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Morning Memo: Manufacturing in the spotlight; what will Obama tell NC

TODAY IN POLITICS: The role of manufacturing in the state and how to revive the state's old economy takes center stage Monday and Tuesday at the Emerging Issues forum in Raleigh. The conference is hosted by former Gov. Jim Hunt. U.S. Sens. Kay Hagan and Richard Burr will brief the audience Monday morning. And Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a lunch and award ceremony Tuesday. Other top N.C. officials will take part throughout the event.

In the legislature, the House and Senate convene at 6 p.m. for skeleton sessions. The real action starts Tuesday when budget committees begin to meet in public. A House committee will consider the controversial Medicaid bill Tuesday, as the full Senate considers a measure to curtail unemployment benefits. McCrory has no public events Monday, but he speaks to N.C. Department of Natural Resources employees Monday morning.

***Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo, the source for political news in North Carolina. Much more below. ***

And about that NCSU forum

NCSU invites the community to join in its "Redesigning Democracy Summit" through Twitter. Just use the hashtag #RDS12. Or email thoughts, ideas, questions to emergingissues@ncsu.edu.

Read this to get an idea of what they're talking about: http://bit.ly/YFGA5J.

Pink to speak at N.C. State forum

Best-selling author Daniel Pink, an expert on innovation and competition, will speak at the Emerging Issues Forum next year.

Pink’s best-known work is “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will the Future and “The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need.”

He will discuss how the country is moving away from analytical thinking into a conceptual age in which creative, flexible thinkers are important.

The 25th annual Emerging Issues Forum will focus on how to develop and enhance North Carolina’s climate of creativity in order to improve the state’s global competitiveness.

The forum is sponsored by the Institute for Emerging Issues, a think tank at N.C. State University created by former Gov. Jim Hunt, that has brought such people as former President Bill Clinton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to Raleigh for its two-day conferences. The next forum is scheduled for Feb. 8 and 9th.

Pink worked previously as Vice President Al Gore’s chief speechwriter from 1995-97, and before that as an aide to Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

Pols see infrastructure as key

Can infrastructure spending turn the economy around?

A number of current and former politicians argued that long-delayed road, transit and water system projects can generate jobs and give a jolt to the economy.

Speaking at the annual Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh, former Gov. Jim Hunt said the state can do "big and bold things that can last a long time."

Less than 8 percent of the Senate's $827 billion stimulus package is directed at infrastructure, while about 11 percent of the House's $820 billion version is for public construction needs.

That would boost the $1.1 trillion in U.S. infrastructure spending each year, but it's a fraction of the $2.2 trillion in needs over the next five years, according to a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

"Our infrastructure system's parts are not serving their intended purposes," said ASCE President Wayne Klotz. (AP)

Engineer: N.C. needs some work

The U.S has quit changing the oil of its car.

That was the analogy made Monday by Wayne Klotz, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, during a talk in downtown Raleigh, Rob Christensen reports.

Earlier this year, the engineers released a reporting giving the U.S. a grade of "D" for keeping up its infrastructure.

"We are simply not spending enough money," Klotz told about 1,000 North Carolina leaders at the Emerging Issues Forum.

Although there are no updated figures on North Carolina, Klotz noted that the engineers gave the state a "C-minus" grade in 2006.

More after the jump.

Perdue on vacation

Gov. Beverly Perdue is on vacation this week at an undisclosed location.

Chrissy Pearson, Perdue's spokeswoman, said she had long planned a vacation this week with her husband, Bob Eaves.

Pearson said she did not know where Perdue was vacationing, but the unconfirmed gossip at the Emerging Issues forum was that she was out of the country, Rob Christensen reports.

Perdue sent a recorded video message to the 1,000 leaders at the forum's luncheon at the Raleigh Convention Center, rather than appearing personally.

Pearson described Perdue’s get-away as a "working vacation" saying she brought budget books and other work along with her. The vacation comes less than a month after she took office.

Shuler, Price spar over stimulus

Heath ShulerThere was a sharp disagreement over the stimulus package this morning, with U.S. Rep. David Price defending the House package, and Rep. Health Shuler criticizing it.

At the Emerging Issues Forum, Shuler said he was one of the few Democrats to vote against the package because it didn't include enough money for public works projects, and included too much money for projects favored by influential members of Congress, Rob Christensen reports.

"It's not stimulative enough for me," Shuler, a second-term lawmaker from Bryson City, said during a panel discussion in front of more than 1,000 people at Raleigh's Convention Center.

He said that less than 15 percent of the $800 billion stimulus package is devoted to infrastructure. Shuler said too much money will be used to just plug budget gaps in existing programs or for tax cuts.

But Price, who is one of the so-called cardinals of the House budget committee, said his portion of the stimilus package dealing with homeland security was closely "scrubbed" for waste.

More after the jump.

Better than nothing?

Say What?
"It's not pretty. But history would indict us if we did nothing."
— Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, saying an economic stimulus package in Congress was "not perfect" in a speech at the Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh on Sept. 9, 2009.

Dodd: Stimulus won't save economy

Chris DoddRALEIGH — Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut said the stimulus package making its way through Congress was a necessary step toward an economic recovery.

"It's not perfect," Dodd told more than 1,000 people at the Emerging Issues forum in downtown Raleigh. "It's not pretty. But history would indict us is we did nothing."

Dodd, who is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said the stimulus package alone would not turn around the economy, Rob Christensen reports.

"I think realistically, it can stop it from getting worse," Dodd said.

He said every member of Congress would have designed the stimulus package differently. He would have preferred putting more money into mass transit.

More after the jump.

Binker: Easley's not campaigning

Mark Binker says Gov. Mike Easley's not running for anything.

The Greensboro News & Record reporter picked up on the same High Campaign Mode speechifying at the Emerging Issues Forum that Dome and others heard.

Now the man says he doesn't have an interest. He's been asked three years in a row about a U.S. Senate run and put the kibosh on that. He's never really jumped up and said, "heck yes," when asked about cabinet level work. I think talk of a VEEP slot may actually make him break out in hives.

After the speech, Easley was asked if he had national interests, Binker writes on his Capital Beat blog. He says that Easley told him it was just a speech.

"I think energy is a national issue," Easley said.  

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