Three days after the release of a website/commercial describing the general outlines of a state tax “reform” plan by North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the initiative is well on its way to political oblivion.
Not only was Berger’s outline (“plan” is really too generous of a word) widely viewed, reported and understood in the state policy community as a thinly-veiled attempt to kick-start a U.S. Senate campaign for Berger, it was also politely dismissed by Governor McCrory and House Speaker Tillis with the basic message of “Thanks for the suggestions, Phil. We’ll get back to you on that at some point.”
Need more confirmation that the whole thing has about as much chance of being enacted into law this year as McCrory’s harebrained idea to privatize the state Medicaid system? Consider this: Berger still hasn’t even released the actual details of his proposal — much less introduced a bill.
What little we know about the about Berger’s rough draft — that it slashes taxes on millionaires, further reduces essential state services and raises taxes on the working poor and some middle class families through higher sales taxes on groceries and many services — is quickly drawing scorn from across the political spectrum.
Things are so wrapped around the axle that even some of Berger’s cheerleaders at the far-right Pope-Civitas Institute have been criticizing the tax calculator that Berger features on his website. Mind you, the calculator was designed by the Tax Foundation — a conservative anti-tax group that Civitas works closely with. (At a tax policy debate in Raleigh this week co-sponsored by the Budget and Tax Center and Civitas, the designated conservative voice was an employee of the Tax Foundation!)
The bottom line: At this point, having garnered his 15 minutes in the spotlight, it appears that Berger may have well decided to limit his losses by not even bothering to formally release the details of his policy brainstorm — if they even exist in one place. And even if they do trickle out at some point in the coming days, it is increasingly obvious that their prospects for passage into law (or even receiving truly serious consideration) in 2013 are quickly fading.