Amazonia

It looks like Amazon’s affiliate program shut down in NC is part of a long running battle between local and state govs and the mail order giant. A lot of people I respect on this issue are saying ‘screw ’em.’
Here’s post from James at BlueNC that points to a Mark Binker column on the issue.

It burns

My eyes are still smarting from the headline and first paragraph of “conservative columnist” Deroy Murdock’s piece on health care in today’s Chapel Hill Herald.
Headline: Obamacare a poison prescription
(Obamacare? That sounds familiar.)
First paragraph: Betsy McCaughey reads massive health care bills so you don’t have to.
Yep, this Betsy McCaughey.

Meanwhile, in the 2010 Senate race

Cal Cunningham has a golden retriever named Davidson.
That, and other fun facts about the potential Senate candidate at his rather extensive Wikipedia page.
Roll Call says he’s thinking seriously about it.
Politico says Insider Advantage poll “finds Burr with just a 39 percent approval rating, with 31 percent of North Carolina voters disapproving of his performance.”
We’re in an era in which incumbency is no where near the advantage it once was. Looks like a wide open race.

MoveOn ads on Health Care

Word via TPM that MoveOn is going to take on Sen. Kay Hagan over the public option. I spoke with some folks in the Senator’s office yesterday and they explained that she could support a public option but is unwilling to commit to doing so until she sees what the plan looks like.
This will likely unfold over the next couple of weeks. Until then, expect a good deal of heat and, perhaps, some light.
Here’s an example of the ads MoveOn has been running in its health care campaign. This one aimed at influencing Sen. Mary Landrieu.

Thanks Guys, you’re awesome

Legislature proposes sales tax changes, manages to get everybody in the state who uses the Amazon program shut down.
WSJ:

In an email, Amazon reportedly told marketing affiliates in the state that the move was a direct result of North Carolina’s push to levy a tax on purchases made through Amazon affiliates.

PACing the legislature

This lovely reminder of how things work from Bob Hall and our friends at Democracy NC: (link to report)

SPECIAL-INTEREST PACS GUARD TAX LOOPHOLES

A new analysis shows that three dozen of North Carolina’s biggest political action committees (PACs) donated $7 million to state candidates and political parties in the last election — and now many of the groups are scrambling to make sure their interests, including tax breaks worth at least $1 billion a year, are not harmed in the new budget being hammered out in Raleigh.

The list of top PACs includes groups of developers, attorneys, university patrons, doctors, auto dealers, state employees, teachers, and beer wholesalers, as well as executives with blue-chip firms like Progress Energy, Wachovia, Blue Cross, AT&T, and Nationwide Insurance.

The analysis by the watchdog group Democracy North Carolina shows that legislative winners in 2008 received 94 percent of the $5.7 million the big PACs donated to all legislative candidates. The PACs also gave $770,000 to gubernatorial and other statewide candidates, as well as $590,000 to political party committees, much of which gets funneled into legislative races.

On September 16, 2008 the NC Realtors Association PAC sent 106 legislative candidates a total of $169,500 in donations. The same day, the NC Telephone Cooperative’s PAC sent $66,800 to 75 legislators. The next day, the Blue Cross PAC sent $42,200 to 45 candidates and two weeks later, Bank of America’s PAC gave 84 legislative candidates $118,250. And on and on it went.

But now the budget crisis is forcing elected leaders to make hard choices that affect big donors and pit one powerful lobby against another.

Teachers are holding rallies against cuts in the education budget, and the NC Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association is running full-page ads against proposals to increase the tax on its products. Both groups have PACs that gave more than $100,000 in direct contributions in 2008, plus at least another $100,000 through affiliated groups and individuals. . . .

Hagan’s challenge

Editorial from this week’s paper:

About 16 years ago, the state of Florida passed health care reforms that promised at least a beginning for universal coverage offering both public and private options. Pushing through those reforms, which were touted at the time as a possible model for national reform, was Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Chiles grew up in agri-industrial Polk County, Fla., and he knew that those who toiled in the phosphate mines, orange groves and processing plants were not getting a fair shake in many ways, and in particular in access to quality health care.

As governor, he also was dealing with an aging population, exploding demand and soaring costs. Sound familiar? Like other states that passed similar changes, Chiles’ efforts in Florida were seen as a precursor to much more sweeping reform at the national level.

Fast forward to now, and we’re still waiting for that new-and-improved health care system. Meanwhile, the one we’re forced to live with is eating us alive.

The sticking point at this moment in history is the so-called public option. This debate is not new. It has lasted generations. Harry Truman first proposed a public option on his watch, but it wasn’t until Lyndon Johnson was able to pass Medicaid and Medicare over howling objections of “socialized medicine” that the promise started to become a reality.

As you may have noticed lately, the debate is hardly over, and if he were still around it might be interesting to hear from Walkin’ Lawton his thoughts on how his niece, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, is handling the issue.

Reports from our nation’s capital contend that Hagan is one of two Democratic senators on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (that’s right – HELP) blocking consideration of a public option in the latest health reform legislation. Blocking, as in the HELP committee’s Democratic leadership is so worried that Hagan will vote against the public option in committee that they’re reluctant to raise it and see it voted down.

The public option, as reported elsewhere on this page and in other media sources, is a check on the spiraling costs of the industry and a lower-cost option to help many of those now uninsured into a plan. In a replay of the battles from a generation ago, the scare tactics being employed warn that the latest attempt at health care reform is a government takeover of the industry and that rationing and scary, sterile waiting rooms with bureaucrats and ominous, foreboding music await us all.

Those tactics worked in the past and have prevented meaningful reform. Now, with 47 million Americans uninsured, costs spiraling out of sight and a broken, unequal system, the same old pitch is being heard. And that message is greased with millions in PAC cash.
To Hagan’s credit, she is not among the senators positively dripping in health care PAC money and reluctant to vote against the industry’s wishes as a result. That’s cold comfort though, as she does appear willing to vote with that industry and against the interests of the people who sent her to Washington.

Last year on the campaign trail, Hagan was unequivocal about the need for comprehensive change in our health care system. That helped win her the vote of 2,249,311 North Carolinians.

She was victorious in part because her views on health care appeared to differ dramatically from those of Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Now that real change is on the table, that difference is becoming harder to see. And daylight is growing more visible between Hagan and that son of the Florida heartland with whom she fondly claims kinship.

CR coming down

The House is preparing a continuing resolution for floor action today.
The budget is getting close. Appropriations is fixin’ to meet. Caucuses are happening, too. The House comes back at 3:15.
Stuff’s going down.