Morning Memo: Biden fundraiser puts Hagan standing with Obama administration

Posted by John Frank on November 15, 2013 

Vice President Joe Biden will visit Chapel Hill on Friday to help Democrat Kay Hagan raise money for her 2014 re-election bid but the timing isn’t great.

The event puts Hagan standing next to the Obama administration as both face heat for the federal health care law in which they pledged to let people keep their insurance plans if they wanted. The law meant 473,000 North Carolinians lost their existing plans, according to the state Department of Insurance, because the coverage didn’t meet the tougher standards established in the Afffordable Care Act.

With the timing, Hagan can’t catch a break. The original Oct. 21 fundraiser was canceled because it came right after the government shutdown ended. And Republicans are pouncing on this new date, even as Hagan pushes back against the White House on the health care law. “It’s no surprise the Obama administration is proudly endorsing Kay Hagan because she’s been such a reliable vote for their agenda,” said Daniel Keylin, a state GOP spokesman. “The only question remaining is when will Kay Hagan invite President Obama to North Carolina to campaign for her?”

The event is scheduled for the Carolina Club inside the alumni center on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill. The top ticket costs $10,000 and includes a photo and special host reception. The lowest priced ticket is $500 for the reception. The money will go to Hagan’s joint fundraising committee with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has higher donation limits than her campaign committee.

Biden is also appearing at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Charlotte before the Chapel Hill event.

***More on the U.S. Senate race and the fallout from President Obama’s announcement on the health care law below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a state historical marker dedication in Charlotte at 2 p.m. Friday. At 9 a.m., the state community colleges board meets in Raleigh. And the commerce department continues its “listening tour” in Charlotte at a 1:30 p.m. event.

MORE ON HAGAN – GOP SAYS SHE MADE “KEEP IT” PROMISE 22 TIMES: The N.C. Republican Party put together a video that it suggests is Kay Hagan’s greatest hits – a video showing the handful of times she said Americans would keep their health insurance if they liked it. See it here. The other instances appeared in speeches, press releases, interviews, op-eds and on her official Senate website, the party’s researchers found. See the full list here.

The Big Story – PRESIDENT CHANGES COURSE ON HEALTH CARE COVERAGE: Facing growing outrage from Americans, President Barack Obama reversed course Thursday and offered to let insurance companies sell existing plans even if they don’t meet the minimum standards set by his new problem-fraught health care law.

But Obama’s much-delayed attempt to make good on his promise that Americans could keep their insurance plans if they liked them faces strong opposition from insurance companies, which warn that rates might spike, and it risks undermining the basic premise of his law, which requires quality, affordable insurance. “We fumbled the rollout on this health care law,” a contrite Obama said in an hourlong news conference Thursday at the White House. “We should have done a better job getting that right on day one – not on day 28 or on day 40.” Read more here.

WHAT IT MEANS IN NORTH CAROLINA: President Barack Obama’s pledge to allow canceled health insurance policies next year is in limbo in North Carolina, as insurers and state regulators scramble to figure out if health plans for 2014 can be priced at levels that insurance companies can live with.

It could take several days for the N.C. Department of Insurance and insurance companies to agree if thousands of lapsed polices can be offered next year at prices acceptable to regulators and insurance companies. ...

George Schwab of Charlotte said he’d like to keep his current policy as long as he needs it. “I want it back not just for a year, not just until after the election,” he said. “He promised everybody unequivocally they could stick with their policy.” Read more here.

ELLMERS PLAYS KEY ROLE AS GOP DRAFTS ITS OWN HEALTH PLAN: The troubled start of the Affordable Care Act is giving Republican critics in Congress a new game plan. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., says it’s no longer all about votes to repeal, but about taking advantage of the current turmoil to demand delays and fixes and to offer an alternative.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted more than 40 times to repeal Obamacare, with Ellmers on board each time. But those bills went nowhere in the Senate. Republican demands to defund the law triggered the 16-day government shutdown. But since the shaky beginning of the online insurance website, “We’re in a different position,” Ellmers said. “We have this factual, verifiable data that’s showing that those who had a health care plan that they liked can’t keep it,” she said in an interview this week about what’s ahead for the opposition to President Barack Obama’s signature domestic law. Read more here.

DAVID PRICE ON THE PRESIDENT’S MOVE: From a statement: “President Obama has made clear his priority is to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care. Today’s administrative change should help smooth the transition to better coverage for individuals buying insurance in the individual and small group markets, preserve the benefits of the ACA for millions of people who are now able to buy quality health coverage for the first time, and retain the ACA’s consumer protections for Americans who buy insurance through their employer. While I remain concerned by difficulties implementing the Affordable Care Act, what we will not do is use these challenges as an excuse to repeal the law, which House Republican leaders called for yet again today.”

RICHARD BURR ON THE PRESIDENT’S MOVE: From a statement: “President Obama’s attempt at political damage control today did absolutely nothing to provide relief for the damage already inflicted on individuals who already had health care coverage and the entire health care industry as a result of the Affordable Care Act. If anything, the president only dug himself further into a hole by putting forth an unworkable proposal that will amount to nothing more than another broken promise.

CHURCHES ADDED TO NAACP’S VOTER ID LAWSUIT: Six churches from across North Carolina have added their names to an NAACP lawsuit challenging new state elections law.

In an amended complaint filed in federal court this week, the historically African-American churches in Merry Hill, Brevard, Durham, Hickory and Chapel Hill complained that cuts to the number of days for early voting and the ban on same-day registration and voting would have a negative impact on them.

The churches contended they would have to divert money for food banks, computer classes and other social-service programs to help get members who need assistance to the polls and proper locations for IDs and supporting documentation. Read more here.

WHAT VIRGINIA MEANS FOR NORTH CAROLINA IN 2014: John Davis’s latest political report includes an interesting look at what lessons can be drawn from the recent Virginia governor’s race and what it means for North Carolina next year. An excerpt: “Every four years, Virginia election results have great predictive value for North Carolina’s next elections. ... You can point to many reasons why Cuccinelli lost the governor’s race, like being outspent because the Republican establishment would not finance his campaign, like the fact that he turned off women voters with his hard right social conservatism, or like the fact that McAuliffe’s campaign and a high tech turnout operation that reversed the 2009 trends among blacks and young voters to more favorable numbers. But ultimately it all comes down to guilt by association with those responsible for the government shutdown within weeks of Election Day, the Tea Party.

“If the Tea Party recruits candidates like Ken Cuccinelli in North Carolina in 2014, those who believe that it is more important to ‘Stick to Positions’ than ‘Compromise’ at a time in our nation’s history when solutions to great problems are desperately need, then they will suffer the same fate. They will drive away financial support, they will drive away women, young people and independent voters, they will weaken the Republican brand and the GOP’s chances of winning races for Congress, the legislature and the appellate courts in North Carolina.”

A TASTE OF WHAT’S TO COME IN 2014: The Karl Rove-affiliated American Crossroads political committee raised $325 million in the 2012 cycle, including an anonymous check for $22.5 million. The group is already targeting Kay Hagan in North Carolina for the 2014 cycle. Read more here.

GOP TO HOLD U.S. SENATE STRAW POLL SATURDAY: The N.C. Republican Party is hosting its Hall of Fame dinner Saturday in Cary. It will include a straw poll for the party’s U.S. Senate primary. Though far from scientific, the poll is an interesting look at how the party’s top insiders view the race, or at least the least whether the campaigns can organize an effort to get supporters to stuff the ballot box. The big question: How will House Speaker Thom Tillis fare?

TILLIS ASKS HAGAN TO DO HIS POLITICAL HOMEWORK FOR HIM: Appearing on an eastern North Carolina radio program Thursday morning, Republican Thom Tillis asked 2014 rival Kay Hagan to release the audio of her recent press call on the federal health care law – the one in which the Washington Post described her hesitation and stumbling on key questions. Tillis’ campaign manager later sent an email to political reporters saying “If she doesn’t, then we hope the media will do so, and we’ll continue to make this request over the next several days.”

The reason Tillis wants it is obvious – a spliced clip from the interview is perfect fodder for a radio or TV ad attacking Hagan. But her opponent begging her to release it, and do his political homework for him, well that’s a little unusual. RELATED: The News & Record’s Travis Fain on what the call was like. Read here.

McCRORY SAYS TEACHERS RAISES SHOULD COME EARLIER: AP – Gov. Pat McCrory said Thursday his administration is looking at many options to increase pay for public school teachers, including offering raises earlier in an educator’s career as an incentive to stay in the profession.

The governor said he’s also considering greater emphasis on performance-based pay and higher salaries for teachers in high-demand fields such as math and science. Traditional across-the-board pay increases also are possible, he said. “Several options are on the plate,” he said outside the Executive Mansion before lunch with the North Carolina Business Committee for Education, a group of education-minded business leaders. Read more here.

RELATED: Teachers and principals in New Hanover County schools are being told they cannot wear “Red for Ed” T-shirts as a protest against actions earlier this year by the North Carolina General Assembly. Read more here.

McCRORY APPOINTMENT GETS MORE SCRUTINY: Buddy Collins’ post on the governor’s school safety task force is riling critics because of his anti-LGBT stances. Read more here.

HALIFAX SCORES CONCERN JUDGE: A Superior Court hearing Thursday on the quality of education in North Carolina focused on the continuing struggles of low-performing schools, with special attention on Halifax County.

In 2009, Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ordered an expansive state intervention in Halifax, a rural, low-wealth county near the Virginia border where failure rates on state tests were high. Manning is charged with monitoring state progress in meeting the constitutional mandate to offer students a sound basic education and holds a public status review each year.

He did not issue a ruling Thursday but expressed disappointment with test results in Halifax, where reading scores remain low. “It’s from the bottom to the middle bottom,” Manning said. “These children are not reading at grade level.” Read more here.

PROSPECTUS SHOWED PLANS TO DEVELOP FOREST: The company that is buying N.C. State University’s massive Hofmann Forest created a proposal that included developing a tract the size of Apex, something that would transform Onslow County by adding up to 2 million square feet of commercial space and more than 10,500 homes, including a golf community, near Jacksonville. Also, a swath of timber as large as Cary, Holly Springs and Morrisville combined would be cut down and replaced with farmland, according to a prospectus created by the buyer to lure investors for the $150 million deal.

A spokesman for the buyer, Hofmann Forest LLC, said the prospectus was created earlier this year, and that its plans for the 79,000-acre forest have changed. Read more here.

REPORT LOOKS AT GROUP THAT FUNDS LOCKE FOUNDATION: The John Locke Foundation received $25,000 from the State Policy Network, according to the Center for Media and Democracy. The advocacy group, which is critical of conservative organizations, said the money is part of a plan to boost conservative organizations around the country. Read more here.

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