Republican attack on the middle class

NC's unemployment benefits are a national disgrace

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The NC GOP should be ashamed when articles like this are published:

Because it’s administered by the states, the generosity of UI varies widely. Most states offer up to 26 weeks of UI, but some offer far less: Florida and North Carolina offer only 12 weeks currently, though their generosity increases with the state unemployment rate. Missouri offers only 13 weeks per statute, a number that doesn’t increase with the unemployment rate.

There’s similarly large variance in the recipiency rate — the share of unemployed people getting UI — and benefit size as a share of the average weekly wage. The highest recipiency rate is in Massachusetts, where 57 percent of unemployed people get benefits. In North Carolina, only 10 percent do.

Get that? Only one out of every ten unemployed North Carolinians receive benefits, which means they are out of work a hell of a lot longer than the paltry 12 weeks we offer. Said differently, the draconian measures Republicans enacted 7 years ago are not pushing people back to work, they are pushing families out of their homes. But that 2013 bill did something else, too, which was beyond idiotic:

Trump tariffs are forcing NC farmers into bankruptcy

This is not fake news, but he will try to spin it that way I'm sure:

The number of family farms filing for Chapter 12 bankruptcy last year spiked 20 percent nationally, according to a study by the American Farm Bureau Federation. That’s the highest increase since 2010, the year after the Great Recession ended. In the Southeast, it swelled 48 percent from 2018.

The $87 billion agriculture industry plays a crucial rule in North Carolina’s economy, according to N.C. State University. It employs 17 percent of the state’s workforce. According to the Farm Bureau, there were 16 filings in North Carolina in 2019 — a 33 percent jump from 2018 — and 10 in South Carolina, more than three times higher than the 2018 total.

Funny thing, you hardly ever see one of these bankrupted farmers on the news, except maybe in some deep-dive documentary where the producers spend weeks tracking people down. It's actually not funny, because when they are finally forced to give up, the last thing they want to do is admit their failure to a large audience. It's a hard life, making one or two paydays a year cover all your costs and feed your family until the next harvest. The last thing they need is a toddler knocking over that fragile formula by disrupting their market. But by and large, farmers still support Trump, even though he has thrown them under the bus in favor of Big Ag numerous times:

Food insecurity in Chatham County reaches critical level

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And the food pantries are struggling to keep up:

Chatham County, at the state’s geographical center, is home to 68,778 residents, 7,480 of whom are food insecure, according to data compiled by the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.

In Chatham County, roughly one in nine people are struggling with food insecurity, which is slightly less than the statewide average of one in seven. But economic conditions in Chatham and have created an insidious cycle of need in recent years.

If there was ever a strong argument against our Capitalist system, it's this one. There's more than enough food in our state/country to feed everybody; we throw away some 38 million tons of food each year in the United States, and yet 41 million Americans don't get enough to eat. And when government leaders try to make up for their tax cuts by cutting food stamp spending, the absurdity of those numbers gets even worse:

Folwell's Folly: Fractured networks could be very costly for state employees

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Our incompetent Treasurer is playing Russian Roulette with health care:

Hospitals and providers were given a July 1 deadline to sign the Clear Pricing Project contract or be considered as out of network to SHP on Jan. 1, 2020. Folwell said Wednesday that 27,000 medical providers have signed the contract.

However, just three of the state’s 126 hospitals have done so. Cone Health of Greensboro said on July 1 that it would not sign the contract, saying it would cost the health-care system at least $26 million.

Still don't have a firm grasp of all the moving parts of this thing, but it's a good bet going through a medical procedure will be a lot more complicated if it isn't stopped. Some patients may end up spending less, but others will probably pay more, and the onus is on the General Assembly to throw the brakes on until we can assess the value/damage:

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:

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