By Mike Verardo
The political establishment in Washington, D.C. has never really understood what North Carolina is all about – our voters care about prosperity, not ideology.
For decades, in election cycle after election cycle, the political elites pledged to uplift North Carolina communities and implement policies that would transform our state into an economic powerhouse. But as soon as our ballots were cast, these political opportunists instantly forgot all about their promises.
Luckily for the Tar Heel State, this trend of neglect ended in 2016, when we helped elect an outsider who rejected the traditional mold of U.S. politics.
Despite running as a Republican, Donald Trump abandoned many of the GOP’s outdated positions on issues ranging from trade to tax reform, vowing to pass legislation that would protect American jobs and empower American workers. In an even bigger break from political norms, that is exactly what he has done since taking office.
Thanks to the groundbreaking Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, North Carolinians are saving an average of $1,328 on their federal income taxes annually – or nearly $4,000 over three years. But this was more than mere fiddling with tax rates, which was the extent of previous tax cut bills. Significantly, the TCJA doubled both the child tax credit and the standard deduction, ensuring that working families were among the biggest beneficiaries of the Trump tax cuts.
This sweeping tax reform legislation also funded a brand new economic initiative to direct massive amounts of private investment into hundreds of low-income North Carolina communities. In fact, under the revolutionary Opportunity Zones program, there are a total of 252 designated communities receiving federal tax benefits that are carefully tailored to promote economic growth and wealth creation.
While it’s difficult to calculate the immediate impact of Opportunity Zones on local communities, the Council of Economic Advisers recently found that nationally, the program had already “raised $75 billion in private capital by the end of 2019, most of which would not have entered OZs without the incentive.”
“This new capital represents 21% of total annual investment in OZs and helps explain why the CEA also finds that private equity investment in OZ businesses grew 29% relative to the comparison group of businesses in eligible communities that were not selected as OZs,” the report added.
Over the past few months, North Carolina has become a focal point of this pivotal election, as both presidential campaigns zero in on hotly-contested battleground states that could help them win on Nov. 3.
Democrat nominee Joe Biden, a career politician who has spent nearly half a century in Washington, has relentlessly attacked Donald Trump as a typical country club Republican, complaining that he only cares about Wall Street and falsely claiming that “Trump’s tax cuts” – which Biden has vowed to repeal – only benefit the wealthy. But these cheap political attacks and distortions will not matter to North Carolinians this November for the same reason they didn’t matter in 2016 – our voters care about substance, not style.
This election is not about tribalism and partisan politics. At the end of the day, North Carolinians just want a leader who will safeguard our prosperity and keep his promises. This election is once again a choice between a straight-shooting outsider and a pandering establishment elitist.
Sgt. Mike Verardo, U.S. Army (retired) and member of the Veterans for Trump coalition advisory board.