NCDP Clips September 23, 2013


ABC 11: Poll: Favorable rating falls for NC Gov. McCrory
A survey indicates Gov. Pat McCrory has lost popularity with North Carolina registered voters since spring. President Barack Obama appears to have had a similar decline. The Elon University Poll released Thursday has 36 percent of those surveyed this week approve of McCrory’s job performance, compared to 46 percent in April. Those who disapproved grew from 25 percent in April to 46 percent. The Republican governor has received negative attention from hiring decisions at the health department and signing legislation from the GOP-led legislature. The General Assembly’s approval rating is 32 percent.

Dome: McCrory sticking with Medicaid plan
Gov. Pat McCrory’s office on Thursday reaffirmed his interest in turning Medicaid into a managed care system after he seemed to throw the state’s commitment to that idea into question. Meeting with reporters Wednesday, McCrory was asked, “Are you still pushing toward a managed care system?” McCrory replied: “We’re looking at all options. It’s too early for me to tell what exactly the conclusion we’ll come up with.”The next day, his office clarified, saying that McCrory is sticking with managed care.“The Governor remains committed to reforming our state’s broken Medicaid system,” the statement said.


News and Observer: Aldona Wos shakes up NC’s DHHS
Dr. Aldona Wos set the tone for her leadership of one of the state’s largest and most complex agencies early in her tenure during a public meeting with legislators.She told lawmakers during a visit in February that the Department of Health and Human Services was broken when she arrived. She described how, in her first days, staff members would rush into her office with contracts she needed to sign ASAP even though they couldn’t detail what the state was buying or for how much. She found papers on her desk with no name or contact information.That was going to stop, Wos told legislators.

News and Observer: Christensen: The ambassador and the general
In looking at the administration of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, consider the tale of the ambassador and the general.Both run sprawling state agencies that have often had a way of blowing up into controversies that embarrass their governors. So far, the general’s agency has run smoothly. But every time the governor picks up the newspaper or turns on the TV, he sees more bad news coming of the ambassador’s agency. The ambassador, of course, is Aldona Wos, McCrory’s secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Progressive Pulse: Newspaper calls for Wos’ resignation
The Henderson Daily Dispatch has called for the resignation of North Carolina Health and Human Services Director Aldona Wos. According to the editorial dated yesterday entitled: Wos must immediately resign post:“Aldona Wos must immediately resign her position as the secretary of our state’s Department of Health and Human Services. If she does not, Gov. Pat McCrory has to make the decision for her. Wos helped raise money for McCrory’s gubernatorial campaign last fall. Her department’s hires are foul-smelling of campaign worker exchanges. The governor’s campaign against a corrupt culture in Raleigh has long left the stationAllowing her to continue disables McCrory’s integrity while she digs a deeper hole. Wos is responsible for a department with nearly 18,000 employees spread in 30 divisions and offices, 14 facilities and a budget of $18.3 billion. She took the job for $1 in annual salary. Everybody, whether qualified or not, with connections to her is raking in the dollars.

CBS Charlotte: NC Families Go Hungry As Food Assistance Delayed
Rahab Kinity didn’t expect to be hungry. The 38-year-old single mother supported herself and her teenage son working two jobs as a medical assistant, managing to save enough to buy a modest Raleigh home. Then, in June, she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her stomach, and her fragile financial security unraveled. Too weak to work while she receives chemotherapy, Kinity applied two months ago for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. And like people desperate for help all across North Carolina, she is still waiting. Earlier this year, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services launched NC FAST, a $300 million computer system that was supposed to streamline the process of applying and renewing government assistance. The name is an acronym for North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology

Politics: Secretary Wos, about that job…
Dear Secretary Wos, Thank you for considering me for any positions that might be open or invented at the Department of Health and Human Services. Especially consider me for ones with big severance packages. I’m also attracted to the ones that have 30% raises after the first couple of months. I won’t be particular about which job you give me. I’m obviously qualified for them all since I’ve spent the past 20 years working in politics. However, I also served on the board of a day care center that served low-income families from 1990-1993. That probably qualifies me to oversee the Early Childhood Education program if you’re still having trouble filling that spot. Speaking of Early Childhood, did Dianna Lightfoot get a severance package, too?

WRAL: DHHS paid chief of staff $37,000 ‘severance’ after month of work
The Department of Health and Human Services paid Thomas L. Adams $37,227.25 as "severance" after he served just one month as chief of staff at the department. His is the latest high-dollar salary to come to light at the agency responsible for overseeing Medicaid, food stamps and other human service programs. Hefty contracts given to politically connected executives and $80,000-plus salaries granted to younger staffers who worked for Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign have made news in recent weeks. Adams’ severance payment stands out even from those payments, particularly because he occupied an exempt position, meaning he could be hired and fired at will with little notice and no need for the state to give cause and no appeal rights. "It’s ridiculous," said Dana Cope, executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina. "It’s a shame that DHHS is becoming the political patronage department of state government."

Reflector: Mooneyham: DHHS issues blues
Lately I’ve been wondering whether that old tune, “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,” is running through Gov. Pat McCrory’s head .After all, the sun is not shining in two places, and there is more than a little rain falling, especially at the state’s health agency, the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency has always had its problems. The reason is pretty simple: Its total budget, when accounting for federal Medicaid money, is $20 billion, roughly the same amount as the entire state general operating budget that goes to run schools, universities, prisons and other state functions. The Medicaid budget alone is more than $14 billion when that federal money is thrown in.

The Pilot: Southern Pines Man at Center of New DHHS Pay Controversy
Dr. Aldona Wos, head of the embattled state Department of Health and Human Services, defended her job performance Friday, including salary and hiring decisions that have led to calls for investigations. Shortly after the interview with News 14 Carolina, another DHHS pay story erupted. An employee who worked as Wos’ chief of staff for one month was given a $37,000 settlement after he left. The payment was approved by state budget director Art Pope on July 30. Tom Adams, a lobbyist with the N.C. Captive Insurance Association, was hired at a salary of $155,000 a year, and worked for Wos in March. Spokesmen for Wos and Gov. Pat McCrory could not be reached Friday night. McCrory vigorously defended Wos in interviews this week.


Sun Journal: Forest, lawmakers tout accomplishments at God and Country Banquet
“I just view it as a part of their tired old playbook, trying to come back with the same old liberal positions that aren’t working. That’s why we won in 2010. That’s why we added to our numbers in 2012. That’s why Romney carried this state. They need to come up with a new message and they need to recognize that where they wanted to take this state is not generally where the citizens wanted to go.” The God and Country Banquet regularly draws state politicians, and Speciale called the event a place to meet constituents.“People like to be around like-minded people,” he said. “This is a good forum for the Christians. You don’t have to be a conservative to be here, but generally when you look around that’s who you’re seeing. It’s just a great way to share some camaraderie and be around people that think the way you do.” Tillis was attending the event for the first time.


News and Record: NAACP takes protests to Yadkinville
The North Carolina NAACP is taking its protest of legislative action to Yadkinville. The civil rights group said its Moral Monday and the Forward Together Movement will be at the Yadkin County Courthouse at 7 p.m. Monday. The NAACP has been protesting actions by the Republican-dominated General Assembly for weeks. The group says it’s concerned about what it calls attacks on teachers, unemployed workers, immigrants and voting rights, among other issues.


The Mountaineer: Democrats hold fall rally
On Saturday, Sept. 28, Haywood County Democrats will gather at the Canton Armory for their annual Fall Rally. Dinner will begin at 6:30 followed by the program with special guest speaker Robert Dempsey, executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP).


Los Angles Times: In Washington, countdown to a shutdown
"The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want Obamacare. The House has listened to the American people." That’s what Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said at the GOP’s victory rally Friday after the House voted to pass a spending bill that cut all funding for the president’s healthcare law — and took the country one step closer to a government shutdown on Oct. 1. The American people, alas, weren’t in the room to speak for themselves. But was Boehner right about their desires? Polls show that most Americans are, not surprisingly, divided. Yes, a majority doesn’t like Obamacare. They’re unsure about what it will do and worried that it might make their healthcare worse. But do they really want to defund the law, and risk the chaos of a government shutdown to do it? Probably not, most polls suggest.

The Daily Beast: John Boehner Is Letting GOP Extremists Hold the Government Hostage
Here are the two questions that really matter this week as we head toward a possible government shutdown. How many Republicans in the House really would consider a shutdown as some kind of victory? And what is John Boehner prepared to do about them? Whatever the answer to the first question, the answer to the second is almost sure to be “not much.” Boehner is easily the worst House speaker in modern history. Far from being the figure of perverse sympathy that some suggest, he embodies exactly what’s wrong with the GOP—mainstream conservatism’s total capitulation to the extremists. He’s a disgrace. We’ve come to expect the Big Crazy from these Republicans, so we all kind of accepted the idea Friday that the House attached the defund-Obamacare provisionsto its resolution to keep funding the government. But really. Stop and think about it. It’s totally outrageous that a speaker of the House of Representatives would even allow such a measure to get to the floor. The speaker is the second–most important person in the country in terms of making the country work. He’s more important than the Senate leader because spending bills must originate in the House, and the House, which in theory is closer to the people, was always envisioned as the body that would do more to drive the nation’s legislative agenda. It’s not for nothing that the speaker of the House is third in the line of presidential succession. He’s not supposed to agree with the president, but he is supposed to agree that the government should exist and do affirmative things.

Politico: McCaskill: Too many GOP ‘tantrums’
Sen. Claire McCaskill blasted Republicans on Sunday for throwing "tantrums" over President Barack Obama’s health care law."I don’t think in America we should throw tantrums when we lose elections and threaten to shut down the government and refuse to pay the bills," the Missouri Democrat said on "Fox News Sunday." "The American people had a choice last November. They had a choice between someone who said repeal Obamacare, and President Obama." Her comments come as Congress grapples over spending legislation in which funding for Obamacare is a key sticking point. If no solution is reached, the government could shut down.

Huffington Post: Why the Upcoming Shutdowns and Defaults Are Symptoms of a Deeper Republican Malady
Congressional Republicans have gone directly from conservatism to fanaticism without any intervening period of sanity. First, John Boehner, bowing to Republican extremists, ushers a bill through the House that continues to fund the government after September 30 but doesn’t fund the Affordable Care Act. Anyone with half a brain knows Senate Democrats and the president won’t accept this — which means, if House Republicans stick to their guns, a government shut-down. A shutdown would be crippling. Soldiers would get IOUs instead of paychecks. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be furloughed without pay. National parks would close. Millions of Americans would feel the effects. And who will get blamed? House Republicans think the public hates the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) so much they’ll support their tactics. But the fact is, regardless of Americans’ attitudes toward that Act — which, not incidentally, passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by the president, who was re-elected with over 50 percent of the vote, and constitutionality was upheld by the Supreme Court — Americans hate even more one party using the United States government as a pawn in their power games. According to a recent CNN poll, 51 percent of Americans say they’d blame the Republicans for a shutdown; 33 percent would blame the president. They blamed Republicans for the last shutdown at the end of 1995 and start of 1996 — contributing to Republican losses of seven out of 11 gubernatorial races in 1996, 53 state legislative seats, 3 House seats, and the presidency.

Politico: The GOP’s reckless stunt
The civil war that has been raging within the Republican Party is over. And now that the House has voted to shut down the government unless Obamacare is defunded, it’s official: The Tea Party has won — the far right is calling the shots. This extreme faction and its captives in the GOP are so focused on undermining President Barack Obama and his plans to boost the economy and improve access to health care for all American that they’re willing to drive the nation over the cliff. The only question now is what car these legislators will use: Will they cause a government shutdown, force the U.S. to default on its obligations, or both? This is the desperate, reckless, path the Tea Party has chosen in its attempt to defund Obamacare, a goal they’ve decided to pursue even if it puts the financial stability of the United States in jeopardy.

National Journal: The GOP’s Reckless Bet
Listening to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew speak to the Economic Club of Washington on Sept. 17 brought to mind how little many of the more conservative Republicans in the House really know about President Reagan’s eight years in office, how he operated, and, for that matter, why and how he succeeded. In other words, few of them get how the town worked during Reagan’s tenure, as opposed to today, when it only barely does.In his speech and subsequent discussion with David Rubenstein—the president of the Economic Club and the cofounder and cochief executive officer of the Carlyle Group, a global private-equity firm—Lew pointed out that if the "Hastert Rule" had been observed when Democrats controlled the House during the Reagan administration, much of the legislation that Reagan is remembered for would not have passed. (Under the Hastert Rule, named for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Republican, the majority party in the House does not act on bills unless the measures have the support of a majority of the majority party’s members.)

Politico: Pelosi says ‘the cupboard is bare’
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says that while deficit reduction is a laudable goal, there are precious few spending cuts left to negotiate in exchange for raising the debt ceiling."The cupboard is bare," the California Democrat said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s "State of the Union." "There’s no more cuts to make.""We all want to reduce the deficit," she added. "Put everything on the table, review it, but you cannot have any more cuts just for the sake of cuts. Right now you’re taking trophies."

Washington Post: Wonkbook: Democrats to Boehner: There will be no debt-ceiling negotiation. Seriously.
On Friday afternoon, just hours after the House passed a continuing resolution defunding Obamacare, President Obama placed a call to Speaker Boehner. Surprisingly, Obama didn’t want to talk about the CR, or even the possibility of a shutdown. Instead, in a conversation Boehner’s aides characterized as "brief," President Obama reiterated that he would not, under any circumstances, negotiate over the debt ceiling.
Today, Senate Democrats will back Obama up. Patty Murray, the chairwoman of the Budget Committee, and Max Baucus, the chairman of the Finance Committee, are sending a "dear colleague" letter stating "President Obama has been clear that he is not going to negotiate over the debt limit, and Congressional Democrats stand behind him strongly."

Philly: Blame already being cast over budget fight
Even before a budget deadline arrives, leaders from both parties are blaming each other – and some Republicans are criticizing their own – for a government shutdown many are treating as inevitable.The top Democrat in the House says Republicans are "legislative arsonists" who are using their opposition to a sweeping health care overhaul as an excuse to close government’s doors. A leading tea party antagonist in the Senate counters that conservatives should use any tool available to stop the Affordable Care Act from taking hold. President Bill Clinton’s labor secretary says the GOP is willing "to risk the entire system of government to get your way," while the House speaker who oversaw the last government shutdown urged fellow Republicans to remember "this is not a dictatorship."

The Nation: The GOP’s No Good, Very Bad Food Stamp Cuts
As expected, Republicans in the House of Representatives passed a measure Thursday night that cuts nearly $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. If signed into law, the bill would push at least 4 million people off food stamps over the next ten years, including many poor and unemployed Americans. In case you haven’t been following the extensive food stamp debate in Congress this year, here’s the basic rundown: Republicans proposed a farm bill in the spring with deep food stamp cuts: about $20 billion dollars over ten years. That wasn’t enough for hard-core conservatives, who helped kill the bill in June while demanding deeper cuts. So Thursday night House leadership came back with double the reductions, and passed it this time.

Politico: Ted Cruz scrambles to salvage strategy
Ted Cruz and his allies are fighting a battle they will almost certainly lose in the Senate this week. The freshman Republican from Texas, along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and some vocal House conservatives, pushed House Republican leaders to pass a bill Friday that funds the government until Dec. 15 at a $986 billion annual funding level but denies money for Obamacare’s implementation. That defunding provision is a nonstarter with President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who says it’s “dead” in his chamber. After months of fiery rhetoric, Cruz and his allies are scrambling to salvage their strategy. For starters, Cruz wants Reid to make an exception to Senate rules that would make it easier for Republicans to block Obamacare funding.

Huffington Post: HUFFPOLLSTER: Nancy Pelosi Is Congress’ Most Popular Leader, Which Isn’t Saying Much
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is the most popular of the top four congressional leaders, according to a poll released Friday by Gallup. That’s not a great honor. Just 39 percent of Americans approved of the job done by Pelosi, but even fewer approved of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — who received positive ratings of 37 percent, 35 percent and 33 percent, respectively. Majorities disapproved of Reid, Boehner and Pelosi. McConnell’s disapproval rating was slightly lower at 47 percent, but that was a reflection less of his being better-liked than of his being slightly less well-known than the other three.

News and Record: Delay filling N.C. judicial vacancy is longest in U.S.
North Carolina has the longest-running judicial vacancy in the country’s federal district courts, in part because Republican Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., hasn’t allowed the process forward. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that North Carolina’s eastern judicial district has had a vacancy since the start of 2006 when Judge Malcolm Howard started semi-retirement. That means his seat has been open for more than 2,800 days. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts considers a post vacant for 2,500 days to be a "judicial emergency."


DigTriad: Sen. Hagan Proposes Infant Mortality Legislation to Increase Child Care Provider Training
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions unanimously passed a bill this week that could provide funding to target factors of infant mortality. September is Infant Mortality Awareness month, and in light of events hosted by local health departments this week, U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) introduced the bipartisan Child Care Infant Mortality Prevention Act. Hagan and senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) inserted the act into a larger bill–the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (Senate Bill 1086). Hagan’s proposed provisions would allow funding from the block grant to be used for child care provider training in sleep practices. It also would allocate funding for training on first aid and CPR. Hagan’s office said the proposal would not add to the current deficit.

Dome: Hagan pushes for vet claims speed-up
Sen. Kay Hagan continues to pressure the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to speed up claims processing at its offices in Winston-Salem and elsewhere. Hagan said this week she has sent letters to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and VA Secretrary Eric Shinseki asking them to report on the progress of a plan to streamline the transfer of veterans’ medical records from the Department of Defense, which has them while troops are in service, to the VA, which gets the records when troops who leave service ask for care.


WRAL: Berger says no to U.S. Senate bid
State Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, says he will not jump into the Republican melee for the chance to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan next year. Berger, the powerful president pro tem of the state Senate, has been flirting with a run at Hagan’s seat for months. But he said Monday that he would stay out of the 2014 GOP primary. "It’s just not the right time for me," Berger said Monday morning."That has a lot to do with the situation at the state level. There’s a lot of things we’ve started that I want to see finished."

Dome: Phil Berger won’t run for U.S. Senate
State Senate leader Phil Berger announced Monday that will not make a bid for U.S. Senate, ending weeks of speculation about his political intentions that threatened to scramble the North Carolina political picture.
His decision likely cements the four-way race for the Republican nomination to challenge Democrat U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and avoids a showdown with House Speaker Thom Tillis, who announced his candidacy in May. The two GOP leaders appeared to jockey for political positioning during this year’s session and the prospect that they could face off in a primary contest in May amid next year’s session threatened to color all legislative action. A spokesman announced his decision just after 9 a.m. Monday.


Politico: Hillary Clinton gives first post-State Department interview
In her first major interview since leaving the State Department, Hillary Clinton highlighted the experience she gained working in the administration and positioned herself as an independent thinker as she mulls a 2016 bid. “I’ve had a unique, close, and personal front-row seat,” she told New York Magazine, in a story posted on Sunday. “And I think these last four years have certainly deepened and broadened my understanding of the challenges and opportunities that we face in the world today.”

CNN POLITICS: Pelosi: Hillary Clinton more ready for WH than husband or Obama was
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi continued to offer effusive praise for Hillary Clinton, saying the former secretary of state would be one of the best-prepared incoming presidents if she decided to run in 2016."If she does, she will win and when she becomes president, she’ll be one of the best-equipped, best-prepared people to enter the White House in a very long time," Pelosi said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s "State of the Union."


The Plum Line: In blow to immigration reform, House ‘gang of seven’ bill looks dead
In a blow to the hopes of passing immigration reform anytime soon, the bipartisan House “gang of seven” plan is probably dead and almost certainly won’t be introduced this fall as promised, a top Democrat on the group acknowledges.“It doesn’t appear that we’re going to move forward with the group of seven,” Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (Ill.), a key player on immigration as a member of the gang, said in an interview with me. “The process is stalled. I don’t believe we’re going to produce a bill anytime soon.”This undermines the already dwindling prospects for reform, because the House gang of seven plan — which would provide a path to citizenship but is significantly to the right of the Senate bill — was seen as a comprehensive plan that Republicans who genuinely want to solve the immigration problem just might coalesce around. (The gang of seven plan would reportedly provide for a probationary period for the 11 million, in which they’d admit wrongdoing, as well as onerous conditions for the path to citizenship, which would be 15 years long.)


Politico: Angela Merkel wins big in Germany
German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a huge victory and a third term in the country’s federal elections Sunday, but her center-right Christian Democratic Union appeared to be just short of winning an absolute majority in the German parliament. Partial election results found the CDU winning about 42 percent of the vote — the conservatives’ best election result since 1990, and a strong endorsement of Merkel’s leadership through the eurozone crisis. Their main opposition, the center-left Social Democrats, won an estimated 26 percent; the Greens and the Left Party received about 8.5 percent each.


The Times News: The voters are getting restless
North Carolina apparently has some voters’ remorse from 2012. Actually, the general dissatisfaction with Gov. Pat McCrory according to at least two new polls probably can’t be explained that easily. In fact, folks in North Carolina like President Obama even less than they do McCrory. And they’re not too choked up about either of the state’s U.S. senators or leadership in the state General Assembly. Tar Heels, it seems, are just plain unhappy with the state of government on nearly all levels, according to a poll released Thursday by Elon University. The poll, conducted by land line and cell phones Sept. 13 to 16 of 701 registered voters, found that 70 percent believe the United States is on the “wrong track.” Almost 60 percent say North Carolina is careening down a similar path.

Elkin Tribune: How long before you own the problem?
Last weekend Governor Pat McCrory appeared on the statewide television talk show NC SPIN to discuss his first eight months in office. Throughout that interview he blamed many of the state’s current problems on the policies and budget he inherited from former Governor Perdue. In the case of the budget he is wrong. North Carolinians gave Democrats a long leash to fix problems in our state but evidently came to the conclusion Democrats WERE the problem and voted them out in 2010, replacing them with large Republican majorities in both the state House and Senate. The budget Governor McCrory inherited was actually passed by that Republican-led legislature. Governor Perdue vetoed it, but the legislature subsequently voted to override her veto. Republicans “own” that budget, pure and simple.


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

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