North Carolinians don’t believe the hype about tax reform because they’ve heard it all before

by | Dec 18, 2017 | Editor's Blog, Tax Reform | 11 comments

Republicans have cleared most of the obstacles to their tax bill and will likely send it to Donald Trump for his signature sometime in the next day or two. Republicans in Congress are rejoicing. The American people are not.

According to SurveyMonkey poll, 58% of Americans disapprove of the bill and only 37% approve. Only a third of the people think they’ll see lower taxes. They also don’t believe that the tax plan will pay for itself through increased economic performance. In other words, they believe it will add to the deficit.

New York Times economics reporter Ben Casselman believes that the poll’s results may show broader dissatisfaction with the GOP and the tax plan. He said in a tweet that “many people I spoke to said they oppose the bill *even if* it would cut their taxes. People cited concerns about spending cuts, the deficit, inequality, etc.”

In other words, voters believe that Republicans are out of touch with their concerns. Cutting taxes is not one of their top priorities right now and a Pew Research survey from April shows that largest concern people have about taxes is that the wealthy and corporations don’t pay enough. The GOP plan is nothing if not a huge tax cut for them.

Unless people see a significant change in their personal economic situations, they won’t give Republicans much credit. In North Carolina, the GOP cut taxes and have been crowing about their success as a model for the country. The country would be wise to take a look at the reaction of North Carolina voters.

Republicans in the state consistently cite the Tax Foundation’s assessment that North Carolina is now one of the most competitive states for business. Forbes Magazine named it the top state for business. North Carolina has reduced its debt to the federal government while replenishing its rainy day fund. Job growth in recent years has outpaced the nation as whole. Wages are increasing.

Given all that hype, why aren’t average North Carolinians excited about the federal tax reform? Well, most people in the state haven’t felt the benefits the state reform. The tax cuts went overwhelmingly to wealthiest people. The increase in sales tax on services like car repair cost poor people and the lower middle class as much as or even more than the income tax cuts helped. According a report by NC State economist Michael Walden, labor productivity and wage rates lag behind the nation as a whole and most of the jobs created have gone to either high or low paying jobs, while middle income jobs are still in decline.

People also felt the impact of tax cuts in other ways. Anybody with kids in public schools knows that the schools got less money because of the tax cuts. Per pupil spending dropped dramatically and schools across the state made cuts to programs like arts and music. The deaths of four prison guards underscored how underfunded and understaffed the prison system is. The budget cuts that offset the cost of tax cuts fell disproportionally on the shoulders of middle class families and left our state less secure.

Republicans in North Carolina site statistics and rankings to tout the success of their tax reform. However, most North Carolinians have seen little impact on their personal well-being. They have seen the impact of budget cuts, though, and they haven’t been positive. So, when Republicans in Washington tell the country about the pending tax reform, count North Carolinians as among those who are skeptical. They’ve heard the hype before and seen who benefits and who doesn’t. They know it’s not them.


  1. johnjones

    Let’s not forget the simularities to the Kansas ” miracle” and Oklahoma

  2. MyTurnNC

    Any money returned to the 95% by this abomination of a “tax” bill will soon be yanked away by the increase in health insurance costs.
    One I know of just went from about $380 per month for a high deductible policy to $850 per month for an even higher deductible plan.
    I would like to see a list of Senators and Representatives who profit from the new law and voted “NO” and another list with those that profited and voted “YES”.

    • ebrun

      As one articulate pundit put it, the Democrats oppose the GOP’s tax reform legislation for the same reasons the Republicans support it. Both sides “think it will work.” The bill’s passage represents a victory for conservative values, a defeat for collectivism and a triumph for individualism.

      The Democrats’ preference for national economic policy is to focus on redistribution of income and wealth through ever proliferating social welfare programs. Their approach relies on a central authority that can bestow economic favors on certain groups. Thus the collectivists’ preference for big government, central planning and identify politics.

      On the other hand, conservatives (including most Republicans) prefer policies that promote economic growth ( rather than redistribution) that rely on market forces that reflect millions of individual economic decisions based on individual preferences., e.g., Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’. Thus conservatives see a powerful central government as an anathema to their value system.

      Neither individualists nor collectivists have a morally superior set of values. Both sides are merely reflecting their preferences. . With the increasing population and interdependence on others, it is probably inevitable that the collectivists will come to dominate even our decentralized political system.

      But it will not be a steady progression. Right now conservatives with Trump on their side are set to make major gains in their short time in power. With accomplishments such as their tax bill, their anti-regulatory agenda, the appointments of conservatives judges, their reliance on economic growth and their deemphasis of social welfare initiatives, the collectivists’ agenda will be stymied for at least the. next few years, even after the Democrats regain political power.

      • Norma Munn

        By that time, many currently insured people will have lost their health care and died. Anyone who believe that a person receives the same medical care uninsured as insured is living in cuckcoo land. It should shame any decent person that any part of this society celebrates this legislation. Thjs is more than differing political viewpoints. It is a difference in moral values.

        • ebrun

          Making middle income families who are not eligible for subsidies and thus cannot afford expensive, government-mandated health insurance pay an onerous tax without any coverage is immoral in this individual’s opinion. But that has just been remedied by Congressional Republicans.

      • Jay Ligon

        Hope you enjoyed your vacation in Irkutsk or wherever you Russian trolls take time off. Your disinformation and fact-free rants have been absent for a while. Maybe you had some time to go lick the feet of Vladimir Putin. Refreshed now, you appear to have rejuvenated vigor in spinning the yarn of division and hate. Maybe they have a seminar on that in St. Peterburg.

        About morality, there is no ambiguity here – only in your spineless dreams. People who do not rape women are morally superior to those who do. People who do not molest children are morally superior to do who do. People who do not commit crimes to make money are morally superior to those who do. People who discourage Nazis and White Supremacists are morally superior to those who support them.

        A sexual predator, a Nazi supporter, a money launderer for some of the worst people in the human race, a supporter of the slaughter of children, a man who gives our enemies state secrets, a pathological liar and your hero in the White House is not a little bit immoral. In your mind and in the minds of Republican quislings, you can ignore crimes against the state, crimes against humanity, sexual crimes, treason, and a return to the racism of the past as long as your thoroughly uninformed understanding of economics prevails. An expanding economy will wash all sins like John the Baptist.

        Apparently, you had time to read the Cliff Notes on “The Wealth of Nations.” You have mentioned “the invisible hand” more times here than Adam Smith used the metaphor in his tome on capitalism. The Nobel Prize for Economics has been awarded to 79 laureates, but you have apparently read only one book on the subject of economics because it is the only one you ever reference. You might have been one of the most informed people of the 18th Century, but here in the 21st Century, you are the same old fraud and charlatan howling at nothing.

        • Norma Munn

          Wow, Jay, you have outdone yourself!

          • Jay Ligon

            Happy Holidays, Norma. Hope we meet some day.

  3. Edison Carter

    The Tar Heel Teabilly Taliban Republicans set this state back 50 years with their corrosive and destructive legislative agenda, all but written verbatim over the years by that shadow government group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (A.L.E.C., for short).

    Now look who was voted for this groups next chairman, and from where:

    “State Rep. Jason Saine, a Republican from Lincolnton, NC and will be the next chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

    ALEC is a conservative group backed by corporations that proposes model legislation for state legislators to introduce.

    Saine will serve a one-year term beginning January 1, an ALEC spokesman said in an email. Saine is the senior chairman of the House Finance Committee. He has served in the House since 2011, when he was appointed to complete the term of a legislator who had resigned.”*


    Is it any wonder why North Carolina is in the total mess it is in? A.L.E.C. has been running this state for years with it’s legislative agenda pushed by ,and for them by our own elected representatives. The elections in 2018 cannot come soon enough….. Time to rid the Raleigh statehouse of the stench of G.O.P special interest graft, and greed, and tell sneaky Art Pope to disappear, as well.

  4. Jay Ligon

    Toxic levels of campaign money and dark money infect our government to such a degree that the will of the people no longer guides the legislature.

    Somewhere between 70 to 95% of American want background checks before criminals and crazy people buy guns. What did our Congress do this year? They passed a law to permit crazy people to have guns. Who wanted that? Crazy people! Also gun sellers, and Republicans lawmakers.

    The bloodbath at Sandy Hook that claimed the lives of babies and their teachers did not move any hearts on the right. The right wing took campaign money from the dark side and gave the devil his due. North Carolina’s Thom Tillis is the reigning heavyweight champion of taking gun money. He defeated Kay Hagan in 2014 in part because of generous support ($8 million) from the NRA.

    The majority of Americans have decided that the public relations campaign against Affordable Care, maintained for eight years by the GOP, was probably a pack of lies, and most Americans see that without Obamacare, tens of thousands of Americans will die.

    Unmoved by the certainty of the deaths of their constituents, the Republicans used every ounce of political capital it could muster to make sure that poor people and middle-income Americans will struggle to maintain coverage on their families, and many will be unable to afford coverage.

    Who wanted that? The insurance companies and the nation’s richest Americans. Right-wing donors stuffed money into Republican campaigns, and politicians are repaying them with this tax bill which contains a poison pill for Obamacare.

    Analyses of issue after issue, including this current tax abomination, shows that the Republican Party could care less about what people want or what the majority prefers. When big money comes into conflict with the people, the people can go to hell. This tax bill will bring the pain to Main Street, but send Wall Street into the stratosphere.

    Tillis has repeated the same lies that the other Republicans have told. Essentially, the GOP purports to believe in piling massive sums of tax relief on top of massive wealth. They suggest that this process will cause a gravitational pull on the funds at the top of the pile. A trickle of the funds will escape from the pile and it will eventually trickle down to the rest of us.

    Trickle down economics has been widely discredited by every reputable economist. Republicans don’t believe in it, but they have no other credible rationale for this scam.

    The trickle-down experiment is now in its 35th year, and there isn’t a sign of a single drop of wealth finding its way down from the pile and landing on the rest of us.

    Study after study shows how the rich have become vastly richer since the Reagan tax cuts and Bush tax cuts. The nation has borrowed $ 20 trillion to protect rich people from paying for the cost of governing. In the meantime, there has been a flowering of billionaires, as reported by Forbes.

    Now that the rich are so much richer, they are annoyed about paying taxes on their vast wealth. Who wants this bill? About 1% of the country will enjoy most of the benefits, but there are sycophants who will go along with anything the right wing wants. Still, a majority of Americans hate this bill and know it is a scam to improve the circumstances of the already rich.

    The GOP is stuffing its pockets with dark money, and the people can go to hell. Republicans love money, and they don’t care much for people.

    • Norma Munn

      Did I read you correctly? Crazy people = Republican lawmakers. If that crazy behavior was only about the gun control legislation, I might have questioned the comparison, but in view of the tax bill, and their defense of it, I agree. May I add venal, spineless idiots to the description?

      More seriously, the NC economic miracle is not evident in the growth of those needing help at the food pantry where I volunteer. The increase in need over just the past few months is glaringly evident. Yes, some are unemployed, and a few are probably unemployable (often for age or disability reasons), but most simply do not make enough money and some are struggling with health issues. Can anyone really understand what it is like to leave a chemo treatment and go to a food pantry for food or go hungry, or have one’s children go without? I see it at least once a month.

      I think a new requirement for running for office would be a least a six month stint volunteering at a food pantry, or maybe a homeless shelter.

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