Democrats in state legislative races across North Carolina hope to defeat their Republican opponents on two main issues: opposing both a 24-hour waiting period on abortion and a small business tax cut. The two bills were passed after Republicans took control of the General Assembly in 2010 for the first time in 140 years.
The attacks on both issues appear to be gaining little traction in the polls. It’s not that people don’t have opinions on abortion or tax cuts. Instead, the Democrat approach on both issues requires suspension of disbelief by the voting public.
First, the attack on a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed ignores the fact that the majority of states already require 24 hours or more between counseling and an abortion. In a further attempt to blur the issue and demonize Republicans, particularly with women, multiple TV ads and mail pieces claim that the law requires an invasive and unnecessary ultrasound to “invade a woman’s body.”
A willing press corps has picked up on this claim and run multiple articles and news stories repeating Democrat claims of “a new, intrusive law.” Not a single story has been published or aired on the fact that ultrasounds have been required PRIOR to an abortion since 1994. Who, pray tell, mandated the requirement? None other than Democrat Governor Jim Hunt in Administrative Code 10 NCAC 3D 0305(d). The code reads as follows: ”An ultrasound examination shall be performed and the results posted in the patient’s medical record for any patient who is scheduled for an abortion procedure.” Wow, somehow the Democrats and their complicit press left this fact out of all the ads, mailers and stories.
Nonetheless, this claim has gained no traction with voters who agree that an ultrasound prior to an abortion is simply good medical practice. Even Planned Parenthood supports the ultrasound requirement.
Second, in opposing the small business tax credit, Democrats have really gone out on a limb. Their typical ad goes like this: ”Republicans have given a multimillion dollar tax break to their millionaire friends and lobbyists and destroyed public education in North Carolina.” I’m not kidding.
As for the tax credit itself, the law is very simple and can be explained in one sentence: any self-employed citizen will receive his/her first $50,000 of income tax-free. It is just that simple. If you have self-employment income (you file a Schedule C), you will receive up to $3500 in a tax credit if you earn $50,000 or more. If you earn less than $50,000, you still get your money free of the state’s seven percent personal income tax.
The Democrats assert that the money goes to millionaires and lobbyists. However, according to the nonpartisan Fiscal Research Division of the General Assembly, less than two percent will go to any millionaires who, after all, do run businesses and employ people. Democrats have yet to figure out that businesses create jobs, not government.
Republicans decided at the policy level not to further complicate North Carolina’s already byzantine tax code by mandating income levels and types of businesses that qualify, since the main requirement for the tax break was that individuals had to be self-employed. Any small business, including hairdressers, mechanics, landscapers, realtors, plumbers, or electricians, qualifies if it simply files a Schedule C.
The Democrat claim that Republicans destroyed public education because of the small business tax credit no doubt ranks as the most far-fetched lie of this campaign season. Education officials across the state have touted North Carolina’s improved graduation rate and test scores this year. So much for the destruction of education! Further, after dealing with the $3 billion budget deficit handed to them by the Democrats in 2010, Republicans restored all education funding in 2011, plus increased spending by 2.8 percent.
The bottom line is that after a 140-year virtual power monopoly, NC Democrats find themselves out of touch and as unpopular as they ever have been. They have no new ideas and are attempting to win the election game by playing defense and simply criticizing their opponents with outrageously false claims.
What’s so wrong with admitting abject failure and changing your paradigm? Until the Democrats figure out who they are, what they stand for, and come up with workable ideas that will improve North Carolina’s economy, they will continue to be the minority party. Until then, it appears that their plan is to whine.
Thom Goolsby is an attorney, law professor and state senator from Wilmington. He chairs the Joint Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety.