Republican attack on the poor

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:

Keep Folwell's hands out of the Treasury

He's already done more than enough damage:

Perhaps Folwell’s most recent accomplishment is helping restore the state’s unemployment insurance reserve to more than $1 billion while leading the Division of Employment Security. The reserve was $2.5 billion in debt when Gov. Pat McCrory took office. It was even higher — $2.8 billion — at one point.

The bowling pin, he says, directly correlates with the effort required to reform a state agency. Just like reforming a state agency, Folwell says there’s never the same number of balls, employees or resources, as pins, targets or goals. “You’ve got to have clarity of thought,” Folwell said.

Yeah, I mean, no. If you hadn't tried to explain the bowling pin thing, I would have assumed it meant knocking over stuff (bureaucratic costs, whatever). But after that inventory of things hastily grabbed from various sports? I have no idea what the bowling pin means anymore. Juggling? Wrapping your hand around the neck of a little white dude? Whatever, it's not only the state's investment portfolio at stake in this election, there are home rule issues to consider as well:

GOP Hunger Games commence

Feed the hungry, but don't make it too easy for them:

Food stamp recipients in North Carolina soon will lose benefits unless they prove they’re working, volunteering or taking classes for at least 20 hours a week.

Sen. Norman Sanderson, a Republican from Pamlico County, said the change would push unemployed people on food stamps to look for work. “I think you’re going to see a lot of them go and get that 20-hour-a-week job, or they’re going to enroll in some sort of higher education to improve their job skills,” he said before the September vote.

And I think a lawmaker who takes food off somebody's table because he "thinks" something positive might happen as a result is a reckless ideologue, not a public servant.

DMV fees another chapter in the GOP's great tax shift

For every selfish action there's a regressive reaction:

The bottom line is that middle- and low-income people lose on the shift. The pauper and the millionaire will both spend an extra 30 percent in DMV fees, but the millionaire will get a vastly larger savings than the pauper from the income tax cuts.

This inequity will be piled upon another in March. That’s when the 6.75 percent sales tax in many counties is extended to cover car repairs and installation and maintenance services. With the new tax, a $750 repair will cost the customer $800.

By all rights, the GOP's across-the-board attacks on the poor and middle class should result in a stampede to the voting booths in November. But they're counting on the two things that helped bring them to power in the first place: Lassitude on the part of Democratic-leaning voters, and social divisiveness that keeps religious people voting for charlatans because they say the right hateful words. Not much we can do about the latter; hate is harder to cure than cancer. But we can wake up those Dem voters, if we have the desire and the organization to do so.

An agency of one: NC's Medicaid reform inaction

Miles of paperwork to go before we're through:

“It’s going to be really difficult,” Larson said. “They’re going to set the foundation for what the system is going to look like.” And according to the bill, that waiver application needs to go to the federal government on June 1, 2016. An outline for the waiver has to be submitted to the General Assembly by March 1.

As yet, the new state agency that will run the updated Medicaid program has one employee. And Richard pointed out that existing employees at DHHS have to keep the current program running as they prepare for all these documents under a compressed timeline.

One might ask "why" a new Cabinet-level agency would still have only one employee at this stage of the game, and how could that one person possibly accomplish all the tasks needed in the next few months? The answer is simple, as Queen Aldona taught us so well during her tenure:

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