By John Patrick
Democrat Roy Cooper’s title as governor has unceremoniously been demoted to a mere formality, as the Republican-controlled House overrode his veto on the state budget, thus putting it in effect. The Republican-led budget skewered the veto 76-43.
Some of the items in the budget are reflective of the Republican majority and should come as expected. Cutting income taxes, raising the standard deduction for married couples and lowering the corporate tax rate from 3 percent to 2.5 percent stand out as examples. Or, perhaps, an economic incentives package to bring jobs and investment to the state.
The succulent part of the Conservative-steeped bill isn’t the nearly 2-1 House veto override, nor is it the veto itself, but the proposed political cuts that will become a reality.
A $10 million budget cut for Dem. Attorney General Josh Stein’s office, Cooper’s previous position, certainly reeks of sour grapes.
If that didn’t send Cooper a message, perhaps it was reducing his office’s budget by a $1 million.
But the single greatest figurative middle finger to the governor?
The budget limits the ability of Cooper and his Cabinet members to employ private attorneys in contesting legislation through the courts.
Is it petty? Is it lesser partisanship? Is it childish petulance?
Yes, to all the above.
And you know what – it is every bit as justified. I will lose no sleep for the embarrassing stripping of the governor’s powers by the hands of the Republican General Assembly.
The simple answer is ‘because they can,’ and such a response should stand alone as sufficient enough.
But the true reason is more cynical than sheer lawfulness.
Think back to a bygone era, when a centrist Democrat in Cooper from eastern North Carolina traded his reputation as a moderate lawmaker for in-vogue progressivism and political expediency. He so spinelessly sacrificed principle in return for electability to shamelessly keep up with the radical polarization of his own party.
As the state attorney general, the head lawyer responsible for defending North Carolina laws, he tiptoed on the verge of attacking the very laws the public hired him to protect.
Cooper slandered the former governor and House Republicans a number of times; such as lying about McCrory lowering teacher pay and reducing taxes to solely benefit the rich, sans anyone else, on the campaign trail.
But it worked! He was elected governor. Hooray for Cooper!
Sure, he hemorrhaged all the good-faith in the same state government he worked for, and did everything he could to win.
Now he must reap what he sowed.
Politics is a beast, and people do not soon forget when they get dragged in the mud. They’re human, after all.
I do not pity Cooper in the least for backing himself into the political corner in which he currently cowers. The state Democrats placed all their eggs into the governor basket, that even with a victory, they failed to build a sincere consensus.
They must own up to their shortsightedness.
And I think they just did.