Dalton's 'Hole' digs McCrory on taxes

Posted September 26, 2012

— Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton's latest ad got more notice for an initial misspelling than for its content. For the record, the Dalton campaign say the ad never aired with the graphic that spelled Republican Pat McCrory's name wrong.

Most viewers, however, will be drawn in by the visuals of the big hole in the ground and may be wondering about the content, which is by and large provided by Dalton himself. Here's the script:

You know what they say, when you’re in a hole, stop digging.

Well, the state we love is in a hole.

Bad policies out of Washington and Raleigh are hurting us.

Pat McCrory supported those drastic education cuts– is making this hole deeper.

And his plan to raise taxes on the middle class will make things worse.

We can’t get out of this hole by cutting education.

As governor, I will rebuild our economy by making education our bedrock again.

I’m Walter Dalton, candidate for governor, and I sponsored this ad.

The commercial draws on themes that Dalton has used on the stump, and it's worth noting that Dalton is voicing these criticisms himself rather than leaving it to a surrogate. 

From a factual standpoint, Dalton raises two questions. Can McCrory really be held responsible for budget cuts by the legislature? And does McCrory have a plan to raise taxes on the middle class? 

QUOTE: “Pat McCrory supported those drastic education cuts.”

Putting aside the adjective "drastic," is it fair or accurate to hold McCrory accountable for the acts of the legislature over the past two years? The House and Senate were held by Republican allies of McCrory, but he was not a member.

In the Dalton campaign's backup for the ad, they provide a list of material that suggests the cuts were deep, although none of the items necessarily tie McCrory to the decision making. However, the subject of how often, or not, McCrory talks to House Speaker Thom Tillis has been a subject of the campaign. 

It would be fair to say that McCrory has been supportive of legislative Republicans on the stump. In fact, he has called for even deeper cuts to state spending in recent interviews. And McCrory campaign spokesman Brian Nick does not shy away from McCrory's ties to his fellow Republicans. 

"Of course Pat was supportive of the legislature not raising taxes while they sought to clean up the mess that Dalton created as budget chair. But assigning a former mayor with particular cuts that were made by a legislature that he is not a part of is beyond a ridiculous reach," Nick said.

Tying a politician to others perceived to be less popular is a common tactic in political ads. For example, in the 7th Congressional District race, Republicans are linking Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Democrat, unfavorably to the policies of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama.

In the case of this ad, the comparison seems more apt. In his own plans for education McCrory echoes many of the ideas that Republican lawmakers pushed this year. 

And the ad doesn't say McCrory "made" cuts to education, merely that he supported them. Therefore, this claim appears to be factual. 

It would be worth noting, however, that Dalton has his own history with cuts to education. Democrats cut education spending in 2009 as part of combating a $4.6 billion budget shortfall. And Nick points out that immediately before the state faced that shortfall, Dalton was a chairman of the powerful Senate budget committee. It is Dalton, Nick says, that is responsible for that big hole in education.

QUOTE: “His plan to raise taxes on the middle class will make things worse.”

This claim is a bit harder to pin down.

McCrory's tax plan is unspecific and vague. During a taping of "On the Record," he said, "I'm not going to be pinned down on any one tax plan."

McCrory has said that he would like to lower and/or eliminate income taxes and eliminate corporate income tax rates, but those are broad outlines.

His campaign says that it's unfair to claim that outline translates into a middle class tax increase. 

"Because Pat believes in reforming and modernizing a 1930s tax code with goals of reducing corporate and income taxes to provide tax relief to grow our economy does not in any way equate to a middle class tax hike. The only candidate who has campaigned for raising taxes in this election is an increasingly desperate Dalton," Nick said. In that quote, Nick is referring to the fact that Dalton supported a sales tax increase proposed by Gov. Bev Perdue this spring in order to head off education cuts. 

For backup to their claim, Dalton's campaign relies on press reports and interpretations of what McCrory says he will do. Perhaps the most succinct is a piece by syndicated columnist Scott Mooneyham, which read:

And maybe it isn't fair to call this a plan, given that the proposals haven't been finalized to the point of becoming even draft legislation.

But let's put all of this in a little perspective.

Of the $19.5 billion that rolled into the state's general operating fund last year, $10.3 billion came from personal income taxes. Another $1.1 billion came from the corporate income tax.

Sales taxes brought in $5.3 billion.

There is going to have to be a lot of widening and deepening of that sales tax base to fill an $11 billion hole.

Dalton's claim is that in order to make up for the loss of revenue by getting rid of corporate and income taxes, the tax burden would have to shift to sales taxes. Sales taxes are seen as regressive because they require poor and middle class people to spend a greater portion of their income when they buy things, even basic items such as clothes and food. 

In interviews, McCrory has said that he would like to see the state engage in natural gas exploration and fees and taxes levied in that arena would help offset taxes collected in other venues. There are questions and disagreements over this approach to energy, so it's not at all clear if that revenue could make up for the loss of other taxes. 

So is this claim accurate? Strictly speaking, no, because McCrory has not put out a tax plan specific enough to evaluate. However, the leaps made by this ad aren't crazy, and similar jumps in logic have been made by reporters evaluating McCrory's economic outline. 


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • I am not who you think I am Sep 27, 2012

    The only reason that mccory is concerned with the hole known as state budgets is so that what ever he an his cronies are able to drain out of the backsides of state employees an thier familys that is the exact same amount of savings that he an his cronies will allow for the coporate instrest to drain out of the states budget in the form of fraud waste an totaly mis-mangament coming from the contractoring enitys within the ncdot an it's upper mangament all the way to the top exective mangament to include the north carolina secetary of transportation an his so called mangers that are totaly responsibly for the waste fraud an mismangament within the ncdot in this state........pbjbeach

    gosh change the name to perdue and you get what she's done for 4 years. Yu think Dalton would be better, he was her LT. gov. he learned from the best.....I mean worst.

  • babbleon1 Sep 27, 2012

    Z Man: The GOP is at least as dirty as the Dems.

    The best way to judge a person is by their actions and statements - saying 'you can't judge this politician because politicians in your party are dirty' just distracts from the central question: does McCrory do unethical things?

  • ICTrue Sep 26, 2012

    "Kinda don't like the ad, Dalton should just let McMe go about his business, because he's sinking and running votes off pretty fast as it is with his own ad and support from other Republicans." Rebelyell55

    LOL, yeah right. So I suppose you were going to vote for him but have since reconsidered??? HA

  • ICTrue Sep 26, 2012

    Dalton doesn't have a chance. Anything he says or does doesn't matter. He is too closely associated with Purdue, the worst governor in the history of the state and an embarrasment to all North Carolinians. Maybe he can try again the next time around.

  • Rebelyell55 Sep 26, 2012

    Kinda don't like the ad, Dalton should just let McMe go about his business, because he's sinking and running votes off pretty fast as it is with his own ad and support from other Republicans.

  • corey3rd Sep 26, 2012

    Why haven't you been reporting how Thom Tillis will appoint committee chairs based on how much money they give him? Or is it legal to "bribe" the Swinger of the House to get a good seat on the right committee?

  • Z Man Sep 26, 2012

    The dems sure have proven they are the class act when it comes to fraud and deceit. How can Dalton even question McCrory's ethics after at least 10 democrats have been convicted in the last decade? Ludicrous!!

  • SMAPAEA Sep 26, 2012

    I have been getting at least one piece of mail if not more a week from the North Carolina Republican party spewing just as much propaganda...they are all corrupt. We need regular people to run the government, the system we have in NC and in this nation just does not work anymore.

  • Damien Thorne Sep 26, 2012

    "The only reason that mccory is concerned with the hole known as state budgets is so that what ever he an his cronies are able to drain out of the backsides of state employees......"

    I have to admit, the DNC is going all out telling people what Republicans are going to do if they get elected. This and that and push grandma off a cliff and so on and so forth.

    I am sick of these people that think what has been going on is ok. It is time this country gets some real people in place that know how to roll up their sleeves and do work, rather then sit around and talk about how bad it is.

    It is this bad because the people elected in do not know what they are doing. Mind you Dalton has been in the co-pilot's chair for 4 years. He and his ilk are the ones doing the digging.

  • Damien Thorne Sep 26, 2012

    Would it be fair to point out that only Dalton has been in a position to be digging any holes?

    Need to get all these democrats out that toss people's money away like it is nothing.

    DOT, BOE, all of them need to go.