During his two campaigns for governor, former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory positioned himself as a pragmatic moderate, a leader not only willing but eager to find solutions that win bipartisan support. It was, therefore, familiar to hear the state’s chief executive return to that theme during his State of the State address, in which McCrory touted his moderate approach to governance.
In making that case, the governor appears to contradict North Carolina’s motto, Esse Quam Videri — “To be, rather than to seem.” As his first weeks have demonstrated — and his address makes clear — McCrory’s approach is not one that longs to bring the state together, but rather intends to advance a partisan agenda at the expense of the least fortunate.
North Carolina’s first Republican governor in 20 years enjoyed a friendly audience for his first State of the State address, speaking to a General Assembly firmly in the hands of a GOP majority. As such, it was no surprise that McCrory’s vision for rebuilding the economy and creating jobs echoed the broad, conservative goals that have been advanced by the Legislature for two years.
In some policy areas, he could find bipartisan support. North Carolina needs to reduce the tax burden on businesses and cut back any excessive regulations to encourage job growth. But even before he assumed office, when he appointed conservative financier Art Pope to write the state budget, McCrory has shown a willingness to embrace the extremes, even if that approach exacerbates the pain of low-income residents, state workers and others who rely on the social safety net.
How else might one explain the fact that, for all the talk about economic recovery, the governor paid lip service to a tax reform proposal that would eliminate the income and corporate taxes in favor of an expanded sales tax? That should be central to the discussion.
Rising health care costs are devouring a larger share of income, especially among the poor, but McCrory signed, rather than question, legislation that denies health care coverage under Medicaid to an additional 500,000 residents.
Government efficiency should be a topic of widespread cooperation. But the governor used his address to castigate state employees, calling them “seat warmers” when so many work tirelessly in the public’s interest.
These are not the actions of a moderate, nor language inspiring bipartisan support. And when held against the standard of North Carolina’s motto, it is clear what side McCrory finds himself.