Republicans took control of Congress in Tuesday’s midterm elections, a result that transforms the political dynamic in Washington and gives the GOP new power over President Barack Obama ’s final two years in the White House.
Republicans won Senate seats from West Virginia to Colorado and beyond to assemble a majority of at least 52 seats, expanded their margin in the House—possibly to levels not seen in decades—and won key governor races.
The sweep left Democrats without a majority in either chamber for the first time since 2006.
“It’s time to go in a new direction,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) who is in line to become Majority Leader, after he defeated his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, by a decisive margin. “We can have real change in Washington, and that’s just what I intend to deliver.”
A slow economic recovery and a series of jolting events, including an Ebola outbreak and the rise of Islamic State in the Middle East, left many voters anxious and looking for change.
The 2014 midterm elections were good to Republicans. WSJ’s Jerry Seib spoke to Jim Kessler of Third Way about what went wrong for the Democrats. Photo: Getty
Tuesday’s balloting featured 14 competitive gubernatorial races. Republicans rolled up victories in most top-tier governors’ races, with Govs. Rick Scott of Florida, Rick Snyder of Michigan and Scott Walker of Wisconsin all notching wins. Republican Bruce Rauner defeated Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in Illinois However in Pennsylvania, Democrat Tom Wolf defeated GOP Gov. Tom Corbett.
Republicans scored some unlikely wins in gubernatorial races, including in Massachusetts and Maryland, two Eastern states with large populations of Democratic votes. In Maine, the state’s Republican governor was reelected, and in Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback rode the Republican wave to victory in an election in which he looked unsteady at times.
Were Tuesday’s Senate results a Republican wave or a referendum against President Obama? University of Chicago’s Steve Edwards and WSJ’s Simon Constable discuss. Photo: AP
Vermont’s governor’s race seems poised to produce an unusual outcome: since no candidate is likely to win a majority of the vote, the state’s legislature will be given the responsibility of picking among the two leading candidates.
By the end of the fall campaign, Democrats were struggling in swing states that were touted as building blocks of the party’s ascendancy, including Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire. Republicans’ ability to compete in those states bodes well for their prospects in the 2016 presidential race and suggests a possible reshaping of the national political map.
Not since 1980 has the GOP beaten more than two incumbent Senators. On Tuesday, they knocked off at least three.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Republican challenger Thom Tillis narrowly defeated Democrat Kay Hagan in the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina.
Tillis had 48.9% and Hagan had 47% of the vote with 97% of the state’s precincts reporting, according to the state Board of Elections.
The Associated Press called the race for Tillis.
Tillis credited his supporters for the win in a speech in Charlotte broadcast by WRAL-TV. He told the crowd he won despite unprecedented spending against him.
“You all did it,” he said. “This victory is not my victory. his victory is our victory. This is a seat I am going to take to Washington and make sure I never forget where I came from.”
North Carolina Progressives Demand Billions In Higher Taxes, 80 Percent Corporate Tax
by Patrick Gleason
Ever since progressive activists began weekly protests outside of the North Carolina capitol last year, the Tar Heel State has been the nation’s political tinderbox. Referred to by the media as the Moral Monday protests (a dubious term, as it implies that those who disagree on matters of policy are immoral), the weekly gathering has continued throughout the 2014 session of the North Carolina legislature, which began last month and is slated to adjourn at the end of June. Aside from general unhappiness with conservative reforms enacted by North Carolina Republicans, who took control of the legislature for the first time in over a century in 2010, it’s been difficult discerning what exactly it is that the left-of-center protestors want.
Prior to the start of session, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger sought to get to the bottom of what it is that the Moral Monday protestors want and how much it would cost. Sen. Berger, who was named to the Washington Post’s list of emerging stars outside the Beltway last year, sent a letter to Reverend William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP and ringleader of the Moral Monday protests, asking for a list of specific policy changes that they want. Rev. Barber responded with a list of demands, which entails raising taxes, permitting collective bargaining for all government workers, expanding Medicaid, state subsidized child care for all, and state-provided health insurance for all. Sen. Berger then sent Rev. Barber’s agenda to the North Carolina General Assembly’s non-partisan fiscal staff to tabulate the cost.
North Carolina State Legislative Office Building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The non-partisan fiscal staff found that the Moral Monday agenda, if implemented, would require state lawmakers to raise taxes by $7 billion. For some context, such a tax hike would increase the North Carolina general fund by a whopping 35 percent. The Moral Monday plan would also necessitate a nearly ten-fold increase in the state corporate income tax, taking the rate from 6 to over 50 percent. Combined with the federal corporate income tax, the highest in the world, if Rev. Barber and crew had their druthers, companies would face a combined corporate tax rate of over 80 percent on profits earned in North Carolina. The likely result of such an onerous tax would be a mass evacuation of companies from Research Triangle Park, Charlotte, and elsewhere in the state.
The Raleigh-based Civitas Institute estimates the Moral Monday agenda would require an additional $10 billion a year in higher tax revenue, which amounts to an unheard of 50 percent increase in the state general fund. While an amendment has been drafted to fund Moral Monday’s expensive agenda, don’t expect to see Democratic legislators in North Carolina champion and introduce it, even the most liberal. Just as President Obama’s budgets have garnered a grand total of zero votes in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate, legislative Democrats in North Carolina are showing a similar aversion to putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to funding a progressive budget.
As Sen. Berger noted in his letter to Rev. Barber, when Republicans took control of the legislature four years ago, the state had the highest personal and corporate income tax rates in the southeast, along with an 11.2 percent unemployment rate, the fourth highest in the nation. Thanks in large part to the reforms enacted since then – such as regulatory reform, unemployment insurance reform, and the historic 2013 tax reform act that will allow North Carolinians to keep more of their hard-earned income – North Carolina has witnessed a tremendous economic comeback. With the addition of more than 200,000 jobs since 2011, North Carolina’s unemployment rate is below the national average for the first time since 2006. In fact, since the Moral Monday protests began in April of 2013, there has been a 39 percent reduction in North Carolina’s unemployment rate, dropping from 8.9 to 6.3 percent.
The Moral Monday crowd may have been too busy getting worked up to notice, but North Carolina is experiencing an impressive economic recovery under Republican leadership, even while coping with anti-growth policies coming out of the White House. Furthermore, it’s now clear that the progressive North Carolina protestors’ agenda, once the actual costs are advertised, won’t find much support even from Democratic legislators, let alone the public.
Patrick Gleason is Director of State Affairs at Americans for Tax Reform. Follow Patrick on Twitter @PatrickMGleason
Election Reforms Reveal Vote Fraud
Posted on April 3, 2014 by Susan Myrick in Issues
A stunning report by the State Board of Elections has revealed clear voter fraud in the 2012 election – evidently in tens of thousands of instances.
The North Carolina State Board of Elections reported Wednesday to the Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee on the effects of the state’s new voter reforms. The most disturbing statistics came from comparing voter registration in North Carolina to those of selected states.
The results were brought to light as a result of North Carolina’s joining the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, a consortium of 28 states. The SBOE had been directed by the new elections reform legislation (VIVA, Voter Information Verification Act) to join an interstate cross-checking program and to improve the accuracy of voter registration lists. The SBOE joined the program, and as a result it was determined that more than 35,000 North Carolina voters who voted in the 2012 General Election were identified as matching, by name and date of birth, a voter in another state who voted in the same election. This revelation deserves to be underlined: Tens of thousands of voters
RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican leaders will propose Monday a higher minimum salary for North Carolina’s least experienced public school teachers as part of a long-awaited proposal designed to improve morale and retention.
The plan, detailed in a document obtained by The Associated Press, would in part ensure all public school teachers make a base salary of at least $33,000 during the 2014-15 school year and at least $35,000 the following year.
McCrory, Senate leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest planned to make “a major education policy announcement” Monday morning at Ragsdale High School in Guilford County, where McCrory attended in the 1970s. McCrory’s office declined to provide additional details, but legislators have said a pay announcement would come this week.
Not counting local supplements, North Carolina’s public school teachers with zero to five years of experience currently make a base salary of $30,800. Teachers have had one experience-based salary increase since the 2008-09 school year, and that increase was 1.2 percent in 2012. Teachers with six and seven years of experience currently earn a base salary of less than $33,000. At least 24,000 teachers would benefit from the increase, according to the document explaining the pay proposal.
The new salary floors are estimated to cost roughly $200 million over the two years, the document said. The General Assembly would have to approve any plan before it goes to McCrory’s desk, but a scene of Republican unity Monday could signal an increase that will almost assuredly occur during this election year.
The salary proposal would equate to a 7.1 percent increase for the next school year for those with bachelor’s degrees currently at the bottom of the teacher pay schedule. Going from $33,000 to $35,000 would be another 6 percent increase.
By Becki Gray
Jan. 16th, 2014
RALEIGH — If 2013 was the year of reform, 2014 promises to be the year of recovery.
Tax reform goes into effect in 2014, lowering tax rates for every individual and corporation in the state. Regular review and routine repeal of burdensome regulations will begin to loosen government’s grip on businesses, signaling that North Carolina is again open for business and welcomes entrepreneurs and investors.
Infrastructure investments and long-term responsible fiscal planning send a strong signal that we are back in the game. Education reforms will ensure those earning high school diplomas have market-ready skills; this will encourage job creators to choose North Carolina.
It’s early, of course, but we are seeing signs that North Carolina is coming out of the recession and may even rebound faster than any state in the country as our counterparts and competitors struggle to retain fiscal stability after five years of an oppressive downturn.
For the first time in five years, North Carolina is expecting an economic recovery in 2014. Consumer confidence is the highest in six years. Housing prices are increasing at a steady rate for the first time in five years. After many dark days, things are looking brighter.
According to a September 2013 UNC-Charlotte economic forecast, North Carolina’s Gross State Product is expected to grow by 3.3 percent over the 2013 level, which was 2.1 percentage points higher than 2012. All major economic sectors are expected to grow, with agriculture surging by 16.5 percent. For the first time, total GSP is expected to exceed $500 billion.
After months with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, North Carolina’s unemployment rate is now 7.4 percent — the lowest since December 2008. We added 56,800 jobs from November 2012 through November 2013. From June 2011 — during the first fiscal year of Republican control of the General Assembly — to November 2013, North Carolina has added 171,000 jobs, a growth rate of 4.4 percent, and faster than the national rate of 4.0 percent. North Carolina’s underemployment rate is dropping, too, down to 14.7 percent from a previous-year high of 17 percent.
The General Assembly’s October 2013 fiscal research quarterly revenue report found total General Fund revenue was up by 5.7 percent, with total tax revenue up 5.5 percent. General Fund revenue is about $80 million higher than expected. And we’re hearing rumors that the “surplus” may grow as the year progresses, alleviating the budget crunch of the last few years.
N.C. State University economist Mike Walden predicts even higher job growth in North Carolina in 2014 — more than 100,000 new jobs and a drop in the unemployment rate to 6.8 percent. He credits four factors for North Carolina’s recovery — an increase in construction, more college graduates, a growing number of retirees, and a renewed strength in manufacturing.
As the national economy improves, demand for products and output increases. As demand rises, North Carolina is poised to take advantage of new opportunities. North Carolina is the fourth-largest manufacturing state in the country and is the Southeastern leader in manufacturing employment.
North Carolina’s manufacturing sector is transitioning from reliance on tobacco and furniture production to becoming a top competitor in aerospace, aviation, automotive, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, information technology, and software. Manufacturing comprises about 20 percent of North Carolina’s GSP and is the largest source of exports from the state. Efficiencies, automation, and cost-competitiveness have transformed the manufacturing industry, bringing new jobs and opportunities.
Public policy decisions are critical to the success and nurturing of any industry. Policies enacted in 2013 put North Carolina in the position to be a national leader in 2014.
North Carolina’s economy already is showing improvement. Large economies are complicated and sensitive to all kinds of influences. Decisions made at the federal level (sequestration, Obamacare) and international events (Middle East unrest, financial concerns in Europe) have an impact in North Carolina. But sound policy decisions by the General Assembly and the McCrory administration are helping to turn the state in the right direction.
During the 2012 election cycle, we were promised changes that would get people back to work and make them less dependent on government. We saw reforms enacted in 2013 that laid the groundwork to make good on those promises.
It’s been tough. It’s taken bold thinking, commitment, and a strong backbone to implement changes — making our tax system fair, loosening the grip of government regulations, ending decades of political patronage in transportation projects, and revamping a failing education system.
We’re on the right track, and in 2014 North Carolina should begin to enjoy the positive results of keeping those promises.