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This morning’s lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer gets it right in its characterization of the push by state legislative leaders to plow ahead with their school voucher scheme despite the certainty of lengthy litigation over the issue and the existence of a court injunction against it:

“It really is time to stop calling those who run the N.C. General Assembly conservatives. They are not conservative. They are reckless.

There’s a long list of actions that demonstrates their disregard for what defines the truly conservative. They hand out extravagant amounts to the wealthy in tax cuts and leave the state strapped for basic services. They turn down billions of dollars in federal support for the jobless and the health needs of the working poor. They ignore the principles of sound investment by cutting spending on public schools and higher education. They trample constitutional ideals regarding voting rights and civil rights. They shirk their obligations to be careful stewards of the environment.

The list could go on, but the case is concisely illustrated in the latest turmoil over school vouchers.” Read More

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The lead editorial in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer tells it like it is with respect to the issue of unemployment insurance and North Carolina’s harshest-in-the-nation decision to cut off benefits to folks in need:

“It was one of the more shameful moments in the not-exactly-illustrious rule of Republicans in the General Assembly and the governor’s mansion. Last summer, GOP lawmakers cut state unemployment benefits knowing it would mean that jobless North Carolinians, many of them innocent victims of the Great Recession, would lose emergency federal benefits.

North Carolina was the only state to reduce unemployment benefits even though federal law required states to maintain benefit amounts to qualify for the extended federal payments. Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican lawmakers justified leaving thousands and thousands of families in the cold by saying that extended unemployment benefits discouraged people from going back to work. Read More

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Be sure to check out this morning’s edition of Chris Fitzsimon’s “Monday numbers” column today in which he examines the politically-motivated rush to judgment by conservative lawmakers on the matter of recent “voter fraud” allegations. And in case you missed it, the Charlotte Observer had a good editorial on the subject over the weekend.

As both posts note, the breathless claims of Phil Berger and Thom Tillis are as off-base as the monster voter suppression law the two rammed through last year. This is from the editorial:

“’We have to ensure this is what happened, and it wasn’t an error on someone’s part,’” [State Board of Election Director Kim] Strach said.

She’s right – and after that, the state needs to determine when the possible fraud occurred and how it might be stopped. Sounds obvious, but that’s not how Republicans approached the issue of voter fraud Read More

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The latest Elon University Poll finds North Carolinians unhappy with many of the incumbents representing them in Washington and in Raleigh.

The February poll found Congress’ approval rating remaining in the single digits (8%). President Barack Obama fared better with an approval rating of 39%, while the majority (over  51%) said they disapprove of the job he is doing.

As for North Carolina’s two U.S. Senators, both Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr have a 33% approval rating. However it’s worth noting that Hagan, who faces a tough re-election campaign this year, has seen some  support erode among women since November, when this poll was last conducted.

Thom Tillis, thought to be a front-runner among a long list of Republican candidates hoping to unseat  Hagan, has his own problems. More than 58% percent did not recognize his name, and his approval rating was just 18%, with nearly 34% of respondents saying they disapprove.

Governor Pat McCrory’s approval rating has seen a slight uptick (now at 36%) since November 2013, but that has not been the case with the NC General Assembly. Less than a third of voters approve of the job of the legislature (28%) with more than 45% saying they disapprove of the direction the General Assembly has taken the state.

The  Elon University  Poll surveyed 925 registered voters between February 23rd – 26th. For a complete look at the questions and the poll findings, click here.
elon-poll_feb2014

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Two top Republican leaders announced the formation Monday of a joint legislative committee designed to scrutinize the effects of the federal Affordable Care Act in North Carolina.

The committee’s focus will be on negative aspects of the federal health care law, with a press release from State Senate President Phil Berger and N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis announcing it will examine  “disruptions in the insurance market place, dropped coverage for families and higher premiums without improved access to providers.”

Phil Berger

Phil Berger

Thom Tillis

Thom Tillis

“This committee will delve deeply into the problems Obamacare has caused to the health insurance marketplace and to our economy as businesses and individuals absorb the costs,” Berger and Tillis were quoted as saying in a written statement.

Tillis is also a U.S. Senate candidate facing a crowded Republican primary this spring.

North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature opted last year not to expand Medicaid. That decision made an estimated 500,000 low-income North Carolinians ineligible for the government-run health care system and also unable to receive subsidies that those with higher incomes can get to buy health insurance on the private marketplace.

The first meeting date as well as the committee members will be announced in coming weeks.