Viewing Author

Entries for 'Carter Wrenn'

23
Every now and then Gary and I venture out of our respective sanctuaries to journey out into the broader world and, just the other day, we meandered all the way across Raleigh to speak to a very nice group of folks about politics (from our different perspectives).
 
And, sure enough, during the meeting a hand went up and someone asked: With all these polls showing the Republican Party at its lowest popularity ever – how many Republican candidates could lose next election?
 
Gary, gentleman that he is, felt it was only fair I answer the question.
 
Now there’s no doubt a fair amount of people are unhappy with Republican politicians. They’re not in love with Democrats either. But the polls do show they’re more unhappy with Republicans.
 
I said, Imagine, off the shores of Africa a hurricane’s forming. Then imagine you could put all the Republican candidates on the tip of the beach in Wilmington. Now that hurricane may dissipate. It may roar across the ocean and turn north and swamp Boston. Or it might roar straight ashore in Wilmington.
 
And if you’re a Republican candidate standing on the beach, the same person asked, what do you do?
 
I said, Prepare for the worst.
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

21
The post-mortem’s are rolling in from the wise heads in Washington over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling votes and their verdict is unanimous: Ted Cruz was crushed. The Tea Party was annihilated.
 
But all these Washington pundits may be sailing right past one subtle fact.
 
Heritage Action and Club for Growth and the Tea Party weren’t just battling Obama and they weren’t just battling for spending cuts – they were battling the Supreme Leaders of the Washington Republican Party and their goal wasn’t just to win two votes in the House Republican Caucus – it was to win Republican primaries.
 
It’s no secret the Tea Partiers have their hearts set on cutting government. And cutting spending. And cutting debt. But they can’t accomplish those goals as long as the Washington Republican Establishment is standing in their way.
 
Instead history will repeat itself and what happened on the Continuing Resolution and Debt Ceiling votes will happen again and again – in the end the Republican Establishment will vote with Democrats to raise the Debt Ceiling without spending cuts.
 
So the Conservatives have to get the Republican Establishment out of the way. Which means one simple fact: They have to win primaries. Which is why they chose to make the Continuing Resolution a fight about Obamacare.
 
After all, drawing a line in the sand on the debt and saying to Obama, We won’t take more of the same-old same-old – if you want to borrow more, you’re going to have to agree to cut spending first – would have been a fine battle to fight with Obama. It would have appealed to Independents.
 
But about the worst thing you can tell a Republican primary voter about a Republican Congressman is that he supported Obamacare. And now Mitch McConnell and a whole troop of Republican Congressmen have done just that. And that’s going to be a pretty hard vote to defend in a Republican primary.
 
To the wise heads in Washington President Obama came out of the Debt Ceiling fight as the winner – but, when it comes to winning Republican primaries, Conservatives were big winners too.
 
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |

16
Back in the throes of winter the State Auditor audited the North Carolina Medicaid Department and reported it had the highest administrative costs of just about any state Medicaid Department around – which sure sounded right because, as just about everyone knows, North Carolina’s Medicaid program has been a bollixed mess for years.
 
But it turned out the auditor had made a mistake.
 
For instance, she’d reported Arizona Medicaid’s Administrative costs were 2% when, in fact, they were closer to 13% -- which were higher than North Carolina’s.
 
The Perdue Administration (which was in charge of the Medicaid program back then) promptly drafted a rebuttal letter to the auditor pointing out the error, but before the letter was sent Governor Perdue left office and Governor McCrory was sworn in – which dropped the problem in new Medicaid Director Carol Steckel’s lap.
 
Mrs. Steckel looked at the audit, looked at the Perdue folks’ rebuttal, and deleted the correction – so the audit went to legislators who hit the roof when they saw North Carolina’s Medicaid administrative costs were through the roof.
 
Now there’re a lot of reasons Mrs. Steckel may have done that. But they’re mostly conjecture. No one really knows. She may have simply figured it wasn’t her responsibility to defend her predecessors. Or she may have figured high Medicaid administrative costs would be a good argument for privatizing Medicaid – which she favored.
 
At any rate, North Carolina’s high administrative costs became an accepted fact – until a reporter, plowing through stacks of public documents, turned a page and up popped the Perdue Administration’s rebuttal with Mrs. Steckel’s edits (or deletions) on it.
 
The reporter published her story the morning the legislature’s Joint House-Senate Health Care Committee met for a hearing with DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos and, of course, in no time, a Democratic Senator asked Secretary Wos, Is it true – that we don’t have the highest Medicaid costs around?
 
A Republican legislator, trying to help Wos, pointed out the reporter hadn’t published that article the morning of the hearing by accident and added it sure looked like the reporter was on a witch hunt. Democratic Senator Martin Nesbitt then quipped, if the reporter was a witch hunt, it sure looked like she may have found a witch.
 
The next morning the Vice Chairperson of the Republican Party tore into Martin Nesbitt calling him a no-good misogynist who’d insulted every young girl in North Carolina by slurring one of North Carolina’s most prominent female leaders, calling her (Secretary Wos) a witch.
 
That broadside provoked a rambling denial from a flustered Nesbitt, saying he’d never, ever, ever, once called Aldona Wos a witch.
 
So the auditor made a mistake, the head of Medicaid deleted the correction, a reporter dug up the truth, a Republican attacked the reporter, a Democrat made a joke, and the Vice Chairman of the GOP called the Democrat a sexist.
 
Back in my youth we had this antiquated idea that when we landed in a political soup, fibbing would land us deeper in the soup. But these days Reverend William Barber can stand up and say Republicans are dead-set on taking North Carolina back to the days of Jim Crow or folks can start hollering about witches and witch hunts and, in the blink of an eye, the howl rises, vision fails, and the blind lead the blind astray.
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |

15
In the 2006 election voters gave Republicans the boot.
 
In 2010 they turned around and gave Democrats the boot.
 
Now, according to a new poll, 60% of voters would vote to remove all the politicians in Congress. Democrats and Republicans.
 
A sign of sanity?
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |

14
There’s been a lot of screeching and howling coming out of Washington about who shut down the government. Respected economist Thomas Sowell lays out his opinion pretty calmly below:
 
Who Shut Down the Government?
By Thomas Sowell
 
Even when it comes to something as basic, and apparently as simple and straightforward, as the question of who shut down the federal government, there are diametrically opposite answers, depending on whether you talk to Democrats or to Republicans.
 
There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.
 
This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.
 
As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.
 
Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.
 
ObamaCare is indeed “the law of the land,” as its supporters keep saying, and the Supreme Court has upheld its Constitutionality.
 
But the whole point of having a division of powers within the federal government is that each branch can decide independently what it wants to do or not do, regardless of what the other branches do, when exercising the powers specifically granted to that branch by the Constitution.
 
The hundreds of thousands of government workers who have been laid off are not idle because the House of Representatives did not vote enough money to pay their salaries or the other expenses of their agencies — unless they are in an agency that would administer ObamaCare.
 
Since we cannot read minds, we cannot say who — if anybody — “wants to shut down the government.” But we do know who had the option to keep the government running and chose not to. The money voted by the House of Representatives covered everything that the government does, except for ObamaCare.
 
The Senate chose not to vote to authorize that money to be spent, because it did not include money for ObamaCare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that he wants a “clean” bill from the House of Representatives, and some in the media keep repeating the word “clean” like a mantra. But what is unclean about not giving Harry Reid everything he wants?
 
If Senator Reid and President Obama refuse to accept the money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run ObamaCare, that is their right. But that is also their responsibility.
 
You cannot blame other people for not giving you everything you want. And it is a fraud to blame them when you refuse to use the money they did vote, even when it is ample to pay for everything else in the government.
 
When Barack Obama keeps claiming that it is some new outrage for those who control the money to try to change government policy by granting or withholding money, that is simply a bald-faced lie. You can check the history of other examples of “legislation by appropriation” as it used to be called.
 
Whether legislation by appropriation is a good idea or a bad idea is a matter of opinion. But whether it is both legal and not unprecedented is a matter of fact.
 
Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of default. Tax money keeps coming into the Treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt.
 
Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt.
 
None of this is rocket science. But unless the Republicans get their side of the story out — and articulation has never been their strong suit — the lies will win. More important, the whole country will lose.
 
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |

10
A government shutdown’s turned out to be a peculiar sort of beast.
 
First, before a shutdown, every politician – in both parties – declares the government shutting will be terrible. Awful. Armageddon. And every politician swears they want the government to stay open.
 
Then the government shuts down.
 
Next one group of politicians proposes to reopen the government one agency at a time – and passes bills to fund half a dozen agencies. The other group of politicians declares it wants every one of those agencies open too.
 
Then refuses to vote to open even one of them.
 
Next both groups of politicians agree to pay every furloughed government employee every penny of their back pay when the shutdown ends – which turns furloughs into vacations with pay but doesn’t open a single government office and costs millions.
 
Now, how on earth, you might wonder, would a Democrat be all for opening government – but then vote against opening half a dozen parts of government?
 
Or how on earth can a Republican vote for furloughing people and paying them not to work – instead of simply paying them to go on working?
 
It turns out the President, the Senate, and the House work like a three way firing squad. Not one of them can spend a penny the other two don’t agree to. Now, fortunately for the elderly, long ago another Congress agreed to pay Social Security benefits. But, legally and constitutionally, the President and the Senate can’t fund their heart’s desire (Obamacare) as long as the House says, No Way.
 
Which leaves the Democrats with three choices: Bribery. A swap. Or coercion.
 
The President ruled out a swap declaring, I won’t negotiate. Period.
 
Bribery’s out because any Republican Congressmen taking a bribe (say an earmark) to pass Obamacare wouldn’t have to worry about winning the General Election – because he’d never make it out of the primary.
 
Which leaves coercion and, say what you want about Obama, you have to admit for all his suaveness and soft-spoken words the President’s a warrior of the first order. He didn’t come from behind and whip Mitt Romney by being Caspar Milquetoast. Plus, he’s endowed with a true believer’s faith. And a riverboat gambler’s nerve.
 
So, when the Republican House offered him everything he wanted except Obamacare, he figured, To heck with it – I’ll double down and bet the pot to win it all.
 
And, just like in a poker game, that left the Republicans with two choices: Fold their cards or take a big gamble too.
 
The prospect of calling Obama (and betting  the house) made the Pachyderms  plenty nervous – a lot of them figured the safe move was time to walk away from the table. In the end they made their bet but, right away, so as not to offend Independent voters, they immediately set about reopening as much of the government as they could – everything from national monuments to cancer research.
 
That made life complex for President Obama and the Democrats. Who wanted voters mad at Republicans. To do that, the shutdown had to hurt. So reopening parts of government didn’t fit into their plans. So they refused to even fund cancer research.
 
So how does all this end? Does Obama blink? Or the Republicans?
 
Here the President has one big advantage. He’s never going to run for office again. He’s done. But in two years a lot of Republican Congressmen are going to be up for reelection.  And more than a few of them have a nervous eye peeled toward next November.
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |

07
Houston, we have a problem.
 
Last weekend, in Asheville, Roy Cooper threw down the gauntlet. He’s running for Governor.
 
This isn’t quite a tsunami or earthquake. But Democrats now have a bona-fide candidate (with name identification and money) standing eyeball to eyeball with Governor McCrory – pouring gas on the fire of the Democrats' campaign to 'Stop the Nasty Republicans.'
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

04
Talk about strange things happening: Up in Washington two tribes of politicians have been pummeling each other night and day over who deserve the blame for shutting down the government.
 
Then, unexpectedly, one tribe changed directions.
 
First the House Republicans voted to fund national parks and monuments, then they voted to fund part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, then operations for the District of Columbia, then cancer research at the National Institute of Health.
 
Which all sounded reasonable.  
 
If the Montagues and Capulets in Washington couldn’t agree on funding the whole federal government – why not fund the parts they do agree on?
 
There was a brief glimmer of hope until the Chief of the Senate Democratic tribe declared, That’s a wacky idea.
 
Who’d have expected it?
 
One tribe says, ‘Let’s fund the Department of Veterans Affairs and cancer research – we all agree that’s good work – and the other tribe says, No way – that’s a crazy idea.
 
It’s sort of leaves you scratching your head.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |

02
I opened the newspaper yesterday morning and stared at a picture of a lonely fellow standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, putting up a sign that said: Closed.
 
The headline above the picture said: “Government starts shutting down” – and the story explained Social Security checks will be late, parks shuttered, and 800,000 workers furloughed.
 
But, then, on the same page, another headline announced: “Raleigh gets another $15 million” – from Washington to build its new train station.
 
The government’s closing the Lincoln Memorial and giving Raleigh $15 million?
 
Something’s not quite right here.
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |

01
The politicians, when you get down to the short rows, are the varmints who decided to hang  a ‘Not Open for Business’ sign on the federal government – but, in an odd way, it wasn’t the politicians who were pouring gas on the fire.
 
In the age of the twenty-four hour news cycle and roaring commentators from dawn to dusk the government shutdown turned out to be the perfect news story. The blondes on Fox News were having the time of their lives.
 
Last night was like watching the cable news version of the countdown to Armageddon with anchormen roaring the end of the world was coming in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 hour, and tersely reporting each new hope, explaining breathlessly, The House just met, the House just passed a bill, the Senate killed the bill, Obama said, Boehner said, Harry Reid said….on and on it went until midnight when Armageddon happened and I went to bed.
 
I woke this morning expecting to turn on the TV and hear: Horrible carnage. Aftermath of the end of the world.
 
Of course, none of the news channel pyrotechnics absolves the politicians; whether you believe the shutdown’s justified or pure folly, it’s proof our politics is broken beyond any hope of quick healing. But the twenty-four hour cable news cycle may not be the best thing that ever happened either.


 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

Page 10 of 151First   Previous   5  6  7  8  9  [10]  11  12  13  14  Next   Last   
Copyright (c) Talking About Politics   :  DNN Hosting  :  Terms Of Use  :  Privacy Statement