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View from the Hill

Carolina Capitol Roundup: SOTU Edition

This is a special edition of Carolina Capitol Roundup, View from the Hill’s weekly roundup of stories from Capitol Hill. This week’s focuses on reactions to the State of the Union.

Hagan invites a teacher, finds herself in conflict on Iran

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., used the occasion to invite Karyn Dickerson, who was named the 2013-2014 North Carolina Teacher of the Year by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Dickerson is an English teacher at Grimsley High School in Greensboro.

“We are fortunate to have such a dedicated, inspiring teacher educating children in North Carolina.” Hagan said in a statement.

By inviting a respected teacher, Hagan was implicitly telling voters she supports teachers.

A recent Public Policy Polling study showed 79 percent of voters support raising N.C. teacher pay to the national average within four years.

But Hagan also found herself at odds with Obama on Iran.

Hagan is a supporter of the Nuclear Free Iran Act, which would put additional sanctions on Iran to deter its regime’s nuclear capabilities.

But Obama threatened to veto any new sanctions during his administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran.

“For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed,” Obama said in his speech.

Burr offers an alternative to ACA

During his speech, Obama told Republicans who had voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act to offer their own plans.

The day before the speech, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, announced an alternative called the Patient CARE Act.

The bill would begin by repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Below are some of the proposals:

  • Insurers could not charge older patients 5 times more than they charge younger patients. The ACA has the ratio at 3 to 1.
  • Allow people to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.
  • Guarantee health insurance plans can be renewed and ban insurance companies from making unfair terminations.
  • People continuously enrolled in a health care plan would not be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions — also creating a one-time open enrollment period for the uninsured.
  • Give tax credits to small businesses and certain individuals to buy insurance and not have many minimum requirements the ACA has.
  • Give states new resources to provide coverage and manage costs.
  • States would receive a capped allotment for Medicaid through health grants and give them greater flexibility.
  • Have States create Health Opportunity Accounts to help Medicaid recipients pay out of pocket expenses worth $2,500 for an adult and $1,000 for a child.

Price and North Carolina want a boost in the minimum wage

When Rep. David Price, D-N.C., was asked what he expecting to hear in the address, he responded with the following tweet.

During the address, Obama called on Congress, as well as state legislatures and business leaders to raise wages of workers.

He also announced an executive order that would require federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $10.10.

“If you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” Obama said.

A recent Public Policy Polling study showed North Carolinians might be on Obama’s side, with 57 percent of voters supporting raising the wage to $10 an hour.

Pittenger and Obama dispute deficits and debt

Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., hosted a Twitter town hall after the address. We asked what Obama left out in his speech, to which Pittenger responded with the following tweet:

But in the address, Obama said the deficit has been “cut by more than half.” So who is right?

According to a September presentation by the Congressional Budget Office, the deficit has been cut by almost half in terms of percentage of GDP. Look at slide number five.

But according to, the national debt is currently over 17 trillion, as Pittenger said.

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