May
11

Local Taxes: A Low Signal-to-Noise Ratio

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By Lcj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Asheville property owners may soon pay more in property taxes. Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer began to explain to WCQS the other day that legislative changes passed in Raleigh are why:

Privilege license tax: “This last year the legislature got rid of the privilege license tax for all cities across North Carolina … for Asheville what that means is a loss of $1.5 million dollars in revenue.”

Sales Tax redistribution: “the proposed legislation was absolutely devastating for Buncombe County”

But then Manheimer got into the economic weeds and lost track of the broader message. “Absolutely devastating” NC cities is not a byproduct of the legislation. That is the goal.

How many times do I have to say this?

What we’re seeing is an extension of the GOP’s “defund the left” strategy of undermining the largest concentrations of manpower and funding that support Democrats. First they went after private-sector unions, then public-sector unions, and teachers, firefighters, trial lawyers, etc. Then with Voter ID they attacked seniors, college students and minorities. They’ve taken away control of Asheville’s airport. They tried to take away Charlotte’s. They’re still trying to take Asheville’s water system to blow a huge hole in the city budget. Collectively, Republicans in Raleigh are hoping to render cities irrelevant in future state and local elections. And with redistricting, they’ve isolated Asheville in House District 114 and won’t even bother running candidates there for now.

So the GOP is working to weaken cities economically and politically. They are strategically starving cities of revenue, leaving city leaders with no choice but to raise taxes and/or cut services and piss off voters.

After a couple of cycles, Republicans will be running candidates who blame North Carolina cities’ financial woes on “mismanagement and waste” by Democrats, and counting on voters to forget by then who precipitated the crisis in the first place. They’ll succeed if we don’t remind voters at every opportunity that it’s their strategy. It is deliberate.

Aren’t Republicans the ones who forcefully argue that if you raise the minimum wage, employers will pass along the extra cost to consumers? So what would they they expect to happen to consumers when the state cuts off cities’ sources of revenue?

If Democrats don’t remind the public at every opportunity what’s really going on, if they don’t define their opponents first, once again Republicans will define them.

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