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From this morning’s NYT:

“Every Monday since April, thousands of North Carolina residents have gathered at the State Capitol to protest the grotesque damage that a new Republican majority has been doing to a tradition of caring for the least fortunate. Nearly 700 people have been arrested in the “Moral Monday” demonstrations, as they are known. But the bad news keeps on coming from the Legislature, and pretty soon a single day of the week may not be enough to contain the outrage.

In January, after the election of Pat McCrory as governor, Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches for the first time since Reconstruction. Since then, state government has become a demolition derby, tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom and access to the ballot.

The cruelest decision by lawmakers went into effect last week: ending federal unemployment benefits for 70,000 residents. Another 100,000 will lose their checks in a few months. Those still receiving benefits will find that they have been cut by a third, to a maximum of $350 weekly from $535, and the length of time they can receive benefits has been slashed from 26 weeks to as few as 12 weeks….”

Read the rest by clicking here.

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Pat McCrory 4As the national news and opinion stories about North Carolina’s recent disastrous policy turns (especially the decision to terminate federal emergency unemployment benefits) pile up, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is not good news for any political aspirations that Gov. Pat McCrory might harbor.

While conservatives will dismiss stories in the New York Times, Time, the BBC and various national magazines as merely the work of the “liberal media,” the plain truth is that no one is going to develop any kind of positive national political profile with such coverage. Oh sure, McCrory can — like Scott Walker before him — win the plaudits of Fox News and the Washington Times, but that is simply not going to cut it in the long run with the bulk of the mainstream national political establishment. This is especially true if, Read More

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In case you missed it last Friday, Sabine Schoenbach had a great essay published in Raleigh’s News & Observer on the unemployment insurance debacle. Here’s an excerpt:

“Those going over the cliff are jobseekers, first and foremost, but the job market remains grim. Despite a small improvement in the state’s unemployment rate over the last three months, jobseekers are looking for work in a state with a record number of unemployed workers who have been out of work for a record length of time. There are 4 million unemployed workers chasing just 1.4 million jobs in the entire U.S. South.”

Read the entire piece by clicking here.

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Another good editorial from Raleigh’s N&O on the scandalous end of unemployment benefits that commences today:

“Reflecting little more than their distaste for federal safety net programs and their lack of care for the unemployed in North Carolina, Republicans in the General Assembly cut the maximum unemployment benefit to $350 from $535 and curbed the length of time people are eligible. The reason? To pay back more quickly the $2 billion the state owes the federal government for money borrowed to cover benefits following the Bush recession.

But the GOP knew that if the state rules were changed, federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, which might have continued, would be cut off. They didn’t care, and nor were they concerned that tens of millions of dollars would be lost to the state’s economy. Some 70,000 North Carolinians will be hurt.

Republicans say that by cutting benefits, the state will be encouraging the unemployed to find work. That’s insulting, of course, because the vast majority of the jobless have been trying to find employment. The average benefit check of about $300 a week doesn’t exactly provide for a take-it-easy lifestyle. And GOP lawmakers don’t care to consider what happens to people when their benefits are cut off and they are still without work. Homes will be lost. Medicine will go unbought. Kids will go hungry. That’s the reality, as opposed to the rhetoric.”

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So the unemployment cliff is here, the day when the legislation to overhaul the state’s unemployment insurance system takes effect. In a series of blog posts last week, we highlighted what it will mean.  In case you missed it, here is a summary: