Last week, the News & Observer noted what most middle-class North Carolinians know is true. Our economy may be better than it was when the Great Recession left us with almost 10% unemployment but it’s not the powerhouse that Republicans promised they’d bring if we let them slash taxes for the wealthy. As analyst John Quinterno notes, North Carolina’s median income is essentially where it was 10 years when the recession hit. In other words, North Carolina families are just now recovering. 

Republicans like to point out that we’re seeing better growth and the lowest unemployment in decades. However, they ignore that the recovery has been uneven and that the wealthy have essentially recovered while almost everyone else has not. While all income groups lost wealth during the stock market and housing crash, only the top 10% of income have recovered that wealth.The rest of us are still struggling. 

With revisions in the state and federal tax codes, we’re increasingly shifting the responsibility for funding government onto the backs of middle- and working-class families. Republicans refer to this shift as economic freedom. People like me refer to it as economic inequality. 

To pay for the recovery that the wealthy have seen, we’ve slashed funding to public schools and universities while giving huge tax cuts to corporations and our richest citizens. In other words, we’ve weakened the tools that increase upward economic mobility while securing the wealth of people who can’t get a lot higher on the economical ladder.   

It’s not just North Carolina, though. The economy is still struggling to recover and those with the least are the ones suffering the most. In February, the country only added 20,000 jobs and we have yet to see annual economic growth of 3% or more. The Republican response is always to put more money into the pockets of wealthy with the belief that it will trickle down. It hasn’t worked yet. 

Our economy has been sluggish, not booming. The jobs that replaced the ones lost to trade deals and the Great Recession pay less and have fewer benefits. The only segment of the country that is truly booming are those who have always been booming—the richest among us. It’s time we start investing in people and the programs that benefit them and stop the nonsense of giving tax cuts to the rich.  

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