Republican attack on the middle class

NC's uninsured rate drops substantially thanks to ACA

And no thanks to the Obama-hating GOP:

North Carolina experienced another drop in the number of individuals without health insurance to a record low of 10.4 percent in 2016, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Since the federal Affordable Care Act went into full effect in 2014, the share of people without insurance in North Carolina has dropped from 15.6 percent.

However, the rate could be significantly lower if the Republican-controlled General Assembly approved expanding Medicaid coverage to more than 500,000 of the 1.04 million North Carolinians who still lack health insurance.

That 5% is huge, close to a half-million people. People who are much less likely now to be forced to either ignore health problems or be plunged into financially-crippling medical debt. I've mentioned this before, but several years ago, when I first left the Army, I managed a discount furniture store North of Durham. We used a couple of finance companies to help people borrow money for new furniture, but at least half of those who applied were turned down because of unpaid medical bills. I'm talking some 40-50 families every week, whose credit was so bad even high interest loans were off the table. Medical debt doesn't just impact the bottom 20%, it threatens the entire middle class. But people like this guy just don't care:

Monday numbers: How to put state government on life support

The sheer magnitude of irresponsibility is breathtaking:

528 million—amount in dollars of the cost of the tax cuts enacted in the two-year budget passed by the General Assembly this year (Ibid)

900 million—amount in dollars of the full cost of the tax cuts passed by the General Assembly this year when fully in place (Ibid)

3.5 billion—amount in dollars of lost revenue thanks to the combined tax changes made by the General Assembly since 2013 (Ibid)

It's rare for me to be able to summon analogies on Mondays, I usually just hunker down and wait for the coffee to do its magic. But today, I have two analogies warring for my attention, derived from recent news stories, which I believe accurately reflect Republicans' actions. The first has to do with termites eating away at the foundations of a house, year after year, until the house actually collapses from weakened timbers. If that doesn't trick your trigger, there's also the sinkhole phenomenon: Groundwater erosion which slowly washes away soil and mineral deposits, creating unseen gaping voids of missing support, which inevitably eventually collapse, dragging the house down in the process. Okay, I might need more coffee, but you get the picture. For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction, and the displacement of mass or energy in a formula alters that formula in its entirety. These tax cuts are not "rhetorical," and neither will be the results. And we will have to live with those results for years to come.

Mark Walker gets schooled at his Town Hall in Alamance County

When your audience is ready for your bullshit:

A top House lawmaker and his constituents argued over who is to blame for rising Obamacare premiums in North Carolina. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., said at a town hall in Alamance County Tuesday the state's lone Obamacare insurer request for a rate hike of nearly 23 percent next year is evidence the law is failing.

"Their rates and premiums are going up 22, 23 percent," he said. However, some of his constituents quickly shouted that premiums would only go up about 9 percent if President Trump guaranteed Obamacare's insurer subsidies next year. "Don't lie to us," one person shouted at the lawmaker.

Boom. That's exactly what he (and everybody else) needed to hear. And he'll probably hear it again in just a few hours in Randolph County (6;30 p.m., 413 Industrial Park Ave, Asheboro). For more info on making your voice heard at town halls, go to the Town Hall Project and check it out.

Wayne Goodwin: How NC Democrats can move forward and fight back

Make an ally of the middle class, while it still exists:

First, we must return to our roots as the party of middle-class opportunity. Growing up in rural Richmond County, I saw how far too many North Carolinians had been left behind, even as the state thrived economically. But I also saw how smart investments by the government – especially in our world-class schools and universities – could level the playing field and create economic opportunity and mobility, regardless of a person’s background or circumstances.

If I was writing this, the above would probably be my second step, with the first being: We must set aside our cynicism over politics, and work together as if those negative aspects are the exception to the rule and not the rule. That cynicism serves no purpose other than to divide us along narrow ideological confines, and the end result is always a scattered collection of small groups, actually competing with each other instead of pooling their resources. Just a quick test: If you read Wayne's first paragraph above and found more that you dislike than you like, it's probably because you were looking for things to dislike. Ergo, cynicism. Strengthening the middle-class is not just a political ploy, it's critical in maintaining our democracy, and our consumer-based economy. You want examples of what can happen when the middle-class fails, I can provide dozens, but I don't think that's something that needs a data-driven argument. Enough from me, here's more from Wayne:

Monday numbers: NC Senate's tax plan a boon for the wealthy

But for the rest of us, not so much:

50—estimated percent of Senate tax cut proposal that will be received by the top 20 percent of income earners in North Carolina (Ibid)

20,119—amount in dollars of the average annual tax cut the top one percent of income earners will receive since 2013 if the latest Senate tax plan becomes law (Ibid)

15—amount in dollars of the average annual tax cut the bottom 20 percent of income earners will receive since 2013 if the latest Senate tax plan becomes law (Ibid)

3.2 billion—amount in dollars less that the state revenue code will bring in next fiscal year than it would have before tax changes made since 2013 if the latest Senate tax plan passes (Ibid)

Every year they are in charge, Republicans whittle away at the services provided to citizens, and every year the already wealthy benefit from that. It makes you wonder if everything else they do is simply a distraction so these vampires can keep feeding on the peasantry.

Tryon Equestrian partner to fuel massive Trump propaganda machine

The Mercer family is the worst of the one-percenters:

Making America Great, a nonprofit run by Rebekah Mercer, one of Trump’s most influential donors, will begin airing $1 million in television ads on Wednesday, coupled with a $300,000 digital advertising campaign. The TV ads will run in the District of Columbia, along with ten states Trump carried in the presidential election where a Democratic senator is up for re-election in 2018: West Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Montana and Pennsylvania. The digital campaign also will focus on voters in those states.

“Our group will be a conduit to highlight President Trump’s achievement to the rest of the country,” says Emily Cornell, who is moving from the Mercer-funded data firm Cambridge Analytica to run Making America Great’s day-to-day operations. “We are here to promote successes and hold accountable broken promises -- not just to those who voted for Trump, but to all Americans.”

Really? I would imagine you've got your hands full on that "holding accountable" thing already, since Mister Drain The Swamp has surrounded himself with swamp monsters. If you're frequently plagued by nausea, you may want to skip reading the following:

Observations from a Congressional staffer on phone calls

At least somebody is paying attention:

It’s not even noon, and I’ve already answered dozens of phone calls from angry constituents. A single mother demanded answers as to where her family could turn for health-care services if Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act. An older gentleman had to take a breath as he used some choice words to describe House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s proposals to cut Medicare benefits. The resentment and anger are palpable. Seconds after I hang up, the phone rings again. And again. And again.

Democratic and Republican congressional offices have been inundated with calls, letters, tweets, posts and visits from impassioned people upset and outraged by the president’s actions, Cabinet nominations and executive orders. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s office reported an average of 1.5 million daily calls to the Senate in the first week of February alone. Phone lines are so gridlocked that lawmakers are nervously taking to social media to apologize that constituents can’t get through and reassure them that we hear them on Capitol Hill.

Before you start punching in numbers to say your piece, keep in mind the author works for a House Democrat. It's a good bet many Republicans have been seriously filtering their incoming correspondence, and then just making shit up to show evidence of support. But here are some examples of the effectiveness of issue-based advocacy:

Trump Regret Syndrome: Wait, you were serious about repealing Obamacare?

Believing the lies, ignoring the truth:

Representative Richard Hudson of North Carolina said Friday there is "a lot of angst in our state" over an Obamacare repeal and that he participated in a telephone town-hall with 12,000 people a day earlier.

"My constituents are freaking out about commercials they are seeing on TV about how they are going to lose their health care," he said. Hudson said he tells constituents regarding Republican efforts to devise a replacement plan, "If Obamacare is working for you, we want to hear you say that, too."

And before you even ask, yes, this is a huge flip-flop from Richard Hudson. He's been an adamant opponent of the Affordable Care Act since he's been in the House, and has been wailing about government overreach and how the mandate has been choking businesses. But now that a repeal is a distinct possibility, he's trying to cover his ass with his base and act like an innocent bystander. But the Internet is not so easily fooled:

Glimpses of the Kakistocracy: The foreclosure King

Steven Mnuchin has a lot to answer for:

Yang was lucky. The bank eventually dropped its efforts against him. But others were not so fortunate. In recent years, OneWest has foreclosed on at least 50,000 people, often in circumstances that consumer advocates say run counter to federal rules and, as in Yang’s case, common sense.

President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary has prompted new scrutiny of OneWest’s foreclosure practices. Mnuchin was the lead investor and chairman of the company during the years it ramped up its foreclosure efforts. Representatives from the company and the Trump transition team did not respond to requests for comment.

Not that it would make any difference, but I'd love to find out how many of those 50,000 foreclosed folks voted for Trump, and how they feel about that mistake now. Mnuchin represents the worst type of businessman, one who directly profits from the suffering of others. Calling him a "Robber Baron" is too nice, he's really just a flim-flam man. Speaking of, here's Republican Fred Thompson hawking reverse mortgages:

The NCDP's roadmap to victory: Candidate recruitment and voter outreach

Miles to go before we're through:

But without an organized, well-funded, persistent effort by Democrats—and even independents and genuine conservatives who understand how badly the legislature violated basic democratic norms last week, and have since early 2013—all the protests in the world will add up to noise lost in the wind. Planting a flag on the moral high ground may win sympathy. It generally doesn’t win elections. “I can hear protesters chanting in the building,” N.C. Senator Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte Democrat, tweeted Thursday. “Appreciated, but if we can’t channel this into a solid effort in 2017, it means little.”

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