RALEIGH – While on the campaign trail in 2016, then candidate and N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper commonly lambasted incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican legislature for their “corporate cash giveaways.” He created the false dichotomy that Republicans chose corporate tax cuts, and corporate incentives, over “investing in education.”
Fast forward two years, Cooper is now Governor Cooper (after barely edging out McCrory) the Republican super-majorities are still in power and continuing years long tax reductions and regulatory reforms for businesses and individuals (with Cooper whining and vetoing at every turn) and a business magazine is giving Cooper credit for the strong economy and attractive business environment. Seriously?!
“The economy’s strength is evident in Business North Carolina’s annual ranking of the largest job expansions. It reflects growth in many regions and a mix of white-collar and manufacturing jobs. While five of the six biggest jobs announcements occurred in or near Charlotte or Raleigh, most of the largest projects by investment are going up in less-populated regions such as Edgecombe and Davidson counties. While the state’s unemployment rate of 4.3% remains higher than in neighboring states, North Carolina’s prospects rank among the brightest in the U.S., various studies show.
Credit for the growth is split between many people and factors. “North Carolina is so good that we are always in the final four,” says John Skvarla, who was the state commerce secretary during McCrory’s tenure. “We are a great state for business, with no unions, low tax rates, a great quality of life and a major focus on education.”
But the governor says his decisions have put the state on the offensive. “I know that a number of companies would not have come or expanded but for the change in economic leadership and repeal of HB2,” Cooper says, referring to the law that prevented transgender people from using bathrooms corresponding to their identified gender. “That has made a difference.””
To the writer’s credit, he starts his piece by outlining just how lucky Cooper is to have been elected during a time marked by years of Republican tax cuts here in North Carolina, and new energy (and tax cuts) by Republicans in Washington, D.C.
But even giving Cooper the slightest credit for all the business-friendly Republican reforms that constitute what makes this state resurgent economically is almost a laughable as Cooper crediting his own leadership and the repeal of H.B. 2 for the current state of affairs.
Cooper ginned up the H.B. 2 hysteria as much as possible while campaigning, literally urging businesses not to come to North Carolina in the process!
And some businesses made big P.R. stunts out of announcements that they wouldn’t expand in or relocate to the Old North State, but all tings considered the economic impact of H.B. 2 was negligible, despite Cooper’s best efforts.
He gets into office, the General Assembly partially repeals H.B. 2 (not enough to satisfy the LGBT activists) and suddenly everything is great and Cooper is a champion of the economy? Give us a break.
H.B. 2 “repeal” changed very little, and the effects were minimal in the first place. What did change was the political party occupying the governor’s mansion, and thus the entire disposition of the media switched into ass-kissing mode for ol’ Roy.
The “economic leadership” Cooper must be referring to is his willingness to fork over billions in state taxpayers’ money to lure corporations to North Carolina’s major metropolitan areas. The ‘corporate cash giveaways’ Cooper loved to loathe when campaigning against McCrory are curiously okay with him now that he’s at the helm.
“…Cooper’s workhorse style is paying off for North Carolina, says John Boyd, a Princeton, N.J.-based site-selection consultant. Should Apple or Amazon place much-discussed major office projects in the Triangle, Boyd predicts Cooper’s national profile will soar. “Despite being a Democrat on fiscal issues, Cooper has done a number of things we like, and our clients have a good relationship with his office,” he says. “They are willing to negotiate and deliver incentives.”
While disputes between Cooper and the GOP-dominated N.C. General Assembly have become routine, the two sides have come together on key economic-development issues. Both agreed to fatten the incentives offered for “transformational” projects that involve more than 3,000 jobs and $1 billion in investment. The move was deemed essential for the state to compete against aggressive rivals. Separately, both Cooper and the legislators backed an unprecedented $3 billion bond issue to expand and improve state roads, bypassing the voter referendum usually required for such massive debt.
“I like what I see in the legislature and how they are working together with the governor on economic development,” Boyd says. “I’ll contrast that with Gov. McCrory, who was elected as a pro-business governor, but when it came to the more important issues, he was slow and ineffectual.””
So Cooper, in concert with the legislature, has taken a ‘Reverse Robinhood’ approach to incentivize businesses via corporate welfare. Or in other words, taking tens of millions of hardearned taxpayer dollars from the middle class and handing them out to well-connected business interests that may bring some jobs to Raleigh or Charlotte.
This nothing to boast about, by any means. It has been determined time and again that corporate welfare doesn’t result in net economic positives, adding insult to the injury of misusing taxpayer money.
The article goes on to credit Cooper for NOT breaking up the economic development partnership that was set up by McCrory – because it’s working. That’s weird, we don’t seem to remember the media offering McCrory kudos for how well that partnership was working.
The also describe Cooper as not having the “flair”of some other southern governors, which is a nice way of saying he is boring.
Boring wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t punctuated with the incessant Leftist grievances and an annoying habit of accepting credit for a a business environment Cooper fought tooth and nail to prevent existing.
Read the rest of the fawning Cooper puff piece here.