Commentary

Potential GOP scheme to steal the governor’s race coming into focus

It would have seemed inconceivable last week when Election Night ended with Roy Cooper 5,000 or so votes ahead in the race for Governor and celebrating victory with his supporters. Now, however, 10 days later, it’s increasingly clear that there is a metastasizing Republican effort underway to steal the election from Cooper for the incumbent Pat McCrory.

Yesterday, we saw the latest developments in this extremely troubling story when Republicans filed 50 new election complaints around the state. The point of these complaints is not to find actual votes for McCrory that would swing the election his way. That’s not going to happen with the margin that remains between the two candidates.

The objective, as it has been for several days now, is to win a P.R. battle by dragging things out and sowing confusion amongst the media and the public so that the groundwork is laid for GOP legislative leaders to declare that there is a “contested election” and thereby seize the authority for themselves to decide the Governor’s race. Republicans want to generate more and more headlines that discuss “uncertain results” and “potential voter fraud” so that people throw up their hands and start to buy the bogus claim that the election cannot be decided based on the votes actually cast.

This is, all in all, a frightening and outrageous development and, sadly, not terribly surprising given the conservative record of process-be-damned, ends-justify-the-means governance in recent years.

Of course, one would expect challenges to such a scheme to wend their way to the state Supreme Court in relatively short order, where, hopefully, justice would prevail.

One would hope.

That, however, would be the same state Supreme Court for which GOP lawmakers are currently discussing a court-packing scheme to wrest control away from Democrats that they won last week. And this from the party whose presidential standard bearer fomented fears for the past several months of a “rigged election.”

Commentary

Expert: Trump proposals for “replacing” the ACA amount to “definition of insanity”

Professor Sabrina Corlette of Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms has a scathing take on the Trump transition team’s ideas for replacing the Affordable Care Act. She explains why they amount to the “definition of insanity”:

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If that’s so, then we have a textbook case in the Trump transition team’s proposed “replacement” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), posted recently on their website.

They provide almost no policy detail, but the top proposals are such tired retreads of failed ideas that we can quickly assess them.

The dumb idea that won’t go away

Anyone who suggests that allowing the sale of insurance across state lines is going to “create a dynamic market” doesn’t know much about health insurance. You don’t need to take my word for it. Just ask the conservative, free market proponents at the Galen Institute, which wrote back in February: “Any candidate that suggests such a scheme only shows how unsophisticated he and his advisers are when it comes to understanding how the insurance markets really work––or could work.”

At Georgetown, we did a study of states that had enacted across state line legislation on their own, to find out if those laws had, in fact, provided consumers with more affordable choices, as promised. The unequivocal answer? No. Not even close.

Even if across state line sales did work as intended, the outcome would worsen access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions – people that Trump during his campaign promised to protect. Once you repeal the ACA, people with pre-existing conditions will lose the federal protections guaranteeing them access to coverage at non-discriminatory premium rates. Just as before the ACA, the only protections will be at the state level. But if you allow insurers to choose to operate by the rules of the least regulatory state, those with pre-existing conditions will be left without access to affordable coverage.

Seriously? High-Risk Pools?

Good grief, I can’t believe anyone still thinks returning to the days of high-risk pools is a good idea. They didn’t work before the ACA and they won’t work after it is repealed. Let’s review: Before the ACA, 35 states had high-risk pools. They were basically health insurance ghettos for people with pre-existing conditions – and expensive, poor quality ghettos at that. On the eve of the ACA market reforms, they enrolled 226,615 people, a tiny fraction of those potentially eligible. Here’s why:

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Commentary

McCrory: High maintenance trouble from start to finish

capturePat McCrory is starting to resemble that proverbial house guest who you semi-reluctantly invite to spend a night or two and then find yourself unable to evict from your spare bedroom: he takes up space, time and energy, contributes little to nothing to the household, is enamored of his own reflection and supposedly brilliant insights and is willfully blind to your cues that it’s time for him to hit the road.

The latest evidence of this tremendously frustrating reality can be seen in the outgoing governor’s futile and destructive decision to file a bevy of protests against local election results compiled by the people he appointed.

Earth to Pat McCrory: You lost the election. Yes, it was close, but not that close. The margin is over 5,000 votes and growing. It’s not going to turn around for you no matter how much you stomp your feet and/or hold your breath. After four years of weak, indecisive, ineffective and uninspiring performance in the state’s highest office, the least you can do is show just a tiny measure of class and dignity in your departure from Raleigh.

Unfortunately, by all appearances, this will not be the case. McCrory appears bent on clinging desperately to the job voters have uninvited from holding (and the all but nonexistent power and influence he wields therein) until the keys to the Governor’s Mansion are pried forcibly from his straining fingers.

In other words, McCrory is going out just like he came in and as he has served: as an ineffectual, high maintenance, low impact politician who sucks out far more positive energy from the polity that he contributes. Let’s hope that sometime very soon he finally, at last, wakes up and confronts and comes to terms with this reality.

It’s probably best, however, not to hold one’s breath.

Commentary

GOP efforts to block Cooper governorship looking more and more desperate

Governro-elect Roy Cooper

Governor-elect Cooper

It’s increasingly clear that Roy Cooper is the Governor-elect of North Carolina. It’s perhaps understandable that Gov. Pat McCrory and his supporters are frustrated at their narrow, but increasingly indisputable defeat and are trying desperately to manufacture excuses as to why things might, miraculously, turn McCrory’s way. Now, however, that we are a week and a day out from Election Day with absolutely no indication at all that the McCrory/GOP-appointed boards of elections around the state have done anything other than faithfully report the votes that were cast, it’s time to start wrapping things up and commence the transition.

What’s more as veteran politico Gary Pearce noted on his blog, Talking About Politics, this morning, efforts by the GOP to somehow block the will of the voters in the Governor’s race are looking and sounding more and more sketchy every day and, indeed, starting to smack of what Pearce rightfully terms a potential Republican coup d’etat. Let’s hope fervently that sane and responsible voices in conservative circles start to acknowledge the clear handwriting on the wall very soon and resist the temptation to take our state into a very dark and dangerous place. Given the GOP’s record of ends-justify-the-means voter suppression in recent years, however, Pearce’s worries seem sadly well-founded.

Commentary

NC highlighted in national story about last week’s “wildly successful” GOP voter suppression efforts

Think Progress has a sobering story this morning entitled “Republicans were wildly successful at suppressing voters in 2016: Three GOP-controlled states demonstrate the effectiveness of disenfranchising the opposition.” Needless to say, North Carolina is one of the three.

“Last week, the first election in 50 years without the full protection of the federal Voting Rights Act propelled Donald Trump to the White House.

Trump will assume the presidency because of the Electoral College’s influence?—?nearly a million more people cast ballots for Hillary Clinton as of November 15. The election was also marked by low turnout, with tens of millions of eligible voters choosing not to participate at all. Yet there has been relatively little discussion about the millions of people who were eligible to vote but could not do so because they faced an array of newly-enacted barriers to the ballot box.

Their systematic disenfranchisement was intentional and politically motivated. In the years leading up to 2016, Republican governors and state legislatures implemented new laws restricting when, where, and how people could vote?—?laws that disproportionately harmed students, the poor, and people of color. In several instances, lawmakers pushing such policies said explicitly that their goal was suppression of voters who favor the Democratic Party.

Three such states serve as case studies for the effectiveness of these voting restrictions: Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Florida.

All three elected staunchly conservative governors during President Obama’s terms. All three implemented voting restrictions that affect millions of people. President Obama won all three states in 2008, and won all but North Carolina in 2012, while Hillary Clinton lost all three of those states this year.

The story goes on to detail issues in each of the states. After exploring the North Carolina’s infamous Monster Voting Law, here’s how it sums up our section:

“Though some of the most extreme cuts were blocked by the state board of elections, many remained in place through the election. For example, Guilford County reduced the number of polling sites in the first week of early voting from 16 in 2012 to just 1 this year. A GOP memo issued at the end of the state’s early voting period celebrated the inevitable results of those cutbacks: African American turnout had dropped nearly nine percent.

In counties that slashed early voting hours and sites, voters also had to wait in lines several hours long to cast their ballots. A new Harvard study found that such long waits not only disenfranchise working-class voters who can’t afford to wait, but also discourages voters from participating in future elections.

Trump won the state by fewer than 200,000 votes, and the governor’s race remains too close to call.”

In short, mission accomplished for the NC GOP.