"...our leaders have concluded, all facts to the contrary, that the only thing wrong with North Carolina is that those at the bottom have too much and those at the top don’t have enough.
We decided to reject a Medicaid expansion that would benefit us more than virtually any other state – shoving us to the right of even the pernicious Rick Scott of Florida. Over 500,000 needy citizens are now effectively ejected from the health care system, though the feds were ready to foot almost the entire bill.
We cut unemployment insurance dramatically in a way that will forfeit federal funds appropriated as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations – brushing aside money, once again, already on the table. A bumbling committee chairwoman explained she’d been working on the changes for weeks and didn’t want to go back and re-do things to get the federal dollars. Too much trouble. After all, it’s just food and sustenance and housing for 170,000 immensely distressed human beings. Whoever cares?
We’re moving to end the state’s exceedingly modest earned income tax credit. This reflects the inspiring premise that the only taxes eligible for increase are those of working families making about $35,000 a year. About 900,000 low-income Tar Heels will be made to pay a larger portion of their wages so that 120 or so immensely wealthy families can be excused from paying an estate tax.
Yet another proposal speeds forward to dramatically cut, or eliminate, the state income tax and increase the sales tax on food and other essentials. This is necessary, reportedly, so that poor people pay can more taxes and rich people less. And we’re re-introducing payday lending, long outlawed here, to help wealthy folks steal more readily from impoverished ones. Government by brigands."
Gene Nichol is Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina’s School of Law.