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Art popeToday, Governor, er ah, State Budget Director Art Pope told reporters at an event in Chapel Hill that eliminating the state personal and corporate income taxes is “a bad idea.” Earlier this morning, in concert with scores of other reports and blog posts it has distributed in recent years, the Pope-Civitas Institute (which Pope funds almost exclusively) distributed an article entitled: “Why All U.S. States Should Eliminate The Income Tax.”

Any more questions as to why so many are so concerned about Pat McCrory’s decision to invest such power in this individual? How do we (and the members of the General Assembly — many of whom he helped put in office with campaign contributions and personal, direct participation in drawing the electoral maps under which they were elected) know what his real position is? And how will those lawmakers hold the Budget Director’s feet to the fire (as is their job) under such circumstances? 

One final word: This is not a “personal attack” as Pope keeps labeling the criticisms that Policy Watch and others have directed his way. I’m sure Pope loves his family and is sincere in his beliefs. There is no evidence that he is trying to enrich himself directly with public dollars.

This is an attack on the destructive ideology to which he gives voice and power and the unprecedented position he has assumed in our state as both a powerful state official and the chief funder of a movement, a party, and an array of far right nonprofits.

These are interesting and confusing times in North Carolina politics. And with the hostile takeover of state government by chain store magnate Art Pope virtually complete, it looks like the lines will only get blurrier and more confusing. Check out this rather remarkable excerpt from a fundraiser sent out by the Pope-Civitas Institute on New Year’s Eve: 

Dear Friend, 

Big changes are happening here in the “Old North State”.

We have a new governor, and a more conservative legislature.

But that’s not the only news, two former Civitas staff members are now in responsible positions in state government. And we plan on holding them accountable! Read More

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RALEIGH – Bowing to new and overwhelming evidence from the scientific community and the powerful impacts of recent catastrophic weather events, North Carolina conservative political leaders announced today that they are willing to accept the reality of sea-level rise, while at the same time proposing a plan to deal with it.

“It does appear  that some coastal tidal patterns have started to shift slightly,” said State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. “And regardless of whether this is the result of direct intervention by the Almighty or, as I believe, over-regulation of offshore drilling which has prevented ocean floors from subsiding to their appropriate levels, it does appear it’s time to act.”

Berger went on to say that he and colleague House Speaker Thom Tillis will introduce legislation during the 2013 session of the General Assembly to be entitled the “Personal Water-Level Mitigation Choice and Responsibility Act.” Under the multi-faceted proposal, individual taxpayers would, among other things, be able to establish tax-free savings accounts in which they would be able to shelter income for future use in dealing with coastal storms and rising seas. Read More

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Governor-elect Pay McCrory just concluded his first Raleigh press conference since his election on Tuesday. All in all, it was a relatively smooth performance in which he avoided controversial topics, got mostly easy questions and did his best to project an image of action, frugality and, for lack of a better word, ”down-to-earthness.”

All in all, he gets a B.

There were only a few red flag moments that stood out: Read More

If only the local “libertarian-free market” think tanks had the courage to embrace the entire libertarian agenda rather than simply using the label as a convenient cover for what almost always ends up being a defense of far right conservatism.

For instance, national Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson was in Durham yesterday and had this to say according to the Durham Herald-Sun:

“I am the only candidate who does not want to bomb Iran,” he said. “I am the only candidate who would get out of Afghanistan tomorrow. I am the only candidate who believes that marriage equality is a guaranteed Constitutional right. I am the only candidate who wants to end our drug wars now and legalize marijuana now.”

For some reason, however, neither the Lockers or the Civitasers or Americans for the Prosperous has yet to offer up any glowing reports on this comment or the general Libertarian support of keeping government at bay when it comes to private, personal behavior (much less some sort of effort to favorably contrast President Obama and Governor Romney on these issues).  

Meanwhile the partisan propaganda from the these folks just keeps on coming and coming and coming and coming and coming.