What's the matter with North Carolina? Just a couple of weeks into 2014, the state has already taken some drastic, anti-progressive steps designed to harm its least fortunate citizens. Here are three of the most alarming stories, as well as conservatives' bogus "justifications" for pulling these stunts:
1. No Need for Congressional Representation
Americans may not be wild about their members of Congress these days, but that doesn’t mean they’d prefer no one representing their interests. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what’s happening for the one million residents of North Carolina’s 12th District. When the seat went vacant at the start of the year, Governor Pat McCrory says he intends to wait until November to hold the election. Though the election legally could be completed by the summer, Gov. McCrory cites the cost and the fact that “not much goes on in Washington between July and the election anyway” for holding off.
Under the current timetable, that will leave the residents of the 12th District without congressional representation for nearly a full year. As for the claim that “not much goes on” in Congress during that span, last year Congress voted on dozens of issues, including the government shutdown.
It’s hard to discount the potential political motivations for the Republican governor to put off replacing a seat that is highly likely to be won by a Democrat. In fact, it’s one of just two North Carolina districts where the majority of citizens are non-white, which is why the NAACP is stepping in to demand a quicker fix to what they’re calling “taxation without representation.”
2. Cutting Unemployment Benefits
Alas, Governor McCrory is on a roll with his poor decisions. He says he supports North Carolina’s move to gut unemployment benefits because it helps to keep out the riffraff. “We had the ninth-most-generous unemployment compensation in the country,” McCrory said. “We were having a lot of people move here, frankly, from other areas to get unemployment… People were moving here because of our very generous benefits, and then, of course, we had more debt.”
What a bunch of smoke and mirrors to distract from the fact that he’s actually eliminating the benefits of long-time North Carolinians, not hypothetical people moving to the state to swindle money. In reality, people who lost their jobs and then moved to North Carolina are not entitled to the state’s benefits; instead, they are eligible to collect from the state where they had been working.
3. Taxing the Poor Instead of the Rich
Just when you thought the poor couldn’t get any poorer, North Carolina will attempt to put that theory to the test by raising taxes on its least fortunate citizens. State Republicans decided to end a previous tax credit designed to relieve rampant poverty. Now, nearly one million of the state’s poorest families will be directly impacted by this decision and forced to stretch their budgets even tighter.
Why did taxes on the poorest need to be raised? The state had to make up somehow for the tax cut it awarded to its wealthiest citizens. After North Carolina moved to a flat tax rate, the lucky people earning a million dollar salary will manage to save $10,000. On the flip side, the lowest 80% of the state’s earners will find themselves paying more in taxes starting this year. It’s pretty clear whose interests the politicians are looking out for.