Governor Pat McCrory can’t seem to talk for five minutes without making two points again and again, that virtually everything in North Carolina is broken and that he wants to “rebrand” the state.
McCrory said on the campaign trail last year that state government was broken, Medicaid was broken, the transportation system was broken and education was broken. And he is still saying it, telling a reporter recently that things are even more broken then he had realized.
It has become the defining phrase of his administration to the point that a conservative pundit trying to help McCrory with his tiresomely repetitive speeches recently dubbed him Mr. Fix-it.
The announcement this week that last year’s Medicaid forecast was off by more than $100 million almost seemed like it was made with a measure of self-satisfaction to prompt more screaming headlines that show again that the sky is falling in North Carolina and that Governor Fix-it is on the case.
McCrory, the former mayor, clearly is more comfortable painting a gloomy picture of the state than outlining a bold vision for its future. But it is a disingenuous and dangerous game he is playing.
Putting aside the fact that many of his claims are simply not true—high school graduation rates are at an all-time high for example, and the state has an award winning Medicaid program that he is trying to dismantle and privatize—his insistence on seeing the bad in every part of state government runs headlong into another of his stated goals, to convince companies to locate or expand in North Carolina and bring new jobs to a state still struggling with high unemployment.
Think about how McCrory’s repeated bashing of the state’s fundamental institutions–its schools, its roads, and its health care system—must sound to a CEO considering coming to North Carolina
Interestingly, Governor Fix-it has been all but silent on the efforts of his political allies in the General Assembly to actually make his gloomy descriptions of the state a reality.
Legislative leaders not only want to slash spending on vital investments in education from PreK to universities and turn down billions in federal money to expand health care and update the state Medicaid system, they are determined to wipeout successful economic development efforts too if they don’t fit under their far-right ideological umbrella.
This week’s vote in a Senate committee to repeal the state’s modest renewable energy standards provided a startling example of that.
An executive from a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods told the committee that repealing the clean energy plan would cost the state jobs and would amount to “jerking the rug from under those people who have invested tens of millions of dollars.”
It was a remarkable scene. The committee decided in a disputed voice vote to ignore the direct advice of corporate leaders and repeal the renewable standard anyway. Jobs can’t hold a candle to rigid ideology.
McCrory hasn’t weighed in on the absurd effort to dismantle the state’s clean energy industry and he hasn’t said much about other efforts that give business and community leaders pause, from voiding signed contracts to taking over airports and water systems.
He’s too busy trying to convince us all that everything is broken so he and his right-wing supporters can swoop in and “reform” it, which is another word for privatization, turning over essential functions of state government like health care, education, and economic development to Wall Street profiteers
North Carolina is not broken, no matter how many times Governor Fix-it claims otherwise.
But it might be soon, if McCrory and the ideologues running the General Assembly get their way.