Soon after his election, the new governor said (through a spokesman) that he wanted “to fully understand the long-term implications of Medicaid expansion” (i.e., signing on to Obamacare) before he decided what he wanted to do about it. (Bev Perdue had taken first steps toward setting up a state-Federal partnership). Before he could decide, the spokesman said, McCrory “will be reaching out and consulting advisers, experts and other governors about the best way forward.”
That apparently sounded like dangerous moderation to the radical Republican leaders in the General Assembly. They didn’t wait. They didn’t defer to their own governor’s wishes to be deliberative. They didn’t acknowledge that the governor’s “study of the issue” deserved any forbearance. Rather, they declared, in effect, that they had made up the governor’s mind for him. Extremist anti-Obamacare bills were filed on the first day of the session (Wednesday) in both houses of the General Assembly, to block both the expansion of Medicaid and NC's participation in the creation of any health exchanges under the Federal Affordable Care Act.
The Republican extremists are slamming this door fast, despite ample evidence that their spite will hurt the state’s economy, not to mention its hospitals. According to the consultants at Regional Economic Models Inc., North Carolina's participation in the Affordable Care Act would:
1. Create approximately 25,000 new jobsInstead of manning up and objecting to the radicals’ legislative folly, McCrory was instead playing Tickle Me Elmo with a right-wing talk radio yakker and delivering himself of a perfectly ill-timed attack on higher education generally and on female academics at UNC-Chapel Hill specifically.
2. Increase annual state GDP by $1.3 – $1.7 billion a year
3. Increase total state revenues by $497 million by 2021
4. Save $159 million over the next two years (and $65 million overall for the next 10 years)
Then, to enhance his self-image of slick operator, McCrory chose Rocky Mount, a place with 12.5% unemployment, to announce that he would by golly yes sign another self-destructive law being fast-tracked in the legislature, a radical overhaul of the unemployment insurance system. Did we say “overhaul”? It’s more of a deconstruction. It will throw some 81,000 workers off unemployment in July and impose some other high hoops for laid-off workers to jump through. Meanwhile – and this is pure economic genius, Republican-style – the new law will remove another $100 million in Federal dollars from the state’s economy. That’s $100 million for groceries, gas, and incidentals that even unemployed folks still need.
Instead of improving the state’s economy, the Republicans are systematically making it much, much worse out of an ideological extremism that knows neither bounds nor logic.
(You should also be reminded that even before his cabinet selections could get on the job, the governor raised their salaries 8% on average, because you can scarely afford catered cocktail parties on $125,000 per annum.)
This unemployment insurance demolition was pushed, and the law was actually written behind closed doors, mainly by the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, so McCrory naturally chose a Chamber of Commerce event in Rocky Mount to make his tone-deaf declaration that unemployed workers are just going to have to start boiling more treebark to live.
Is it not clear? McCrory is never, evah going to challenge the Republican Death Eaters in the General Assembly, which makes him totally irrelevant. They don’t need him. They can override any veto.
If he had an ounce of gumption, a sliver of moderation, a scintilla of a vision for North Carolina as a progressive state in the 21st Century, rather than an uptight and religiously motivated cyst of backwardness, fear, ignorance, and bigotry, he’d make a stand.
He’s beginning to resemble an on-commission car salesman who managed to get into the Country Club – he thinks on his charm – but he can’t resist always having one too many drinks.
Either the governor has ideas different from the radicals and is afraid to express them, which is bad, or he agrees with their handling of the economy and social issues, which is much worse.