Republican greed

NC GOP's tax cut scam costs state retirees dearly

medicaidman.jpg

And before you say "cognitive dissonance," they know exactly what they're doing:

Just minutes after approving two tax cut bills that will cost the state more than $150 million in the next fiscal year, Senate lawmakers argued the state can't afford to give its retirees a permanent cost-of-living increase.

State retirees haven’t had a substantial cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, since before the recession, and House Bill 231 wouldn't change that. Instead, it’s a one-time bonus of 0.5 percent this fall and again in 2020. About 216,000 retired workers are in the state's defined retirement system. Their average pension is only about $21,000, so the bonus works out to about $105 each year. The cost of the bonus is about $25.5 million per year.

Both of those numbers are averaged, which means a whole bunch of people make less, and their bonus will also be less. And just so we're clear about the time frame, "before the recession" means 12 years ago. Just looking at inflation alone, what cost $1.00 in 2009 costs $1.20 in 2019. A 20% increase in costs to retirees that Republicans have ignored, while passing multiple tax cuts. They say those tax cuts will (and have) increased revenues, and yet here we are 12 years later with no COLAs for these folks who served our state dutifully. The word "shameful" doesn't cover it.

Petty Tyrants: Tim Moore and the $775,000 per year desk job

timmoore.jpg

The trick is to hire the people who will hire you:

Reginald “Reggie” Holley, the Republican lobbyist whose nomination was ultimately approved by the House, was asked by Moore to put his name forward and serve on the board, Jackson said — a fact Jackson said he learned from a conversation with Holley.

“How does a lobbyist — someone who depends on leadership for the movement of bills and policy — how do they say no when the Speaker of the House calls them and asks them to serve?” Jackson said. And how does the speaker, who has been rumored for months to be interested in the presidency of the 17-campus UNC system, not recuse himself from choosing the members of the Board of Governors who will ultimately make that decision? Jackson continued.

In a word--Hubris. We're talking about a man who made a joke about taking away powers from the Governor of NC. The term "ethics" is not in his vocabulary, making him the very last person who should be running the UNC System. Unfortunately, these people just don't think along the same lines as the rest of us:

On the dire need for an overhaul of Minimum Wage

Times have changed, for the worse:

Only one-in-five workers earning minimum wage are teenagers now, and about the same percentage of people are married. About 60 percent of workers earning minimum wage or less are working part-time, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to work. Many want but can’t find full-time work.

Most of the others are constrained by child care, health problem, or school schedules from working more. If we think about those individuals who would see a benefit from an increase, the average worker is older, less likely to be working for discretionary income and more likely to be supporting a family.

Bolding mine. Not trying to insult your intelligence, but since I've had to explain the meaning of the word "discretionary" to college grads about six times in the last few years, I might as well do it again here. It dates back to the 14th Century, and denotes somebody has the power to "judge or choose" courses of action. Often tied with "age of ascension" in certain cultures granting adult status. But in this context, it means you have the freedom to decide how to spend the money you've earned. And when your rent, utilities, and food requirements outpace your earnings, that choice has already been made for you. I know that's long-winded, but I've heard too many Democrats parrot that "just for teenagers" meme lately when minimum wage comes up, and I wanted to drive a stake in that meme's heart. Something I've also heard, which makes sense on a certain level: "We need to bring back the EITC to give these folks a boost." Yes. But not as an alternative to a minimum wage increase. Why not? Because the EITC is taken from tax revenues, and not from the private-sector employer who *should* be paying better. And before you say that next thing:

Monday Numbers: Taking care of the 1%

Chris Fitzsimon lays bare the highway robbery:

5—number of days since the White House and Republican Congressional leadership released the outline of their major tax reform proposal (“GOP tax plan would provide major gains for richest 1%, uneven benefits for the middle class, report says, Washington Post, September 29. 2017)

30—percentage of taxpayers with annual incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 who would see a tax increase under the plan (Ibid)

80—percentage of tax benefits in the Republican tax reform plan that would go to the top one percent of taxpayers (“A Preliminary Analysis of the Unified Framework, Tax Policy Center, September 29, 2017)

It's quite possible Trump actually believes this will be a net benefit for the middle class, but that's only because he has no idea what the criteria is for that category. He probably thinks the middle class are people who can afford a $200,000 membership fee at Mar-A-Lago, but can't afford more than 5-7 maids and gardeners for their own home. And once again, I find it hard to grasp why people would trust a man who has borrowed a lot more money than he's paid back, and managed to turn filing bankruptcy into an art form. The writing's on the wall with this issue:

Counting the local costs of the Connect NC Bond scam

Coming to a poor county near you:

Gov. Pat McCrory applauded local efforts in economic development throughout the years on Friday after he revealed SWELECT Energy Systems LLC will grace Halifax County. McCrory also said the State will soon invest in Halifax County, made possible through the recently passed Connect N.C. Bond Referendum.

“And one reason these bonds were so important is that we’re going to put $6.5 million into Halifax Community College, which is going to help train workers to fill these jobs at (the upcoming SWELECT Energy facility), and also, by the way, you have a great mountain park here, and the park system is so important we’re going to be putting $1.5 million in the Medoc Mountain Park right here,” the governor added.

I'm glad to see a Solar panel manufacturing facility come to NC, and this community desperately needs those 155 jobs. But the truth is, that $6.5 million may end up costing the local community more than it can stomach. There are some details in this forward-looking statement from HCC's President that are critical in understanding the potential pitfalls of this supposed windfall:

Group may take over Pittenger properties

And reporters have already lost the main thread of the story:

Charlotte-based South Street Partners is in talks to become the new manager of properties overseen by U.S. Rep Robert Pittenger’s former real estate firm.

Pittenger Land Investments identifies raw tracts in potential growth areas and gathers investors to buy the properties, which are held by limited liability companies. The goal over time is to make a return by selling the properties to developers.

No. That is their "stated" goal, but you skipped millions of dollars that Pittenger already made by scamming those investors. You guys just covered this a few months ago, and you need to keep this part of the story front and center:

DisConnect NC: Transportation infrastructure missing from revised bond

"I'm sure it's a nice building, I just can't get there from here."

But the cornerstone of his proposal was "a transportation bond of $1.2 billion that will allow for the quicker construction of projects in the 25 year plan." In fact new money for roads, bridges, ports and other transportation projects were so key to the initiative that McCrory dubbed it ‘Connect NC.’

That name remains but all money for connections has been stripped out of the Connect NC bill. There is money for an academic building boom...But the Senate’s plan cuts roughly a billion dollars from McCrory’s proposal by eliminating all road, bridge and transportation projects from the plan.

Another embarrassment for Governor McTravel, who will no doubt be shaking his fists in frustration. But it's also going to be frustrating for the rest of the state, which is in dire need of some road repair and (yikes!) bridge replacements. And for sure the Highway Patrol will really love this:

Tillis starts his own PAC, plays with model of lear jet

Okay, I made up the part about the toy jet, but the PAC thing is real:

In launching a political action committee to raise funds, Thom Tillis has made his first name an acronym: Together Holding Our Majority.

The Federal Elections Commission this week posted the filing that creates THOMPAC. The entity is a leadership PAC – the type formed by members of Congress – which raises money for the lawmaker’s non-campaign expenses and provides a vehicle to contribute to their colleagues’ campaigns.

I think it's blatantly obvious who Tillis' #1 constituent is. He should have named it "THAM" (Thom Holding Alla Money). Me? I'm just trying to hold my gorge down...

The enemy at home: Payday lenders and the military

Swimming in shark-infested waters:

Among other protections, the act bans members of the military from being charged more than 36 percent in annual interest on certain consumer loans. Payday, auto title and tax refund-anticipation loans are among those covered by the cap.

But attorneys general and regulators say lenders have used loopholes in the act to prey on members of the military. Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal regulator, in September said some lenders lurk just outside of military bases to offer loans that fall just beyond the act's limits.

One more issue that sets Democrats apart from Republicans, especially here in NC. Republicans don't think it's their responsibility to "intervene" in a "business arrangement" between two willing entities, even if that arrangement is fraudulent and even if the victim has already put his/her life on the line for the country, day after bloody day, for years. There are a lot of disgusting things associated with the NC GOP's mismanagement of our state, but this one is easily in the top five.

For McCrory, money does grow on a Tree

Ethical questions just keep piling up:

In the months after receiving his $171,071 payout of stock from Tree.com, McCrory appointed the state's banking director and a majority of the banking commissioners who regulate mortgage brokers. Some of Tree.com's payments to McCrory and Sanford weren't publicly disclosed until May 2014, when the company filed its 2013 year-end proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

McCrory declined requests for an interview. In a written statement, McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said the governor fully complied with state law and "continues to uphold high ethical standards."

From taking money from out-of-state gambling concerns to insider stock trading, McCrory's ethical lapses have become so numerous they can no longer be attributed to ignorance or incompetence. It's time for a special prosecutor to open an investigation, just like George Holding did when Mike Easley was called to the carpet.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Republican greed