North Carolina Progressives Demand Billions In Higher Taxes, 80 Percent Corporate Tax
by Patrick Gleason
Ever since progressive activists began weekly protests outside of the North Carolina capitol last year, the Tar Heel State has been the nation’s political tinderbox. Referred to by the media as the Moral Monday protests (a dubious term, as it implies that those who disagree on matters of policy are immoral), the weekly gathering has continued throughout the 2014 session of the North Carolina legislature, which began last month and is slated to adjourn at the end of June. Aside from general unhappiness with conservative reforms enacted by North Carolina Republicans, who took control of the legislature for the first time in over a century in 2010, it’s been difficult discerning what exactly it is that the left-of-center protestors want.
Prior to the start of session, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger sought to get to the bottom of what it is that the Moral Monday protestors want and how much it would cost. Sen. Berger, who was named to the Washington Post’s list of emerging stars outside the Beltway last year, sent a letter to Reverend William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP and ringleader of the Moral Monday protests, asking for a list of specific policy changes that they want. Rev. Barber responded with a list of demands, which entails raising taxes, permitting collective bargaining for all government workers, expanding Medicaid, state subsidized child care for all, and state-provided health insurance for all. Sen. Berger then sent Rev. Barber’s agenda to the North Carolina General Assembly’s non-partisan fiscal staff to tabulate the cost.
North Carolina State Legislative Office Building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The non-partisan fiscal staff found that the Moral Monday agenda, if implemented, would require state lawmakers to raise taxes by $7 billion. For some context, such a tax hike would increase the North Carolina general fund by a whopping 35 percent. The Moral Monday plan would also necessitate a nearly ten-fold increase in the state corporate income tax, taking the rate from 6 to over 50 percent. Combined with the federal corporate income tax, the highest in the world, if Rev. Barber and crew had their druthers, companies would face a combined corporate tax rate of over 80 percent on profits earned in North Carolina. The likely result of such an onerous tax would be a mass evacuation of companies from Research Triangle Park, Charlotte, and elsewhere in the state.
The Raleigh-based Civitas Institute estimates the Moral Monday agenda would require an additional $10 billion a year in higher tax revenue, which amounts to an unheard of 50 percent increase in the state general fund. While an amendment has been drafted to fund Moral Monday’s expensive agenda, don’t expect to see Democratic legislators in North Carolina champion and introduce it, even the most liberal. Just as President Obama’s budgets have garnered a grand total of zero votes in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate, legislative Democrats in North Carolina are showing a similar aversion to putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to funding a progressive budget.
As Sen. Berger noted in his letter to Rev. Barber, when Republicans took control of the legislature four years ago, the state had the highest personal and corporate income tax rates in the southeast, along with an 11.2 percent unemployment rate, the fourth highest in the nation. Thanks in large part to the reforms enacted since then – such as regulatory reform, unemployment insurance reform, and the historic 2013 tax reform act that will allow North Carolinians to keep more of their hard-earned income – North Carolina has witnessed a tremendous economic comeback. With the addition of more than 200,000 jobs since 2011, North Carolina’s unemployment rate is below the national average for the first time since 2006. In fact, since the Moral Monday protests began in April of 2013, there has been a 39 percent reduction in North Carolina’s unemployment rate, dropping from 8.9 to 6.3 percent.
The Moral Monday crowd may have been too busy getting worked up to notice, but North Carolina is experiencing an impressive economic recovery under Republican leadership, even while coping with anti-growth policies coming out of the White House. Furthermore, it’s now clear that the progressive North Carolina protestors’ agenda, once the actual costs are advertised, won’t find much support even from Democratic legislators, let alone the public.
Patrick Gleason is Director of State Affairs at Americans for Tax Reform. Follow Patrick on Twitter @PatrickMGleason
Election Reforms Reveal Vote Fraud
Posted on April 3, 2014 by Susan Myrick in Issues
A stunning report by the State Board of Elections has revealed clear voter fraud in the 2012 election – evidently in tens of thousands of instances.
The North Carolina State Board of Elections reported Wednesday to the Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee on the effects of the state’s new voter reforms. The most disturbing statistics came from comparing voter registration in North Carolina to those of selected states.
The results were brought to light as a result of North Carolina’s joining the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, a consortium of 28 states. The SBOE had been directed by the new elections reform legislation (VIVA, Voter Information Verification Act) to join an interstate cross-checking program and to improve the accuracy of voter registration lists. The SBOE joined the program, and as a result it was determined that more than 35,000 North Carolina voters who voted in the 2012 General Election were identified as matching, by name and date of birth, a voter in another state who voted in the same election. This revelation deserves to be underlined: Tens of thousands of voters
t’s the economy, stupid! The real lesson of Florida race
by Byron York | MARCH 17, 2014 AT 6:35 PM
Photo – Newly elected Republican Congressman David Jolly of Florida, right, poses for a ceremonial swearing-in with Speaker of the House John Boehner, left, at the Capitol on Thursday. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite) Newly elected Republican Congressman David Jolly of Florida, right, poses for a ceremonial…
In the past few days, Democrats have experienced something close to a mass freakout regarding their chances in this November’s midterm elections. An anonymous Democratic lawmaker told the New York Times that President Obama, weakened by low approval ratings, is “poisonous” to Democratic candidates. ABC reported that some Democrats are “increasingly worried the health care law is political poison.” Columnist Maureen Dowd concluded that “Democratic panic has set in.” When “poison” and “panic” are the words used to describe a campaign, there’s likely to be trouble ahead.
The immediate reason for the consternation is Democrat Alex Sink’s narrow loss to Republican David Jolly in the special election to fill the House seat from Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Commentators and politicos always say it’s a mistake to read too much into the results of a special election, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from declaring the results an ominous sign for Democrats.
The problem is, it appears both sides could be learning the wrong lessons from Florida.
First, the fact that so many Democrats thought Sink would win indicates they were simply too confident to begin with. The Florida 13th is a pretty closely matched district, so in a non-presidential year, when a Republican wins by a 1.8-percentage-point margin in a race in which neither cracked 50 percent — that really shouldn’t be a huge surprise to anyone.
But Democrats overestimated their strength. “They thought that at a tactical level, they had the ability to win seats like that because they had a better turnout operation,” says a Republican strategist who has studied the race. Wrong.
Still, some Democrats will conclude that tweaking turnout in future races will fix the problem. But they don’t seem to be considering the possibility that their turnout was depressed by their positions on some key issues, most notably Obamacare.
Jolly favored repealing the Affordable Care Act, while Sink stuck with the Democratic “keep and fix” position. After Sink’s loss, some Democrats quickly concluded that the party just needs to fight harder on behalf of Obamacare.
But that, too, could be the wrong lesson. “Democrats are saying what they really have to do is go out and defend Obamacare,” says the GOP consultant. If, however, voters in the Florida 13th are like voters everywhere else, they are most concerned about the economy. So if Republicans persuasively cast Obamacare as part of a bigger set of economic problems, then Democrats will have to find an equally persuasive rebuttal, which they did not have in the Sink-Jolly race. “The thing [Democrats] didn’t understand in Florida was the right set of economic messages to make it work,” says the GOP strategist.
If Democrats fail to make a broader economic case, then simply fighting harder on behalf of Obamacare won’t help.
GOP grip on General Assembly will be hard to break
By Jim Morrill
North Carolina Republicans appear poised to keep their solid majorities in the General Assembly, while Democrats face an uphill battle to even chip away at them.
That’s the outlook after Friday’s close of candidate filing, which left nearly a third of the state’s 170 lawmakers unopposed, essentially guaranteeing their re-election.
In Mecklenburg County, eight of 15 state lawmakers are unopposed. Two more face no opposition after the May primary.
Friday saw election lineups set across the state in races from courthouses to Congress. Some contests, particularly for open seats, drew a crowd of candidates. In others, incumbents and even newcomers virtually won free tickets to office.
Early analysis of General Assembly races gives Republicans the upper hand, with both parties targeting their efforts and money at a relative handful of competitive districts.
Districts drawn by GOP lawmakers in 2011 are a big reason for Republican optimism. Those districts helped Republicans to their current 33-17 edge in the Senate and 77-43 margin in the House, both veto-proof majorities.
Democrats “kind of need a tsunami effect to get across some of these district lines,” said Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College. “It would have to be a big wave to push some of these districts into Democratic hands. I just don’t see it happening.”
To erase those so-called supermajorities, Democrats need a net gain of four seats in the Senate and six in the House.
“I’m very encouraged,” said Casey Wilkinson, House caucus director for the state Democratic Party. “We recruited very strong candidates. The board is set up for us to be playing offense and them to be playing defense.”
Republicans don’t appear worried.
“We certainly won’t take anything for granted, but I think we’re poised to retain a supermajority and possibly make gains,” said Ray Martin, director of the party’s Senate caucus.
Most state legislative districts are safe for one party or another.
Nathan Babcock, political director at the N.C. Chamber, said 28 of the 50 Senate districts lean Republican; 16 lean Democratic. That leaves just a half-dozen that both parties will fight for.
In the worst-case scenario for Republicans, he said, the party would win 28 seats. In the best, they’d take 34 – one more than they have now.
In the House, Babcock counts 14-18 competitive districts. Democrats could virtually sweep those races and still find themselves in the minority, he said.
“It’s very clear that there’s no chance for Democrats to get the majority back,” he said. “The best they could hope for is to … maybe crack the supermajorities.”
One competitive race could be in House District 92 in western Mecklenburg County. In 2012, Republican Charles Jeter won the district with 51 percent of the vote, even though it was also carried by President Barack Obama.
With help from his party, he vastly outspent Democrat Robin Bradford, who Friday filed to challenge him again.
Matt Bales, research director for the pro-business N.C. FreeEnterprise Foundation, said the number of competitive races won’t really be known until candidates show how much money they can raise, how they campaign and to what extent outside groups get involved.
But Democrats say voters are motivated by the Republican-controlled legislature, which passed laws affecting everything from voting laws to abortion to unemployment compensation.
“This election will be a referendum on what the legislature has done,” said Ford Porter, director of the Senate Democratic caucus. “And I think we’ve got the right candidates to amplify that.”
Moral Mondays, the series of NAACP-led protests against Republican policies, have kept those policies in the news. Josh Thomas, who oversees Republican House campaigns, calls the protests “a two-edged sword.”
“The more (Democrats) drift to the left, the more they run conservative Democrats into our camp,” he said.
In addition to all the unopposed candidates, many face only a primary. That means the winner of the primary will move on with no opposition.
That’s true in crowded races such as Senate District 40 in east and northeast Mecklenburg, where five Democrats are vying for the seat being vacated by Sen. Malcolm Graham, who’s running for Congress.
Brent Laurenz, executive director of the North Carolina Center for Voter Education, said when candidates run unopposed, “voters don’t really have a choice when they go to the ballot box.”
Julie Boonstra, a cancer patient who was kicked of off her health plan due to Obamacare, lashed out at Rep. Gary Peters (D., Mich.) on Saturday after lawyers for his campaign demanded that Michigan broadcasters cease airing ads featuring her story.
Boonstra, a Michigan resident, was diagnosed with leukemia five years ago. She was recently kicked off of her healthcare plan due to regulations passed as part of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Peters voted in favor of.
After relating her story publicly in an ad produced by the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), Peters dispatched lawyers to prevent the spot from running on local television stations.
Boonstra, who says she is now struggling to pay out of pocket for her rising healthcare costs, told the Washington Free Beacon she is stunned by Peters’ efforts to censor her story.
“I’m appalled. I’m appalled as a mom, as a woman, and as a cancer patient, as someone living with cancer … who has stood before this nation to say, ‘I cannot afford that out of pocket expense,’” said Boonstra, who said she was given a 20 percent chance of surviving her disease. “As a Michigan resident, to silence my voice, I’m absolutely appalled.”
Peters, who is running for a seat in the Senate, instructed his legal council earlier this week to demand that stations stop running the AFP ad until additional evidence of the cancer victim’s claims could be produced.
“For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station should immediately require AFP to provide the factual documentation for its claims if you are going to continue airing this advertising,” read the letter from Peters’ lawyers.
The letter went on to question Boonstra’s motives and the facts presented in AFP’s ad.
Boonstra said she is “surprised” by what she described as the Peters campaign’s strong-arm tactics.
“I’m very surprised,” Boonstra said just hours after she attempted to confront Peter face-to-face at his Bloomfield Hills residence. “I have every right to tell my story and express my point of view and opinion on how Obamacare has affected me.”
Boonstra attempted to confront the congressman at his door, but he did not answer when she knocked.
“I just went up to his house and knocked on his door,” Boonstra recalled. “I would like to meet with him, but he did not answer. I know someone was home, so I left a letter there for him.”
Boonstra wrote in her letter, “I don’t understand why you’re trying to silence my voice. I have every right to speak out and don’t understand why you’re doing this.”
A spokesman for the Peters campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.
“The fact that Representative Peters would sic his legal team on a Michigan mother battling cancer to muzzle her tells you everything you need to know about his record of putting politics over people,” AFP-Michigan State Director Scott Hagerstrom said in a statement.
“This attack on her credibility is disgusting, unwarranted, and inexcusable,” Hagerstrom said. “Congressman Peters and his indecent campaign team should be ashamed of themselves.”