NC Democrats: A Transformative Opportunity

I apologize for the length, but this was a note that I first posted on facebook last weekend. It may rile some feathers, but sometimes a good spring cleaning is needed:

Since last January, I have been watching and listening very closely to many of the elected officials, activists and hanger-ons after the Republicans gained complete control of the General Assembly; a feat unseen in over 120 years. With this historic win come the fruits of victory, and in this case it meant the ability to redraw the state's legislative and congressional maps.

After a three judge panel refused to delay the 2012 primary date (and in essence the filing period), we have seen scores of veteran democrats dropiing like flies. This is in NO WAY an attack on them-I thank them for their willingness to step up and serve! However, this has given me pause to think about the bigger picture, and despite of the incoming fire that will surely follow, my thoughts:

1. Time to Change the Guard.

A few years ago I went to a forum on the budget where the senior appropriation chairs took questions from citizens throughout the state. With the exception of ONE member of the panel, the entire stage was comprised of old, white men (and one African American male). No offense, but by "old" I mean men in their 70's. I am sorry but this is NOT rperesntative of the demographic layout of North Carolina. I would suggest to you that it is TIME to clean out the old establishment mentality of this party, and bring in folks who are not "connected" to corporate money and attitudes that ignored the the people that truly want this state to be a bright light of progessive thought instead of still stuck in the mindset of the 40's and 50's. Maybe we truly need term limits for legislators, or even a smaller House where the members are paid a salary which invites people to run before they become filthy rich or retired.

2. Time to Truly Stand for the Poor and Working Men and Women.

A year ago, as I was watching the demise of the middle class in Wisconsin by Governor Scott Walker, I was thrilled to watch as the "Wisconsin 14," the 14 senate democrats that left the state to slow down the legislative attacks by republicans against collective bargaining rights of public sector employees. I watched as the house democrats, unable to stop the action in their chamber, yelled, "SHAME SHAME SHAME," as the vote was cast. I wondered to myself if democrats in THIS state would ever stand and fight like that. I had to realize the truth; NO they would NOT stand and fight like that! Don't believe me? Check the facts: 1959, it was DEMOCRATS that passed legislation to ban collective bargaining. Even in all the years when democrats controlled the executive and legislative powers, the idea of repealing a Jim Crow-era law NEVER was allowed to have a floor vote. Why? Because democrats in the House had a rule that prevented individual members from getting a fair committee/floor vote on a bill unless the leadership gave the approval. Republicans did away with that rule when they took over control last year.

Need another reason to pause and think? Did you know that when the 2009-10 budget was ratified, that according to the legislature and governor, a single person with a $60K was considered as "rich" and required to pay a TAX SURCHARGE on their income? Here is the facts from the '09 Appropriation Act:

SECTION 27A.1.(b)

Part 2 of Article 4 of Chapter 105 of the General Statutes is
amended by adding a new section to read:

§ 105-134.2A. Income tax surtax.

Page 218 S202 [Ratified]

(a) Surtax. – An income tax surtax is imposed on a taxpayer equal to a percentage of

the tax payable by the taxpayer under G.S. 105-134.2 for the taxable year. This tax is in
addition to the tax imposed by G.S. 105-134.2 and is due at the time prescribed in G.S. 105-155
for filing an individual income tax return. The surtax is imposed at the following percentage
rates and applies to the tax payable on the taxpayer's North Carolina taxable income:
Filing Status Over Up To Percentage
Married, filing jointly or surviving spouse $ 0 $100,000 0%
$100,000 $250,000 2% $250,000 NA 3%
Head of household $ 0 $ 80,000 0% $ 80,000 $200,000 2% $200,000 NA 3%
Single $ 0 $ 60,000 0% $ 60,000 $150,000 2% $150,000 NA 3%

This was a surcharge on top of the tax due. I wonder if President Obama would ever have thought of a $60,000 income as being "rich." We cannot blame the republicans for this move made during the recession.

3. Time to STOP Taxing the Poor and Working People in This State.

Since moving here in 1997, I have observed 7 long sessions of the General Assembly. It is this session where the biennial (2 year) budget is drafted. The short session (even years) is used to make adjustments as needed. Here is a truth for you; Proposed "temporary tax increases" were ALWAYS implemented during the long session. To suggest any kind of tax increase in an ELECTION year is stupid and political suicide.

Additionally, this year is not the time to put another tax increase on people who are barely scraping by as we try to crawl out of a recession. North Carolina has one of the six HIGHEST unemployment rates at 9.9%, and for minorities that rate is near 15%. The vast majority of workers in this state have NOT had a pay raise in 4 YEARS. Yet housing, food, esentials, and the GAS TAX have continued to go UP! Gas is currently $3.71/gallon here in NC. Why the hell would we continue to even suggest that taxes should go up? How about following President Obama's idea and focus on real reforms that have coproations and the wealthiest pay their fair share? Advocating for regressive taxes-STUPID!

4. Time to be Completely Honest with Taxpayers.

During last year's budget battle, we heard many horror stories about the looming loss of 20-30, 000 jobs of teachers and other public sector workers. Let's be real about two things: 1. Vacant positions do NOT count in people losing their jobs. I have worked in four separate state agencies in my time here, and I know for a fact that every agency kept positions vacant to "pad" their budget numbers in order to have funds to use for "special projects," conferences for top executives, etc. Unfilled positions and the salaries that went with them were used to create slush funds.

Having said that, we have to address the TRUE numbers of people who were actually told to, "pack your stuff and leave!" In that case, slightly over 600 general government employees, and just under 600 licensed classroom teachers were laid off. These figures were included in an excellent News & Observer article on 2/5/12. The figures were fact checked and came from Department of Public Instruction, Employment Security, and the General Assembly Reasearch staff. Leaders in DPI and ESC were appointed by a democratic governor, NOT republicans! The staff at the GA are ethical employees who do NOT push the R or D agenda.

Link to N&O Article: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/02/04/1829069/nc-job-reductions-hit-wom...

We have deep problems looming over the horizon and we need complete honesty. We have a $300 million+ deficit in Medicaid. We owe the federal government $2.7 BILLION for the unemployment funds (grows by $27 million/week), and the final education installment of the stimulus bill runs out this summer. Any candidate for political office who cannot be totally honest does not deserve to be elected this year! Like many of you, I want democrats to regain control of the General Assembly and maintain the governor's mansion. However, if it means the same old status quo of the past fifty years, I'm not sure if that will really mean that we learned anything from the 2010 elections. Peace!

Comments

I assume you're on medication for this?

Just kidding. But this won't happen in a 1000 years. Political courage...honesty....truth...stop taxing the poor in place of the rich?

These dumb f's won't even get the state out the liquor business.

Stan Bozarth

No Stan, I have refused to

No Stan,

I have refused to drink the "blue" version of the Kool Aid anymore. Explain to me why democrats in this state, during the 2009 long session, decided it was a good idea to hike taxes on someone making $60,000/year? I must have missed Preident Obama's statement on that income being a "rich" one.

Oh yeah, with gas now at $3.72 and climbing, from what part of my butt am I suppose to pull out the extra $ for a sales tax increase? Proposing to RAISE taxes in this economy, in an election year? Now that is a way to guarantee sitting on the back row for another 2 years.

It appears you didn't read the post or get the gist of my

comment. It wasn't a good idea to raise taxes on single people making 60K. And if you have been around here for any time you'd know I and others oppose the sales tax increase. It's regressive...damaging to the poor and middle class. Obama had nothing to do with it...not that it matters.

Blue Kool aid doesn't taste any better than red. I don't drink it either. We have a lot of 'corporate" democrats that aren't much better than their GOP counterparts...

What we need are able and intelligent people who will put their religion and party aside and do what's right for the people. That isn't happening. In my hometown the city council is talking about raising property taxes so they can build a $40 Million baseball stadium for one of the Atlanta farm teams. This is the same group of morons who built an un-needed and now underutilized convention center, spends $200K a year of our taxes for a parking system that doesn't make enough in revenues to cover costs and irritates the snot out of people anyhow....and who use a red-light camera system that costs $700K a year more than it generates.

About the only good reason I can find to be Democrat is that the GOP is fundamentally crazier than outhouse rats...as a group.

Stan Bozarth

If you buy into reactionary philosophies, just admit

... that you are one.

You're complaining about both income and sales taxes -- major revenue sources for the state of NC.

I've never made $60,000 per year in my life, and I doubt I ever will. It is "rich" for most North Carolinians.

If you want nice things, you have to pay for them.

Taking back the conversation from the reactionary edge you've fallen into is exactly what sensible people in NC need to do.

Raising revenue is exactly what is needed in NC, not more cuts.

SEANC or anyone else selling a "more cuts" strategy to state employees should have their heads examined.

 

Thanks for the Lead In

Anyone who truly wants to raise regressive taxes is absolutely insane. Haven't we learned ANYTHING in this Party?

Do you remember "Joe the Plumber" from 2008? He worked for a small business owner, who himself, after dedcutions for business expenses, said he earned less than $80K/year. Wow, he must be RICH huh? Since the majority of jobs here and around the country are in small, family-run businesses, we need to be the party that stands for THEM, and you cannot do this while adding more taxes to the very consumers that mom & pop business owners depend on. Here are the 2010 census numbers on economic for NC:
http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview....

Finally, there continue to be places where "fat" can be cut from state government. The biggest mistake that the GOP made in agency budget cuts (and they admitted it recently) was in not mandating that cuts come from administrative areas (middle/upper management positions) and NOT from those positions that provide direct services. Although general government saw about 600 actual layoffs, those could have been sharply reduced had more political ass-kiss appointees and friends been shown the door.

In a civilized society, you do NOT tax the poor and working class, you completely overhall the tax code, but democrats have been whistling through the graveyard when it comes to doing really hard work.

In the end there's not much difference in

ignoring the obvious (DEMs) or being a proponent of taxing the working class (GOPers). Nothing is getting done on tax reform.
So, both are at fault.

Stan Bozarth

Republicans and collective bargaining

Republicans did away with that rule when they took over control last year.

Tacking that little tid-bit at the end of a tirade against Democrats for their lack of support for unions is a poor attempt at cleverness. Maybe you're trying to make us forget crap like this:

It’s easy to understand why House Democrats are loathe to take Tillis at his word, based on the last time they convened in early January, ostensibly only to consider Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a death-penalty bill.

Republicans deferred House debate on that bill and used parliamentary maneuvers to reconvene another work session at 12:45 a.m. to override the veto of another bill that would make it more difficult for the N.C. Association of Educators to collect member dues. The Senate has overridden that veto earlier, but the House lacked the votes to overturn. They were able to override it during the early-morning session because several Democrats had left for home before the session convened.

So much for your implication that Republicans are being more "fair" with their rules and/or more amenable to collective bargaining in general.

And as far as opportunites, or "lost opportunities" I should say, SEANC's decision to spend $1.8 million in a Democratic Primary for Lt. Governor is bordering on the surreal. You want some "fresh blood" in the General Assembly, don't fart around attacking Eric Mansfield (for whatever reason). That amount of money could easily fill a few of those open seats in the NCGA with young, pro-labor Progressive Dems. If that's what you really want, that is.

But if you want to continue living the fantasy that Republicans could be your new savior, that working with them (or at least not against them) will better serve your long-term interests, then I'm afraid the logical potholes on the road you've chosen will eventually break an axle and leave you stranded near a desolate town called Obscurity.

I was hoping someone besides me would write this

Thank you. I fp'd this partly to see if anyone actually reads the stuff that gets written here. So now I know at least one person besides me does.

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

I'm actually glad it was posted

When I saw (on Twitter) the announcement of SEANC's spending in that race, I kept waiting for a (logical) answer to emerge. Haven't seen one yet.

I don't mean (in any way) to disparage Linda Coleman. Or the office of Lt. Governor, for that matter. But in the absence of an evenly-split Senate, I just don't see the payoff for SEANC members. And that's assuming McCrory coattails won't sweep a Republican into the LG spot anyway.

I just don't get it.

Since you made no comments

Since you made no comments about the bulk of the writing, i.e. tax hikes by Dems on the middle class and calls for more tax hikes, I guess a response to your remarks is in order:

1. It seems that any democrat who makes an attempt at independent thinking is subject to quick exile and then execution. It is obvious that there is a blue Kool-Aid as well as a red one. God gave me a brain and an expectation that I use it. I will not be dragged down a primrose path on a set of old, worn out talking points.

2. The House "rule" that I referred to was designed to prevent any bill from progressing that the House Caucus leadership did not like. It was not used exclusively on repeal of 95.98, and its purpose was to not piss off corporate campaign contributions.

3. On the Lt Governor race, SEANC made the decision to support Linda through the primary based on her proven track record of standing up for working families over the past eight years. While I personally have nothing against Eric Mansfield, one year in elected office, with no track record of support, and his being against the Affordable Health Care Act as well as malparactice awards (read hospital pac $$) raises red flags. Of course the NCDP good 'ol boys seem to be against both Linda and Eric based on their cries out to Commerce Sec Crisco to file.

4. Finally, I do NOT see either party in THIS state as my savior. I am sick and tired of hearing, "well we're not as bad as the other guys" bullshit. Hell of a choice: the werewolves or the zombies. I am now understanding why the overwhelming number of voter registrations are for Unaffiliated. Neither party really gives a damn about the issues, just power and prestige.

You've been around here long enough to know

that there's not much fawning over Democrats by the people most active on this site. I personally am an unaffiliated voter, and if anything, BlueNC has been criticized more by partisan insiders as being too critical of Democrats. All of which is to say, your indignation seems rather misdirected.

I won't speak for Steve, but calling someone out for focusing on only one piece of a broader post with which he may mostly agree also seems misdirected. Yes, the sky is blue. Yes, we are witnessing an incremental changing of the guard.

What does that have to do with the point Steve was making?

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

PS

All that said, everything I know about SEANC I've learned from reading news reports, other blogs, and discussions here. To report my honest opinions here would conflict with my goal of making BlueNC a more family-friendly blog.

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

Which explains

To report my honest opinions here would conflict with my goal of making BlueNC a more family-friendly blog.

Which explains why I strive so hard to keep my foul mouth shut :)

Great topic and conversation - lots to think about.

_______________________________________________

"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

James, then you are always

James, then you are always free to privately email me. As a moderator of this blog, I know you have access to it. I would always welcome the opportunity to share my 10 years of involvement with this organization. We have not always done everything perfectly, but the the dues-paying members (as I have previously posted on) make the decisions as to endorsements, policy direction, etc.

Feel free to dialogue with me privately.

No thanks

I appreciate the offer, but I've never found it productive to find out things "privately" about organizations operating in North Carolina.

My views are shaped by the public personas of organizations - how they show up in the media, on blogs, etc. In that way, I'm more like an average Joe, sifting through the signals to cobble together my own understand of the reality around me.

If, in fact, the activities truly represent the expressed choices of your dues-paying members, the organization is one I'd rather know less about than more. To burn significant money in a Democratic Party primary for lieutenant governor - regardless of who the candidate is - seems like a really dumb idea.

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

$15,000 on radio ads is

$15,000 on radio ads is significant money?

That's just the first salvo

SEANC is prepared to spend a hell of a lot more than that in the upcoming weeks.

I've commented here numerous times

about my opposition to regressive taxes. I've also spoken out in favor of collective bargaining, probably moreso than any other non-union member ever has. And not a damned one of you ever thanked me for it. Which is fine, I didn't write that stuff to be thanked.

As far as me not commenting on the "bulk" of your writing, that's horseshit. The bulk of your post was an attack on the Democratic Party and a tacit promotion of the Republican Party. How so? Well, you bitched about the gas tax, but failed to mention that Phil Berger and his GOP Senate buddies could have capped it very easily, but they chose not to. An interesting oversight on your part, to say the least.

As far as your complaint about the unemployment dollars we owe the Federal government, you are really barking up the wrong tree with that one. If it wasn't for those extended benefits, I would likely have lost my house. Me and several thousand other NC'ians. Frankly, and this may sound crazy: That's a debt the NC Democratic Party can (and should) be proud of. It shows the political will to step up for the people, when they need it.

While we're dreaming

Wouldn't it be nice to have more candidates that would stand up for equality, rather than begging them to meet the lower threshold of not adding more bigotry into the constitution?

I've been trying to encourage more officials to do It Gets Better videos too, figuring they could do real good especially as hateful attacks in the media become the norm as the amendment vote approaching, and figuring that its a lower threshold than supporting full equality but still another step that could be taken. Elected officials all over the US and even the President did one, but NC, not so much, yet. Here's hoping.