The latest Elon University poll shows support for real estate mogul Donald Trump and retired surgeon Ben Carson virtually tied among North Carolina Republican voters.

The poll released this week shows Trump with 22 percent of the vote, Carson at 21 percent, and Carly Fiorina trailing at 10 percent in their bid to capture the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination.

Over the past several weeks, the candidates have spoken out strongly on the issue of immigration. Trump has advocated for deportation and suggested a review of birthright citizenship. Carson said this week that while anyone is welcome in America, immigrants cannot alter who we are. For her part, Fiorina has said she would not support a pathway to citizenship.

Local Latino advocates hope to tone down the negative political stereotypes aimed at immigrants this weekend as they celebrate the 22nd annual Fiesta del Pueblo.

“The political debate on immigration has taken a negative turn in recent months,” says Angeline Echeverría, Executive Director of El Pueblo.  “La Fiesta del Pueblo counteracts this rhetoric by helping Latino and non-Latino community members to come together and learn from each other in a fun way.  It also encourages community members of all backgrounds who value diversity to connect with local organizations and promote civic engagement.”

In addition to the art and cultural exhibits, more than 50 non-profit organizations and state agencies will share information and resources with festival-goers. El Pueblo will also register voters and recruit for its on-going leadership programs.

Click below to hear Echeverría talk more about the anti-immigrant rhetoric in the presidential race. The full radio interview with NC Policy Watch can be accessed here. For more on the Elon University poll, click here.

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The North Carolina Justice Center launched radio and digital ads this week urging people to ask Gov. Pat McCrory to release a plan that expands affordable health insurance in our state.

We have the opportunity to tap federal funds to extend affordable insurance coverage to more than 500,000 people struggling to pay for care. Our tax dollars are sitting in Washington waiting to be used to boost rural health care in our state and save more than 1,000 lives every year.

We can expand Medicaid with this money or we can develop a state-specific plan to experiment with new coverage ideas. Conservative Governors in Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Montana, Utah, Tennessee and elsewhere have proposed specific policies. Gov. McCrory told news outlets at the beginning of the year that he was considering doing the same. The hold up, he claimed at the time, was the latest Affordable Care Act challenge at the U.S. Supreme Court. He would announce his support, or opposition, to expanding coverage after the high court ruled in King v. Burwell.

King v. Burwell came and went and still no word from the Governor.

The Governor and legislators all have access to taxpayer funded healthcare so they can afford to delay a decision. Many others in our state aren’t so lucky.

These 500,000 North Carolinians are mostly the working poor with jobs in construction and food service that do not provide health insurance benefits. They don’t currently qualify for Medicaid because eligibility is restrictive in our state. They can’t afford to buy private insurance. Now they are stuck and just need action from their elected representatives.

It starts with the Governor. He can change the dynamic by showing leadership and proposing a plan. Go to NC Left Me Out and share your story if you or a loved one are in the coverage gap. And then use the phone number listed to contact Gov. McCrory and ask him, “Where’s the plan to expand coverage?” We can’t wait any longer.


Gov. Pat McCrory, who has never met a groundbreaking in Charlotte on a Friday that he didn’t like, was at another one today and didn’t feel much like answering questions from pesky reporters, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.

The former Charlotte mayor, while walking to his SUV to depart for another meeting, said he did not have time to take questions. Asked for a quick comment on the sales-tax proposal, McCrory told me, “My position hasn’t changed.” As he ducked his head into the car, I asked what he thought the chances are for the sales-tax plan to be approved. The governor chuckled and said, “My position hasn’t changed.”

The problem for McCrory is that currently the sales tax proposal that changes the way local sales tax revenue is distributed is now part of legislation that funds business incentive programs that he is desperate for lawmakers to approve.

Reporters would have probably asked him about that had he talked to them for five minutes, but he couldn’t seem to find the time. Thursday he also avoided reporters waiting with questions after his remarks at an N.C. Chamber education event.

Wonder why the governor is so media averse lately? What questions is he scared to answer?


Fifty years ago today President Lyndon B. Johnson created two of our most important safety net programs, Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare gave many seniors the health care access and financial security they lacked, and Medicaid gave many children a stable start in life. To help celebrate the occasion we decided to share several historical and policy-minded blog posts about these critical programs from some of our favorite national partners.

Community Catalyst says that we should celebrate the achievements of Medicare and Medicaid but notes that now is no time to rest:

At the time of enactment, roughly half of all older adults in the United States had no health insurance. Today, Medicare and Medicaid cover nearly 1 out of every 3 Americans – more than 100 million people. But there are still millions more without coverage of any kind, or with coverage, but inadequate access to care and services they vitally need.

While a pause for celebration is in order today, complacency is not.

The United States continues to spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other western democracy, with far less “bang for our buck,” in terms of health status and outcomes to show for it. Significant health disparities and unequal access to quality care continue to be hallmarks of our health system. These issues pose a threat to the sustainability of Medicare and Medicaid, as well as new programs established under the Affordable Care Act.

The Georgetown Center for Children and Families is celebrating because Medicaid has made a critical difference in the lives of so many kids (They even have a bonus video!):

With 50 years of experience serving growing numbers of America’s children, a new body of research is able to take a look at the long-term effects of childhood Medicaid coverage. Medicaid expansions in the 1980s and 1990s provided a natural experiment for researchers to evaluate how Medicaid eligibility affects children later in life. This longitudinal research tells us that children eligible for Medicaid grow up to be healthier, more academically successful, and financially secure adults than their non-Medicaid-eligible peers. We released a report that summarizes these findings earlier this week.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a post with 10 facts about Medicaid and Medicare. You should read them all but for our purposes number 9 is especially important:

9. Health reform’s Medicaid expansion is saving states money. The federal government will pay the entire cost of health care for newly eligible beneficiaries through 2016, and many states that have expanded Medicaid have found that it has produced net savings for their budgets. States will spend just 1.6 percent more on Medicaid and CHIP with the expansion than they would have without health reform, CBO estimates. Hospitals in expansion states are treating fewer uninsured patients, and the amount of uncompensated care they are providing is declining steeply. Meanwhile, hospitals in the states that have not expanded Medicaid continue to provide large amounts of uncompensated care, and the states are missing the opportunity to leverage billions of dollars in new federal funding through the expansion.

And, to commemorate the occasion, FamiliesUSA posted its many resources on Medicaid expansion with a reminder that Medicaid protects people from every walk of life.

Medicare and Medicaid were signature health care and anti-poverty achievements that we must work everyday to protect and strengthen. In our state that means pushing to expand the benefits of health care access to 500,000 more of our neighbors to give them a fair shot at living full, productive lives. Fifty years of experience tells us that’s the right thing to do.


A coalition of workers’ rights groups this week called on vacationing state lawmakers to pass legislation when they return to Raleigh that would require businesses to provide paid sick leave and family leave for their employees.

Here is the way Alan Freyer, with the workers’ rights project of the N.C. Justice Center put it.

“It is great that lawmakers were able to take time off in the middle of a busy legislative session. We think it’s great because we think everyone in North Carolina should be able to take time off, particularly when they’re sick,” Freyer said. “Right now, there are more than a million North Carolinians who work full time and don’t have access to paid sick days. That means they have to choose between keeping their job, earning their wages and being sick.”

Read more about why paid sick days is good for workers and businesses here.