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Rep. Cotham schools a fellow lawmaker

The House Finance Committee is debating a proposed revenue package today. As one might expect for such a complex and controversial topic run by a fair-minded committee chair (Rep. Jennifer Weiss) it’s been a messy, long-winded meeting.

One of the highlights of the after-lunch session has been the schooling given to Rep. Thom Tillis by her fellow Meckleburger, Rep. Tricia Cotham. (It figures, she’s a schoolteacher by trade).

Tillis attempted to attack the modest proposed tax increases in the package by concocting a fictional character named “Larry the Landlord.” (As an aside, there’s something fitting about a conservative lawmaker indentifying a landlord as his optimal, most sympathetic “everyman” ).

Tillis, who is a “management consultant executive” with IBM then proceeded to describe numerous evils that would supposedly befall the character as a result of all the dastardly tax hikes.

A little while later, Cotham responded powerfully with a description of a character she named “Danny the Disabled Student.” As Cotham pointed out, the student would, as a result of a “no new taxes” budget, be forced to go to school in a crowded classroom that no longer has a teacher’s assistant. He would no longer be able to get dental care as a result of Medicaid and CHIP cuts and his father would no longer have his job because his father had been laid off from his job at a local correctional facility. 

In short, in just a few, eloquent moments, Cotham thoroughly debunked Tillis’ lame effort and put on full display the crux of the current debate over the budget: One side is about trickedown economics that depends on helping the “haves” first. The other side is pursuing a flawed, but at least somewhat more balanced position that is about confronting the recession and at least attempting to spread the responsibility for doing so somewhat equitably.

3 Comments


  1. Rob Schofield

    June 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    And Rep. Bill Owens, one of the most conservative Dems, was also on the money when he called conservative ideologues on their hypocrisy for bemoaning budget cuts even as they opposed any new revenue.

  2. IBXer

    June 9, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    What happens when Larry the Landlord has to raise the rent on Danny the Disabled Student’s family in order to afford to pay for the property and his dad looses his job anyway because state revenue continues to decline because taxes were imposed by idiot legislators during a recession?

  3. Rob Schofield

    June 9, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Friend, we’ve been through this before. But just in case you’ve forgotten:

    Though less than an optimal,time, raising taxes during a recession AT THE STATE LEVEL is often a better solution than allowing the state to spiral into Hooverite downturn.

    To quote the CBPP report:

    “North Carolina, for example, raised taxes by about 3.5 percent of revenues during the last downturn. From 2004 to 2007, total personal income in the state grew by about 6.7 percent each year compared to the nationwide rate of 6.2 percent during this period. North Carolina experienced faster-than-average growth in employment following the last recession, growing about 2.5 percent each year from 2004 to 2007. Nationwide, employment grew at an annual rate of 1.7 percent during this period.”

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