John Hood’s most recent column shows the difference between conservative priorities and progressive ones. Hood writes, “Over the past five years, conservative leaders in the General Assembly have enacted a series of tax cuts and tax reforms that will foster entrepreneurship and job creation, reduce the double-taxation of savings and investment, and save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. North Carolina is one of the few states ever to have junked an outmoded, Keynesian-era tax system in favor of a modern, pro-growth flat tax.”

Hood is talking about what Pat McCrory dubbed “The Carolina Comeback.” So far it hasn’t worked. North Carolina’s recovery has lagged behind other states despite promises, starting in 2011, that tax cuts would make the state an economic powerhouse. Instead, our unemployment is rising instead of falling. The dramatic drop in the unemployment rate last year was due more to kicking people off of the unemployment roles than any dramatic increase in employment.

The tax cuts and “outmoded, Keynesian-era tax system” he describes is a shift of the tax burden onto the backs of middle class families while giving large tax cuts to the rich and corporations. Given their way, Republicans will continue to increase the burden on poor and middle class while cutting taxes for the wealthy.

Hood also says, “On spending, lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory have resisted calls by special-interest groups to ‘invest’ more in ineffective state programs and bureaucracies.” What he doesn’t say is that the GOP lumps our public schools and universities into the “ineffective state programs.” The General Assembly has cut funding for the UNC system by more than 20% and per pupil spending in public schools is lower than it’s been in almost a decade. While other states are increasing their budgets post-recession, North Carolina is still at recession levels

Hood’s article outlines the fundamental differences in the way Republicans and Democrats look at government. Republicans focus on savings and reducing the size of government with little regard to the impact on families and people. They applaud cost savings, efficiency, and a reduction of taxes, mainly for the wealthy.

In contrast, Democrats focus on the impact of the budget on families, not just businesses and the wealthiest. They see damage to public schools which are felt in the loss of textbooks for our kids and the loss of teachers to other professions or other states. They’re alarmed at the increase in tuition at state universities and community colleges. They worry about kicking people off of unemployment insurance while the economy is still not creating enough jobs to absorb them.

That’s the nut. When it comes to governing, Republicans care more about finances than people. They believe that if the wealthy are doing well, everybody else will, too. It’s play on the old philosophy, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”

Democrats fundamentally disagree with that sentiment. They believe that a nation’s greatness is judged by how it treats its weakest members. Democrats want to get the tools to succeed to all people and create a strong social safety net that keeps people from falling too hard in bad economic times. They believe that government can be both fiscally and socially responsible and they believe that those who have benefitted most from our system have a responsibility to help those who have not. 

I’m a Democrat.