The N&O today penned an article praising the “Moral Monday” protesters at the General Assembly, and the “urgent message” they are delivering to legislators.
But what exactly is in this so-called urgent message? According to the N&O, the protesters are upset about “cuts” to education spending, the state’s refusal to accept Medicaid expansion, reductions to unemployment benefits and the Senate’s tax plan.
Unsurprisingly, the N&O and apparently the protesters may be long on dramatic, self-serving grasps at attention, but short on facts.
On education spending, per pupil state allocations for K-12 skyrocketed by 24% in just five years between 2003-4 and 2008-9, a rate that was revealed to be unsustainable when recession hit. But the N&O and the protesters can’t be bothered to look into such facts (not that dumping more money into the public education blob will help anything anyway).
In regard to Medicaid expansion, the N&O makes the claim that “the federal government will pay the cost” for the expansion. Not true. First off, the “federal government” has no money, so it would actually be taxpayers paying the cost for the expansion. More specifically, the state will be responsible for 10% of the additional costs of expansion after a few short years. Estimates project that would cost state taxpayers an additional $1.1 billion from 2014 to 2020 alone. Expansion would also add as many as 600,000 or more new enrollees to the already bloated Medicaid program. That would mark a doubling of Medicaid enrollees in about fifteen years, a time when doctors accepting Medicaid patients has declined. The increase would total about 1.2 million people added to Medicaid. That’s the equivalent of adding the entire population of Wake and Durham counties to a program with declining doctors. Just who does the N&O think these new enrollees will be able to see for medical care? And where does the N&O think the state will come up with an additional $1.1 billion to pay for all of these people to be jammed into waiting rooms across the state?
And then there is the claim that “cuts in unemployment” benefits will be harmful to the economy. How so? Where do they think the money comes from to pay these benefits? It comes out of the pockets of employers, of course. Less money for job creators means fewer jobs created. And then there is the obvious observation that paying people not to work results in more people not working. Does the N&O think paying people not to work benefits the economy? I guess the N&O writers were too busy dusting off the old Peter, Paul and Mary 8-track tape to consider such “extreme” questions.
Lastly, the N&O once again sites the Senate tax plan calculator to claim the plan unfairly benefits high income people while harming the middle class. This ignores of course an analysis examining the usefulness of the data used in the calculator and in turn the way it can skew results. Such calculations also ignore the most important aspect of tax reform: the dynamic effects on the economy as the state attracts more investment and job creation – benefits more concentrated to lower-income households and the unemployed.
The protesters and their cheerleaders at the N&O are welcome to discuss policy differences – just don’t insult us by claiming some moral high ground when you have little understanding of the issues.