There are several contenders this week for most egregious recent example of conservative hypocrisy when it comes to the role and value of government.
There’s the phenomenon of ultra-conservative lawmakers from rural areas (like state Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown) who deride government day after day and then, suddenly, when faced with a debate over divvying up state sales tax revenue, turn passionate about the critical role that public investments play in supporting the economy and growth.
And then there’s the spectacle of longtime anti-government ideologues like Raleigh’s Paul Coble who never met a public program they didn’t want to slash being only too happy to swap their private industry lobbying gigs for six-figure government jobs.
For my money, though, this week’s most aggravating example comes once more from the office of Gov. Pat McCrory. Gov. McCrory, as you will recall, has been helping to deny decent and affordable health care to hundreds of thousands of struggling North Carolinians for almost three years now by refusing to expand Medicaid under the terms of the Affordable Care Act.
His oft-stated excuse: the supposed unreliability of federal money and desire not to grow the size of a supposedly broken government program. Add to this his absurd refusal to acknowledge the huge stimulus impact that adding billions in federal dollars would have on the state economy and you’ve got a complete, far right, market fundamentalist case of denial.
Now, contrast all of this with McCrory’s big announcement yesterday touting the huge, beneficial impact of federal spending on the military in North Carolina. Here’s the lead from the press release:
“The military supports 578,000 jobs in North Carolina and more than two thirds of those jobs are in the private sector, demonstrating the impact of the military ripples across the state’s economy and not just concentrated near military installations. Those are the key findings of a new report released today by the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission and the North Carolina Department of Commerce.”
You got that? The same administration which has devoted years to blasting the idea of federal dollars helping the economy and spurring growth by supporting loads of good jobs in the health care industry is…wait for it…celebrating the idea of federal dollars helping the economy and spurring growth by supporting loads of mostly so-so jobs in the U.S. military.
As noted in a 2013 column on this same subject, however, we ought not to be surprised:
“McCrory officials regularly celebrate federal funding as creating jobs and stimulating the economy when it suits their ideological and political needs. In recent weeks, McCrory Transportation Secretary Anthony Tata has been especially visible celebrating and promoting an enormous new effort to “fortify” Raleigh’s Interstate 40/440 “Beltline” – a project that will rely upon millions and millions of federal dollars and put droves of construction workers, contractors and material suppliers to work. Funny that no one has ever suggested that North Carolina ought to turn those dollars down because of their unpredictability or the need for matching state appropriations.”