EDUCATORS BACK COOPER'S PAY RAISE VETO, LAWMAKERS MUST DO BETTER: Under the bill, teachers with 0-15 years experience would not have received any raise this year. Teachers with 16-20 years would see only $50 more a month before taxes. Teachers from 21-24 years of experience would get $150 more a month, while our most dedicated veterans with 25 years or higher would have salaries raised $60 a month. For school year 2020-21, teachers with 0-15 years would again get nothing, and teachers with 16 years or more would all get another $50 a month. As bad as this deal would have been for teachers, it would have been downright insulting for our non-certified staff and retirees. The vetoed legislation provided no cost of living adjustment for retired educators and would have increased pay for bus drivers, cafeteria employees, custodians and other classified employees by just $15-20 a month.
THE FALSE PROMISE OF NC'S CORPORATE TAX CUTS: The verdict is in on President Trump’s 2017 corporate tax cut: It didn’t work. The tax cut’s backers said reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent would increase the average household income by $4,000, raise economic growth above 3 percent and even pay for itself by generating more tax revenue. As the Wall Street Journal’s Greg Ip noted in a recent column, “Nearly two years later, none of those things have happened, and there is scant sign that they will.” This umpteenth example of the false promise of trickle-down economics raises anew questions about North Carolina’s aggressive cutting of corporate taxes. The Republican-led General Assembly started phasing in tax cuts in 2013 that now cost about $3.6 billion a year in lost revenue. The estate tax was eliminated and the progressive income tax was reduced to a flat tax, but the most dramatic cut was a reduction in the corporate tax rate. Since 2013 it has been reduced from a high of 6.9 percent — then the highest in the Southeast — to 2.5 percent today. Among 44 states that have a corporate tax, North Carolina’s is the lowest.
CLIMATE CHANGE IS ALREADY ERODING THE VALUE OF COASTAL REAL ESTATE: The First Street Foundation’s conclusions should be a wake-up call to all communities subjected to sunny day flooding. Of course, the floodwater will deepen with time until the flood eventually becomes permanent. Well before that happens, property values will certainly crash. In the 1960s, Wilmington, North Carolina, saw just two sunny day flood events per year. In 2015, Wilmington experienced 48 flooding events hit. And Wilmington is not alone. Tidal flooding is increasing up and down the east coast of the US. It isn’t just sunny day flooding that is causing property values along the coast to appreciate more slowly than non-coastal properties. People are increasingly more aware that climate change is a reality and that the nature of coastal storms are changing. Storms are less predictable, more severe and are dropping more rain than has happened in the past. Once the inevitable crash comes, be it in two years or a decade, the already diminished retirement wealth of thousands of people will disappear, wealth that was planned to augment retirement income.
FORGET THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST. TRUMP CHOOSES THE DIM AND DISGRACEFUL: Chang would never have been appointed by any other president, yet she fits right into an administration headed by a president who notoriously created his own phony Time magazine cover. A grifter himself, Trump has filled his administration with people who either lack professional qualifications or ethical standards — and often both. These are people such as Monica Crowley, an assistant secretary of the Treasury with a record of plagiarism, and who is notorious for a tweet praising the Berlin Wall (“Walls work”). Or former national security adviser Michael Flynn, now a convicted felon after lying to the FBI. Or Gordon Sondland, a hotelier and Trump donor who became a mastermind of U.S. policy toward Ukraine because he was willing to do Trump’s unethical bidding. Or former acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, an erstwhile U.S. attorney in Iowa and then a peddler of toilets for “well-endowed” men who came to Trump’s attention by overzealously defending him on Fox News. Or Stephen Miller, the White House point person on immigration who espoused white supremacist views in messages obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Or Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who didn’t qualify for a security clearance yet acts as a shadow secretary of state — and a leading booster of the murderous Saudi crown prince.
DID PRESIDENT TRUMP JUST EARN HIMSELF ANOTHER ARTICLE OF IMPEACHMENT? As Ms. Yovanovitch testified about the smear campaign against her, Mr. Trump weighed in from the White House as though eager to confirm her story. “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” he tweeted, preposterously blaming her for the chaos in Somalia, one of several hardship posts in which she served. Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, interrupted the questioning to let the ambassador know that the president was attacking her. After reading Ms. Yovanovitch one of the belligerent tweets, Mr. Schiff asked: “What effect do you think that has on other witnesses’ willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?” “Well, it’s very intimidating,” she said, visibly shaken. Mr. Schiff assured her that “some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.” Translation: The president may just have earned himself an article of impeachment. In a refreshing development, the ensuing criticism of Mr. Trump’s Twitter fit was bipartisan. Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, said the president’s tweeting “was wrong.” “Extraordinarily poor judgment,” said Kenneth Starr, the former independent counsel at the center of President Clinton’s impeachment, on Fox News. “Obviously this was quite injurious.” Fox News’ Bret Baier called it “a turning point in this hearing.”
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
PETER VINICK: TILLIS IS HELPING TO CREATE A TYRANT PRESIDENT: Earlier this year Sen. Thom Tillis wrote an op-ed on executive overreach. He proclaimed: “I have grave concerns when our institution looks the other way at the expense of weakening Congress’s power... I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress.” He welched on those words days later after his party took him to task. Now, reading his characterization of the impeachment allegations as “baseless,” it seems Tillis is going out of his way to help the president bypass congressional oversight. I urge him to heed his own words and to emulate Sen. Richard Burr, who seems to have taken a more measured approach. Let the facts, or lack thereof, continue to emerge so the people of North Carolina can make up their own minds. Otherwise, Tillis could be helping usher in an era of unchecked executive power, one in which presidents are emboldened to manipulate foreign governments for political gain.
MARGARET TOMAN: IT'S TIME TO EMBRACE A CARBON TAX: Climate is the symphony through which the earth expresses herself. The earth in its natural, balanced state is a self-healing, self-perpetuating organism highly adaptable to human use as long as that use is moderate. Moderation requires a self-discipline at which human beings do not excel. More, better and bigger is the mantra of Homo sapiens about to wake up to a planet in peril, with nowhere to go. The Citizens Climate Lobby, with its Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, presents an imaginative solution to a scientific challenge – the reduction of carbon emissions by 40 percent within 12 years. This bipartisan strategy, currently capturing attention worldwide, may be mankind’s best hope to keep the music playing.
PATRICK CONWAY: A PROFOUND "THANK YOU" TO BOB HALL: Regarding “Complaint says top North Carolina Republican is taking donors’ money for personal gain,” (Nov. 6): Thursday, Dylan Watts of the N.C. Republican Party said: “This is another example of Bob Hall being a bottom-feeder and a scumbag.” Watts owes Hall a sincere apology. I have for years observed and appreciated Hall’s selfless work to strengthen democratic processes in North Carolina. We citizens, whatever our political party, have all benefited from his insistence that politics and elections be done right. He deserves our deepest thanks for his service. By the way, Hall is exactly right in his allegations. When a politician takes money given to him for political campaigning and spends it to buy a house, he is using the funds for personal gain.