To the Editor:
Since the radical cabal of Republican reactionaries has taken control of our state government, much has been reported about the Republican “War on Cities,” with the theft of Asheville’s airport and water systems and Charlotte’s airport. But now they have expanded this to the “War on Rural Areas,” with the defunding of the Rural Center and, specifically, a “War on WNC” with the defunding of AdvantageWest. They also started a “War on Local Governments,” redrawing district lines for Buncombe County commissioners and the school boards of several counties.
And just to make sure that we all respect their power and arrogance, they have declared “War on the Middle Class” with new taxation and budget policies. According to NC Policy Watch, taxes will increase for the 80 percent of us with lower incomes to finance tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
There is also a “War on Voters.” Look forward to long lines come future election days. Voting will take much longer as early voting time is reduced, judges must check IDs, voters must mark their preferred candidate in each race because of the elimination of straight party voting, and vigilantes challenging voters will be allowed to cause trouble at the polls.
If you don’t get there early, you may not even get to vote since county elections boards may no longer keep the polls open an extra hour to accommodate voters standing in line when the polls close. As reported in your Aug. 14 issue, the “War on Taxpayers” of Haywood and Jackson counties will require these counties (plus 29 others) to pony up $1 million in Haywood and half that in Jackson to replace touch-screen voting machines with paper ballots, even though the touch-screen machines have a paper trail. Wonder who will get campaign contributions from the companies supplying scanners and paper ballots?
There’s also a “War on the Unemployed” with a law to reduce the benefits and eligibility for unemployment assistance and a “War on the Poor” with the refusal to provide federally funded Medicaid for 500,000 poor North Carolina families. Associated with the “War on the Poor” is the “War on Hospitals,” which requires hospitals to keep eating the cost of indigent care for these 500,000 families. The “War on the Poor” also phases out the Earned Income Tax Credit, impacting 970,000 low-wage workers, including 67,000 military families.
They have also declared a “War on Teachers and Public Education,” cutting more than $100,000 from what the state budget office said was needed to keep the schools running at last year’s levels. Teachers yet again will see no pay raise, and tenure and incentive pay for teachers earning a master’s degree will be eliminated. The “War on Young Children” reduces the number of children from low-income families who are eligible for subsidized pre-K programs. There is also a “War on College Students” with funding cuts to the state university system. In addition, the Republican-run Board of Elections of Watauga County eliminated the early voting site at App State University and combined three Boone precincts into one with 9,340 registered voters and 35 parking spaces. The Board in Pasquotank County is also challenging the residency of students at Elizabeth City State University.
They have also declared “War on Clean Water” with legislation gutting landfill regulations, threatening our groundwater with contamination. And with Rep. Michelle Presnell’s bill for a state religion, they have declared “War on the Constitution.”
Who are the Republican allies in all these wars? The wealthiest 1 percent and large corporations which finance their re-elections.
If you are a casualty of any of these wars, all is not lost. We can vote them out in 2014. Sure it will be difficult because of the gerrymandering and their unlimited supply of dark money, but not impossible. They may have the money, but we can get the votes.