Art Pope celebrates Tax Day

Art Pope, NC's Budget Director and purchaser of elections, editorializes in the latest News and Observer on how NC's tax reforms are a "benefit to working families".

We'll make a few observations and, first off, thank the News and Observer for publishing an editorial from the "horse's mouth", rather than one of the usual surrogates from Pope's Civitas or Locke Foundation stinktanks. However, we did notice this little tagline at the end of the PopeEd:

Art Pope is the state budget director and a former member of the N.C. House of Representatives.

Funny ... I didn't notice any disclaimer on Pope's piece, noting that he didn't speak for our state government, like other state employees have to do. Did Pope have to clear the op-ed with his boss like these other employees?

Well, let's see what the Popester has to say about tax reform:

As a result of lower personal income tax rates, a higher standard deduction and more accurate payroll withholding tables, most employees will see on average a 20 percent reduction in state taxes withheld from their paychecks. A large sample of over 75,000 state employees in all income ranges saw the average state tax withheld drop from 5.6 percent in 2013 to 4.5 percent in February and January. This is the equivalent to a 1.1 percent more in take-home pay.

Wow! A whole 1%!

I wonder that that means for the average North Carolinian. Google to the rescue!

North Carolina's median household income has fallen from $51,125 in 2000 to $45,570 in 2010, a decline of 10.9 percent. All figures are in 2010 dollars. Half of households in the state have incomes above the median, and half below, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Hmm ... let's see. One percent of $45,570 is ... $455!

If you're lucky enough to have a job it means that over the course of one year, you'll bring home an extra $38 each month!

"Break out the nice clothes, honey - we're going out for steak tonight at the Golden Corral!"

"What's that dear? ... Oh yes ... I forgot about Mom's medical bills. They've gone up since NC turned down the Medicaid expansion. ... And your brother George ... I know, I know ... he hasn't been able to find work since he got laid off last year. I guess a few dollars could help with his rent since he's working odd jobs trying to get by and his unemployment insurance ran out. .... Yeah ... I remember ... we need to set aside some money for that going away present for Miss Crabapple since she quit her teaching job."

"Maybe we'll just stay home tonight, honey."

Of course, the average family might not appreciate the tax cut. Mr. Pope is looking at the big picture as he does all his number crunching in his secret lair office in Raleigh.

Predictably, North Carolina’s tax reform has been criticized for benefiting those who earn and save more of their income. That’s not favoritism; it’s basic math. Those who earn more and pay a higher tax rate will logically benefit more from a rate reduction than those who paid at a lower rate or who paid no income taxes at all.

Well, Dr. No's Mr. Pope's income is hard to pin down, but in a previous BlueNC post I guesstimated that he probably brings in about $30-$50 million from his chain of predatory dollar stores Rose's stores.

Well, let's see ... one percent of $30 million .... Hmm .... that's $300,000.

I guess Mr. Pope can take us all out to Golden Corral next week. Heck, maybe he can even buy Miss Crabapple a nice going away present before she leaves the state to take a higher-paying teaching job.

Oh ... and lest you think Mr. Pope is trying to stage a little pr stunt here to put a happy face on the tax reforms and slashed budgets of the TeaBagger legislature he bought supported, Mr. Pope just has the public good in mind. He donated $1.4 million for cancer research at UNC yesterday.

Funny ... I seem to recall another big donation that made a splash in the News and Observer awhile back. What was it? Oh yes ... it was that donation to a food bank in NC in October that strangely coincided with news stories about how the Republican government shut-down was making it hard on charitable organizations.

You don't think Mr. Pope is timing these donations as pr stunts, do you?

Don't get me wrong, Mr. Pope, I do appreciate all the good works you do for NC. I'm just curious what kind of tax refund you're really getting. Afterall, Civitas, the John Locke Foundation and the Pope Foundation are non-profits doing "educational" work in the state, so you can write off those donations on your taxes. I believe you're donating a couple of million a year to these non-profits, right?

Go ahead, Mr. Burns Pope - celebrate! You're one of NC's millions of hard-working families. Go out and buy yourself a little something. We all enjoy little hobbies and pastimes, don't we?


Some additional observations

The GOP messaging dwells on people "taking home more money in their paycheck" as a result of decreasing income tax a bit. They know very well that people will notice a couple extra bucks and think, "Hey, they really did give me a tax cut!" What they don't tell you is that they've slashed deductions, so come this time next year, most people, especially working people and poor, will find that they're giving back all that "extra money" and then some. The Republicans hope that some people won't notice that, but even if they do, it will be months after the election in which they intend to consolidate their power, and they'll be off to the races on the next phases of their evil plan, so it won't matter if most people realize they've been screwed.

And that's before the increases in sales tax payments kicks in. We'll be paying sales tax on lots of things we didn't before. The GOP is banking on the fact that most folks won't notice.

The 1% doesn't apply for Pope Art I. He's one of the few who's actually getting a real tax cut, and his is substantial.

Finally, we quibble with one characterization: the editorial came from the other end of the horse.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014