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THIS FIRST — JUST PLAIN SICK — As national health care reform takes effect, health insurance carriers in South Carolina have halted access to new individual policies for children — a move that could leave families unable to find insurance for their healthy children, advocates said. Starting this week, insurance companies are prohibited by law from denying plans to children 19 years old and younger who have pre-existing medical conditions. S.C. insurance companies said they must suspend new policies for that market because the sudden influx of sick children, and of those whose parents enroll them after learning of a major illness or accident, would drive up premiums for all policy holders.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Looking to get “Buck” wild: Eddie George, Morgan and Paul Hamm – and howl can you make this up, German football coach Wolfgang Wolf is 53
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NATIONAL LENS — LARGE AND IN CHARGE — Citizens of the world’s richest countries are getting fatter and fatter and the United States is leading the charge, an organization of leading economies said Thursday in its first ever obesity forecast. Three out of four Americans will be overweight or obese by 2020, and disease rates and health care spending will balloon, unless governments, individuals and industry cooperate on a comprehensive strategy to combat the epidemic, the study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said.
BUS STOP — If all goes according to plan, the Republican National Committee’s “Fire Pelosi!” bus tour will carry Chairman Michael Steele to a photo-op at Mount Rushmore, a Denver fundraiser with NFL quarterback Tim Tebow and an event with Arab-Americans in heavily-Democratic Dearborn, Michigan. Among those appearing with Steele, according to the itinerary: South Carolina’s Jim Pratt, mounting a next-to-impossible campaign against House Minority Whip Jim Clyburn, and long-shot African-American Republicans like Star Parker in California’s 37th district and Marvin Scott in Indiana’s 1st district.
CLASS ACT — Should Americans be forced into mandatory participation in a government-run long-term care Ponzi scheme? Or is a taxpayer bailout of another congressional misadventure a better idea? These may be the choices confronting a future Congress if the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Program is left intact. CLASS is a new government-run, long-term care entitlement for eligible workers created under Obamacare. Before CLASS takes effect, Congress should reconsider its merit, especially since government programs almost always cost more than initially projected. This week, Senator Lindsey Graham (R–SC) has introduced a bill to repeal the CLASS Act.
JIM’S HURT — Sen. Jim DeMint vowed Thursday to stop Lisa Murkowski’s write-in candidacy “dead in its tracks” as he expressed outrage at the GOP’s refusal to strip the senator of her leadership role on the energy committee. The South Carolina Republican supports Joe Miller, a conservative political upstart who upset Murkowski in last month’s GOP primary. DeMint said he believed Wednesday’s meeting of GOP senators was to choose a replacement for Murkowski, the ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. But “one senator after another stood up to argue in favor of protecting her place on the committee,” he said – resulting in an outcome he said she’ll undoubtedly use in her campaign against Miller.
CUTTING CLASS — Endangered House Democrats have to get out of town now — and not stick around for votes on tax cuts — if they are going to save their seats, retiring Blue Dog Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) told Democrats at a Caucus meeting Thursday. Given “the Senate’s inability to come to grips with anything,” Tanner said, House leaders should punt on the debate until after the elections. Democrats have been wrestling with whether and how to pass an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, set to expire at the end of the year. Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), meanwhile, has been working to find votes for middle-class tax cuts.
FOR BEGINNERS — The agenda item calling for pushing the elderly into the streets doesn’t appear in the House GOP’s new “Pledge to America.” It must have been an oversight, or a last-minute printing error. That didn’t keep Speaker Nancy Pelosi from decrying just such a scheme in the making. The Pledge promises to “turn Social Security from a guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble,” the speaker thundered, reverting to a line that was already ragged and tired about 50 years ago. Majority Whip James Clyburn said the Pledge’s health-care provisions would visit a “plague” on the nation’s families — whether of frogs, locusts or livestock disease, he didn’t specify. Did Republicans err by giving Democrats a target in an election already swinging their way?
JUST LIKE JOE? — In kinder, gentler times, elected officials were known to blushingly apologize if caught using indelicate language to describe a political opponent. Now? Yeah, not so much. Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, who on Monday referred to Tea Party members with a variation of the f-word, sent out a fundraising appeal this afternoon with the subject line: “My Swear Jar.” “My comments from earlier in the week have become a national story, and many people in the Republican Tea Party have demanded that I apologize,” he wrote. “I won’t.”
FOUR SCORE — The Senate Judiciary Committee approved four of President Obama’s nominees to federal courts for a second time Thursday after Republicans used a delaying tactic last month to send their names back to the White House. The panel voted 12 to 7 along party lines to reapprove Prof. Goodwin Liu of the University of California at Berkeley for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The committee also voted in favor of three district court nominees: Edward Chen in California, Louis Butler in Wisconsin and John McConnell Jr. in Rhode Island. The votes split along party lines, with the exception of Mr. McConnell, who was supported by one Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
MILLER, NOT LIGHT — Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller on Thursday picked up the endorsement of FreedomWorks, the conservative Washington, D.C.-based group that has transformed the loosely organized tea party movement into a force on the right. Miller also continued to get a boost from another big name on the right, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who lashed out at Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s write-in bid in a fundraising appeal sent out Thursday afternoon. DeMint called on his supporters to help him raise $150,000 for Miller, who faces Democrat Scott McAdams and Murkowski.
WORD GAME — A top House Democrat likened the new Republican “Pledge to America” to a “plague” on taxpayers and families. “If this is implemented, what we are going to see is the infliction of a plague on America,” the House majority whip, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), told reporters on Thursday after a Democratic caucus meeting. Clyburn used the word “plague” as a refrain to describe the GOP platform, highlighting Republican plans to repeal healthcare reform and cut taxes for the wealthy.
GRAHAM’S WAR — Addressing the current threat from al Qaeda at a recent forum in New York, the Deputy Special Assistant to President Bush and former Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism warned that the United States’ military reaction to the threat of terrorism is backfiring. Too bad Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina wasn’t there to hear him. In Washington a week later, Graham was telling an audience at the American Enterprise Institute just the opposite. The U.S. needs to step up its military response to terrorism at home and abroad, he said. “The enemy has declared war on the United States. The question is, are we going to declare war on them?”
IT’S A RECORD — The Immigration Equality Action Fund, which advocates on Capitol Hill for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive immigrants and their families, announced today that a record number of co-sponsors now support The Uniting American Families Act ( UAFA ) , a bill to end to discrimination against LGBT binational families. In the House, 132 Members now support the measure, including the bill’s lead sponsor, Congressman Jerrold Nadler ( D-NY ) . Twenty-five Senators, including sponsor Patrick Leahy ( D-VT ) are co-sponsors of the measure in that chamber. In recent days, eight new lawmakers joined as co-sponsors, including Representative James Clyburn ( D-SC )
FIELDS ON FIRE — A group of senators urged President Barack Obama on Thursday to fire the special inspector general responsible for overseeing how billions of American tax dollars are being spent to rebuild Afghanistan. In a letter to Obama, the lawmakers — three Republicans and one Democrat — say the inspector general, Arnold Fields, is at the helm of a failing organization and needs to be replaced. The senators said three independent reviews of Fields’ office found multiple problems, including a failure to meet minimum standards for conducting investigations.
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2010 WATCH — EDGY — She survived a vicious Republican primary and now enjoys a double-digit lead in the polls over her Democratic rival in the race to succeed South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, but rising GOP star Nikki Haley said Thursday in an interview that she’s taking nothing for granted. “I still feel like I’m in last place, and I don’t want that feeling to go away,” Mrs. Haley, a South Carolina state representative who snagged one of the first endorsements of the midterm cycle from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, told The Washington Times during a two-day fundraising visit to Washington.
ANOTHER ONE DOWN — Since she lost her sight four years ago, Margaret Gutman has come to rely on a state-run radio reading program for the blind to provide her with news from the three major South Carolina papers, opinion pieces from local and national commentators, health and gardening news, and the occasional offbeat magazine article. So when she learned earlier this month that the S.C. Educational Radio for the Blind, in existence since the 1970s, was set to become another casualty of the state’s economic downturn, she was devastated.
STAGE ONE — South Carolina is not close to a severe drought at this point, but the U.S. Drought Monitor does classify the Midlands and Upstate in a moderate drought and classifies most of the rest of the state as abnormally dry. The state’s drought committee says the entire state is in an incipient drought, the first stage of dryness. South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers says crops are being affected by the dry weather. He says corn, which has already been harvested, was affected by the extreme summer heat.
TEACHER PAYDAY — South Carolina will receive millions of federal dollars to help train, reward and support effective teachers and principals in high-need and hard-to-staff schools. The state was among 62 winners of Teacher Incentive Fund grants announced Thursday by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Its award of $47 million during the next five years is the fifth largest for a statewide education agency, and the state’s grant application score was the second-highest among all grant winners.
FROM THE MAY RIVER — Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley championed small government and comprehensive tax reform during a $500-a-couple fundraiser on the banks of the May River on Thursday night in Bluffton. Haley, who spoke to a crowd of about 50 for about 10 minutes in the backyard of Bill and Nancy Roe, said if elected, she will create a plan that would eliminate the small business tax and take a close look at South Carolina’s tax system as a whole.
BEAMING — Another milestone has been reached in building a $750 million Boeing aircraft assembly plant. Boeing officials on Friday plan a topping off ceremony at the North Charleston plant to mark the last steel beam being put in place for the frame of the plant where the company’s new 787 jetliner will be built. Gov. Mark Sanford is scheduled to attend. Construction began last November on the plant that is expected to be in operation next summer. The plant is the largest single industrial investment in South Carolina history.
HIGH HONORS — Two prominent South Carolinians, retired businessman and educator Jasper Salmond and Orangeburg photographer Cecil Williams, will be inducted tonight into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame. The ceremony in Atlanta honors graduates of historically black colleges and universities for excelling in their professional fields and for their service to the country. The award is given by the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation Inc.
FORTY MORE — Governor Mark Sanford served as the special guest at the Florence Republican Party’s monthly meeting. The governor received a standing ovation as he stepped to the podium Thursday evening. More than 115 people packed Young’s Plantation Restaurant to hear Sanford. He told the crowd the next 40 days are critical in state, local, and congressional races.
CHARLESTON — Heart walk goal: raised awareness
ROCK HILL — Residents sue to stop water stoppage
GREENWOOD — WWII Bomber For Sale
HILTON HEAD — Golfers celebrate 35 years of practical jokes
SPARTANBURG — Simulator gives students look at alcohol’s effects
VIEWPOINT — PORT-ABLE — The Sun News writes how “the Port of Georgetown has accumulated a long list of supporters in its years-long quest to dredge its channel. Mark Sanford, Henry Brown, Jim Clyburn and Lindsey Graham, as well as hopeful politicians Tim Scott and Ben Frazier, have all publicly noted their support for dredging. The goodwill for the funding effort has been palpable. What hasn’t been so palpable is funding.”
VIEWPOINT II — BOOK REPORT — Michael Gerson of The Washington Post examines the new book Obama’s Wars: “What is most disturbing about the coverage of Bob Woodward’s “Obama’s Wars” is not the juicy bits of conflict and infighting; it is the fact that the White House seems pleased with the image of President Obama that emerges. “I think the president comes across pretty well in the book,” says one official, “even if it looks crazy around him.”
VIEWPOINT III — SCISSORS TO TAPE — The Washington Times believes that “the American people are desperate for a Congress that reins in the federal bureaucracy. Yesterday, 13 senators and a House member introduced legislation called the REINS Act to do just that. It is legislation that desperately needs to be passed. REINS stands for Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny. The bill, spearheaded by Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, and Rep. Geoff C. Davis, Kentucky Republican, would not let any new “major rule” promulgated by federal agencies take effect until approved by both chambers of Congress and signed by the president. In other words, it would amount to Congress retaking responsibility for defining the terms of the laws it imposes on 300 million Americans.”
FINALLY THIS — THE HELPFUL PLACE — Brandon Clarke shopped at Hardwarehouse ACE in Cayce for years, buying hunting equipment during college and then fixing up his first house as a newlywed. When it closed in 2008, followed last year by the shuttering of Five Points’ Hiller Hardware, Clarke felt the void of no longer having a local hardware store. So the 35-year-old businessman recently opened Cayce ACE Hardware in Parkland Plaza, where Hardwarehouse used to be. He will have an “open house sale” today and Saturday to celebrate the grand opening.