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Photo: WRAL.com

Photo: WRAL.com

As we noted in this space yesterday morning, there were some things to like in Gov. Pat McCrory’s State of the State speech Wednesday evening. For the most part, the Governor sounded more like good ol’ Moderate Mayor Pat rather than the champion of reactionary change who signed some of the nation’s most extreme legislation during his first two years in office.

Still, there were moments when Ebenezer Scrooge McCrory was on display — perhaps most notably when he talked about unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. In both segments, the Governor’s message was as clear as it was callous and offensive: the Governor believes (and his policies are premised on the notion) that large numbers of North Carolina workers are lazy and don’t want to work.

How else to explain his crowing about having enacted the harshest unemployment insurance cuts in U.S. history and then repeatedly professing a desire to create jobs for all who “want to work”? And if one had any idea that these repeated references were simply an awkward if unnecessary nod to retired folks and, perhaps, the disabled, these were pretty thoroughly trashed when the Governor went off on a lengthy diatribe about how his “examination of workers compensation estimates that 40 percent of workers costs are related to abuse or outright fraud.”

Say what, Governor? Do you really believe that large numbers of people don’t want to work and that that’s why some were surviving on unemployment insurance during the Great Recession? Do you really believe that two out of five worker’s comp claims are bogus?

If so, perhaps you should have checked ahead of time with Rep. Jason Saine. Saine, of course, is the GOP state lawmaker who only managed to get off unemployment insurance by getting elected to the House of Representatives.

Or, perhaps he could have talked with one of the state’s most respected and experienced worker’s comp lawyers — Raleigh’s Leonard Jernigan. As WRAL.com reported this morning: Read More

Commentary

The lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer hits the nail on the head this morning when it says the following about the state of the U.S. economy:

“The recovery from the Great Recession appears to be getting stronger on the eve of Christmas. Alas, politics has dampened the enthusiasm of some Scrooges, President Obama’s critics, who can’t take “yes” for an answer.

As one liberal commentator noted, if this were the second year of a Mitt Romney presidency instead of the sixth year under President Obama, there would be parades in the streets and praise for the president from some of Obama’s perennial critics.

But the facts are the facts. And they’re mostly good.

In November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated, there were 321,000 jobs created, an astounding number. Unemployment is down. The gross domestic product grew at 5 percent, on an annual pace, in the third quarter of this year, the biggest advance since the third quarter of 2003. Consumer and business spending are up.

And as Americans take off on their holiday travels, they’ll see lower gas prices.

And by the way: When the president was formulating the Affordable Care Act, Republicans predicted catastrophic consequences for the economy, with a federal deficit certain to explode. The deficit is down.”

The recovery has started to spread to North Carolina too, of course, and while things have a LONG way to go, there is cause for optimism. As was noted in this story earlier this month, however, the folks on Right-Wing Avenue have taken things to laughable extremes with their absurd attempt to blame every bad thing in the state economy on President Obama and attribute every improvement to Governor McCrory. As we noted in December: Read More

Uncategorized

Yesterday it was the CEO of one of the nation’s largest fast food chains and today it’s Mr. 47% —  the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. As the Los Angeles Times reports:

“Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Friday called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, splitting with party leaders and some top business groups on what’s expected to a major issue in this year’s midterm elections.

‘I … part company with many of the conservatives of my party on the issue of the minimum wage,’ he said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

‘I think we ought to raise it because, frankly, our party is all about more jobs and better pay, and I think communicating that is important to us,’ he said.

It will be fascinating to see if Republican officials choose to follow the lead of their former party standard bearer (and former far right presidential candidate Rick Santorum — who also endorsed a hike) or instead remain true to the Koch Brothers and the far right think tanks that question even the existence of the minimum wage. North Carolina House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis seems to have made his bed with the latter camp for now. Stay tuned.

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Somehow I recently got on to an email list for national Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson and yesterday I received a fundraising message from the campaign that indicates there is a rather nasty split on the American political right.

This is an excerpt from the message:

“Friends,

Your voting rights are under attack – by Mitt Romney and the national Republicans. 

Mitt Romney doesn’t want Gov. Gary Johnson on the ballot.  It’s just that simple.  Read More

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As this morning’s edition of the Weekly Briefing argues, Americans have much to learn from other countries in a variety of areas and healthcare is one of the most obvious. Happily, there are some small signs that maybe — just maybe — this truth is beginning to dawn on political leaders of both parties.

President Obama, of course, has made repeated allusions throughout the years to the need for America to do a better job of matching the performance of other nations when it comes to providing healthcare to the many while controlling costs much more effectively. 

Now comes word that, yesterday, his chief opponent, Mitt Romney, is embracing a similar argument. According to this article in the Washington Post, Romney heaped praise on Israel’s heavily regulated health care system — some might even call it “socialized” — for its success in controlling costs. 

Could it be that our nation’s leading politicians are finally finding some common ground on this critical issue?  It seems certain that many will portray Romney’s comments as a gaffe, but let’s fervently hope that he meant what he said and that it opens to door to further dialogue across the political spectrum on this critical issue.