LEGISLATORS-BRIBES DON'T WORK. STOP BUDGET SPIN. SINCERELY NEGOTIATE WITH GOV. COOPER: Rather than appealing to the angels of our better nature, the leaders of the General Assembly have gone whole-hog to override the governor’s veto. Touring the state, in statements for news reports as well as commentary and columns placed throughout the state, legislators are echoing the talking points coming out of Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore’s offices. They warn funding for $383.1 million in pet projects in home districts – known as pork barrel -- are in jeopardy because of Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto. Only an override will assure the projects are funded. These statements and commentaries fail to reveal that the same legislators had little or no interest in funding most of the projects – regardless of their worthiness – until they desperately needed a ploy to attack Gov. Roy Cooper.
NC SHOULD REQUIRE THAT ALL VOTING MACHINES PRODUCE A CLEAR (PAPER) BALLOT: Republicans David Black and Ken Raymond say the bar code option should be acceptable because counties that still want to use touchscreen machines need to get moving on buying the machines for the next election. Democrats Stella Anderson and Jeff Carmon say the voting machines the board certifies this year could stay in use for decades, so it’s worth taking special care now in setting requirements. Gov. Roy Cooper should replace Cordle, who favored the bar code option, with someone who will support paper ballots in which the selections read by the electronic tabulator can also be read by the voter. It’s not simply a matter of accuracy, it’s a matter of strengthening voters’ trust that their votes are properly recorded. Black and Raymond say they support paper ballots that are fully readable by humans, but the timing is too tight to insist on that for the machines now under consideration. It’s curious that the Republican board members are stressing expediency over public confidence. Why wouldn’t Republicans who want all voters identified by a photo ID also want to ensure that voters can in turn identify their ballot selections?
FACADE OF DOG-DAYS CALM GIVING WAY TO HIGH-STAKES LEGISLATIVE MANEUVERS AND ARM-TWISTING: Next week the annual meeting of the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures is being held in Nashville. Several House members – eight Democrats and four Republicans – made plans to attend. For nearly all, those plans have been curtailed or canceled because House Speaker Tim Moore refuses pledge there won’t be an attempt to override the veto. No one should doubt that the following week, when the Republican-leaning American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meets in Austin, Texas, there will NOT be any votes since top GOP state legislators who hold leadership posts in the organization will be participating in conference activities. A tsunami of happy-talk news releases and attacks on Cooper from Senate leader Phil Berger’s office can’t blot out the glare of hypocrisy as the legislature’s leadership seeks to stall, inconvenience and manipulate to pass a budget they know fails to deliver on the state’s most basic needs and obligations.
YES, AMERICA IS RIGGED AGAINST WORKERS: America’s workers have for decades been losing out: year after year of wage stagnation, increased insecurity on the job, waves of downsizing and offshoring, and labor’s share of national income declining to its lowest level in seven decades. Numerous studies have found that an important cause of America’s soaring income inequality is the decline of labor unions — and the concomitant decline in workers’ ability to extract more of the profit and prosperity from the corporations they work for. The only time during the past century when income inequality narrowed substantially was the 1940s through 1970s, when unions were at their peak of power and prominence. Many Americans are understandably frustrated. That’s one reason the percentage who say they want to join a union has risen markedly. According to a 2018 M.I.T. study, 46 percent of nonunion workers say they would like to be in a union, up from 32 percent in 1995. Nonetheless, just 10.5 percent of all American workers, and only 6.4 percent of private-sector workers, are in unions. The consequences are enormous, not only for wages and income inequality, but also for our politics and policymaking and for the many Americans who are mistreated at work.
WHY MY COMMITTEE NEEDS THE PRESIDENT'S TAX RETURNS: I’m an institutionalist. I respect Congress, for all its imperfections. As chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, I am responsible for congressional oversight of the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service’s administration of the federal tax code. The tax code gives the committee chairman the power to request taxpayer information from the IRS. The committee has exercised this power at various times in the past and has never been denied by the IRS or the Treasury Department. In early April, I requested the president’s tax returns to fulfill a legitimate congressional oversight responsibility: Our voluntary tax-compliance system hinges on the public’s faith that our tax laws are administered fairly and without favor to those in power. The president is unique: No other American has the power to sign bills into law and direct an entire branch of government. That power, and the extent to which the IRS can audit and enforce federal tax laws against a current or future president, merits closer legislative scrutiny. The law on this is very clear: The IRS “shall furnish ” the Ways and Means Committee with the requested tax returns. Both Democrats and Republicans have made requests for taxpayer information under 6103(f)(1) of the U.S. tax code in the past. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that Congress is entitled to a presumption that its investigatory activities are legitimate, and, in this case, the legitimacy is self-evident. And yet, the administration has stonewalled Congress, ordering the IRS commissioner not to comply with the plain language of the law and setting up a pending legal clash.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
JOSH LAWSON: IN SUPPORT OF PAPER BALLOTS: The State Board of Elections’ move last week towards human-readable paper ballots shows the governor’s appointees are exercising good judgment to harden voter confidence at a critical time. The recent report by the Senate Intelligence Committee made clear that disinformation and social influence operations will try to erode public confidence in election outcomes, including in swing states like this one. And in the absence of federal involvement, state officials are left making the tough calls about voting technologies. Our elections board is showing voters it’s attuned to its responsibilities and to the harsh reality that it’s not enough that a system work, voters must trust it works. Their good sense gives this voter confidence.
WILLIAM FRANKLIN: TRUMP AND "CHRISTIANS" DOING DAMAGE: Donald Trump, now owner of the Republican Party, or mob, is a moral and behavioral disaster producing a totally damaged government and economy. Do you want your children to act like Trump? Hell no. Then why do evangelicals, or phony Christians, totally support this lying mycologist who cheats at every turn, and has appointed leaders for departments who are crooks and disasters. And he is appointing bunches of “conservative” judges for life, each of whom is an admitted crook. After all, the motto for conservatives is simply, “Screw you, I got mine and you cannot have any.” Christian morality does not exist with these people, only all they can grab, steal and despoil. The damage from Trump and his criminal Christian mob is endless. Not easy to cure later. This is a turn back to 1890 and hatred for Barack Obama as president. It is a white backlash and hatred. What will draw you back to some semblance of morality? Meanwhile, white people are continuing to persecute people of color and poor white people, deliberately. North Carolina celebrates racism against brown or black skin, xenophobia against brown people and sheer hatred against poor people, all in the name of Jesus.
JINNY BAECKLER: THE UGLY AMERICAN: In 1958, Eugene Burdick and William Lederer created a stir when they wrote “The Ugly American,” depicting why many American diplomats crashed and burned. Simple. They made no effort to know the local people, their customs and language. That was then. This is now. I watched the entire Mueller hearing and realized with alarm that we are sending modern Ugly Americans to Congress. The Republican Senators who expressed their frustrations by demeaning Mueller’s work and haranguing ad nauseam are every bit the stereotypical Ugly American. They have lost absolutely all contact with the public they serve. They forgot the custom of civility which we teach our children. And, while they know the English language, theirs is a toxic, venomous dialect. Fortunately, there is a remedy. Overwhelm the ballot box and vote these Ugly Americans out of office.