NCDP Clips for October 9, 2013

NCDP Clips for October 9, 2013


News and Observer: State lawmakers seek answers on NC DHHS technology, salaries
Legislative meetings Tuesday have elements of a scripted drama, where the aggrieved meet their antagonists, and a department head under fire gets to explain faulty technology and high agency salaries. The hashing out of problems and controversies that have hit the state Department of Health and Human Services this year are being rolled into an all-day meeting where health care providers will come face to face with an officer in the computer firm running the system that’s failing to deliver their payments. Tech company representatives will be on hand to explain why food-stamp delivery doesn’t work statewide. DHHS Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos is set to address the technology stumbles and give her reasons for offering high salaries to 24-year-old former campaign aides to Gov. Pat McCrory, and a high-dollar personal services contract to a vice president in her husband’s company.

WRAL: DHHS faces skeptical questions on Medicaid payment system
As officials with the Department of Health and Human Services answered questions from a legislative oversight committee about a new Medicaid claims system Tuesday morning, Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, looked around the room. "There are a lot of people in here rolling their eyes and shaking their heads," Tucker said, prompting knowing smiles and head nods from medical practice managers, lobbyists and others who had crowded into an overflowing committee room. Doctors, hospitals, medical device providers and other others have complained for three months that a new Medicaid system isn’t paying them as quickly as they should. "NCTracks has made billing go from complex to borderline impossible," said Sandra Williams, chief financial officer of Cape Fear Valley Health System. She said her hospitals have seen the number of denied claims skyrocket since the new system turned on July 1, saying the hospital is having trouble getting paid for basic services such as providing cancer drugs.

WNCN: Senators Grill Wos On Hires At DHHS Hearing
Secretary Aldona Wos, who leads the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, praised her team Tuesday afternoon at a committee meeting to review the department despite heavy criticism toward the end of the day. Wos has been criticized in some circles for hiring people at high salaries who had limited experience. Toward the end of Tuesday’s session, Wos was asked directly about the salaries for some of her key employees, especially in light of the fact that state employees and teachers got no raises this year. Sen. Tommy Tucker, a Republican from Waxhaw, asked, "What am I to tell a teacher who’s making $30,000 a year if you were in my shoes? How the state can hire somebody for $85,000 or $65,000 or $314,000 or somebody work for one month and get money than a teacher makes in a year?

News & Observer: NC DHHS comes up short on answers after meeting with legislators
After grilling leaders at the state Department of Health and Human Services for about nine hours on Tuesday about flawed programs and high salaries, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed frustration. Legislators didn’t get a firm date for when a Medicaid claims payment system that’s frustrating hospitals, doctors and medical equipment companies will work as advertised. Nor were some happy with DHHS Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos’ explanation that she followed state rules when paying two 24-year-olds $85,000 and $87,500 respectively.

NC Policy Watch: DHHS hearing leaves lawmakers frustrated
The head of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services spent Tuesday fielding tough questions about problems in the state’s largest agency, from high salaries given to her leadership team to a Medicaid billing system that’s delayed payment to some providers for months. Aldona Wos faced a scenario that few other cabinet secretaries have undergone– a full day’s worth of difficult questions from legislators, many of whom are displeased with the performance of the agency in charge of $18.3 billion in state and federal money. “All they see is what they see in the press and then we get blamed for your actions,” said Sen. Tommy Tucker, a Waxhaw Republican, about reports of high pay going to young former McCrory campaign aides. “We all have to serve North Carolina; we all have to serve constituents.”

WRAL: Wos: Records Requests Are ‘Impactful’
Given the opportunity to respond to a story on her department that was largely based on records requests, Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos said she hadn’t read the story but did say responding to records requests were hampering operations. North Carolina Health News, a nonprofit news site, reported Tuesday morning that DHHS officials had revised their response to an audit critical of the department. The response, delivered just as the Republican-run administration of Gov. Pat McCrory took over from Democrat Gov. Bev Perdue, made the state’s Medicaid system appear more poorly run than was actually the case. Specifically, it did not correct a data mistake by the State Auditor’s Office that made it appear North Carolina’s administrative costs were higher than in other states.

Fayetteville Observer: Wos grilled by NC legislators over aides’ pay
Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos got a bipartisan grilling Tuesday from lawmakers worried about personnel decisions and other issues at her embattled state agency. During a legislative oversight hearing lasting more than 9 hours, both Republicans and Democrats asked pointed questions of Wos, a wealthy Greensboro doctor and GOP fundraiser appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory to lead the $18 billion agency. Wos stood by her decision to hire two 24-year-old former McCrory campaign aides to senior-level positions making taxpayer-funded salaries in excess of $85,000. Republican Sen. Tommy Tucker was among those who told Wos he couldn’t defend the high pay to his constituents, noting his daughter-in-law earns only about a third as much as a public school teacher working with low-income students. "It makes it awfully difficult as a politician and a legislator out here when we have teachers with five years of experience making $30,000 a year, and have not received a raise in five years, yet you go and hire someone who is one year out of college with an English major and you pay them $85,000," said Tucker, a two-term lawmaker representing Union County, outside Charlotte. "I need you to tell me how I’m supposed to respond to that when the press picks up on that and it’s public record and we’re getting killed over it."

WRAL: Wos grilled about salary, Medicaid reform
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos and her top leaders endured a day-long grilling from lawmakers Tuesday, as members of the General Assembly probed everything from the state of two troubled computer systems to the higher-than-normal salaries given politically connected advisers. On Monday, @NCCapitol asked five big questions that Tuesday’s hearing could have answered. Here are the answers we heard:

WRAL: Tuesday Wrap: Aldona’s No Good, Horrible, Very Bad Day
State lawmakers grilled Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos and other DHHS staffers during a marathon oversight committee meeting Tuesday. The first part of the meeting focused on troubles with NCTracks, the computer system designed to process Medicaid claims. Numerous health care providers have complained since the system launched in July that they cannot get paid for their services in a timely manner, but DHHS officials insisted that changes made in recent months have improved operations. The afternoon session covered a range of topics, from high salaries paid to former Gov. Pat McCrory campaign staffers to efforts to privatize Medicaid to the agency’s budget and how staffers are complying with legislative directives.

ABC 11: North Carolina Lawmakers Scrutinize DHHS Operations
North Carolina state legislators spent a full day Tuesday 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 held a joint meeting in Raleigh 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.

WCNC: Lawmakers Want Quicker Fix to NC Medicaid Billing
North Carolina General Assembly members want more assurances that delays for hospitals and doctors getting Medicaid claims paid through a new billing system will be fixed sooner rather than later. Legislators grilled state officials and the outside vendor that built and operates the NCTracks system at an oversight committee meeting Tuesday. Lawmakers heard from several medical practice administrators that delays are forcing some to get loans or stop seeing new Medicaid patients until they’re reimbursed.


Slate: Republican Senator: We Can Crash Into Debt Limit "Because the Only People Buying Our Bonds Are the Federal Reserve
Republicans believe that the sequestration fallout, and the shutdown fallout thus far, have been goosed by Barack Obama in an attempt to maximize the damage to their party. That makes them less likely, not more likely, to raise the debt limit in a hurry. The theory that the government could hit the limit then just prioritize spending on debt service, troops, and entitlements is widely accepted, more than Democrats like to think. The whole story seemed a little House-centric, so I ended the day at the Senate, asking the Republicans who are seen as potential deal-makers there whether the people who said we could prioritize debt and crash through the ceiling were right. "They’re right on that, and I think the administration could work on who gets paid and who doesn’t in a way that would pull us through," said Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. "I don’t think the markets have been spooked so far, and I personally believe that if they realized there was a legitimate attempt to make the government work, they would be less likely [to be spooked]."

WNCN: NC won’t issue more WIC vouchers for October
A state-run program that gets federal dollars to ensure proper nutrition for pregnant women and their young children won’t issue any vouchers beyond those already given out for October. Officials say the federal government shutdown is the reason that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children stopped issuing vouchers Tuesday. About 80 percent of eligible clients have received benefits for October. Officials with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services say they don’t have enough money to issue more vouchers. DHHS officials say families who don’t get the WIC vouchers can apply for food stamps. The WIC program provides food vouchers, nutrition education and health care referrals for 264,000 women and children monthly in North Carolina. The federal government pays the program’s $200 million cost.

Dome: Hagan: shut down hurting NC
Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan told the Senate Tuesday that the government was having a negative impact on North Carolina. "It’s a shame that some in Congress are playing political games with the most basic function of keeping the government running,” Hagan said in a speech."I didn’t get elected to shut down the government, and with each minute that goes by, more and more North Carolinians are feeling the impact of this irresponsible shutdown.” She said the Winston-Salem regional VA office is closed and the claims processors were furloughed threatening progress in eliminating the claims back log. Hagan said many of the national parks are closed, which support 12,000 jobs. The National Institute of Heath supports roughly 20,000 jobs in North Carolina, but NIH will not take any actions on gang applications or awards or admit new patients to clinical trials while the government is shut down.She said school district could face cash flow problems with loss of money from federal programs, and universities will be put in a difficult position without federal research grants.

Political Wire: Boehner Then and Now
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was quoted last week by Roll Call saying the budget stalemate "isn’t some damn game." National Review quotes Boehner telling GOP members this morning he wants something that "puts points on the board."

Dig Triad: Federal Shutdown Affects NC WIC Program
Tuesday the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) became a casualty of the Government shutdown in Washington. In a news release, the agency stated they will discontinue issuing benefits after today. DHHS said that 80 percent of eligible clients already have been issued food benefits for the month of October. Federal WIC funds available to North Carolina will be sufficient to cover WIC vouchers already issued for October, but not sufficient to issue additional vouchers, they stated. DHHS officials said that WIC clients should keep their nutrition appointments and continue redeeming October vouchers. Also, WIC vendors should continue normal operations to accept existing vouchers.

WCNC: WIC services to be limited in North Carolina
The Lincoln County Health Manager announced Tuesday that despite the government shutdown, WIC services will continue, however, the services will be limited. Effective Wednesday, Oct. 9, all North Carolina WIC offices will stop issuing new food vouchers to new clients. Current clients will be referred to community resources, such as food banks and pantries. Current clients who are not receiving food stamps or SNAP will be referred to their local Department of Social Services office to determine eligibility. The Mecklenburg County Health Department says new clients applying for the WIC services will be put on a waiting list.

Dig Triad: Government Shutdown Could Affect Child Care Centers
Who would have thought the federal government shutdown could end up shutting down daycare centers? It could happen. In Alamance County, about 500 children will lose their federal funding Wednesday. Some parents may have to stay home from work. The government helps them pay for some or all of their daycare tuition. "I might have to quit my job so that I can provide care for my child instead of being able to afford to work and let my child continue after-school care," Heather MacGowan, a parent, said. "I felt that this won’t affect me…the government shutting down. Then, yesterday, I find out I might not have child-care for my daughter."

The New York Times: Lift ‘Threats,’ Obama Insists, Spurning Talks
President Obama intensified his pressure on House Republicans on Tuesday, calling on them to “lift these threats from our families and our businesses” as the federal government remained shuttered into a second week and the possibility that the United States would default on its debts grew closer. Mr. Obama, holding firm to the position he first took more than a year ago, said at a lengthy news conference that he would not negotiate over the essential act of raising the nation’s debt limit or offer concessions to the Republican-led House to finance and reopen the government. But he raised the possibility of reopening the government and raising the debt limit in the short term to allow negotiations, a development Republicans saw as positive. “If they can’t do it for a long time, do it for the period of time in which these negotiations are taking place,” he said. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to both finance the government and keep it solvent, Mr. Obama said, and once the House acts, he will talk.

The Daily Beast: Extremely Conservative and Incredibly Out of Touch
As the U.S. government enters week two of Shutdown 2013, the Tea Party members who created this mess have gone bipolar. In the Senate, it’s a pity party. Over in the House, manic glee. Sen. Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor on Friday to whine that Democrats were invoking his name as the “root of all evil in the world.” This grandiose self-pity exaggerates the plaint. He is the root of only one evil, at least so far: the government shutdown. His Tea Party sidekick, Sen. Mike Lee, cried to radio host Hugh Hewittafter a meeting with displeased GOP colleagues, “It was an all-out attack against Ted Cruz and me. It was unflattering. It was unfair. It was demeaning.” Two grown men were giving us this crybaby routine as it was reported that actual babies were to go without formula, thanks to them. Almost nine million mothers and their children are at risk of having their benefits under the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program slashed or frozen. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has found stopgap funding, but warns that if the shutdown goes beyond October they will run out of money.

Real Clear Politics: Charging to the Cliff
Before showing how not working is working, Newt took some pokes at Democratic critics and, of course, the evil news media. He chastised White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer for the "viciousness" of his language — saying Republicans were "people with a bomb strapped to their chest," for instance — and called it "extraordinary." Exactly three sentences later, he called these Democrats "whiners, complainers and hysteria-mongers." Gingrich then explained how a breakdown in the system is really a fine example of how it was designed to work in the first place. You would not know this from the media, he said. He cited the many shutdowns of the Ronald Reagan-Tip O’Neill era that he said no one ever mentions. Yet, I managed with just a couple of keystrokes to come up with newspaper accounts of former shutdowns, including an exhaustive list on, published almost two weeks ago. The gravamen of Gingrich’s argument is that the present shutdown is rooted in the rights established by a band of barons who extracted the Magna Carta from a reluctant King John. "That contract committed the English king to live under the law," Gingrich wrote. "It asserted that he could only get additional money with the approval of his barons." Before that, Gingrich cited George Washington’s admiration for Joseph Addison’s play "Cato" — "a story of one man’s courageous willingness to die for freedom."


Dome: Months after approval, new tax law mired in questions
The sweeping tax overhaul approved in July is leading to mounting questions months later.
A N.C. Department of Revenue official told a legislative oversight committee Tuesday that it is still trying to determine how to interpret a variety of provisions in the tax bill Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law in July. One affects college students meal plans. Since 1957 the plans were exempt from sales tax but the bill repealed the tax break for university dining halls. At N.C. State University, for example, the average cost per meal will rise 41-cents for the 9,100 students on the plan, according to The Technician, the student newspaper. All first year students who live on campus are required to have a meal plan. The state estimates it will generate about $14 million in new revenue for the state when it takes effect Jan. 1. But even as the meal plan bills for the spring semester are being sent to parents and students, the state is unsure who is responsible for collecting the tax: the students, the university or the third-party vendors that administer the meal plans. DOR is looking to lawmakers for clarification but no decisions were made Tuesday.


WRAL: Triangle voters to decide on growth projects, city leaders
It’s Election Day in North Carolina, and voters in the Triangle area have decisions to make about who will lead their cities and whether they want to spend money on projects for future growth. In Wake County, voters will decide whether the Wake County Public School System will be able to issue $810 million in bonds to build 16 schools and renovate dozens of others. Signs popping up on utility poles near several downtown Raleigh schools raised the ire of the North Carolina Republican Party. The signs state "We Hate Teachers NC GOP (888) Art Pope." The phone number links to a voicemail for a mortgage service. Republican lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration, including Budget Director Art Pope, have taken heat over education spending, eliminating tenure rights for veteran teachers and starting voucher programs for private schools. "The N.C. GOP feels the signs are despicable, inaccurate and inappropriate,” said Todd Poole, executive director of the state party.

Dome: Young Candidate Says He’ll Challenge Rep. Stevens Next Year
Rep. Sarah Stevens, one of the key Republicans in the state House, will apparently have at least one challenger in the GOP primary next year. George Wass, 19, says he will run against the three-term incumbent for the seat that covers Wilkes and Surry counties, according to The Mount Airy News. He will be 21 by the November election. The paper reports that Wass is a recent graduate of the Surry Early College High School of Design. He said he’ll need all the time he can get to mount a successful campaign against the incumbent lawyer. Stevens chairs or co-chairs several judiciary committees in the legislature, and has been closely allied with the GOP leadership in the House. She ran unopposed in 2012.

WRAL: McFarlane wins second term as Raleigh mayor
Mayor Nancy McFarlane outdistanced two challengers Tuesday to claim a second two-year term to lead Raleigh. With about 98 percent of votes counted, McFarlane topped political newcomer Robert Weltzin by 73 percent to 22 percent. Venita Peyton, who was making her third run at the mayor’s seat, trailed with 5 percent. McFarlane has focused her campaign on building toward Raleigh’s future, spending as much time stumping for passage of the city’s $75 million transportation bond issue as on her own re-election. Voters also handily approved the bond referendum, which will pay to widen and upgrade more than a dozen Raleigh thoroughfares. "The community understands the need to invest in our infrastructure and really keep us where we are," McFarlane said. An upbeat McFarlane thanked supporters Tuesday night and urged them to get involved in building Raleigh’s future, saying the city needs to remain on the top of national lists of the best places to live and work. "We just have so many great things happening in the city of Raleigh," she said. She said she hopes to resolve the dispute with the state over the future of the former Dorothea Dix property in her next term.

Dome: Tillis attending a Rove event last — as the war of the trackers continues
In the boring footage face off, the Democrats show Senate candidate and House Speaker Thom Tillis at the House of Sweden at a DC event sponsored by Karl Rove, the former top advisor to President George W. Bush. I guess it just goes to show that both sides have trackers with time on their hands.

WRAL: Wake voters approve $810M school construction bond
Wake County voters easily approved Tuesday an $810 million school construction bond that school and county officials say is critical to keeping up with enrollment growth. With all 200 precincts reporting, the bond passed by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent, according to unofficial results. Support for the bond was strongest in Raleigh and western Wake County, while the northern, eastern and southeastern areas of the county voted against the bond. The bond will be used to build 11 elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools, do major renovations to six schools and smaller upgrades to dozens of others and purchase land for future schools. The Wake County school board and commissioners set aside their differences over who should control school construction to unite behind the bond, saying more schools are needed to accommodate a projected 20,000-student increase in enrollment over the next five years. "The community recognized the necessity of this core infrastructure that we need to be ready for the future," said Joe Bryan, chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

Charlotte Observer: State GOP invests in Charlotte mayor’s race
Taking a page from Democrats, the state and national Republican parties have stepped into a Charlotte mayoral race for the first time – with an eye on a bigger race in 2014. The N.C. Republican Party, with financial help from the national party, has provided five field organizers for Republican mayoral candidate Edwin Peacock, who faces Democrat Patrick Cannon in November. “It’s all about turning out the vote,” said Todd Poole, executive director of the N.C. GOP. “We’ve ID’d voters, which will certainly be helpful in 2014. We’ve recruited volunteers. There are lots of benefits to getting an early start.” Turning out the vote for Peacock could boost Republicans when their candidate faces Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in 2014. And the GOP needs help in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Democrat Barack Obama carried Mecklenburg by 100,000 votes in 2008 and in 2012. Hagan won the county by 106,000 votes on her way to ousting incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole in 2008.

ABC 11: Voters Pick Mayors, Decide Bonds
Voters in Wake County decided Tuesday they want to raise taxes to pay for more schools. An $810 million bond referendum for school construction easily passed. It will pay for 16 new schools and fund major renovations at six current facilities. While the bond had its opponents, the school district promised to spend the money wisely. "We will be good stewards of the taxpayer money. We heard the concerns from the critics and opponents of the bond, we heard you, we’re listening to you," said Wake County School Board Chairman Keith Sutton after the vote.

News & Observer: Democrats expand majority on Wake County Board of Education
Democrats achieved a near-complete hold on the Wake County Board of Education in Tuesday’s election. With all precincts reporting unofficial results, Democrats won three races, while Bill Fletcher, who was named to the board by Democrats, narrowly defeated fellow Republican Nancy Caggia. Based on these counts, the officially nonpartisan nine-member board would include seven Democrats, an unaffiliated member who once was a Democrat, and Fletcher. The results would end the tenure of the wave of Republicans who swept into office four years ago, bringing national attention to Wake County with attempts to end the county’s policy of student assignment based on diversity.

News & Observer: Bob Geary says "order’s been restored" on the Wake County school board
In the days to come, look for various groups and pundits to weigh in on the significance of the passage of the Wake County school bond issue and the near complete takeover of the school board by Democratic-backed members.Bob Geary of the liberal Independent Weekly is giving his analysis with an online article today that says the elections mean that "order’s been restored on the Wake school board, whose nine members now include zero — as in none at all — right-wing Republicans." He calls it a "a vote of confidence in the school system."Geary also calls the passage of the bond issue a case of "rejecting the Republican brand once more" because the Wake County Republican Party had opposed the measure.

WNCN: Voter Turnout Dismal For Tuesday Elections
A quiet election Tuesday saw area voters go to the polls with the mayor jobs up for grabs in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville and other towns. Voter turnout across the Triangle was dismal for the elections. In Wake County, 15 percent of voters cast ballots. In Durham County, only 6 percent voted. Cumberland County had a turnout of 10.1 percent of registered voters. There were nine counties around central North Carolina with elections Tuesday, including some significant issues for voters in Wake County involving the schools. Voters passed an $810 million school bond and a $75 transportation bond. The bond for the fast-growing Wake schools faced some opposition. New superintendent Jim Merrill has made it a priority, but the Wake County Republican Party opposes the bonds.


The Daily Beast: Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Political Parties
Republicans have lost three major fights since 2009. They seem likely soon to lose a fourth—and all in the same way. The three previous losses (in case you’re feeling forgetful) were, in order: (1) The fight over Obamacare. Result: the most ambitious new social insurance program since Medicare, financed—unlike Medicare—by redistributive new taxes on investment and high incomes. (2) The 2012 election. Result: Despite the worst economy since the Great Depression, the reelection of President Obama, Democratic retention of the Senate, and 1.4 million more votes cast for House Democrats than for House Republicans.(3) The fight over the “fiscal cliff” at the end of 2012. Result: In order to preserve some of the Bush tax cuts, Republicans for the first time since 1991 left their finger prints on a tax increase for upper income groups. Now comes fight (4), the fight over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling. This one isn’t lost yet. But unless Republicans are prepared to push the country into the catastrophe of national bankruptcy sometime around October 17, it’s hard to see how this one does not end in a Republican retreat, clutching whatever forlorn fig leaf they can negotiate from President Obama.


The Washington Post: How the 1 percent won the recovery, in one table
This table comes courtesy of UC Berkeley’s Emmanuel Saez and the Paris School of Economics’ Thomas Piketty, everyone’s favorite inequality-tracking researchers (thanks to Annie Lowrey for pointing out the paper). They’ve added preliminary 2012 numbers to their dataset on growth in Americans’ — and in particular rich Americans’ — incomes, which gives us three years of data (2010, 2011, 2012) during the recovery, in addition to the full 2007-2009 span of the Great Recession. That lets us compare what happened to incomes in the recovery to what happened in past recoveries, and what happened during the recession to what happened in past recessions. Shockingly — shockingly — what they found is that while only 49 percent of the decline in incomes during the recession was born by the top 1 percent (whose income share fell to 18.1 percent due to the recession), 95 percent of income gains since the recovery started have gone to them. This is a big change from past recessions and recoveries. Only 65 percent of the expansion under George W. Bush, and 45 percent of that under Bill Clinton, went to the top 1 percent. The rich bore a greater share of the 2001 recession’s damage than of the Great Recession’s, and the differential between the amount lost in the recession and gained in the recovery was much smaller last decade.


The Daily Tarheel: Cooper’s early planning makes Republicans uneasy
Mitch Kokai, spokesman for the conservative John Locke Foundation, said Tillis has more time to devote to his campaign than Cooper would, since the N.C. General Assembly is a part-time body. “This gives him a great deal of freedom to travel across the state and campaign, while Roy Cooper has continuing day-to-day responsibilities as attorney general,” he said. State legislators completed their long session this summer and will not return to the legislature for the short session until after the May 2014 primary. But Beasley said during the session, Tillis’ campaign interfered with his job responsibilities. “Thom Tillis has skipped out on leading the N.C. House during key votes and budget negotiations to raise money for his Senate campaign,” he said. “Roy Cooper isn’t going take his eye off the ball when it comes to defending the rights of North Carolinians.”


The New York Times: Why the Debt Ceiling Matters
The word we keep hearing is “catastrophe.” “A U.S. Default Seen as Catastrophe, Dwarfing Lehman’s Fall,” screams the headline in Bloomberg Businessweek. “A default would be unprecedented and has the potential to be catastrophic,” says a Treasury Department report issued on Thursday — two weeks before the government is expected to begin running out of cash. But what does “catastrophic” actually mean in this context? In the summer of 2011, when Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama caved to their extortionist demands, the same word was bandied about. It scared the political class enough that they kicked the can and avoided a default. This time around, the need to raise the debt ceiling doesn’t seem to be generating nearly the same concern. Indeed, Tea Party Republicans seem to be almost rooting for the government to default, as if that would somehow bring about the smaller government they so yearn for. But this is incredibly wrongheaded. A failure to raise the debt ceiling, should it come to that, would likely inflict a different kind of pain than sequestration or even a shutdown of the federal government. It won’t make the government smaller. But it does have the potential to diminish the value of one of America’s greatest assets — the backing of its debt — while throwing the world economy into chaos.

The New York Times: Anger Can Be Power
These are extraordinary times. The depth and strength of voters’ conviction that their opponents are determined to destroy their way of life has rarely been matched, perhaps only by the mood of the South in the years leading up to the Civil War. In a recent column for Bloomberg View, my friend Frank Wilkinson put together a concise explanation: A lot of Americans were not ready for a mixed-race president. They weren’t ready for gay marriage. They weren’t ready for the wave of legal and illegal immigration that redefined American demographics over the past two or three decades, bringing in lots of nonwhites. They weren’t ready — who was? — for the brutal effects of globalization on working- and middle-class Americans or the devastating fallout from the financial crisis. Their representatives didn’t stop Obamacare. And their side didn’t “take back America” in 2012 as Fox News and conservative radio personalities led them to believe they would. They feel the culture is running away from them (and they’re mostly right). They lack the power to control their own government. But they still have just enough to shut it down. Animosity towards the federal government has been intensifying at a stunning rate. In a survey released on Sept. 23, Gallup found that the percentage of Republicans saying the federal government has too much power — 81 percent — had reached a record-setting level. The movement to the right on the part of the Republican electorate can be seen in Gallup surveys calculating that the percentage of Republicans who identify themselves as conservative grew between 2002 and 2010 by 10 percentage points, from 62 to 72 percent. During the same period, the percentage of Republicans who identify themselves as moderates fell from 31 to 23 percent.

Politics NC: A Culture of Deceit
On thing is clear. Pat McCrory came to Raleigh with an agenda for Medicaid and he wasn’t about to let pesky facts get in his way. He never has. He found a partisan ideologue to run the Department of Health and Human Services and got rid of all those mindless bureaucrats who get in the way of the free market. He replaced them with campaign cronies and high paid consultants with no experience in health or human services. Then they set out to change Medicaid and let the free market reign. Unfortunately for them, the program was running fairly smoothly, especially considering the sharp and unexpected increase in enrollment due to the Great Recession. But that wasn’t going to slow McCrory and his train.

Politics NC: Fire and Brimstone for Senate
Thirteen months out, we can say with some confidence that the Republican “field” is set. To Speak Thom Tillis’s relief, Phil Berger bowed out; then, to everyone’s confusion, Pete Brunstetter leaned in but left before anyone figured out who he was. And last week, the most formidable dark horse candidate entered the race. His name is Mark Harris. A wild Baptist preacher, Harris made his name championing the anti-gay amendment that started our disastrous right-wing binge. True to form, his announcement speech declared the Harris campaign a crusade to redeem America. This claim is highly suspect. It’s more likely that, like most megachurch primadonnas, his activities serve to get his angelic visage on TV. His fear of God is just a fear of going unseen.


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

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