Republican attack on the poor

Governor Cooper set to expand Medicaid in NC

And it may be just that simple:

Cooper’s action seems certain to spur howls of protest from Republican lawmakers and conservative advocacy groups that have long derided Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act (aka”Obamacare”) as “socialized medicine.” Four years ago, at the outset of the administration of Cooper’s predecessor, Pat McCrory, North Carolina legislators enacted a law that purports to prevent the Governor from acting unilaterally to expand Medicaid. Cooper, however, believes that he has authority to act in his role as the state official empowered to craft and negotiate the “Medicaid waiver” plan that North Carolina is currently negotiating with federal officials. It is known that McCrory engaged in conversations with the Obama administration on such a possible move.

Wow. If you had asked me about Medicaid expansion a couple days (or hours) ago, I would have said something along the lines of, "It won't happen until we take back the Legislature." Shows what I know. I am liking Roy Cooper more and more every day.

Must read: Chris Fitzsimon's Monday Numbers roundup for 2016

Selfish governing has produced terrible outcomes:

30—number of years since President Ronald Reagan called the EITC “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress” (“Earned Income Tax Credit,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

3—number of years since North Carolina allowed its state EITC to end in 2013 (“States Can Adopt or Expand Earned Income Tax Credits to Build a Stronger Future Economy,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 19, 2016)

The Earned Income Tax Credit is one of those "out of sight, out of mind" issues that don't generate as much interest amongst the general public, but the loss of it has generated a lot of suffering in families on the lower end of the income scale. And taking it away has served to perpetuate poverty, because those dollars had been spent in areas and businesses that desperately needed that currency to keep them hiring. And when those jobs disappear, the next slap in the face is dwindling unemployment benefits:

The deterioration of the NC Chamber of Commerce

No longer the visionaries they once were:

In the last few years, things changed at the state Chamber. The main emphasis became lower taxes -- corporate and personal income taxes – along with a draconian approach to modifying the state’s unemployment insurance tax plan by reducing unemployment benefits. The money saved by cutting benefits, in a plan pushed by the chamber, was then used to pay the employers’ debt to the federal government for money borrowed to support the exploding burden brought on by the Great Recession.

The Chamber got its tax cuts and was silent on the controversial matters that were important to the ideologues controlling the General Assembly. The Chamber made a deal (it might be said ‘sold out North Carolina’) as attacks on public education, the environment and the fair treatment of people, go forward.

Like many organizations in North Carolina, the NC Chamber used to operate in an autonomous fashion compared to its national counterpart. But that unique approach is gone, replaced by the same, tired pursuit of profit margins and short-term gains pushed by the US Chamber. When they should be taking whatever positions they can to shore up the middle class, they're actually working hard to destroy it, and turn a sizeable portion of the workforce into wage slaves.

McHenry shows his ignorance on payday loans

Telling a story, in more ways than one:

McHenry told a story about growing up and seeing his father loan one of his landscape company employees $20 on a Thursday to make it to Friday's paycheck and how that helped.

"I'm worried about somebody who has a car that breaks down, who has a refrigerator break down and they have two kids at home who need to eat, and they need to make it to Friday to get their paycheck," McHenry said. He said people living on the edges need a regulated way to make it to their next paycheck. Those against payday lending don't know what it feels like to live from paycheck to paycheck, he added.

On the contrary, many of those leading the opposition to payday lending have first-hand experience with these loan sharks:

John Hood's "cheerleading" glosses over uncounted suffering

Lost somewhere between fluff and nonsense:

The General Assembly’s latest contribution to that effort, a 2016-17 state budget, will continue to make North Carolina a national leader in conservative reform. It cuts taxes for virtually all households, saves nearly half a billion dollars more in the state’s rainy-day fund, and offsets new spending on high priorities such as teacher pay and law enforcement with cuts and economies elsewhere in the budget. It also advances core conservative ideas such as school choice, innovation, competition, and pay for performance.

Bolding mine. The only thing true Libertarians hate more than tax-and-spend is to dedicate taxpayer dollars to build up huge (government-controlled) reserves. That's a half-billion dollars that should have remained in the pockets of those individuals John Hood says are the best ones to decide its use. That "rainy-day fund" also exposes one of the GOP's biggest weaknesses, the ability to estimate/predict costs on an annual basis. Every year since they've taken over, huge budget inconsistencies have emerged, with massive shortages and magical surpluses appearing and disappearing. The sheer incompetence boggles the mind. If that happened in the private sector, the entire accounting department would be fired, and there'd likely be some embezzling indictments to follow that. Back to the huge mound of BS:

Plantation owner's cotillion disrupted by angry peasants

What's the point in being landed gentry if you can't steal from your subjects?

Jackson, an Autryville Republican, owns Jackson Farming Co. in Sampson County. The protest was connected to a federal lawsuit brought by seven former workers from Mexico who worked on Jackson’s farm on H-2A agricultural visas. The lawsuit claims they were cheated out of money. Money was deducted for work-related travel, and one worker was fired after he complained about unfair wage deductions, the lawsuit said.

Jackson was not in his Senate office when the petition was delivered. Protesters left the building chanting, “Senator Jackson, pay your workers.”

"I may have held back some of their wages, but I let them eat some of the less attractive watermelons, sometimes twice a day. You can live on nothing but watermelon for over two weeks. A lot of people don't know that." Not Brent Jackson said. (The author questions the plantation owner's ability to detect parody)

EITC is not about campaigns, it's about people

Masking your disregard for the poor in political rhetoric:

Luebke ran an amendment to restore the Earned Income Tax Credit for low- and lower-middle-income workers, proposing to pay for it by reinstituting a 7.75 percent tax rate on income over $1 million. The amendment failed, but not before spurring a heated partisan debate in the usually congenial committee.

"I appreciate the effort to demagogue and to penalize those that are able to raise the level of income that they make," Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, said to Luebke. "It’s certainly easy to attack those who make over $1 million. Those make for good talking points."

No, what's easy is to slash programs and benefits that help the poor keep their families fed and clothed. The GOP has proved that countless times already over the last 4-6 years. What's not easy is to face the inequities in our Capitalist system and make adjustments that keep those inequities from endangering the health and welfare of those on the bottom rung. That takes courage and compassion, traits that are lacking in many of our current leaders:

Faircloth attempts to bury police body cam footage

Giving police chiefs sole discretion on what gets released:

Meanwhile, a state House bill filed by a High Point Republican, John Faircloth, would make police footage less available, and would give power to decide whether to release the footage to a police chief or sheriff. This is so wrongheaded, it’s hard to know where to begin.

It presumes that an entity that supposedly is accountable to the public should be accountable only to itself. It presumes that a chief will place the public interest over the interests of the department — or of the chief. It presumes every chief — hence, now and forevermore — will be beyond reproach. And it presumes that the chief’s say is the final word on law enforcement. It isn’t. That belongs to the council and, by extension, to the people.

Not only is this just one more in a series of moves by the NC GOP to remove power from municipal governments, it's also a slap in the face to citizens. You don't need to know what happened. The bottom line: Police chiefs and Sheriffs are directly responsible for the behavior of their officers, and misbehavior on the part of the latter could end the careers of the former. In other words, glaring conflict of interest. But this bill does more than that, it (attempts to) radically alter NC's open records laws:

The US DOJ fires warning shot across NC court system's bow

Speaking of the advantages of having women in charge:

In a letter to chief judges and court administrators, Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s top civil rights prosecutor, and Lisa Foster, who leads a program on court access, warned against operating courthouses as for-profit ventures. It chastised judges and court staff members for using arrest warrants as a way to collect fees. Such policies, the letter said, made it more likely that poor people would be arrested, jailed and fined anew — all for being unable to pay in the first place.

Yes. A thousand times, yes. The economic injustices are rife throughout our legal system, and the free-market nut-jobs running our state (and Congress) are making it worse by the minute. They've defunded the courts, slashed legal aid to the point advocacy is no longer guaranteed, at least not in a timely fashion, and have allowed the collusion of debt collectors and court officials to the point we have re-instituted Victorian-era debtor's prisons. We don't live in a democracy any more, it's some crazy feudal hybrid thing that casually reduces a growing percentage of our population to second-class citizens. These issues are not academic, they are very real for many suffering families:

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