In the state of North Carolina, the voters chose to go in a different direction. For the past 20-years, a Democrat had been the sitting Governor of North Carolina, but all that changed on one election night in November, 2012. The new Governor, Pat McCrory, a former Mayor of Charlotte NC., was elected as the first Republican governor since Gov. Jim Martin who served from 1985 -1993.
Since Gov. McCrory’s inauguration in January this year and his State of the State Address this month, he has already made sweeping legislative moves and overturns that directly affect thousands of North Carolinians right where it hurts most – their finances. According to Gary Anderson of the Associated Press, McCrory signed the bill making these changes in his state’s Capitol building office. The media wasn’t invited to the signing, but several of the legislators (All Republicans) who quickly shepherded the bill through the General Assembly in the first two weeks of this year’s work session, were there. (Why so Secretive?)
The bill includes an unemployment plan that repays $2.5 billion owed the federal government for jobless benefits paid since the Great Recession, by cutting maximum weekly jobless payments from $535 to $350 on new claims beginning July 1. And the maximum number of weeks for state benefits goes from 26 weeks to 12 to 20 weeks, depending on the state unemployment rate. But what’s not mentioned is that Gov. McCrory gave a $13,000 raise to his Cabinet secretaries while making these cuts.
The bill also raises state unemployment taxes, partially through the elimination of a zero-percent rate that about 30,000 businesses have received. Federal taxes will continue to rise by $21 per employee per year until the debt is repaid and a 20-percent state surcharge will continue a little while longer.
“As one of the first laws under his tenure, these cruel cuts will forever mar any legacy that Gov. McCrory hopes to leave behind,” said MaryBe McMillan with the state AFL-CIO. “Only bullies kick people while they are down. Shame on our governor and our legislature for turning their backs on unemployed workers.”
When President Obama even mentions a minimum wage increase or the super rich paying a little more in taxes or healthcare for every American, the Republicans cringe, squirm and call it bad economics. But a Republican Governor and Republican led House comes into power, kicks the little man while he’s down and this is considered Good Policy?
One leader, led by the North Carolina Chamber, who backed the overhaul – Chamber CEO Lew Ebert – acknowledged in an interview that it was “tough medicine” for both businesses and workers, but that it would insure the system wouldn’t be in such bad shape again. (Hey Ebert, what about those who aren’t working?)
“We’re sending a strong signal. We’re getting our house in order,” he said.
Riiiigghhtttt. By destroying the little man who’s struggling to make ends meet, keep a roof over his and his family’s head, put food on the table, pay for college tuitions, buy groceries, pay a mortgage, make a car payment, etc. All of this on $350 a week? Yep, that’s a Strong Signal alright. A signal signifying what Democrats have always thought about Republicans and was confirmed by the great Mitt Romney. Does 47% ring a bell?