In a move that is sure to be the coffin nail in North Carolina’s — now former — reputation as a moderate, reasonable state, the largely Tea Party controlled state legislature and Republican governor Pat McCrory, have just passed what might possibly be the most regressive tax reform in American history.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has since its initial rollout in 1975, served as something of a buffer in the tax code to help prevent working class and struggling families from falling into outright poverty. Once supported both by progressives who sought to maintain a level playing field for working Americans as well as conservatives who appreciated the non-government-interventionist manner in which the credit served those who relied on it for help getting by, the idea itself was initially a Republican proposal.
Yet for the 900,000 North Carolina families who have relied on the EITC and other public programs such as EBT, WIC and TANF, this once highly celebrated anti-poverty tax credit is now a thing of the past.
Following their filing of 2013 taxes this year, North Carolina residents will no longer be able to claim the EITC, because under Republican leadership, the state has seen fit to eliminate it in order to allow for the conservative dream of a “flat tax” to finally be realized.
Moving from a two-tiered progressive tax system, all residents in North Carolina will now pay a regressive flat 5.8%, which in addition to providing an annual estimated savings of roughly $10,000 for those making a million dollars or more a year, will increase taxes for anyone below such an income in what is the latest right wing effort to create a reverse welfare state, where the poor through their labor and tax liability, continue to subsidize the lifestyles of the wealthy.
The move comes right on the heels of other power consolidating efforts by the 1% and their GOP/Tea Party allies, such as their elimination and reduction of welfare programs, as well as their most recent assaults on basic American democracy.
All of these efforts come as protests against the austerity obsessed, pro-corporate conservative government and its jaw-droppingly regressive policy agenda continue to grow. Throughout the past several months, the “moral Monday” protests have made national headlines, as everyone from single mothers, to trade unionists, to members of the clergy, descend onto the capital to stage weekly protests of the state’s frightening plutocratic agenda.
While North Carolina and much of the rest of the country continue to descend into a conservative style oligarchy of subjugated workers, marginalized and invisible poverty and a run-away financial elite who strive endlessly to obtain and concentrate wealth and power at the expense of everyone else, one might think that some level of rational thinking might factor in to the right wing officials presently in office.
Yet in addition to their veritable crusade to undo nearly a century of progressive economic and social policies ranging from New Deal legislation to the EITC and TANF, it would seem the remainder of time and attention such classist North Carolina tea-baggers possess is focused more on maintaining a patriarchal domination of women’s bodies and an irrational dedication to denying working Americans access to health care.
As the nation heads towards this year’s midterm elections, the challenges issued to North Carolina’s conservative efforts to steal future elections are developing on two fronts, with both federal officials and the White House taking steps to address the legality of such and the general public of the state stepping up their own demonstrations daily.
Should this newest reshifting of the state’s tax burdens from the shoulders of the rich, to those of the poor prove to be the straw which breaks the camel’s back has yet to be seen, but with the growing outrage over the North Carolina Republican party’s shameless and consistent assault on the rights, security and dignity of the state’s working classes, the future for right wing zealotry in what was once the shining beacon of moderation in the red-state south falls into greater question with every new development.