The old bait and switch

by | Dec 9, 2013 | 2014 Elections, Editor's Blog, NC Politics, Tax Reform | 4 comments

At the beginning of 2014, one of the North Carolina GOP’s signature legislative accomplishments goes into effect–tax reform. As the News & Observer noted, the new rules come with some confusing paperwork. Some business owners and their employees are griping, but they’ll get over it and next fall, Republicans will run on it.

Senator Bob Rucho, architect of the law, said, “What it means to everybody starting in January 2014 is a larger take-home paycheck.That’s what people need to focus on.”

What he doesn’t want you to focus on is who will really pay less taxes. While your paycheck might be larger, they’ll get your money in other ways, through new sales taxes like those on car repairs, movie tickets and college meal plans. That’s right. It’s a new tax on food–and for people who aren’t earning much anyway and many of whom are already about to incur large debt for student loans.

Republicans have stripped away the progressivity of our tax code in favor of a flat income tax. They like to say it’s only fair. Everybody pays the same rate.

But these are also the same people who, out of the other side of their mouths, argue that life’s not fair. That’s why most of them come into the world with huge advantages over poor families. They have better access to health care. They generally have parents who better prepare them for school. They don’t worry about being hungry or cold. And when they get out of school, they have a built in affirmative action program in the form of a network of economically successful friends and family who help them get started in their careers and transition into adulthood.

The famous Jesse Helms ad attacking affirmative action said, “You needed that job…but they had to give it to a minority.” But that’s not nearly as true as, “You needed that job, but they had to give it to somebody who knew somebody.”

But I’ve digressed. The beneficiaries of the new tax code are the wealthy. After paying the new sales taxes, working and middle class families will see little change in their bank accounts, regardless of what they see in their pay checks. People making the state’s medium income would get between $6.00 and $35.00 per month while the people making more than $250,000 a year will see an additional $330 per month, enough to make sure Junior doesn’t have any debt coming out of college. And all the while, services that the middle class depends on, like public schools and universities, get the shaft to pay for the tax breaks for the rich.

That’s not fair. That’s just the old bait and switch.


  1. Timothy Murphy

    If possible, could you amend this piece (or write a new one) detailing the impact of the end of the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit? THAT”S going to have a significant impact on next year’s refunds and tax liabilities for the poor.

    • Thomas Mills

      I’m sure I’ll do one in the future, Mr. Murphy. I tend to write more in response to the news. EITC is an important issue. The whole shift to a more regressive tax structure is particularly disturbing to me.

  2. Madison Hunter

    The unarmed gangsters. The same guy who is trying to steal Charlotte’s airport.

  3. Thomas Mills

    And if you need food stamps or Medicaid, you are really on the losing end.

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