The Tillis-Berger-McCrory axis hoping that N.C. ain’t like Kansas

op frBy Martin A. Dyckman • Guest Columnist

Although Kansas is among the reddest of red states, its Republican governor, Sam Brownback, is in big trouble. Current polls show his Democratic challenger ahead, 47 to 41. Are pigs flying?

The reasons should strike fear into the Tillis-Berger-McCrory axis in Raleigh and encourage citizens who yearn to be rid of their reign of error.

Above all, they should inspire North Carolina’s voters.

In Sunday’s New York Times, economist Paul Krugman explained what’s the matter with Kansas.

Two years ago, Brownback demanded and got the largest one-year tax cut any state has ever enacted. Taking his cue from Arthur Laffer, the discredited Wizard of Oz of supply-side economics, Brownback predicted an economic boom and boasted, “Look out, Texas.”

It didn’t happen. The Kansas economy is trailing its neighbors, the budget is in deficit, its debt has been downgraded, and citizens are horrified at the damage to the public schools.

If that sounds familiar to North Carolina eyes and ears, it should. The Tillis-Berger-McCrory gang did the same thing, for the same reasons, to North Carolina’s taxes, budget and public schools. Now, they’re quarrelling about how to hype the lottery to fund a pay raise to stop the brain drain of good North Carolina teachers leaving en masse for South Carolina, Georgia, and even Texas.

The Kansas agenda, Krugman points out, “closely followed a blueprint laid out by the American Legislative Exchange Council.” 

That’s ALEC, the public face of the right-wing conspiracy. ALEC is to public policy as Typhoid Mary was to public health.

Thom Tillis sits on its board of directors. According to a newspaper that got a peek at ALEC records, more than a third of North Carolina’s state legislators are ALEC members.

“While ALEC supports big income-tax cuts, it calls for increases in the sales tax — which fall most heavily on lower-income households — and reductions for tax-based support for working households,” Krugman wrote. “So its agenda involves cutting taxes at the top while actually increasing taxes at the bottom, as well as cutting social services.”

That describes the carnage in North Carolina as well as Kansas. It was timed here so that most people won’t notice how badly they have been hurt until they file this year’s income tax returns, after this year’s election.

Unlike Brownback, McCrory has another two years before facing his voters.

But Tillis is on the ballot this year, hoping to replace our distinguished U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. He’s the reason behind the nearly $20 million that has already been spent on political ads attacking her. Although the precise sources are concealed, the Koch billionaires and Karl Rove are responsible for most of it. There’s no way that a decent senator like Kay Hagan can compete dollar for dollar against forces like that. She will win, however, if the voters of North Carolina ask themselves two questions:

• Do they want a senator who used his power in Raleigh to make a Kansas-like shambles of North Carolina?

• Why are shadowy plutocrats spending so much to elect him?

Martin A. Dyckman lives in Waynesville and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. He is a former journalist and the author of  Reubin O'D Askew and the Golden Age of Florida Politics; Floridian of His Century: The Courage of Governor LeRoy Collins; and A Most Disorderly Court: Scandal and Reform in the Florida Judiciary. 

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