Governor Pat McCrory has been touting his Carolina Comeback for about two years. John Locke Foundation President John Hood and House Rules Chair David Lewis have been bragging about all of the taxes North Carolinians didn’t pay. To hear conservatives tell it, North Carolina is on a roll.

To hear middle class families, though, we’re stuck in a rut. In North Carolina, Republican policies have put the middle class in decline. Incomes are falling, not rising. Wages are stagnant and the jobs being created pay less and have fewer benefits than the ones lost to trade agreements and the Great Recession. The tax cuts have gone disproportionally to the wealthy while funding for public schools and universities have been cut.

According to a recent study, the highest earning households have seen their income increase 3.3% since 2010 and they received more than half of all the income during that period. The middle 20% of households have seen their income drop by 1.8%. That’s what income inequality looks like. The rich get richer while the middle class gets poorer.

It’s trickle down theory at its purest. Shift the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class and eventually all the prosperity will flow to the rest of the population. In North Carolina, too many families are still waiting.

Hood and company call it freedom. In their telling, everybody gets to spend their money like they want to. But that only works if you have disposable income. For an increasing number of families, all of their income goes to necessities while the vehicles for economic upward mobility remain elusive. College gets more expensive and public schools get shortchanged.

The country is in an unequal recovery. Republicans in North Carolina are making it worse for working families here. Incomes are falling for those who have suffered the most and rising for those who survived the Great Recession relatively unscathed. The middle class in North Carolina is getting run over by the Carolina Comeback.


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