NCDP Clips September 30, 2013

VOTING RIGHTS

Dome: Morning Memo: Feds to challenge N.C. voting law; Senate candidates scrap for cash
The U.S. Department of Justice will file a lawsuit Monday to stop North Carolina’s new voter ID law, which critics have said is the most sweeping law of its kind, according to a person briefed on the department’s plans. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has said he will fight state voting laws that he sees as discriminatory, will announce the lawsuit at noon Monday, along with the three U.S. attorneys from the state. Critics said the law will disenfranchise African-American and elderly voters, while the Republican-led General Assembly in Raleigh said the law will protect the state’s voters from potential fraud.

Winston Salem Journal: Justice Dept to sue North Carolina over voter law
The Justice Department will sue the state of North Carolina for alleged racial discrimination over tough new voting rules, the latest effort by the Obama administration to fight back against a Supreme Court decision that struck down the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act and freed southern states from strict federal oversight of their elections.North Carolina has a new law scaling back the period for early voting and imposing stringent voter identification requirements. It is among at least five Southern states adopting stricter voter ID and other election laws. The Justice Department on Aug. 22 sued Texas over the state’s voter ID law and is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit over redistricting laws in Texas that minority groups consider to be discriminatory. Republican lawmakers in southern states insist the new measures are needed to prevent voter fraud, though such crimes are infrequent. Democrats and civil rights groups argue the tough new laws are intended to make voting more difficult for minorities and students, voting groups that lean toward Democrats, in states with legacies of poll taxes and literacy tests. Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce the lawsuit against North Carolina at a news conference Monday, according to a person who has been briefed on the department’s plans but is not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and spoke only on condition of anonymity. Holder will be joined at the news conference by the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, Joceyln Samuels, and the three U.S. attorneys from North Carolina, the person said.

Charlotte Observer: U.S. Justice Department suit aims to stop NC voter ID law
The U.S. Department of Justice will file a lawsuit Monday to stop North Carolina’s new voter ID law, which critics have said is the most sweeping law of its kind, according to a person briefed on the department’s plans. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has said he will fight state voting laws that he sees as discriminatory, will announce the lawsuit at noon Monday, along with the three U.S. attorneys from the state. Critics said the law will disenfranchise African-American and elderly voters, while the Republican-led General Assembly in Raleigh said the law will protect the state’s voters from potential fraud. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, which required a handful of mostly Southern states to get approval from the Justice Department before making changes to their voting laws. The entire state of North Carolina wasn’t covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, though several counties were covered by the landmark law and had been subjected to additional federal scrutiny.

Dome: NAACP begins voting rights radio campaign
The North Carolina NAACP State Conference has begun airing a new radio ad across the state urging people who think they have difficulty voting to call a toll-free hotline number of 855-664-3487. In the ad, the Rev. William Barber, the state NAACP president, said the new voting laws passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. McCrory are among "the most restrictive voting measures in the country.” "The law will make it harder for seniors, students and people of color to vote and their ballots counted.” The ad is being paid for by the Advancement Fund, a civil rights group.

MCCRORY ADMINISTRATION

WRAL: Special Wrap: Computers problems, salary controversies roil DHHS
For months, Gov. Pat McCrory has described Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos as the steady hand on the tiller of an unwieldy state agency that can often seem adrift. "First of all, she’s one of the smartest individuals I’ve ever been around," McCrory told reporters at a news conference this month, praising her work ethic and expertise as a medical doctor. "She’s also surrounding herself with other skilled people that help her in the operational issues." Yet, several of the "skilled people" that Wos has gathered around her have become part of an ongoing narrative of a troubled department responsible for running the state’s Medicaid system, which provides health insurance to the poor and disabled. It is also an agency with perennial cost overruns that aggravate lawmakers and force governors to make budget adjustments on the fly.

Politics NC: Too many hats
You would think that Pat McCrory would get fed up. Virtually every day there is another bad headline about the Department of Health and Human Services. But, nope, he thinks the department and its leader, Secretary Aldona Wos are doing just fine. The latest flap is former State Auditor Les Merritt sitting on the Ethics Commission while also cashing in on Aldona Wos’ free-spending ways. Merritt is being paid a contract worth $312,000 a year. You read that right. That’s $26,000 per month. Not bad if you can get it. Fortunately, Merritt is leaving the Ethics Commission. Merritt said he didn’t even think about the potential conflict. I guess DHHS pays better than public service. But not only is Merritt working for DHHS, he’s also serving on the Board of Directors of WakeMed. WakeMed receives millions of dollars from Medicaid, which is administered by DHHS. So, is Merritt’s position paid? Regardless, it sure is ugly.

U.S. CONGRESS

The Nation: Cruel and Unusual Politics
The words most frequently used to describe House Republicans these days are “crazy” and “stupid.” And it’s not just liberal columnists and Democratic politicians who are questioning the GOP’s basic sanity and IQ. No less than the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal characterized the latest scheme to defund Obamacare by threatening an imminent government shutdown as “inept” and a “kamikaze mission”; Karl Rove called it “ill-conceived”; and North Carolina’s Richard Burr castigated it as “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of,” which says quite a lot coming from a senator who once introduced a bill to abolish the EPA.

New Republic: Countdown to Shutdown Think 1996 was bad for the GOP? This time will be much, much worse
The year 1996, the last time the GOP took its toys and went home rather than fund the government, hasn’t loomed so large in Washington since it actually was 1996. Democrats, the media, and a not insignificant number of Republicans are convinced the looming shutdown will be just as disastrous for today’s GOP as the previous one was for Newt Gingrich’s. Meanwhile, the Tea Partiers in the House, at whose behest the shutdown is being instigated, have spent the weekend insisting this time will be different because … well, the why isn’t entirely clear, but it has something to do with the fact that Obamacare is involved. There is, of course, much to be said for the 1996 analogy given that it’s our most recent example. But I’d argue that the more relevant case study is the payroll tax fight of late 2011, which involved the same players as today, the same internecine Republican dynamics (Tea Partiers versus Speaker John Boehner and a number of Senate Republicans), and the same media environment. The bad news for Republicans is that 2011 was every bit the rout 1996 was—arguably much more so. Republicans were able to hold out for a respectable 21 days back then. The 2011 fight was over in 48 hours.

Politico: Shutdown crisis rooted in GOP’s budget
To understand the shutdown crisis in Washington, go back to the House Republican balanced budget plan last spring. To placate the right, promises were made then that could not be kept, and with a new fiscal year beginning Tuesday, GOP leaders are running out of room. President Barack Obama may very well be in denial about the federal debt, as Republicans suggest. But Speaker John Boehner and his deputies have a credibility deficit of their own. Indeed, the supreme irony is that the health care fight now is being resurrected on a continuing resolution that is itself at odds with the GOP plan of six months ago.

WRAL: Shutdown impact: Tourists, homebuyers hit quickly
A government shutdown would have far-reaching consequences for some, but minimal impact on others. Mail would be delivered. Social Security and Medicare benefits would continue to flow. But vacationers would be turned away from national parks and Smithsonian museums. Low-to-moderate income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays. A look at how services would or would not be affected if Congress fails to reach an agreement averting a government shutdown at midnight Monday.

Politico: Government shutdown: The House GOP’s ‘touch-the-stove’ moment
For the House GOP leadership, this has become known as the “touch-the-stove moment.”
After nearly three years of narrowly avoiding government shutdowns, debt defaults and other fiscal follies, House Republicans appear poised to finally grasp the hot stove-top and allow federal government operations to begin shutting down early Tuesday morning. It would be the first shutdown since 1996. Tens of thousands of “non-essential” federal workers will immediately be placed on furloughs. National parks will close, passport applications will be delayed, toxic waste sites won’t get cleaned and there may be difficulties processing some government benefits. Yet U.S. troops will remain at their posts, mail will still get delivered, and federal agencies will open for business on Tuesday, staffed with fewer personnel than usual.

WRAL: Who’ll blink? Dems, GOP in shutdown stare down
With the government teetering on the brink of partial shutdown, congressional Republicans vowed Sunday to keep using an otherwise routine federal funding bill to try to attack the president’s health care law. Congress was closed for the day after a post-midnight vote in the GOP-run House to delay by a year key parts of the new health care law and repeal a tax on medical devices, in exchange for avoiding a shutdown. The Senate was to convene Monday afternoon, just hours before the shutdown deadline, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had already promised that majority Democrats would kill the House’s latest volley. Since the last government shutdown 17 years ago, temporary funding bills known as continuing resolutions have been noncontroversial, with neither party willing to chance a shutdown to achieve legislative goals it couldn’t otherwise win. But with health insurance exchanges set to open on Tuesday, tea-party Republicans are willing to take the risk in their drive to kill the health care law.

Huffington Post: Government Shutdown Blame Would Fall On Republicans, GOP Seen As ‘Spoiled Children’: Poll
Most Americans would blame congressional Republicans rather than President Barack Obama for a shutdown, and many Americans view the GOP as acting like "spoiled children," according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Monday.
Forty-six percent of respondents would blame congressional Republicans, 36 percent would blame Obama and 13 percent would blame both. Sixty-nine percent said that the GOP is acting like "spoiled children" in the budget fight, while 58 percent think that of congressional Democrats and 49 percent think that of President Barack Obama. Six in 10 respondents reject the GOP’s approach and think it is more important to avoid a shutdown than to make major changes to the Affordable Care Act. The poll is an indication that the Republicans’ hard-line approach does not resonate with many Americans, and could have consequences in future elections. Nevertheless, the GOP has touted the tactic of using the continuing resolution to fund the government to demand changes to Obamacare, crafting the populist slogan "Make DC Listen."

Real Clear Politics: No Following This Leader
In the line of succession, House Speaker John Boehner is the third ranking official in the country. For practical purposes, he has all but disappeared as a leader. That failure is pushing the country toward the financial brink. Boehner’s collapse as speaker has been sad to watch. Unable to control his own caucus, negotiate effectively with the president or pass legislation, he flounders in office — a likable man who is utterly ineffective. He is the prisoner of the extreme wing of his party, and of his supposed lieutenants, such as Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who spend their time pandering to the extremists rather than helping Boehner lead. Boehner’s problem is that he is unable to deliver House Republicans for any pragmatic piece of legislation. He survives from crisis to crisis, thanks to Democratic votes that salvage last-minute compromises. But on major issues that Boehner personally supports, such as immigration reform, he has been powerless.

Huffington Post: Bill Clinton: GOP ‘Begging For America To Fail’
Former President Bill Clinton weighed in on an increasingly likely government shutdown in an interview with ABC’s ‘This Week’. Clinton criticized Republican demands, as well as their obsession with Obamacare. "I’ve never seen a time– can you remember a time in your lifetime when a major political party was just sitting around, begging for America to fail?" The House voted early Sunday to make major cuts and delays to the Affordable Care Act in exchange for continuing to fund the government. The bill marks the 43rd timethat House Republicans have voted to defund or repeal Obamacare. The White House and Senate Democrats have already said that this kind of a demand is a non-starter. Clinton also said President Obama was right to not take Republican demands seriously. "If I were the president, I wouldn’t negotiate over these draconian cuts that are gonna take food off the table of low-income working people, while they leave all the agricultural subsidies in for high-income farmers and everything else," he said. "It’s chilling to me. The entitlement spending is going down as the unemployment rate drops and the economy grows. Half of the deficit’s already disappeared. The rest of it just seems almost spiteful."

HEALTHCARE

Mercury News: Joe Biden: Obamacare will fix a broken system
I don’t expect the political debate about Obamacare to end anytime soon. Republicans in Congress are going to demonize it, run against it, do what they can to sabotage it. But come Tuesday, Americans will be able to see for themselves that the Affordable Care Act isn’t actually about Washington politics. It’s about regular people shopping for insurance they can finally afford, and purchasing security and peace of mind along with it. President Obama and I took office in the middle of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. I still remember the turmoil and uncertainty of those early days — and the president’s determination to act swiftly to stop the hemorrhaging. I remember something else especially clearly: President Obama’s insistence that we fix America’s broken health care system. There were dissenting voices back then, even inside the administration — people who thought we couldn’t risk the politics of a prolonged congressional battle in the midst of a harsh recession. We should save it for another time. After all, presidents back nearly 100 years had tried and failed to provide national health coverage. But President Obama refused to wait in the face of what he saw as a genuine emergency for the middle class.

Politico: As government shutdown looms, Obamacare exchanges still set for launch
It’s looking more and more like Tuesday will be a split-screen day: The government will shut down, and Obamacare will open for business. That’s going to annoy a lot of Republicans because the ones who are pushing the shutdown are doing so precisely because they want to halt Obamacare. Barring some last-minute deal, which is getting less likely with each passing moment, the federal government will shut down on Tuesday because the House and the Senate are unable to pass a spending bill that resolves their deep and persistent differences over Obamacare. But Tuesday is also the day Obamacare’s new health insurance marketplaces — some run by the states, many run by the feds — are scheduled to start signing up customers. And President Barack Obama has made clear that even if the government closes, the health care show will go on.

Dome: Hagan explains vote on continuing resolution, Obamacare
Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan on her vote for the continuing resolution.“Congress should never play political games with the most basic function of keeping the government running,” Hagan said in an updated statement. "A shutdown threatens to harm middle-class North Carolinians by jeopardizing paychecks and Tuition Assistance for our service members and risking further delays for veterans seeking to obtain their hard-earned benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Social Security payments for seniors who rely on that program to buy basic necessities like food and medicine could be in jeopardy, and loans to small businesses could be delayed.

Charlotte Observer: Obamacare in N.C.: A missed opportunity
There will be problems. There may be a lot of them. There may not. Beginning this week, Americans will start signing up for health insurance at exchanges across the country – the most sizable federal endeavor since Social Security. No one is sure what the impact of Obamacare will be. Not even the insurance commissioner of North Carolina. But Wayne Goodwin knows this: He would be more confident about the Affordable Care Act in North Carolina had state lawmakers not refused this year to participate in a state-based insurance exchange, as Obamacare encouraged states to do. Instead, the Republican-led legislature passed Senate Bill 4, which opted North Carolina out of running a state-based exchange. As a result, North Carolinians who enroll beginning Tuesday will do so through an N.C. exchange run by the federal government, and that will affect competition, pricing and the quality of information citizens get about their health care options. “I would feel a lot better today if we had a state-based exchange,” Goodwin told the editorial board Friday.

NCDP

Statesville Record and Landmark: Dems rally forces at annual dinner
Linda Coleman told Iredell County Democrats Saturday night at the group’s annual Kennedy-Carter Celebration Dinner in Mooresville to keep doing what they’re doing, but get some friends to pitch in as well."I know I’m preaching to the choir," said Coleman said, "but the choir’s not loud enough." Coleman lost one of the closest statewide races in North Carolina history to Dan Forest in attempting to become the first African American of either gender to hold a state government office and only the second black woman U.S. history to hold the position of lieutenant governor.But she told the packed house at the Charles Mack Citizens Center that she remains undaunted, optimistic and determined. "It was a hard, hard campaign," she said. "But the loss did not stop my voice. I am still talking about what it will take for us to take our state back."Coleman said the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Governor’s Mansion "has taken away just about everything that made our state great. And we went from being the most progressive states in south to being the brunt of late night talk show jokes."Coleman said that North Carolina changed from a state people were leaving to one outsiders sought when leaders pushed for betters schools and roads. Now, regarding education, Coleman said, "We are in race to the bottom" under GOP leadership.

2014

Politico: NRSC outlines case vs. Kay Hagan
The National Republican Senatorial Committee plans to attack Democratic North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, one of their top targets in next year’s midterm election, as the deciding vote on Obamacare, a supporter of the “war on coal” and a booster of gun control. NRSC political director Ward Baker also argues that the freshman could be vulnerable on welfare. “Three-quarters of North Carolinians believe a ‘person should be required to take a drug test before receiving welfare benefits,’” Baker writes in a two-page memo shared first with POLITICO. “Hagan, in contrast, stands behind President [Barack] Obama’s agenda which gutted welfare’s work requirements last year.” The Hagan campaign dismissed the attacks, noting that she leads all her potential Republican rivals in early polling. “Senator Hagan has a strong record of getting results for North Carolina’s seniors, students, servicemembers and veterans, and North Carolina’s middle class families appreciate her independence in fighting for their best interests,” said spokeswoman Sadie Weiner. “This memo reeks of desperation and shows the NRSC is scrambling to contend with a chaotic, expensive and divisive primary.”

Politico: Wendy Davis speaks in Austin
State Sen. Wendy Davis, the expected Democratic candidate for governor, on Sunday offered a glimpse of what her campaign might look like. “I can thematically imagine a broader conversation … in Texas about whether people, just folks working every day, taking care of their kids, trying to make ends meet, whether they feel they’re being heard in Texas,” she said. Davis, speaking at the annual Texas Tribune Festival, appeared several days before she is widely expected to announce her bid for the governorship. Anticipation for her speech coursed throughout the entire weekend-long conference held here in liberal Austin, and she received a standing ovation even before she began speaking. Davis will likely square off in 2014 with Attorney General Greg Abbott, a well-funded conservative Republican who spoke a day earlier. She made her national name this summer after mounting a lengthy filibuster that temporarily derailed a restrictive omnibus abortion bill, which later passed.

The New York Times: Populist Left Makes Warren Its Hot Ticket
After Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke at a luncheon in Beverly Hills, Calif., last month, women from the audience swarmed around her, many of them asking the same question: will you run for president? Ms. Warren’s fiery speech at the national A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention this month set off even more excitement, with some union members standing on their chairs applauding and shouting out to her. And when she joined a MoveOn.org conference call this summer to promote her student loan legislation, 10,000 people got on the line — the liberal group’s biggest audience on any conference call in four years. In Democratic circles, disappointment in the promise of the Obama presidency and unease over a possible restoration of the Clintons have made the senator, who was sworn in just 10 months ago, the object of huge interest and the avatar of a newly assertive, fervently populist left eager for a more confrontational approach to politics.

2016

Dome: Roy Cooper lays groundwork for NC gubernatorial bid
In another sign that Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper is laying the groundwork for a gubernatorial bid in 2016, he has officially changed the name of his political committee from Cooper for Attorney General to Cooper for North Carolina. Cooper has stepped up his visibility and has been privately telling Democrats of his interest in challenging Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. Two Democrats have already announced: former state Rep. Ken Spaulding of Durham and former Chapel Hill Town Council member James Protzman.

WOMEN

Huffington Post: An Opportunity Plan to Empower Women in the Workplace
By now you may have heard these statistics: In 1950, women made up just 30 percent of the workforce. By 2010, that number had grown to 47 percent. In 1968, just 37 percent of mothers worked. By 2011, that number had ballooned to 65 percent. In 1960, only 35 percent of college degrees were being earned by women. Today, women are earning more than 50 percent of all college and advanced degrees. And, perhaps most striking of all, in 1960, only 11 percent of families with children relied on mothers as the sole or primary source of family income. Today, that number is 40 percent. We know the American workforce is changing at a rapid pace as families rely more and more on women’s income to get by. But, as the face of the American workplace has changed, the federal rules that govern it have not kept up.

Politico: The House’s war on women
The full picture of what the House of Representatives did late Saturday night is just coming into view, and it’s startling. The House voted to keep the government functioning as long as the Affordable Care Act is delayed for a year — and they also voted to let any employer or insurance company deny a broad range of preventive health care to women based on a personal “moral” objection. Think about what that means. If a retail chain is bought by someone who doesn’t believe women should have access to immunizations or screening for the human papillomavirus, then potentially lifesaving treatment that is proven to help prevent cervical cancer would not be part of the insurance coverage for any women at that company. If a woman works at a bank owned by a man who opposes contraception, her birth-control prescription would no longer be covered by her health-insurance plan. Same thing for breastfeeding support, domestic violence counseling, HIV testing and other preventive care.

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

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