Republican attack on the middle class

Early voting begins today in 3rd District Congressional Primary

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And there's enough candidates to field 3 baseball teams:

Early voting begins today in a special primary election to fill the 3rd Congressional District seat left vacant by the death of Walter Jones. The actual primary is April 30.

Twenty-six candidates — 17 Republicans, six Democrats, two Libertarians and one member of the Constitution Party — filed to run for the 3rd Congressional District seat. Because only one Constitution Party candidate filed, there is no primary for that party.

The General Election could get very interesting. With a Libertarian and a Constitution...arian? on the ballot, the Republican is going to have to do a complicated ideological dance to keep from losing votes. Or maybe not. But first said Republican will have to survive this Primary, and the (very likely) 2nd Primary that will follow:

Taking back the U.S. House somewhere between possible and probable

Little Donnie just might have an aneurysm:

A flurry of Republican retirements has led to 42 open seats, many of them the sort of well-entrenched incumbents in competitive districts whose retirements are the most valuable for Democrats. The Democrats have succeeded in recruiting well-funded and strong candidates in many of the battlegrounds, which has tended to lessen the advantage of incumbency even in the districts where Republicans are running for re-election. A court decision in Pennsylvania has eliminated the party’s gerrymander there.

Democrats appear highly competitive in many conservative districts. Already, there are polls showing Democrats ahead in Kentucky’s Sixth District, West Virginia’s Third, North Carolina’s Ninth, New York’s 22nd and Montana’s at-large district. Mr. Trump won each by at least 10 points.

We should issue the obligatory caution about counting chickens before they hatch and go vote, but things are looking much better than I thought they would, even as recently as a few months ago. And it looks like we're making headway in many rural districts, which is fantastic news:

Governor Cooper asks Trump to back off on tariffs

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Defending those NC farmers and producers at risk of economic collapse:

Cooper wrote a letter Thursday to the president telling him retaliatory tariffs against U.S. products by other countries resulting from the administration's increases stand to harm several North Carolina commodity exports.

Cooper mentioned specifically pork heading to Mexico and China and tobacco going to Turkey, China and the European Union. He says North Carolina exports of these products alone to the affected regions are $550 million annually. The governor says rising prices for all U.S. steel and aluminum also increases costs for anyone who uses them in their production processes.

Roy shouldn't have to do this, because this trade war Trump has gleefully engaged in is not a partisan issue. Congress could (easily) pass Veto-proof legislation to halt or limit this activity, but Ryan and McConnell are simply not responsible enough to take the proper steps. Here's more from Roy on what's at stake:

NC Republicans pushing junk health insurance as alternative to ACA

The free market might just kill you if you're not careful:

The legislation would allow nonprofit organizations that have existed for at least 10 years, and which offer membership in all 100 counties, to offer their members health benefit plans. Unlike other health insurance plans and coverage offered by employers, these benefit plans wouldn’t be required to cover a minimum set of health care services. And plans could be priced at different levels so that people with pre-existing health conditions would be charged more or else not have their pre-existing conditions covered.

“It creates a false sense of security,” said Peg O’Connell, a lobbyist for a number of public health organizations, including the American Cancer Society. “If you think you’ve got insurance and you don’t, or you think you’re insured for something like cancer or heart disease. And then you file a claim and they suddenly say, ‘That was a pre-existing condition, we’re not going to cover it’ or ‘We might not cover it for a year, like we did before the Affordable Care Act was passed.’”

Honestly, I'm surprised it took them this long to come up with such an "initiative." This is not radically different than the GOP's support of payday lenders and other borderline fraudulent activities, since the responsibility for making the "proper choice" falls directly on the shoulders of those who will be suffering. That's the Republican way: Sink or swim. Of course, they're not going to be standing by to help when you start drowning, because teaching you to swim is not their true goal. Walking away from responsibility is really all they're after. But this isn't just a belief in the non-existent invisible hand, it's part of a concerted effort to destroy Obamacare once and for all:

Medicare and Social Security put in jeopardy by GOP negligence

Every candidate for Congress needs to educate themselves on this pronto:

Medicare will run out of money sooner than expected, and Social Security’s financial problems can’t be ignored either, the government said Tuesday in a sobering checkup on programs vital to the middle class. The report from program trustees says Medicare will become insolvent in 2026 — three years earlier than previously forecast. Its giant trust fund for inpatient care won’t be able to fully cover projected medical bills starting at that point. The report says Social Security will become insolvent in 2034 — no change from the projection last year.

The warning serves as a reminder of major issues left to languish while Washington plunges deeper into partisan strife. Because of the deterioration in Medicare’s finances, officials said the Trump administration will be required by law to send Congress a plan next year to address the problems, after the president’s budget is submitted.

That last part is more worrying than the timeline that precedes it. The Trump administration couldn't solve a crossword puzzle from a Highlights magazine, much less something this complex. But it's not just the administration that poses a threat to these programs; last October, Congressional Republicans set out their budget goals for the coming decade, which included cutting $488 Billion (that's right) from Medicare. Those cuts will come directly out of the pockets of retirees who will have to make up the difference in what is "not" paid to hospitals and doctors. And that is on top of the cuts likely to occur due to the Baby Boomer problem:

Another Trump "bright idea" goes down in flames

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All those "beautiful" bridges and roads will just have to wait:

President Trump’s legislative framework for a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure appears all but dead in Congress. Lawmakers are focused on other legislative matters, and Democrats say the latest “infrastructure week” that started Sunday has done little to reinvigorate the president’s plan.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told The Hill Wednesday that there has been no movement on a bill with Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). “As far as I know, it’s been shredded, or burned, or something. It doesn’t exist,” DeFazio said Wednesday of the president’s rebuilding blueprint.

Frankly, I'm more than a little relieved. North Carolina is already suffering from the NC GOP's efforts to push critical funding down to the county and municipal level, and another $1.5 Trillion "buy-in" from the Trump administration is a hell of a lot more than we can afford. From Wake to Alamance Counties and several points in-between, we've got huge school bonds on November's ballot, and there just isn't any "extra" local funding lying around to be drawn into another Donald Trump pyramid scheme:

Roy Cooper has not given up fighting NC GOP tax cuts

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There are simply too many important things to do to just let this go:

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday that he’d keep trying to block pending state tax cuts for corporations and top wage-earners that Republicans approved last summer, a long-shot effort that could become a key 2018 election-year issue.

The GOP-controlled General Assembly voted to lower both corporate and individual income tax rates again in January 2019, halfway through the next fiscal year’s two-year budget that lawmakers will adjust when they return for their regular work session in May. Cooper has blasted other tax cuts approved by Republicans since 2013 because he said they benefited the rich and out-of-state corporations the most. The latest round of cuts was approved over Cooper’s veto of the two-year budget containing the rate reductions.

I realize it's a little early in his tenure to start fashioning a "Legacy" name for Roy. You know, like "Education Governor" or what have you. But after watching the numerous battles he's been dragged into by an immature and spiteful Legislature, I'ma go ahead and put this forward, so y'all can chew on it for a little while: "Resistance Governor." Would that we could give him an easier job after November 2018, but that's going to take a phenomenal effort.

Small to mid-size farmers will likely suffer greatly under US Senate tax bill

For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction:

In this season of giving, the U.S Senate is rushing to pass a tax bill next week that would overwhelmingly benefit corporations and the richest households. If passed, this tax plan would not only raise the tax load on millions of low- and middle-income families, it would also mean the elimination of vital programs that help many Americans get by every day. The reason: Math.

By increasing the U.S deficit by more than $1.5 trillion over the next ten years, Congress would have to reduce spending in fiscal year 2018 alone by a total of $136 billion due to spending rules.

Before we look at some of the specific agricultural support programs that are vulnerable under this plan, I'll go ahead and answer your inevitable question, "Why would Republicans intentionally go after their solid base (rural farmers) when they could probably find these cuts elsewhere?" Because US Senate contests are state-wide, not really fitting the profile of "representative." While individual Congressional districts might be particularly hurt by these cuts, Senators will not feel the adverse effects of that. Here are some of the programs at risk:

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