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Political notebook: Fitzsimon doles out Republican criticism during Rowan Democrats’ meeting

North Carolina has shifted from a beacon of progress in the South to a state that’s careening backwards, NC Policy Watch Executive Director Chris Fitzsimon said during the Rowan County Democratic Party meeting on Thursday.

Fitzsimon was the scheduled speaker for Rowan Democrats’ October meeting. He spoke primarily about measures passed during the General Assembly’s 2015 session before taking questions from the large group of people who attended. He discussed education, taxes and voting rights. Fitzsimon dished out harsh criticism of the state’s Republican-led government on every topic.

One particularly passionate portion of his talk focused on Medicaid. He briefly gave an overview of Medicaid reform passed during the session. State legislators during the 2015 session passed a bill creating two tiers of insurers. One tier divides North Carolina into several regions where provider-led entities, such as non-profits, are responsible for health care. The second allows private companies to provide services to patients.

“Health care for the most vulnerable people in North Carolina will be controlled by out-of-state, for-profit corporations, who will submit low bids, get all of the business and then they’ll raise the price and the state won’t have anything they can do about it,” Fitzsimon said. “It’s happened in state after state.”

Fitzsimon also questioned why legislators and Gov. Pat McCrory hadn’t yet chosen to expand the government program.

“It’s something that creates jobs, helps communities and their hospitals and provides health care for people, with the federal government picking up 90 percent of the tab,” he said. “It’s not some crazy idea … By the end of next year, we could be up to 33 or 34 states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.”

Citing a failure to expand Medicaid, Fitzsimon said the General Assembly hates President Barrack Obama more than helping North Carolinians.

“Expanding Medicaid would be one of the biggest job creators that I can think of,” he said. “Imagine the ribbons Governor McCrory would cut if he could create 23,000 jobs. By the way, I still think he is the mayor of North Carolina and not the Governor of North Carolina.”

NC GOP takes issue with News and Observer Editorial

Raleigh’s News and Observer recently published an editorial endorsing Attorney General Roy Cooper for Governor, and North Carolina’s Republican Party wasn’t too excited about the paper’s opinion.

In an emailed news release, the party said it delivered in-kind campaign contribution forms to the paper because of the endorsement. The forms are used to disclose services provided to campaigns with monetary value.

“Remarkably, the paper’s endorsement came before Cooper answered a single question about his 30-year record in Raleigh or laid out any of his plans for North Carolina,” the news release stated.

NC GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said the paper must have endorsed Cooper because it’s donating its services to Cooper’s campaign.

“As a former journalist, I have never heard of a paper endorsing a candidate before they even answer a single question,” Woodhouse said.

Burr, Hudson, Tillis slam Obama veto

President Barack Obama used his veto power for the fifth time this week when he rejected a defense authorization bill. In reaction to the veto, North Carolina’s senators and a U.S. House member representing Rowan said Obama was endangering the country’s security.

In a veto message, Obama said, among other things, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016 would constrain the ability of the Defense Department to conduct multi-year defense planning and impede the closure of Guantanamo Bay. Obama said the bill fails to authorize funding national defense in a fiscally responsible manner.

In a joint statement, U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., said the veto “represents a stunning rejection of the longstanding tradition of casting partisan politics aside to prioritize and protect the brave men and women in uniform who risk their lives for us every single day.”

The senate pair also pointed out the vetoed bill also included an amendment to maintain a C-130 presence at Fort Bragg, in Cumberland County.

U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8, called Obama’s veto political posturing.

“With this irresponsible veto, our Commander-in-Chief is sacrificing our national security and putting our servicemen and women at risk to push his own big-spending agenda,” Hudson said. “The fact that the president is willing to hamstring our military as it faces growing threats like ISIS and al Qaeda unless he can waste more of our tax dollars on things like the EPA is absurd.”

U.S. Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-5, and Alma Adams, D-12, did not release statements following the veto.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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