Commentary, News

Even Burr and Tillis telling Roy Moore it’s time to go

The Alabama special Senate election is four weeks from today and the walls appear to be closing in on Roy Moore. Today, even North Carolina’s usually-late-to-the-party senators weighed in to call for his withdrawal in light of revelations about alleged sexual misconduct.

This is from a story on WFAE.org in Charlotte:

“North Carolina’s two U.S. Senators have joined a growing group of Republican colleagues in Congress calling on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to withdraw from the race.

Their statements came after a fifth woman accused Moore of sexual misconduct when she was a 16-year-old waitress in the 1970s.  In a Twitter post, Thom Tillis called the allegations against Moore ‘disturbing,’ and said he should immediately drop out of the race.

The Raleigh News & Observer reported that Richard Burr’s office issued a statement saying he thinks Moore should ‘do the right thing and withdraw.'”

Good for Burr and Tillis for speaking up, though one wishes that: a) they’d done so earlier given Moore’s reprehensible record in countless other areas in his public life, and b) they’d muster the courage to take a similar stand vis a vis another certain serial prevaricator and part-time sexual predator who occupies an even higher office in our nation’s capital.

Commentary

The best editorial of the weekend demands action from Burr, Tillis

Se. Richard Burr

Sen. Thom Tillis

One can forgive the people of the Cape Fear region these days if they’re a little sensitive about chemical pollutants in the environment and the failure of public officials to protect human wellbeing as the ongoing GenX mess continues to play out. So, it is from a place of experience that editors of the Wilmington Star News authored yesterday’s lead editorial blasting Donald Trump’s selection of chemical industry apologist Michael Dourson to head the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution.

After listing several of Trump’s bizarre picks to head various agencies, the editorial (“EPA nominee should scare us all”) puts it this way:

“The appointment of Michael Dourson to head the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution, however, takes the cake. Talk about the fox guarding the hen house.

Unlike [failed Ag Department Science Adviser nominee Sam] Clovis, Dourson is an actual scientist. He has, however, spent the past 20 years or so working for clients such as DuPont (former owner of Chemours), Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, defending the safety of pesticides and other chemicals. Generally, he argued that these chemicals were far less risky than EPA scientists or independent researchers believed.

Through a fluke in ethics rules, there is nothing that bars Dourson from ruling on these companies’ chemicals that he was being paid to defend a year or two ago. That’s not exactly draining the swamp.

Dourson helped DuPont defend its use of the chemical PFOA — better known as C8, the precursor to GenX — after states sued over water contamination. Starting to sound familiar?

DuPont and Chemours agreed to pay $671 million to settle thousands of C8 lawsuits. Dourson, however, insisted that the levels were safe, even though a panel of scientists convened by DuPont found a probable link with six illnesses: kidney and testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension and high cholesterol.

Nobody expected Mr. Trump to name tree-huggers or Greenpeace activists to environmental posts. We would, though, expect at least a principled conservative with an independent mind, not someone who’s spent much of his career essentially as a paid lobbyist for the chemical industry.”

The editorial goes on to note the extreme importance of the GenX water pollution crisis to residents of southeastern North Carolina. It concludes with a demand (it even includes their phone numbers) of Senators Burr and Tillis:

“When Dourson’s nomination comes before the full Senate (and it shortly will), Burr and Tillis should demand that the president name someone else. If you are ever going to contact your U.S. senator’s office about a national issue, this is it.

This isn’t about political ideology or whether you support or don’t support President Trump. This is about nothing less than the very basic safety of our drinking water.”

Commentary

Burr, Tillis: We’re with the big money lenders — not consumers and military families

Sen. Thom Tillis

Sen. Richard Burr

As was reported in this space earlier today, one of the most direct and egregious new examples of Trumpism at work in undermining the well-being of average Americans came to the fore late last night when 50 Republican U.S. Senators voted with Vice President Mike Pence to elevate the interests of giant Wall Street corporations over those of average American consumers. As the New York Times reported:

“Senate Republicans voted on Tuesday to strike down a sweeping new rule that would have allowed millions of Americans to band together in class-action lawsuits against financial institutions.

The overturning of the rule, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-to-50 tie, will further loosen regulation of Wall Street as the Trump administration and Republicans move to roll back Obama-era policies enacted in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis. By defeating the rule, Republicans are dismantling a major effort of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the watchdog created by Congress in the aftermath of the mortgage mess….

‘Tonight’s vote is a giant setback for every consumer in this country,’ Richard Cordray, the director of the consumer bureau, said in a statement. ‘As a result, companies like Wells Fargo and Equifax remain free to break the law without fear of legal blowback from their customers.’”

As readers will have likely surmised, both of North Carolina’s senators — Richard Burr and Thom Tillis — voted for the anti-consumer action. What makes this all the more egregious is the fact that South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham voted against and long opposed the action because of the devastating impact it is likely to have on military families. Again, here’s the New York Times:

“In the weeks leading up to the vote, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who sponsored legislation to protect military members from being forced into arbitration, said he would not support a repeal of the rule.”

You got that? Even as a Republican senator from South Carolina — a state with perhaps a quarter of the military population present in North Carolina — loudly and publicly proclaimed his opposition, neither of the senators from the state with the third highest military population could be bothered to join in his effort. Not surprisingly, neither Burr nor Tillis has issued any kind of a statement on their decisive and destructive late night votes.

The bottom line: If North Carolinians ever had any doubts about where Burr’s and Tillis’s ultimate loyalties lie, last night’s action ought to have put them to rest once and for all.

Commentary

Richard Burr’s hometown newspaper: Control rapid fire weapons now

The lead editorial in this morning’s Winston-Salem Journal is on the money: it’s long past time for congress — including North Carolina’s two NRA-owned and operated senators, Thom Tills and Ricard Burr (pictured at left) — to put the good of the country first and act now to ban a host of dangerous mass killing machines.

After noting signs of some tiny amounts of progress on the issue of regulating so-called “bump stocks,” the Journal concludes this way in “Reasonable gun control crucial for our brokenhearted country”:

“Congress is a long way from what’s really needed: measures such as banning rapid-fire, military-style assault rifles, their large-capacity magazines, and access to endless supplies of ammo for those magazines and body armor. These options should be limited to the military and law-enforcement. There is no logical reason for civilians to have them, potentially threatening the safety of both law-enforcement officers and civilians.

And for those who say these measures would do no good, we contend that action against bump stocks, large magazines and endless ammo supplies would have at least slowed down the Las Vegas killer, saving at least a few lives. That alone would make those measures well worth it.

We need other measures, such as cracking down on the illegal arms trade and more exhaustive background checks that would make it harder for those with mental problems to buy guns. We believe in the Second Amendment, but it must be balanced with reasonable gun control.

North Carolina’s two U.S. senators, Richard Burr of Winston-Salem and Thom Tillis of Mecklenburg County, have received criticism for the millions of dollars in campaign support they’ve received from the NRA. They should knock back any perception that they’re beholden to the NRA by helping to lead the charge on gun-control reform.”

Commentary

New letter to Burr outlines devastating impact of latest Trumpcare proposal

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the latest GOP initiative to repeal the Affordable Care Act — the so-called “Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal” — is the most radical and potentially destructive yet. A new letter from an array of North Carolina nonprofits (including the parent organization of NC Policy Watch, the NC Justice Center) to, among others, Senator Richard Burr, explains why.

Here is an except:

“We the undersigned write to voice our collective opposition to the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal. We are very discouraged that instead of continuing down a bipartisan path and working on issues to improve the strength and stability of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) marketplaces, the sponsors of this legislation have put forward a proposal that will:

  • Eliminate the financial assistance that helps North Carolinians with low and moderate incomes purchase health care coverage;
  • Prevent North Carolina from increasing access to Medicaid in the future and end expanded Medicaid coverage that helps millions of adults with low incomes in other states;
  • Gut Medicaid through deep, permanent cuts that would grow over time and threaten care for millions of seniors with low incomes, children, and people living with disabilities and shift massive costs and risks to states;
  • Jeopardize access to life-saving and effective treatments for addiction and weaken states’ efforts to address the current crisis of drug overdose deaths;
  • Undermine essential protections for people with pre-existing conditions;
  • Resurrect and worsen the devastating cuts in coverage and benefits that the American public and the majority of Congress have already rejected.

The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (GCHJ) proposal threatens the health and financial security of millions of North Carolinians, including older adults, families with low and moderate incomes, people living with disabilities, women, veterans, and people with pre-existing conditions. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that GCHJ slashes federal health care funding for North Carolina by $8.1 billion dollars between 2020 and 2026, and Avalere projects that the total losses in federal health care funding would grow to $98 billion by 2036. While the estimates vary across third party groups – whether they be the Kaiser Family Foundation, Avalere, Manatt, or the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – they all agree that North Carolina is a financial loser under this bill.

The proposal does nothing to improve affordability or availability of coverage for consumers and will likely result in at least 1.1 million North Carolinians losing coverage by 2027 and will undermine the financial stability of our health care system and place additional fiscal strains on our state budget. Below we’ve laid out in more detail our concerns with this proposal and the devastating impact it will have on consumers in our state.

The letter goes on to detail each of the main failures of the proposal, including the absurd lack of process and transparency that have accompanied its recent rise.

The bottom line: If Senators Burr and Tillis vote for such a proposal and it actually becomes law, it will be one of the most harmful acts ever intentionally inflicted on our state by a group of elected officials.