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Brad Miller: Debt default consequences 'far worse than Congress knows'

Former North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller, a Raleigh Democrat, says "he consequences of default on the national debt may be far worse than Congress knows. In fact, it’s hard to tell what Congress knows."

In an op-ed for Politico, Miller continues: "Congress must know that a default will most likely result in a credit downgrade and increase the interest rate on government borrowing, a needless increase in the cost of America’s debt service by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade or two. But there is so much more that could go wrong in a dimly understood and still fragile financial system." Read the whole piece here.

David Price: The End of Appropriations?

In an opinion piece written for Politico, senior budget writer Rep. David Price of Chapel Hill asks whether the budget process works any more.

As Congress refocuses its attention on the looming fiscal battles, with both sides steeling for a fight over the debt limit and a potential government shutdown, a development with greater implications for our nation’s future is unfolding with far less notice. The appropriations process — that hallmark of Congress’s constitutional authority and wellspring of our power to conduct oversight and set national priorities — is on life support and in danger of total collapse.

With just four legislative days left before the end of the fiscal year, not one of the 12 funding bills required to keep the government open has been enacted into law. House Republicans have struggled to pass even a continuing resolution to keep the government running for a few weeks while appeasing their red-meat conservatives.

Morning Memo: Speaker's hometown paper calls for his resignation

HOUSE SPEAKER'S HOMETOWN PAPER CALLS FOR HIS RESIGNATION: Responding to the second story (here and here) in a month about House Speaker Thom Tillis skipping session to fundraise for his U.S. Senate campaign, The Charlotte Observer editorial board said he needs to resign his post. In an editorial headlined, "Tillis tries but can't serve two masters," they concluded: "It’s fine that Tillis is interested in higher office, and we don’t fault him for recognizing the need to raise millions. But the fiscal year started three weeks ago and the legislature still has not agreed on a budget. Tillis is missing sessions. His actions are raising questions of conflict of interest.

"He has shown he can’t give his undivided attention to the N.C. House and the U.S. Senate at the same time. He should give up his Speaker’s gavel, resign from his House seat and give his full energy to his Senate bid, unencumbered by such distractions as running the state."

Facing this question before, Tillis has said he intends to remain speaker and do his job. But he also said he wouldn't actively campaign during the legislative session, a pledge that is in question. Some Republicans are starting to privately grumble that he may need to step down. Read the editorial here.

PAT McCRORY ON HIS FALLING APPROVAL RATINGS: Meh. WCNC-TV's Dave Wagner interviewed Gov. Pat McCrory and asked about the latest PPP numbers showing McCrory in the negative for the first time in his term. Accccording to a @WagnerWCNC tweet, McCrory replied: "I'm shocked they're not lower, cause we're stepping on the toes of the status quo."

***Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo -- more North Carolina political news and analysis below.****

Foxx: NC will be site of one of nation's hottest Senate race

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx says North Carolina Democrats are preparing for a major battle in defending Sen. Kay Hagan's seat in 2014.

“It's gonna be one of the biggest Senate race in the country,” Foxx told POLITICO this weekend while in Washington to attend the inaugural. “And that's going to be a fight.''

North Carolina Democrats took a drubbing on election day.

“I think it's incumbent on North Carolina Democrats to do what national Republicans are doing, which is to huddle up and figure out what happened and to think about what the implications are and what happened and to think about what the implications are and what needs to happen going forward to build a case for progressive politics in North Carolina.''

Will U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan seek re-election?

A Politico article is raising an interesting question: Will U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan seek re-election?

Hagan, a Democrat, raised the specter herself by dodging Politico's question. Reporter Manu Raju writes: "There are surprise retirements every cycle, and some senators are cagey about their intentions this far away from the next election, even if they are widely expected to run.

“I’m definitely working hard to avert the fiscal cliff, focus on the tasks at hand right now, and that’s what I’m focused on,” said first-term Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, when asked about her plans."

The question will hound Hagan until she answers it.

Erskine at treasury in a second Obama administration?

Although this definitely falls under the category of getting the cart before the horse, Politco has an article about who might be in a second Obama administration that mentions North Carolinian Erskine Bowles.

“There are some people close to Obama who would like Treasury to go to Erskine Bowles, the co-author of the deficit reduction plant that will be central to the debate in the first 100 days,” write Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei. “He is widely respected for his intellect, but many around the president are deeply suspicious of his loyalty.''

Bowles, the past president of the University of North Carolina system, is a Charlotte investment banker. He is a two-time Senate candidate, former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton and former head of the Small Business Administration.

The article also mentions Roger Altman, the former number at treasury, and Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of the BlackRock asset-management firm, as having indicated to colleagues that they would like to be treasury secretary.

Sunday reads for the Democratic convention

Two good Sunday long reads ahead of the Democratic convention in Charlotte:

From Politico's Jonathan Martin: "Ever since his national debut at the 2004 Democratic convention, Barack Obama’s calling card has been that he practices consensus-oriented politics that transcend traditional divisions. But four years after his historic presidential election, the country he sought to bring together is even more divided than when he launched his candidacy. And no place is more polarized than the South."

From National Journal's Beth Reinhard: "North Carolina crystallizes a key question looming over the 2012 election and those to follow: Can Hispanics translate their growing numbers into greater political clout on relatively unfamiliar ground? Although Hispanics’ voting participation lags their population numbers almost everywhere, states with long-standing Latino communities—such as California, Florida, New York, and Texas—boast battle-tested political infrastructures of liberal, minority, and labor groups that sweep Hispanic voters to the polls every Election Day."

Independents up, Democrats down in registration since 08

Since the last presidential election, the number of registered independents in North Carolina has grown, but there has been a sharp drop off in the number of registered Democrats.

A study by the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way shows greater growth of independent voters in North Carolina than any other battleground state.

The number of independent or unaffiliated voters grew by 207,173 voters or 14.4 percent since 2008, reports POLITICO. In Mecklenburg County the number of unaffiliated voters rose 11 percent and in Wake County by 17 percent since the last presidential election.

The number of Democratic voters has dropped by 116,662 or 4.1 percent, while the number of Republican voters has dropped by 13,017 or 0.7 percent. President Barack Obama carried the state by about 14,000 votes in 2008.

Super PAC backing Romney prepares to air new commercial in N.C.

A super PAC supporting Mitt Romney is preparing to blast North Carolina TV's with the latest salvo in the presidential race.

The Restore Our Future ad -- according to Politico -- slaps President Barack Obama for saying the private sector is "doing fine" and echoes an ad run by the Romney campaign. (Take an early peak below.) The total national ad buy is $6 million with the ad airing in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada and Virginia, Politico reported.

Holding says he has no regrets on Edwards prosecution

Former U.S. Attorney George Holding says he has no regrets about prosecuting former Sen. John Edwards, even though the case ultimately was not successful.

“Political corruption cases are the most difficult cases,” Holding told POLITICO, a Washington -based publication. “If we had not taken on these cases, not taken on this case, it would have a dereliction of duty.''

Holding said he was not disappointed with the decision of Justice Department Criminal Division chief Larry Breuer to abandon the prosecution after a mistrial on most of the charges.

“I am not disappointed,'' Holding said. “This is the way our system works and I respect the jury's verdict. I respect Mr. Breuer's decision. He's had the final say on this case from day one. I didn't attend the trial...I'm not in a position to question his opinion.''

He dismissed charges that the prosecution was too expensive, saying that at most times his office had two prosecutors working on the case.

Holding, who successfully sought the GOP nomination for Congress shortly after stepping down as U.S. attorney, also denied any political intent in the prosecution.

“There are always going to be charges this is a political case,” he said. “That just comes with the territory. The defense made a motion that the case was brought for political reason and the judge ruled there was no evidence of that...I feel very comfortable that we did carry out our duties.''

But his Democratic opponent, Charles Malone, said otherwise.

“It is apparent now that Holding, while wanting government to cut to the bone otherwise, was willing to throw millions of the taxpayers' money away to settle old political scores while attempting to enhance his political career.''

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