Opinion: Republicans’ economic development plan raises concerns

Opinion: Republicans economic development plan raises concerns

Cory Spiers

In our political system, there has long been a train of thought that Republicans are the party of business and are to be trusted to get the economy going.

That they are a party of business no one can deny, but their claims to superior economic stewardship should be drastically reconsidered.

One Republican idea that will soon be appearing in North Carolina is the N.C. Partnership for Prosperity, an idea Gov. Pat McCrory proposed in April.

This is a plan to combat unemployment by transferring certain economic development functions, such as tourism and marketing, into a public-private partnership, according to the News & Observer.

Its objective is to transition to “a more coordinated, more nimble approach to recruiting new businesses and aiding existing businesses looking to expand, as well as helping to boost state imports,” according to the News & Observer.

Despite this optimistic description, the information available on similar plans in other states points to less heartening outcomes.

Creating Scandals Instead of Jobs: The Failure of State Economic Development Programs, a 2013 report put out by the organization Good Jobs First, shows that these types of arrangements have been problematic in other states. Among the issues the report finds with similar programs implemented in other states, there’s corruption, inefficiency and questionable effectiveness.

The study concludes that these partnerships are “costly failures.”

Why then are we attempting to start one of our own? It seems logical to assume that North Carolina will be subject to many of the same negative results.

It makes me nervous to imagine that possibility, but there are some who insist that the outcome for North Carolina will not be as negative as it has been for other states.

One such proponent of the new plan, Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker believes that the Partnership to Prosperity will avoid the problems seen in other states, but the report mentions that the version of the bill that passed “contains none of the accountability safeguards” than the original did.

The reasoning behind this planned policy could either be strong commitment to ideology to overlook facts, or a fairly cynical attempt to transform who holds power in the state.

We still have much work to do in improving economic conditions, but I do hope we can learn at least one thing: That Republican policies are not the type of answers that we need.

We should instead consider other plans that could improve the economy, and go beyond the Republican ideals.
This is the party that passed high-end tax cuts for the wealthy a decade ago that, despite some modest gains for the middle class, were largely responsible for increasing the deficit and income inequality while primarily benefiting the wealthy, according to The Washington Post Wonkblog.

Just last month, Republican politicians trivialized the raising of the debt ceiling, and seem to be gearing up to do the same in a few months.

Their policies have discredited them on economic matters, and they deserve any credit they still may receive for their positions on the economy.

Opinion: KEVIN GRIFFIN, Opinion writer