#NCGA leaders unveil budget compromise, McCrory’s memory follies, U.S. House Democrats launch women-focused economic agenda, U.S. House Republicans procedural extremism exposed, infamous, trailblazing journalist Helen Thomas dies at 92, McAuliffe and Cuccinelli clash in first debate, 2014 battleground map for Senate control shrinks, Klobuchar 2016?, perspective on the ‘priorities’ of the #NCGA
Dome: Today at the Statehouse
The Senate worked Friday and left the House quite a to-do list. The House calendar today includes bills pertaining to private school vouchers, a massive rewrite of state regulations, drug testing and background checks for public assistance recipients, fracking and charter schools. A bill to further delay Jordan Lake water quality standards is also on the agenda. The Senate won’t take any votes Monday — allowing Senate leader Phil Berger to attend the Republican State Leadership Committee meeting in California. He is chairman of the organization’s campaign committee.
Charlotte Observer: Proposed NC budget would end teacher tenure, pay tuition vouchers
Teacher assistants take a hit in the budget released Sunday, which reduces state spending on them by $120 million, or about 21 percent. The budget ends funding for the embattled Rural Economic Development Center, whose longtime president, Billy Ray Hall, resigned under pressure last week. The budget creates a division focused on rural economic development within the state Department of Commerce. At UNC schools, out-of-state students would see tuition increases of as much as 12.3 percent next year. Tuition at community colleges will increase $2.50 per credit hour this year, bringing the cost to $71.50 per credit hour for in-state students.
WRAL: House, Senate reach agreement on two-year state budget
Both chambers have previously passed their own spending plans, but Republican leaders wrangled for weeks to come to a consensus even as the July 1 start of the 2013-2014 fiscal year came and went. Republicans took over the General Assembly in 2010 for the first time in more than a century, but did not cement full control of state government until GOP Gov. Pat McCrory took office in January.
News & Observer: Echoes of ‘pay to play’ in Tillis’ post-PAC appointments
Candidates for federal office have fewer restrictions on their fundraising – specifically on raising money while lawmakers are in session – than do state candidates. And when it comes to fundraising these days, the only green growing under Tillis’ feet is $100 bills. A super PAC supporting Tillis is likely to raise millions of dollars, and the beauty of such an organization is that there are virtually no limits on contributions. Tillis has more than a few supporters who’ve come across with $20,000 or $25,000 because, they say, they think Tillis, who has presided over one of the most bizarre legislative sessions in history, would make an outstanding senator. There is a remarkable coincidence in all this. It happens that the House appointed three men, who gave a total of $70,000 to the super PAC, to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.
News & Observer: Christensen: Sen. Berger drinks from GOP’s grail on economic solutions
I know he is worried about the people we grew up with. He writes about his own struggles to obtain the American dream and notes North Carolina’s high unemployment rate. “Sadly,” Berger writes, “today that opportunity is slipping for many. Hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow are fading.” His solution? Trickle-down economics. Yes, the same warmed-over philosophy that the elder George Bush once called “voodoo economics” and Sen. Bob Dole called “a riverboat gamble.” But since then, it has become the holy grail of the Republican Party. But there is little empirical evidence that shifting tax policy to make the rich richer would jump-start the economy and result in more jobs. It’s just as likely that the tax cuts will end up in offshore accounts. Of course, nearly all taxpayers get a tax cut under the tax plan, but the big boys – like those who bankroll legislative campaigns – get the biggest ones.
WBTV: Guns, voter ID remain as NC lawmakers near adjourn
Republican leaders at the North Carolina legislature will try to wrap up the 2013 session this week – perhaps just in time. House and Senate Republicans have seen tempers flare and frustrations grow as the session continued weeks beyond projections. GOP Gov. Pat McCrory’s legislative wish list and the weekly "Moral Monday" protests are adding to tensions. Current and former legislators and lobbyists say there’s no way around what one called "unorganized chaos" in the days ahead. Work is expected to go from morning until night in attempts to negotiate agreements on bills or kill or delay legislation.
News & Observer: McCrory, memory: an ethical task
Even though the bill itself is a document worth discussion, McCrory’s comments raise a larger point. Far too frequently politics is considered solely a matter of power, interests and competition. We forget, then, that a central act of any polity is to offer its people participation in a process of remembering. Memory, as a collective act, is a rigorous task that creates a community’s character. Memory disciplines the people into telling the truth about the past that has created the present.
WNCN: McCrory not surprised by drop in approval rating
Considering major changes North Carolina Republicans have pushed through the legislature, Gov. Pat McCrory said he’s surprised his approval rating is as high as it is. On Tuesday, Raleigh-based polling operation Public Policy Polling found that McCrory now has his lowest approval rating since taking office at 40 percent, which is down 15 points from June. His disapproval rating is 49 percent. According to the poll, only 68 percent of people who voted for McCrory still approve of the job he’s doing. However McCrory says he isn’t surprised by the ratings drop, and says he is more surprised that his approval is as high as it is. "The last three weeks we’ve had a big decline," McCrory acknowledged Thursday. "But listen, I’m shocked they’re that high because we’re stepping on the toes of the status quo."
ABC 3: New Hanover Co. Democrats meet about ‘Republican extremism’
New Hanover County Democrats met Thursday evening to talk about what they call Republican extremism. Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-18th District) and county Democratic Party Chair Richard Poole addressed the crowd at a home at Wrightsville Beach. More than 80 people gathered to talk about ways to support the party. Party leaders say they want to change the direction in which legislators in Raleigh are heading. Poole says there needs to be an emphasis on women, public education and voting rights.
Charlotte Observer: Student leaders give mixed review to voter ID bill
CDNC Political Director Asgod Barrantes said the Senate bill unfairly targets college students, especially those without driver’s licenses. He believes that if the Senate bill passes, voter turnout among college students would drop. “Overall the whole point of these obstructive (bills) is to hinder youth political participation,” he said.
CNN: Time to move beyond ‘Mad Men’ era for working women
There is compelling evidence that the economic security of women and their families is more fragile today than ever. Women are one-half of the nation’s workforce, yet disparities in pay, the shrinking of the public sector and stagnant wages have left too many women and families on the losing end of our nation’s economic recovery.
The Seattle Times: If They Run, Women Can Win Elections — Study Dispels Idea Voters Prefer Men
Women can – and do – win as often as men. That’s the simple, but myth-shattering, message of a study of more than 50,000 candidacies for Congress and the state legislatures released yesterday by the National Women’s Political Caucus. The report throws cold water on a slew of cliches, ranging from the belief that the odds are stacked against female candidates to the notion that 1992 was a breakthrough "Year of the Woman." The study, written by Jody Newman, executive director of NWPC, says that "electoral success has nothing to do with sex. . . . When male incumbents were compared to female incumbents, men running for open seats to women running for open seats, and male challengers to female challengers, women won as high a percentage of their races as men."
New York Magazine: Anarchists of the House
The Republican Party has spent 30 years careering ever more deeply into ideological extremism, but one of the novel developments of the Obama years is its embrace ofprocedural extremism. The Republican fringe has evolved from being politically shrewd proponents of radical policy changes to a gang of saboteurs who would rather stop government from functioning at all. In this sense, their historical precedents are not so much the Gingrich revolutionaries, or even their tea-party selves of a few years ago; the movement is more like the radical left of the sixties, had it occupied a position of power in Congress. And so the terms we traditionally use to scold bad Congresses—partisanship, obstruction, gridlock—don’t come close to describing this situation. The hard right’s extremism has bent back upon itself, leaving an inscrutable void of paranoia and formless rage and twisting the Republican Party into a band of anarchists. And the worst is not behind us.
Politico: Elizabeth Warren, hard-liner
Earlier last week at the White House, President Barack Obama tried to use his powers of persuasion on Elizabeth Warren, privately urging the consumer watchdog-turned-Massachusetts senator to back the student loan deal he was reaching with Senate leaders. It didn’t work. On Thursday, she went to the Senate floor to attack the plan, saying it would hurt students and benefit big banks. “I think this whole system stinks. We should not go along with any plan that continues to produce profits for the government. It is wrong,” Warren said. This wasn’t an isolated incident. After nearly seven months in office, Warren has staked out firm ground to the left of the president and Senate Democratic leaders. She has called for prosecuting the actors in the financial meltdown; urged Senate leaders to invoke the nuclear option to help confirm Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency she helped create; and was one of just four senators to vote against Obama’s U.S. trade representative nominee, demanding more transparency on trade agreements.
Politico: Candy Crowley pays tribute to Helen Thomas
CNN "State of the Union" host Candy Crowley on Sunday paid tribute to the late journalist Helen Thomas, her "first friend in the White House press corps. "I was in my 20s when I was assigned to the beat," Crowley said. "Helen was one of the first to reach out. No one was nicer or more helpful," even though they worked for competing news organizations. Thomas died Saturday at age 92. The White House Correspondents’ Association’s first female president saw her career end after she made controversial remarks about Israel in 2010.
The Hill: Obama: Longtime journalist Helen Thomas a ‘true pioneer’
President Obama on Saturday said he and first lady Michelle Obama were saddened by the death of longtime White House journalist Helen Thomas, calling her a “true pioneer” who opened doors and broke down barriers for generations of women. Thomas died on Saturday after a long illness. She was 92. In a statement, Obama said Thomas “never failed to keep presidents – myself included – on their toes. What made Helen the ‘Dean of the White House Press Corps’ was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account.”
The Hill: Virginia candidates spar over gay rights, gift scandal in debate
The main candidates in Virginia’s governor’s race faced off in their first debate on Saturday, with gay rights and a festering gift scandal providing some of the most heated moments. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe were close in the polls heading into the Virginia Bar Association debate. McAuliffe was able to put Cuccinelli on the defense for large parts of the debate over comments Cuccinelli made related to homosexuality and abortion in the past, and over questions that have surfaced related to gifts he received from Jonnie Williams, the head of the Star Scientific nutrition company.
Politico: The incredibly shrunken 2014 battlefield
Battleground 2014 is shaping up to be a very small place. With the House sliced and diced into districts that leave most incumbents insulated from any serious reelection challenge — and a host of prized Senate recruits from both parties deciding they’d rather just stay home — control of Congress could be decided next year by the fewest number of states and congressional districts in a decade or more.
Huffington Post: House Republicans Shifted To Right By Primary Elections
House Republicans feel growing pressure to steer firmly right on key issues, thanks to changes in primary-election politics that are complicating Congress’ ability to solve big problems. Independent research supports the belief by these lawmakers that they owe their jobs to increasingly conservative activists, and that it’s safer than ever to veer right on many subjects rather than seek compromise with Democrats.
The Daily Beast: Has Mitch Met His Match?
A Democratic senator from Kentucky? The idea may sound far-fetched, but Alison Lundergan Grimes, 34, is about to take her shot. This week, the Kentucky secretary of State filed papers to run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—an uphill struggle in which she will try to topple a five-term senator who is twice her age and one of Washington’s most formidable figures.
Politico: Possible GOP opponent to Mitch McConnell books airtime
An emerging conservative challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has reserved airtime in Kentucky starting next week, according to multiple media-tracking sources. Matt Bevin, an investment executive based in Louisville, has previously floated the prospect of a primary bid against McConnell. Now, two sources say Bevin has booked ads in the Louisville market; a Republican source said “Matt Bevin for Senate” has also begun reserving time in Bowling Green as well.
Politico: 50 Politicos to Watch: Colleen Hanabusa
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) was passed over in December for an appointment to replace the late Sen. Daniel Inouye. Instead, Gov. Neil Abercrombie tapped his lieutenant governor, Brian Schatz, for the seat. But that was far from the last word. Hanabusa is challenging Schatz in what could be one of the most-watched Democratic primaries of 2014. That drama of Inouye’s succession — he had sent a letter to Abercrombie shortly before his death urging the governor to appoint Hanabusa — made headlines both in Hawaii and nationally and gave Hanabusa an opening to seek the Senate seat herself.
Real Clear Politics: Klobuchar’s Iowa Visit: A Test Drive for 2016?
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar stepped off the Senate basement subway on Thursday morning and stopped to answer some questions from a reporter in her typically accommodating and affable manner. The previous day, The Des Moines Register had broken the news that the two-term Democrat plans to visit Iowa to keynote the 10th annual North Iowa Wing Ding Fundraiser on Aug. 16. Such a jaunt is a bold move for a woman who thrives on blending in with her fellow legislators, as it will be the first Hawkeye State visit of the incipient 2016 election cycle by a prospective Democratic presidential candidate. But Klobuchar denied that her appearance means she is strongly considering a run, noting her intention is to help raise money for Rep. Bruce Braley, who is vying to become Iowa’s next senator in 2014.
Huffington Post: Peter King: Hillary Clinton Would ‘Destroy’ Ted Cruz, GOP ‘Isolationists’ In 2016 (VIDEO)
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) claims he thinks former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) would "destroy" some of his Republican peers in a potential 2016 matchup.“I think she’s very strong on foreign policy, and I think that if we nominate someone from our isolationist wing of the party, she’ll destroy them,” King said.
Fayetteville Observer: A look at North Carolina General Assembly’s priorities
Governing comes down to one word: priorities. The money follows the priorities. Using our money, politicians pay for the ideas, policies, groups and people they favor, and under-fund or defund the rest. Nothing says more about the N.C. General Assembly’s priorities than two items in the big tax plan headed for the governor’s signature: The plan will terminate the popular sales-tax holiday and end the estate tax for the wealthy.
The Washington Post: Rand Paul can never be a mainstream Republican
To this point, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has been the Republican flavor of the year. Events from the IRS scandal to NSA revelations to the Obamacare train wreck have corroborated libertarian suspicions of federal power. And Paul has shown serious populist skills in cultivating those fears for his political benefit. For a while, he succeeded in a difficult maneuver: accepting the inheritance of his father’s movement while distancing himself from the loonier aspects of his father’s ideology. But now Paul has fallen spectacularly off the tightrope. It turns out that a senior member of his Senate staff, Jack Hunter, has a history of neo-Confederate radio. And Paul has come to the defense of his aide.
The Fiscal Times: The Coming Revival of Liberalism
It is a fact of life that political trends are cyclical. Neither major party has a permanent lock on control of the federal government. Even in the absence of big events such as the Great Depression that give a long-term boost to a particular political philosophy, people eventually tire of one party’s approach to governing; it becomes stale, corrupted and vulnerable to defeat. I think the indications are that conservatism is running out of steam. Conservatives don’t really have anything they want desperately to accomplish in terms of changing policy. Virtually all of their energy is directed toward stopping liberal initiatives. That is, conservatives are basically on the defensive, as liberals were in the 1970s. Opposing change works fine when things are generally okay. But when things are not, the energy eventually shifts to the party open to new ideas, to change, to reform and experimentation. A new poll from Public Religion Research Institute shows growing support for a more liberal approach to policy that I think will gather steam in years to come.
Politico: 2014 budget process: Worst is yet to come
The 2014 budget and appropriations process has been described as a “slow-motion train wreck,” but this is far too generous. For a collision to occur, locomotives must actually meet. Having failed to avert automatic, across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration for 2013, Congress forced federal departments and agencies, states and grantees to do more with less, resulting in lost jobs, furloughs, diminished access to vital programs like Head Start and Meals on Wheels, and a failure to make investments we know are critical to the future. The Ryan budget adopted by the House majority establishes an insufficient $967 billion top-line discretionary spending level and assumes continuation of sequestration in 2014 and beyond. Unfortunately, the legislative actions, transfers and reprogrammings, and deferrals of long-term priorities that mitigated the worst effects of sequestration in 2013 are no longer available.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party