NCDP Clips July 17, 2013

#NCGA Republicans cram through tentative approval of tax ‘overhaul,’ N.C. House continues assault on local control, votes to strip Charlotte of airport, McCrory targets state personnel protections, #NCGA Arizona-style immigration bill fizzles, #NCGOP responds to Moral Monday with ‘Thankful Tuesday,’ U.S. Senate Republicans blink in ‘nuclear’ showdown, federal student loan debt tops $1 trillion, Wendy Davis, Castro brothers breathe new life into Texas Dem prospects, Berger thinks highly of himself as Senate candidate and #NCGOP tax plan called ‘lipstick on a pig’


Fayetteville Observer: NC legislature tentatively OKs tax overhaul deal
Both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly have now agreed to tax changes that Republican lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory say will energize the state’s economy and give tax relief to all residents. The Senate voted along party lines Tuesday afternoon for the package, which would reduce corporate and individual income tax rates and expand slightly the sales tax base. Two Democrats joined all Republicans voting in the House for the measure earlier in the day.

Dome: Senate matches House, gives tax bill initial consent
Just hours after the House, the N.C. Senate voted 32-17 to give preliminary approval to a tax deal. The talking points echoed the House but the Senate gave the bill a more thorough discussion. Republicans leading the effort said the legislation would boost the state’s economy and give every taxpayer a break once it’s fully implemented. Democrats argued that the wealthiest will get the bulk of the tax cuts, while lower- and middle-class taxpayers may see tax hikes.

Dome: With limited debate, House approves tax cut measure
Cutting off debate after less than 30 minutes, N.C. House Republicans gave preliminary approval to a sweeping tax cut measure that debuted less 16 hours earlier. The 77-38 vote came mostly along partisan lines with House Speaker Thom Tillis casting a vote in favor. The House will give the measure a final approval Wednesday. The bulk of the debate focused on who will pay more and who will pay less, with Democrats casting it as tax cuts for the wealthy and tax increases for the poor. “This is a bill that is helpful is you are millionaire, it does not help you if you are in the middle class,” said Rep. Paul Luebke, a Durham Democrat.

WRAL: NC House approves Charlotte airport control swap
The North Carolina House approved plans Tuesday to immediately strip Charlotte of the airport it has run for more than 70 years and turn over control of the country’s eighth-busiest airline hub to an appointed body. The House voted 75-39 to hand management of US Airways’ top hub to a regional authority. Changes made by House lawmakers, including the immediate transfer of the assets and management, still must be approved by the state Senate. The measure also must be accepted by Gov. Pat McCrory

News & Observer: NC lawmakers allow charter schools to set growth
North Carolina lawmakers are tipping the scales in a small charter school’s expansion fight, a dispute critics say could undermine traditional public schools in rural communities statewide. The state House and Senate passed legislation Tuesday allowing charter schools to skip expansion approval by the State Board of Education. Charter schools operating at least three years and showing adequate student performance could add one additional grade to keep students who would graduate.


Dome: McCrory: State worker protections worse than any union rules
Gov. Pat McCrory Tuesday renewed his push for an overhaul of the state personnel act, that he said would streamline the appeals process, but which critics say would essentially remove most civil service protections. Speaking before a group of real estate executives, McCrory said he had a gifted Cabinet that was as good as any corporate board, but he said they were stymied in improving government by the State Personnel Act, which provides job protections from arbitrary or political firings.

Dome: McCrory’s popularity declining, Moral Monday protesters more popular than legislature
Gov. Pat McCrory has seen a sharp decline in public support, and for the first time is seeing his numbers under water, according to a new poll. Only 40 percent of voters approve of the job he is doing, compared to 49 percent who disapprove, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm based in Raleigh. That is a sharp decline from June when he had an approval rating of 45 percent and a disapproval rating of 39 percent. His support among Republicans is holding stead, but he has seen a heavy drop off of support among Democrats and independents, the survey found.

Maddow Blog: North Carolina sours on far-right agenda
Rachel recently noted on the show that North Carolina right now "is like conservatives gone wild” There’s overwhelming evidence to back that up, and it increasingly looks like North Carolinians are unimpressed. Helping drive the public disappointment is the GOP agenda targeting reproductive rights in the state — the motorcycle-turned-abortion bill is still working its way through the legislative process — and the proposal, which McCrory has vowed to sign despite promising the opposite last year, enjoys the support of just 34% of North Carolinians. A whopping 80% of the state believe it’s inappropriate for lawmakers to combine abortion legislation with bills about motorcycle safety or Sharia Law.


WRAL: State immigration reform fizzles
After more than a year of work, House leaders have given up on a bill that would have made big changes to state immigration laws, including allowing driving permits for people in the country illegally. House Bill 786 was turned into a study bill by a floor amendment during debate Tuesday. The bill would have allowed police to verify anyone’s immigration status "where there is reasonable suspicion that the person is not lawfully present in the U.S.," said sponsor Rep. Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe.

News & Record: NC immigration bill turned mostly into a study
After spending months working on a wide-ranging immigration bill, the North Carolina House on Tuesday tentatively opted instead to study several issues. A GOP leader said it was because Republicans in the chamber couldn’t agree on a provision granting driving permits to immigrants in the country illegally. The measure originally would have directed the Division of Motor Vehicles to issue restricted one-year permits and identification cards to people living in the U.S. without legal permission. The bill also would have increased penalties for having or making false identification papers and spelled out when police could verify the immigration status of someone lawfully stopped or arrested.


ABC 11: Republicans answer with ‘Thankful Tuesday’
"I’m not sure there’s much to be thankful for under this Republican leadership," said N.C. Democratic Party Spokesman Micah Beasley. "We have the 5th highest unemployment rate in the nation, we’ve fallen out of the top 10 for best states for business and our unemployed just had the resources they need gutted. When it comes to standing up for North Carolina’s middle class, Republicans are nowhere to be found."


The New York Times: In Second Term, Obama Is Seen as Using ‘Hidden Hand’ Approach
Some compare Mr. Obama’s approach to the “hidden hand” style of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who often steered events behind the scenes without being public about his role. Jim Newton, the author of “Eisenhower: The White House Years,” a book with back-cover blurbs from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry, said Mr. Obama was like the former president in avoiding major international conflict, relying more on covert action and letting Congress take the lead in legislation.

The Washington Post: Attorney General Eric Holder denounces ‘stand your ground’ laws
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. strongly condemned “stand your ground” laws Tuesday, saying the measures “senselessly expand the concept of self-defense” and may encourage “violent situations to escalate.” The statutes, which have been enacted in more than 30 states, have become the focus of a complicated national debate over race, crime and culpability since the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla. The volunteer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of murder charges Saturday.

The Washington Post: Obama picks new NLRB nominees
President Obama will nominate two longtime labor lawyers to the National Labor Relations Board, withdrawing two contested appointees as part of a deal struck to avert a showdown over the filibuster in Senate. The new nominees are Kent Hirozawa, who currently serves as chief counsel to the National Labor Relations Board chairman, and Nancy Schiffer, the general counsel at the AFL-CIO.


Dome: Hagan: U.S. to halt raises and bonuses for foreign nationals working at military bases
The Department of Defense won’t give any more raises or bonuses to citizens of other countries who work as civilians at U.S. military bases abroad as long as Americans are being furloughed, Sen. Kay Hagan said Tuesday. Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this month complaining that German civilian workers at U.S. bases got a bonus this year and a pay raise next year, while American civilian workers were being furloughed. She asked Hagel to suspend the pay increases in Germany.

Charlotte Observer: N.C. bankers support Hagan bill to wind down Fannie, Freddie
North Carolina banking and mortgage industry leaders are voicing their support for a bill that would wind down mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the next five years and replace them with a new government agency to guarantee loans. The plan is part of legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Kay Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat. Her office said Monday that the bill has the support of the state’s banking, credit union and realtor associations, as well as the National Association of Home Builders.


Politico: Senate deal averts nuclear option
Senators cemented a deal to avert the “nuclear option” on filibuster rules on Tuesday. Under the proposal, President Barack Obama would pull two nominees to the National Labor Relations Board — Sharon Block and Richard Griffin — and replace them on Tuesday afternoon with Nancy Schiffer and Kent Hirozawa, according to three sources. Schiffer is the associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO; Hirozawa is the chief counsel to NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and would be nominated to the seat on the board that expires in 2014. The nominations are expected to move swiftly since without the two new members, the board would cease to function in August.

New York Magazine: Senate Democrats Threaten Nuclear Option and Win
If you’ve been cowering in your underground survivalist fallout shelter for fear of Senate Democrats unleashing the “nuclear option” you have been hearing about, you can come out now. Senate Democrats have decided they’re not going to use it. (Also, it was a metaphorical nuclear option rather than a literal one, so you probably didn’t need to be hoarding food and water.) Unlike the last time Democrats threatened to change the Senate rules, and backed down without winning anything, this time they won something important: They broke Senate Republicans’ ability to hold presidential appointments hostage. It’s a total victory for the Democrats.

MSNBC: Warren and McCain try to bring back Glass-Steagall
Sens. John McCain and Elizabeth Warren are fighting to bring back legislation introduced in the post-Depression 1930s, which separated commercial banks from investment banks and ensured that large investment firms couldn’t make risky bets with the deposits of average Americans.

Politico: Rand Paul, Ted Cruz set off GOP scramble on sex assault
Senate Republicans scrambled for cover Tuesday after Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz partnered with a budding bipartisan coalition pushing the Pentagon to overhaul how it handles military sexual assault cases. GOP lawmakers said they planned to quickly schedule a closed-door conference meeting to hear out the two tea party firebrands on their decision to cosponsor legislation removing the chain of command from military prosecutions, a measure the Pentagon opposes. Republican leaders also will give Sen. Kelly Ayotte the floor at the meeting to explain an alternative approach adopted last month by the Armed Services Committee. The alternative also aims to reduce the number of unreported sexual assault cases – estimated around 23,000 last year – without stripping commanders of their authority to convene a court martial.


Politico: Federal student loan debt tops $1 trillion
Federal student loan debt has topped $1 trillion, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will announce Wednesday, a milestone that will only intensify the debate in Congress over what to do about student loan interest rates. The interest rate on new, federally subsidized Stafford loans doubled on July 1 to 6.8 percent thanks to congressional inaction, and the two parties haven’t been able to agree to a solution to lower the rate. “I think there’s been a lot of attention about future student loan interest rates but student loan debt continues to grow,” said Rohit Chopra, the CFPB’s student loan ombudsman.


Texas Monthly: The Life and Death (and Life?) of the Party
“Somebody has to step up,” Wendy Davis observed one evening in late May over drinks at the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. “As long as the Democrats continue to buy into the same bullshit that some of the Republicans are saying—‘Oh no, it’s Texas, it’s hopeless’—and continue to act like it won’t happen for six, eight, twelve, sixteen years from now, that perpetuates the problem.” “So are you going to run for statewide office?” I asked. Her green eyes sparkled. “One day, someday,” she said coyly.


The Washington Post: A very clear explanation of China’s economic woes
One of the biggest economic stories in the world right now is the sharp slowdown in China’s economy. On Monday, the country reported that it had grown just 7.5 percent in the second quarter of 2013, a worrisome drop from previous quarters. To get a clearer sense of why China is in such economic turmoil — and whether it could drag the rest of the world down with it — I called up Patrick Chovanec, a longtime China watcher who is currently chief strategist at Silvercrest Asset Management and was formerly an associate professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management in Beijing. A transcript of our talk follows.


Dome: Berger says he would be a strong Senate candidate
For those of you who like to read tea leaves, Senate leader Phil Berger was sounding a little bit more like a U.S. Senate candidate on Monday. He told Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard that he plans to decide whether to challenge Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan by the end of July. "The opportunity to be a credible candidate for the Senate doesn’t come along very often,” Berger said in an interview. “I feel I’d be a strong candidate.”

Atlanta Journal: Michelle Nunn on the Senate race: "I’ll be talking about it shortly"
Michelle Nunn shared a stage with a pair of presidents today in the East Room of the White House. She’s saving the politicking for another day. The CEO of Atlanta’s Points of Light Foundation and possible Democratic U.S. Senate candidate suggested in an interview with the AJC that her White House appearance with Presidents Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush was the final big date on her calendar before serious campaign discussions commence.

National Journal: Long Odds for House Democrats
From a mathematical standpoint, this Democrat’s formulation doesn’t change the odds, but the point was well taken. Democrats can do everything right during this 2014 election cycle, but they still don’t have much of a chance of capturing a majority due to the congressional district boundaries and recent voting patterns in Southern and border states in rural and small-town-dominated districts. However, if Republicans engage in enough self-destructive behavior of the type we’ve seen the past couple of years, voters might just reach a breaking point. Some in the Republican Party seem intent on seeing how far they can go in alienating as many female, young, minority, and self-described moderate voting blocs as possible, despite frequent warnings from party leaders and strategists to avoid that.

The Hill: Liz Cheney to primary Sen. Enzi in Wyoming
Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, announced Tuesday she will challenge Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) in 2014, setting up a high-profile GOP primary battle.“I am running for the United States Senate because I believe deeply in the values that have made our state and our nation great. I’m running because I believe it is necessary for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate," Cheney said. "I’m running because I know as a mother and a patriot we can no longer afford simply to go along to get along. We can’t continue business as usual in Washington. I’m running because I know we’re taxed more than enough already.”


News & Observer: GOP tax plan nothing but a pretty piggy
So what’s going to happen to revenue? Republicans would like us to believe that tax cuts will create jobs – a theory that didn’t work too well during the Bush administration – which will lead to a booming economy and more money coming in to the state. They’re apparently not worried about the $2.4 billion drop in revenue the cuts would cause over five years. That’s going to create the potential for dramatic cuts in government services if the rosy scenario to which the governor subscribes doesn’t come to pass.

WonkBlog: Does the Senate really need to confirm 1,200 executive branch jobs?
The Senate has been bickering all day over how to confirm President Obama’s nominees for various executive-branch positions. And it’s worth taking a step back and asking: Why are there so many jobs that require Senate confirmation, anyway? Let’s start with the raw numbers: There are somewhere around 1,200 to 1,400 positions in the executive branch that require Senate confirmation, according to an estimate by the Congressional Research Service. That means several hundred nominees have to get scrutinized by the Senate each year.


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