The Follies

The Follies

- in Fitzsimon File


The tepid Carolina Comeback behind the GOP talking points

Lt. Governor Dan Forest was in Morehead City recently speaking to the Republican Party faithful and bragging about the so called Carolina Comeback that is a staple of GOP talking points these days.

The Carteret County News-Times reported that Forest reminded the audience that when Republicans took over control in Raleigh the state had the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country and now has one of the fastest growing economies.

Gov. Pat McCrory likes to point out the state’s high ranking in its unemployment rate when he took office in his appearances too. Neither Forest nor McCrory ever mention the fact that many workers in North Carolina dropped out of the labor force because they couldn’t find a job and are no longer counted when the unemployment rate is calculated.

And neither politician talks much about the counties where the unemployment rate is still high with many more people looking for work than there are jobs available.

And of course the unemployment rate is just one indicator of how the state’s economy is doing. There are others that paint a different picture, most notably that productivity is up since the Great Recession but wages are down.

But even given all that, McCrory and Forest keep saying again and again that North Carolina had the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country when they took over.

Interesting then that the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that North Carolina is currently tied for the tenth highest unemployment rate in the country.

That’s right. Using the indicator that McCrory and Forest like to use the most—flawed as it is—their much ballyhooed Carolina Comeback has moved North Carolina from fifth worst in the country to tenth worst in the country.

That seems like a pretty tepid comeback to be boasting about every day.

The missing word from the bond campaign

A mainstream conservative Republican made an interesting comment recently on a political talk show about the $2 billion Connect NC bond issue on the ballot March 15 that would pay for new buildings at university and community college campuses, upgrades to state parks and improvements to outdated local water and sewer systems across the state.

He cited the jobs that would be created from all the construction projects as another reason to support the bond that the General Assembly and Gov. McCrory put on the ballot that now has broad bipartisan support.

That may not seem noteworthy on its own but none of the materials produced by the consultants running the bond campaign mention the jobs it would create. In fact, the word “jobs” doesn’t even appear on the Connect NC website or anywhere in their printed flyers or brochures.

The folks at the leading right-wing think tanks in the state, who generally speak favorably of the bond and emphasize that it would not require a tax increase, never mention jobs either.

They apparently can’t bring themselves to admit that public investments can create jobs even if it would help the bond pass that the state needs.

That would not only be inconsistent with their anti-government ideology, it would call into question all of their ridiculous claims about the federal stimulus program that helped hasten the recovery from the Great Recession.

But the mainstream Republican is right. The bond issue will create jobs and will be a boost for the economy. That’s what targeted public investments can do. It’s nice of somebody on the Right to finally stray from the official ideological line and admit it.

McCrory’s lagging approval ratings continue

The election season brings with an almost constant flurry of polls about all the top races and this week was no exception. There were no big surprises. Donald Trump leads the Republican primary field in North Carolina and a potential matchup of Pat McCrory and Roy Cooper in November is again within the margin of error with Cooper slightly ahead.

McCrory’s campaign said an internal poll showed McCrory with a 13 point lead but no details were released of course. Candidates are always ahead in their internal polls, the ones made public anyway.

Maybe the most interesting numbers came from a survey by Public Policy Polling that showed McCrory’s approval ratings well under water, with only 35 percent voters approving of the job he’s doing with 48 percent who disapprove.

Part of the problem for McCrory is within his own political party. Just 57 percent of Republicans approve of the job he’s doing.

That’s hardly a ringing endorsement from his base less than a year away from Election Day.