Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


LEGISLATURE'S BUDGET: MORE COMFORT FOR THE COMFORTABLE: Want to know what the priorities and motives are for the leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly? The budgets produced by the state House and Senate provide a clear view. The themes are consistent in both documents -- those who already have the most, get even more. And those with the greatest need are considered freeloaders who refuse to work and want to bilk state government to finance their indolence. So what if we prevent 500,000 people from getting health insurance? They could get a job if they just tried – particularly the elderly and children. How responsible is it to continue to spend millions on private school vouchers when there is practically no accountability or transparency in where the money goes nor how the students perform academically? Not to mention that some of the schools discriminate on admissions.

ORRIN PILKEY: PARIS ACCORD BACKOUT COULD BRING PROBLEMS FOR NC COAST: Participation in this agreement would have been important to North Carolina for two reasons. First, because of our coast’s particular vulnerability to sea-level rise, and second, because our state government’s poor coastal management program is not seriously preparing for sea-level rise. We continue to build beachfront buildings, even encouraging such construction on nourished beaches. North Carolina is currently spending a billion dollars on five new or replacement bridges to bring more people to our islands, and we are whittling away at our once pioneering regulations against hard stabilization. Fundamentally we are developing our coast in a manner suitable for the good old days when sea-level rise wasn’t in the tea leaves.

LEGISLATORS SHOULD HEED PROTESTERS MESSAGE ON MEDICAID: Leaders of North Carolina’s General Assembly can’t silence the truth by arresting the messengers and sending them off to jail. The legislators’ refusal to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, denying health care coverage to half a million North Carolinians, should be of far more concern than the protesters who interrupted their comfort and convenience. There is no clear rational for North Carolina’s failure to extend health care coverage. The irrational – blind hatred of former President Barack Obama -- and irresponsible failure to act by the General Assembly comes at a real cost in addition to the 500,000 who lack coverage. Expanding health coverage helps with the financial viability of rural hospitals. Refusal to take the federal funding and expand coverage has cost the state: $9.6 billion in federal funds that haven’t come to North Carolina, but support expanding health care in other states. 40,565 new jobs that would have been created. Between 1,545 and 4,155 lives lost due of lack of health coverage and access to care.

NED BARNETT: IS FOLWELL FIXING PROBLEMS OR CREATING THEM? The treasurer already has put many state health plan participants on edge by announcing that they must send in evidence electronically or by fax by July 31 showing that any dependents covered by the plan are qualified. That filing requirement is aimed at building a digital data base, but may lead to many legitimate dependents losing coverage as plan participants either fail to provide documentation, or don’t know how to file the documents electronically. At issue is whether Folwell, a motorcycle enthusiast and a motorcycle mechanic, is fixing what ain’t broken. And when the treasurer starts yanking on and pulling apart systems that involve more than $90 billion, his sense of alarm itself may be alarming.

TRUMP'S BUDGET IS BASED ON THE BELIEF GOVERNMENT IS HELPING TOO MUCH: The budget announced Tuesday is, broadly, the budget that Americans should expect, and for you to think that’s good for this country, you have to believe three basic things: You have to believe government is doing too much to help struggling Americans. Trump’s budget cuts more than $800 billion from Medicaid over the next decade. It makes significant cuts to the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It cuts $272 billion from all welfare programs, including food stamps. It makes large cuts to the student loan program for low-income families. You have to believe businesses will behave. Trump’s budget cuts the Environmental Protection Agency by almost a third. It also predicts $35 billion in savings from loosened financial regulations. You have to believe in tax cuts. Trump, and Republicans, do. They predict a deep cut in taxes for businesses will help the economy grow at a 3 percent rate, ultimately balancing the budget by 2027. Economists and budget experts, including Ronald Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, say that’s wildly optimistic.


TIMOTHY GEE: PROTECTION OF THE PUBLIC IS PARAMOUNT WITH REGARD TO CONCEALED-CARRY BILL: Regarding the June 1 news article “Bill would end requirement for concealed-carry permits”: This is a very bad idea. I have a driver’s license; similarly, I have a concealed-carry permit. With both, I had to demonstrate a knowledge of safety regulations and legal responsibilities when operating these “machines” that can maim and kill. Furthermore, if found in violation of these regulations, I would lose the privilege of use. Protection of the public is paramount. Didn’t the legislature learn anything from HB2 about pushing bad legislation too quickly through the vetting process?

BILL FRANKLIN: HOW THE US IS NOT CHRISTIAN: Trump signed the so called “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” last month, placing us all at the mercy of relentless, heartless evangelicals who are working hard for a theocracy. The devastation they have helped generate on public schools has been massive, and possibly beyond recovery. They want to burn witches I suppose and write laws based on their view of the Bible. Then, the U.S. House finally gutted the ACA health care laws with an unexamined law with large tax breaks for the rich, snatching medical care from the neediest, killing off services for women, handing the states responsibility for medical care and funding – look how miserably the N.C. Republican government has screwed up Medicaid. Those who think this is a religiously based country are fools and poltroons, dissemblers and frauds. But, they have brought us a number of Republican fools who play the religious game. The rest of us have not taken these wolves seriously and now we are in their grasp.

GLYN YOUNG: FOLWELL'S HEALTH AUDIT RIDICULOUS: Regarding the May 31 op-ed article “The GOP assault on health insurance, North Carolina style”: I, too, experienced the frustration of State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s audit to make sure no “ineligilbles” were getting state health insurance. As a spouse of a state retiree, I had to submit our 2016 1040 tax return to prove that I was the spouse. Granted, only page 1 with financial information blocked out was needed. No mailing of documents was allowed. After spending an hour on the impossible NCSHP website, I chose the second option, sending a fax. They must only have one fax machine, because it took me four hours to send my fax – the machine was “busy.” This was five hours that I could have spent working. Ridiculous. I agree that this seems like a convenient way to deny coverage to those without technology or the ability to figure out the website. I am embarrassed at the apparent continued efforts in this state to deny individuals health insurance. North Carolina and the state treasurer should be ashamed.