Although U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers campaigned in the fall as an ardent opponent of the new health care law recently passed by Congress, she was not reticent about taking advantage of the health plan offered to members of Congress.
Appearing on a WPTF radio call-in show Monday, Ellmers was asked by a caller whether she intended to participate in "that luxury plan" offered to members of Congress.
Ellmers responded that she signed up for a Blue Cross, Blue Shield federal employees plan, one of the options offered to members of Congress.
"Unfortunately, being here in Washington is very expensive," Ellmers said. "Yes, we do have a salary, and we do have benefits. It costs a lot of money to be here. I've signed on to the private plan, just like so many in America are on. "The benefit is available to me. People need to understand out there, it costs a lot of money to be here in Congress."
Ellmers, a nurse who is married to a physician, makes a congressional salary of $174,000 per year.
Insurance chief races to beat donation deadline
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin is asking political action committees to donate to his 2012 re-election campaign before the legislature convenes Wednesday to get around contribution restrictions.
In an e-mail solicitation, Goodwin, a Democrat, notes that PACs can't contribute to state officials once the legislative session begins.
He also points out that under the public-financing law that covers the insurance commissioner's office, Goodwin can't accept PAC contributions between July 31 and the 2012 elections.
Goodwin urges PACs to contribute the $4,000 legal limit to his re-election committee.
"As insurance commissioner," Goodwin writes, "I have an impact on billions of dollars in the commercial marketplace, millions of jobs, and millions of families. And, the impact of the insurance commissioner's decisions and service is not just on insurance, insurance companies, brokers and agents. This office also regulates construction and building code, public safety, collection agencies, banks and the tobacco industry (to a limited degree), premium finance companies, bail bondsmen, etc. Plus, the office has an indirect impact on economic development, health care, medical providers, pharmaceuticals, medical and hospital facilities, etc."
Poll indicates support for 1-cent sales tax
North Carolinians strongly support raising revenue to keep state services operating, according to a new poll commissioned by a coalition of groups opposed to deep cuts in public services.
The survey, conducted for Together NC, found that 71 percent of those polled favored continuing the temporary 1-cent sales tax imposed by the legislature in 2009 that "helped keep teachers in the classroom."
The leadership of the new Republican-controlled legislature has said they are committed to letting the tax expire.
The survey found that 65 percent favored broadening the sales tax to include services such as limousine services, landscaping or accounting services if it lowered the overall sales tax rate.
The poll also found that 79 percent favored closing tax loopholes, credits and exemptions before making cuts in state services.
In addition, 72 percent favored adding another income tax bracket for those making $250,000 or more per year.
The survey of 466 North Carolina voters was conducted Jan. 14-16 by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning Raleigh polling firm.
The spin: "People across our state know that investing in critical services like education is the best way to save jobs and boost the economy," said Rob Thompson, one of the Together NC coalition coordinators. "The poll shows North Carolinians strongly support raising revenue to fund these essential programs."
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