP candidates. The quest for politically friendly voting precincts led to the zigzag shape of the 4th District, served by Democrat David Price of Chapel Hill, and the twists and turns of the 2nd District, served by Republican Renee Ellmers of Dunn. Their intertwined districts run through the Fayetteville area. Note that North Carolina Democrats exercised the same tactic 10 years prior when they controlled the state legislature. They perhaps were somewhat less effective because the district mapping computer software was less sophisticated than it is now.

MORAL MONDAY

News and Observer: Police were on lookout for anarchists at Moral Monday protests
The first trial of a “Moral Monday” protester revealed far more than the guilty verdicts that have shaken attorneys and demonstrators still awaiting their court dates. General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver testified to a murmur of disbelief among the many lawyers attending the Wake County District Court hearing that his 18-officer department had people in this region they labeled “anarchists” and collected intelligence on them. Weaver did not identify the so-called anarchists, nor did he reveal how many his department considered to fall in that category. But the chief at the helm of the law enforcement agency that arrested more than 930 people this past summer testified that his officers had scanned the many “Moral Monday” rallies with eyes trained for “anarchists.” On Monday, Weaver declined to elaborate on what kind of intelligence his department collected on the people he and his officers considered to be “against government.”

2013/2014

Political Wire: McAuliffe Holds Solid Lead in Virginia
A new Politico poll in Virginia finds Terry McAuliffe (D) leading Ken Cuccinelli (R) in the race for governor by 10 points, 52% to 42%. In a three way race, McAuliffe leads by 9 points, with Libertarian nominee Robert Sarvis at 12%.

Bloomberg: Cruz Virginia Trip Raises Cuccinelli Risk in Governor Bid
The partial federal government shutdown is throwing a fresh risk factor into the Virginia governor’s race, putting Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli on the defensive as the contest enters its final month. Cuccinelli, the state’s attorney general, and his Democratic opponent, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, are trading blame for the congressional deadlock, cognizant that the more than 172,000 federal civilian workers in Virginia are among the hardest hit. Yet strategists in both parties and analysts watching the race said it’s Cuccinelli, who must appeal both to his party’s base as well as to independent voters, who stands to lose the most from the shutdown as the Nov. 5 election nears. He won the Republican nomination with the backing of small-government Tea Party activists, who are championing the shutdown as a way to undermine President Barack Obama’s health-care law. Cuccinelli also attended a weekend fundraiser in Richmond, Virginia, that also featured Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the highest profile advocate for the strategy that led to the current impasse.

2016

Politico: Harry Reid talks tough, ramps up for 2016
Republicans are eager for November 2016 — and not just because Barack Obama’s presidency will be in its final days. It’s when Harry Reid, the man reviled by Republicans for his inflammatory rhetoric and hardball tactics during the government shutdown, could be booted from his Nevada Senate seat. Reid knows it — and he’s quietly plotting his plans more than three years out. In an interview from his Senate office last week, the 73-year-old majority leader insisted he’s running for reelection in 2016. He’s ramping up his campaign organization, and he’s getting ready for the onslaught the GOP is preparing to send his way. Already, he’s begun seeking commitments from aides to stay with him through 2016. He’s spending more time fundraising everywhere from New York to Southern California. And he’s not afraid to issue a warning to a potential GOP opponent, Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, who — if he’s reelected next year — will be in the middle of a second term in 2016.

NORTH KOREA

Reuters: North Korea puts army on alert, warns U.S. of ‘horrible disaster’
North Korea said on Tuesday its military would be put on high alert and be ready to launch operations, stepping up tension after weeks of rhetoric directed against the United States and South Korea, who it accuses of instigating hostility. Reclusive North Korea has often issued threats to attack the South and the United States but has rarely turned them into action. Such hostile rhetoric is widely seen as a means to perpetuate its domestic and international political agenda. In the latest outburst, a spokesman for the North’s military warned the United States of "disastrous consequences" for moving a group of ships, including an aircraft carrier, into a South Korean port. "In this connection, the units of all services and army corps level of the KPA received an emergency order from its supreme command to reexamine the operation plans already ratified by it and keep themselves fully ready to promptly launch operations any time," the spokesman said, referring to the Korean People’s Army (KPA). "The U.S. will be wholly accountable for the unexpected horrible disaster to be met by its imperialist aggression forces’ nuclear strike means," the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

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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.