Thom Tillis and the Case of the Missing $51 Billion

Where's Nancy Drew when you need her?

North Carolina will miss $51 billion in federal payments over the next decade unless lawmakers expand Medicaid under Obamacare, according to a new report. Hospitals in the state would get $11.3 billion of that amount under an expanded system, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute say. The report comes as hospitals across the nation are laying off workers. The health care sector cut 52,638 jobs nationally last year, making it second only to the financial industry in layoffs.

Thanks for nothing, Thom Tillis.

NC's environment suffers under voting public's lack of concern

Callous disregard or guilty conscience?

It’s been a big year for environmental news in North Carolina. First there was a major coal ash spill into the Dan River in February that raised concerns about water quality. And there’s been a push for more hydraulic fracturing – better known as “fracking.” It’s led to packed houses at town hall meetings across the region.

But these issues aren’t likely to change the political landscape. That’s according to Jason Husser. He’s an assistant professor of political science at Elon University and also works on the university’s poll. He spoke with WFDD’s Paul Garber about where the environment ranks among voters and where it could make a difference.

This is not surprising. For years, polls have steadily shown that only about 3% of voters put environmental concerns at the top of their list of most important issues. That may have increased slightly in the wake of the spill and the looming fracking problems, but hoping it will be a major factor in November is probably naïve. I explored some of the reasons for this in an op-ed I wrote earlier in the year:

Daily dose: Culture war edition

The Tide of the Culture War Shifts (New York Times) Changes in public opinion on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage are apparent in this year’s Senate races. … Senator Kay Hagan, Democrat of North Carolina, continually reminds voters that her opponent, Thom Tillis, has worked to make contraception less accessible. As speaker of the State House, Mr. Tillis also made it far more difficult to get an abortion. Similar campaigns are going on in Michigan and Montana. The decision to go on the offensive is in part designed to incite the anger of women and draw support in the November elections, particularly that of single women, who tend to vote in small numbers in midterms. But it is also a reflection of the growing obsolescence of traditional Republican wedge issues in state after state. For a younger generation of voters, the old right-wing nostrums about the “sanctity of life” and the “sanctity of marriage” have lost their power, revealed as intrusions on human freedom. Democrats “did win the culture war,” Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist, admitted to The New York Times recently. … The shift in public opinion might not be enough for Democrats to keep the Senate this year. But over time, it may help spell an end to the politics of cultural division.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/29/opinion/the-tide-of-the-culture-war-shifts.html

Liddy Dole pens op-ed in favor of women's history museum

Reinforcing the stopped-clock theory:

The achievements and contributions of women, as individuals and collectively, are woefully missing from much of U.S. history. Is it any wonder that women throughout the nation have struggled to “lean in”? If the critical and indispensable contributions that women have made to our nation were woven into mainstream U.S. history, they would already be in.

To date, we have seen countless Democrats and Republicans come together to support the advancement of this important project. And yet opposition remains among a few members in the Senate.

Of course, being the loyal-to-the-last-breath GOP hack that she is, Dole doesn't supply readers the information they actually need, the names and/or political parties of those "few members" of the Senate. Who are (big surprise) right-wing extremist Republicans:

N&R continues to apologize for Mark Walker's crazy talk

If it walks like a Tea Party duck:

Mark Walker does not think Barack Obama may declare martial or Sharia law. He does not really believe the president has been spending billions of dollars — with a B! — on family vacations. He doesn’t actually have no qualms about bombings at the border that could start a war with Mexico. But he still says these things. Why?

Because there’s something in him that wants to please a crowd, be it a Tea Party rally or a small clutch of cynical journalists. He can’t help himself. He gets carried away. And that makes for some great performances — but it doesn’t help you understand who he really is, what he really thinks.

You have to say one thing about the News & Record: They are loyal to their locally-brewed candidates. If I had to place my bet this very moment, I would say the paper is going to (unwisely) endorse Mark Walker in the race for the NC-06 seat. All this hand-wringing about Walker being a really good guy but a "naïve" politician is likely cover for the real issue: Mark Walker has been a preacher and civic leader in Greensboro, while Laura Fjeld hails from way over there in Orange County. Case closed.

Daily Dose: Voter fraud edition

CAMPAIGN 2014
Appeals court hears NC voter suppression case (AP) — With Election Day just weeks away, a federal appeals court heard arguments Thursday in a case challenging a new North Carolina voting law that critics say will suppress minority voter turnout in November.
http://www.news-record.com/news/north_carolina_ap/appeals-court-hears-nc-voter-suppression-case/arti...

Weekend open thread: Progressive state blogs and more

NC Policy Watch gets some well-deserved blog love on this week's edition of Progressive State Blogs, a Saturday feature by Meteor Blades at Daily Kos. Check it out. And while you're at it, don't forget that there are lots of other websites you should be tracking every week. Watauga Watch. Scrutiny Hooligans. Carolina Mercury. PoliticsNC. Media disrupted. And more. Some are listed in the BlueNC blogroll on the right-hand side of this page, at the bottom. If you have others to suggest, send 'em along.

Fighting to keep Titan Cement air quality monitor in place

The anatomy of a deregulatory nightmare:

For Castle Hayne air advocates, the most worrisome proposals from the Legislature came this year. State legislators proposed to eliminate all air monitors that are not specifically required by federal environmental regulators and to limit citizens' ability to challenge air permits in court, taking away two important tools used by citizens to challenge projects they deem risky to public health. The changes were never enacted.

The air monitor provision would have eliminated an air monitor that lies across the road from the proposed cement plant and next to an experimental field for different varieties of blueberries. The monitor is 11 miles from downtown Wilmington and measures concentrations of ozone, particulate matter and other pollutants. The other provision would have hampered advocates' ability to challenge the cement plant permit's allowances of toxic air pollutants.

The battle over the Titan Cement plant is not about a handful of overzealous advocates trying to hold back industrial growth. The coal-burning monstrosity will increase the entire state's atmospheric mercury emissions by almost 10%, and it will be located in an area that is already saturated by industrial air and water pollutants. Read the entire article, it's a good one.

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