Republican attack on the poor

The health of a million NC citizens at risk

Resting in the hands of the US Supreme Court:

We have written before about King v. Burwell, the case that will be heard before the US Supreme Court to determine whether or not health insurance subsidies can flow to states that refused to establish state-based marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act.

KFF researchers think more than 13 million people nationally, and about 1 million people in North Carolina, would lose tax credits if the Supreme Court denies subsidies to federal marketplace states. For most of these folks insurance would immediately become unaffordable. This is especially true because prices would most likely spiral upward as younger, healthier enrollees lose coverage.

The Affordable Care Act is a complex formula, created to solve an equally complex problem. While some elements of this formula are not critical to its success, some of them are, such as these subsidies. Thanks to the unwise and ideologically-driven decision to not expand Medicaid, North Carolina already has a gaping hole in coverage that most other states don't, or soon won't. If we lose these subsidies, also thanks to poor judgment on the part of GOP leaders who refused to lift a finger to build a marketplace, our people will suffer the consequences, and so will our healthcare providing network. It's not just a failure of leadership, it's the equivalent of setting up firing squads across the state, without having to worry about being charged with war crimes.

A dark chapter in NC's history books

And we're living it right now:

The new majority in the N.C. General Assembly hijacked Lincoln’s Republican Party and immediately began enacting an agenda that helped the greedy at the expense of the needy. They slashed unemployment benefits, killed the earned income-tax credit for the working poor, refused Medicaid coverage for hundreds of thousands, cut corporate income taxes, repealed the estate tax, gutted health and safety protections, cut per-pupil spending for education and shifted public money to private academies.

They also redrew legislative district lines to isolate and minimize the power of black voters. Then, in the weeks immediately following the Shelby decision, they jammed a host of voter restrictions into one bill that also cut restrictions on political donations. We call it the “Monster Law” because of its sweeping scope and because it is the reincarnation of the Jim Crow monster.

It's becoming more and more difficult to catalog all of the greedy and cold-hearted policies adopted by this Legislature, but a good mission statement to attribute to them is, "So many people to suppress, so little time." I often wonder how the future will grade us; how our actions will be perceived, by those who will inevitably have achieved a much higher level of enlightenment. And I fear they will revile us for our greed, prejudices, and short-sightedness.

Tillis and the looming destruction of the social safety net

It's not what you know, it's who you listen to:

Republican Sen. Richard Burr, the state’s senior senator, escorted him around, as did others who know the place well. Now Tillis is one of the 100 senators, talking to them all the time. “Not only about the senatorial process, but which hallways you can go down that don’t actually have a dead end,” he joked, at least in part. The Capitol is a labyrinth of marble stairways, long corridors, senators’ secret hideaways and underground passageways. It’s easy to get lost.

The desk of Tillis’ chief of staff, John Mashburn, is under a large state seal in the same room as the receptionist, directly opposite the office’s entrance. Mashburn is known as a very conservative Republican. He’s a North Carolina native with long experience on Capitol Hill, including work for the late Sen. Jesse Helms.

Mashburn is more than just another of Helms' old cronies. He's an anti-Welfare zealot, whose goal of punishing the poor has been blocked for decades by less radical elements in the GOP, not to mention Democrats. But he may finally get his wish by pulling Tillis' strings:

More regressive taxation on GOP's 2015 agenda

Instead of rolling back corporate tax cuts, the general public will suffer even more:

The 2008 recommendations from a blue-ribbon panel created by Democratic Gov. Mike Easley and his party's legislative leaders included more than doubling the annual vehicle registration fee and raising the tax on car purchases — called the Highway Use Tax — from 3 percent to 4 percent. Both combined would have generated another $400 million annually.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Onslow and a car dealer, said Senate colleagues would be cautious about agreeing to raise taxes "but I think we also know the needs in transportation are great."

And I think we also know where you would stand on the car tax issue. Which is regressive, but not nearly as regressive as increasing sales taxes on food, clothing, and other essentials those hovering on the poverty line must have. This article is a few weeks old, and the new NCGA website has zilch information on the upcoming session, so I'm doing a little tea-leaf reading here. But the fact the GOP was able to shift the tax burden from the wealthy to the not-so-wealthy via sales tax shenanigans, without suffering at the voting booth, leads me to believe they will go back to that community well again, and soon. Film at eleven.

New Year hopes from the naive at heart

A valiant but wasted effort by the N&O Editorial staff:

It would not be realistic, or even reasonable, to expect that Republicans and Democrats would join hands ’round a campfire, but neither should those who work in the Legislative Building on Jones Street act like foes on a field in Gettysburg.

For even among North Carolinians and Americans who agree on virtually nothing political, there are shared values and hopes: All hope their children will grow up, succeed, be happy and healthy and avoid the personal crises of drugs and violence and other temptations that destroy potential and pave a path to misery. It matters not whether they raise those children in mansions or cabins.

Yes, we all hope our own children will be happy, healthy and successful. But that's where the difference between Republicans and Democrats becomes evident. Republicans don't really care about other people's children; whether those kids succeed or fail, it's simply not their responsibility. It's a selfish and fatalistic approach to public service, and one of which they should be ashamed, but they've got the dogma-spouting Randians there by their side, providing what they think is legitimacy for such inhuman behavior. And that can be applied to the world at-large, as well:

Pope's Puppets swing and miss in defending UNC BOG

When Libertarians try to rewrite history:

In the 2012-13 academic year, the center hosted members of the AFL-CIO to discuss “the legislature’s war on labor”; screened clips from a “Story of America: A Nation Divided,” about “the fundamental divisions and the political struggle throughout America”; screened “The American Winter,” which “highlights the human impact of budget cuts to social services, a shrinking middle class, and the fracturing of the American Dream”; discussed “Wage Theft in North Carolina”; and invited people to projects sponsored by the Durham People’s Alliance and the N.C. Justice Center.

Where were the success stories of combating poverty through limited government and economic freedom – the approach that has saved millions from poverty in countries such as Taiwan, Estonia and South Korea? They weren’t mentioned, as far as one can tell from the archives.

To their main underlying complaint, that Conservative and/or Free Market proponents are not "invited" to such seminars: When you refuse to acknowledge that poverty and wage inequality and workplace discrimination and a bunch of other problems even exist, much less need to be addressed, why should you be included in these discussions? And we wouldn't be having many of these discussions if your bent ideology hadn't permeated the Legislature already, encouraging massive cuts to the social safety net. So thanks, but no thanks. And as far as your "missing" examples of small government success stories, you've (as usual) overlooked the obvious:

Dwindling choices: Anti-abortion zealotry taking a toll

And (of course) women in poverty are suffering the most:

The young woman lived in Dallas, 650 miles from Albuquerque, but that was where she would have to go for an abortion, she was told. New state regulations had forced several of Dallas’s six abortion clinics to close, creating weekslong waiting lists. By the time the woman could get in, she would be up against the Texas ban on abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation.

But she could not afford the trip to New Mexico.

This is not a health sector economics issue, or an unfortunate byproduct of regulatory oversight. This situation was created intentionally, to block women from exercising their legal right to choose. And the fact that it's happening all over the country, instituted by individual state governments, is evidence of a conspiracy to take away those rights on a national scale. If that doesn't qualify for a US DOJ Civil Rights investigation, then we might as well just shut that division down. And while I find this next part admirable, women shouldn't have to rely on charity to exercise their rights:

Greensboro N&R endorses Fjeld over crazy local pastor

A victory for common sense:

Our choice is Fjeld, who lives in Orange County and worked as general counsel for the UNC system after many years in private law practice.

The truth about Walker is a bit difficult to pin down. To an extent, Fjeld has a point. Walker promises to introduce legislation “clearly stating that all life begins at conception,” a position that raises tremendous potential complications. He opposes stem-cell research. He supports school vouchers, a flat tax and getting “government out of the way of our economy.” He also made disturbing remarks about bombing Mexico and President Barack Obama declaring “Sharia law and martial law,” which he later retracted.

A few weeks ago it appeared the N&R was gearing itself up to endorse Walker, going out of its way to apologize and rationalize his behavior. The fact they couldn't bring themselves to commit for him is very telling, and will hopefully have more of an impact than the usual newspaper endorsement would.

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