Congressman Mark Meadows

Congressman Mark Meadows

As was noted in this Steve Harrison post the other day over at Blue NC, it’s rather strange that the the North Carolina news media seem not to have taken any interest in the troubling developments that have come to light surrounding Kenny West, the former chief of staff for Congressman Mark Meadows.

This is from a Huffington Post story from this Monday:

“A Republican congressman leading the fight to defund Planned Parenthood paid his chief of staff for nearly six months after at least three female staffers complained that the top aide was sexually harassing subordinates, according to four sources close to the situation.

The women told North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows about chief of staff Kenny West’s behavior in March, sources said. At first, Meadows barred West from his D.C. office, but reassigned him to the district office and continued paying him. Meadows eventually sent West off with a sizable severance.

Any compensation that came after West was no longer working in his role as chief of staff may have violated House ethics rules. The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, following a Politico report of the severance payment, asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate the severance payment for possible referral to the House Ethics Committee.

West officially departed Meadows’ office on May 21, but was paid his full rate of $38,750 for the period covering April 1 through June 30, and then received further pay taking him through Aug. 15. The House Ethics Manual says, ‘Compensation may be received only for duties performed within the preceding month.’ Ethics rules state that members of Congress ‘may not retain an employee who does not perform duties for the offices of the employing authority commensurate with the compensation he receives.’”

It’s hard to know what’s the weirdest or most disturbing part of this story — the fact that Meadows paid the man so much money, that he reassigned him in a manner reminiscent of the approach long taken by the Catholic church toward pedophile priests, or that West ran against Meadows in the 2012 Republican primary claiming that Meadows was unfit for office due to a character issue. Whichever the case, it sure would seem that there’s enough smoke there to prompt the mainstream news media — especially in western North Carolina — to do a little more digging.

Rev. William Barber of the N.C. NAACP and Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal speak Monday at the U.S. Capitol

Rev. William Barber of the N.C. NAACP and Belhaven Mayor Adam O’Neal speak Monday at the U.S. Capitol

Belhaven Mayor Adam O’Neal completed a walk from his small Eastern North Carolina town to the nation’s capital today, calling on national leaders to help rural communities with sparse healthcare options.

The 283-mile walk – the second year the Republican mayor has done it –– was to bring attention to the pressures faced by the nation’s 283 rural hospitals, especially those in states like North Carolina that opted not to expand Medicaid coverage.

O’Neal reached the steps of the U.S. Capitol Monday, and was joined at a rally with other advocates and allies, including American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, Belhaven Town Council member Julian Goff and the Rev. William Barber, head of the N.C. NAACP.

Belhaven, located in Beaufort County near the Pamlico Sound, lost its local hospital in 2014, when the hosptial’s owners opted to shut down the small healthcare facility because it couldn’t afford to stay open after North Carolina lawmakers chose to not expand Medicaid coverage in the state.

Residents now have to travel to Greenville for emergency care, a trip that can take over an hour.



We have written before about King v. Burwell, the case that will be heard before the US Supreme Court to determine whether or not health insurance subsidies can flow to states that refused to establish state-based marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act. As John Stewart has noted, justices would have to be more literal than Amelia Bedelia to find for the plaintiffs, but we live in strange times where anything seems possible.

The next question then is if the Supreme Court strikes down subsidies how many people would it impact? Now Kaiser Family Foundation has a helpful interactive map to estimate an answer. KFF researchers think more than 13 million people nationally, and about 1 million people in North Carolina, would lose tax credits if the Supreme Court denies subsidies to federal marketplace states. For most of these folks insurance would immediately become unaffordable. This is especially true because prices would most likely spiral upward as younger, healthier enrollees lose coverage.

That is a stunning figure. It would be like the Supreme Court cutting the number of North Carolinians receiving Medicare in half.

The cruel truth is that Congress could easily fix this problem by adding a few words to the Affordable Care Act, but they are so obsessed with repealing the legislation that they are unlikely to repair it. The state legislature could also provide a patch by at least establishing a governance structure for a state-based marketplace, but they are also unlikely to move. After all, the federal government stands ready to pay the state to expand insurance to 500,000 more state residents and that hasn’t gained any legislative traction.

So, we wait, while medical care for 1 million North Carolinians hangs in the balance.

NC Budget and Tax Center

Today the United States Senate is scheduled to debate and possibly vote on a bill titled the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, which would authorize states to require businesses to collect state and local taxes for products sold via the internet. Currently, states can only require retailers to collect sales taxes if a respective business has a physical presence in a state. And while the tax is still legally due to the state regardless of whether sales occur on-line, consumers don’t always know or comply with this requirement.  

As internet sales have steadily grown as a share of total retail sales, state and local government sales tax collections have been impacted. For 2012, internet sales in the U.S. totaled $226 billion, an increase of nearly 16 percent compared to 2011, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Read More


The good people at Think Progress have posted a useful, if sobering, list of some of the worst moments of the 112th Congress — which, thankfully, ends today.

It includes: creating the “fiscal cliff,” letting the Violence Against Women Act expire, spending $1.5 million to defend the “Defense of Marriage Act,” voting against the environment at least 31 times. kowtowing to the NRA and many more.

Read the whole list by clicking here.