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Friday Follies

Follies-spin [1]The misfire of the anti-ACA committee

The folks at the think tanks on the Right are upset that the absurd anti-Affordable Care Act show at the General Assembly this week didn’t garner the one-sided stories they had hoped for about the health care law. But they only have themselves to blame.

Legislative leaders created a committee allegedly to discuss the effects of the ACA on North Carolina. One of the committee chairs said the hearings were designed to “gather information about the law.”

But it was clear from the outset of the group’s first meeting Tuesday that it was all simply a thinly-veiled attempt to bash the ACA as part of a larger political strategy in an election year.

Outside groups funded largely by the Koch brothers have already spent more than $8 million on ads attacking the health care law as part of their campaign to defeat Democratic Senator Kay Hagan.  Not coincidentally, House Speaker Thom Tillis is seeking the Republican nomination to run against Hagan in the fall.

Republicans clearly think they can gain politically by bashing the Affordable Care Act and distorting what it does. The creation of the committee—and presentations from “experts”— is just another part of that overall strategy, one they hoped to couch in less blatantly partisan rhetoric.

But their star expert Tuesday, Chris Conover from Duke University and the American Enterprise Institute, began his remarks by referring to the health care law as the “Abominable Care Act,” not exactly a scholarly beginning.

Conover has also made widely inflated claims about the ACA on Fox News and other media outlets and used the word “fascist” to describe President Obama.

Those statements were noted in many of the media accounts of Tuesday’s meeting, calling into question the credibility of Conover’s analysis and claims about the law.

That prompted outrage on Right Wing Avenue and complaints of a double standard in the media with one commentator suggesting that reporters don’t always bring up pointed remarks by liberal activists when they are included in news reports.

Here’s some advice for legislative leaders and right-wing think tanks upset that their orchestrated ACA-bashing fell flat:  If you want your critiques of the health care law to be taken seriously, maybe it would be better for your scholarly expert not to call the law the Abominable Care Act.

And it might be a good idea to ask someone to testify who has not called President Obama a fascist, no matter how hard you try to excuse that offensive name-calling through contortions of the context. There is no context where that is not offensive.

The next meeting of the anti-Affordable Care Act Committee is in Greensboro next month as the charade continues.

Press release fever in McCroryland

The McCrory Administration has had plenty of problems since it took over in Raleigh 14 months ago, but cranking out press releases has not been one of them.

McCrory’s press office sent out a release this week about new jobs being created in McDowell County. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. The state needs jobs of course and every administration in recent memory has been quick to publicize any significant jobs announcement.

But the release was touting 30 new jobs, not 300 and they are coming to McDowell County over the next three years. That means that McCrory’s office is now touting as a significant economic development announcement the creation of 10 jobs a year.

No disrespect intended to the folks involved in this particular announcement, but this sets an interesting precedent. The average fast food restaurant or car wash employs ten people. Will we soon see press releases from McCrory’s office about the opening of a new Burger King or Bunkey’s?

One other note about the announcement. It quotes an official with XO.STEEL, the company that is creating the jobs, saying that the adjacency of its new manufacturing site to Interstate 40 and the quality of the workforce helped make the decision. Maybe it’s not all tax cuts that corporations are seeking after all.

The myth of high corporate taxes

Speaking of corporate taxes, a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy and Citizens for Tax Justice ought to be required reading for lawmakers who keep insisting that North Carolina’s corporate tax rate has hurt the state’s efforts to convince big corporations to locate here.

The report details how 269 Fortune 500 companies across the country collectively avoided paying $73.1 billion in state corporate income tax between 2008 and 2012.

Nine of the companies have their headquarters in North Carolina and together they earned more than $51 billion during that four year period. The multi-state corporations paid an average tax rate of just 3.7 percent—slightly more than half of the 6.9 rate that existed at the time.

North Carolina’s corporate tax rate could not have been the problem attracting big companies to the state because the big companies didn’t have to pay it.