Move on to bigger battles

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 26, 2019

Editor’s note: The following are two excerpts posted on politicsnc.com by the site’s publisher and former political consultant Thomas Mills.

This week, Democratic House Minority Leader Darren Jackson called out the GOP leadership for lying about the circumstances of the budget veto override vote last week.

He says a look at security footage shows Republicans calm and clearly understanding what was happening, contrasting Speaker Tim Moore’s assertion that the vote was unplanned and called hastily. Jackson’s probably right. Still, he should let it go.

The GOP has become a party where truth is relative and winning is a core value. Rules are for suckers and nobody’s been able to hold them accountable because of the partisan nature of our politics and the gerrymandered districts that protect them. It’s a sorry state of affairs, but I don’t think Jackson’s complaint has any long term strategic value.

Democrats like Jackson feel like they’re at a breaking point. Trump lies, destroys norms, breaks laws and Republicans in Congress have made clear they will never hold him accountable for anything. The GOP in North Carolina has long history of distorting facts to move their agenda along. They’ve seen few consequences for their actions. For people like Jackson, it’s especially frustrating when their deception leads to a big win like the budget veto override vote.

That said, there won’t be any consequences this time, either. The veto override is such insider ball that most North Carolinians don’t even know it happened. Republicans don’t have any compelling reason to change their story or any sense of shame.

There are bigger battles to fight. Getting some form of redistricting reform will have greater long-term consequences. Fairer maps will force some accountability. Trying to make GOP legislators admit they lied won’t.

North Carolina is on the verge of a major political breakthrough. The state House is poised to pass a Medicaid expansion bill. Republicans call the bill NC Health Care for Working Families and deny that it’s real Medicaid expansion. If they can pass it, let them keep telling themselves that.

Democrats don’t like it because it has work requirements and premiums. As it’s written now, recipients would pay 2% of the annual income in monthly installments. Democrats claim the requirements would cause additional red tape and expense while discouraging people from taking advantage of the program. They should suck it up and support the bill.

While aspects of the bill may be hard to swallow for Democrats, they need to look at the big picture. This bill is really what compromise looks like. It will expand access to care to a lot of people who need it, but will also throw a bone to the people who blame poor people for their poverty. It’s clearly better than nothing.

From a political angle, it gives wins to both Democrats and Republicans. Gov. Roy Cooper, whose message will drive the legislative races in 2020, can claim that he fulfilled a major campaign promise and give Democrats something to cheer about. Republicans can claim they’ve offered health care to far more North Carolinians and worked to save rural hospitals without giving in to the deadbeats.

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