Commentary

Saunders: With veto, Gov. McCrory is more concerned for himself than the jobless

bsaunders@newsobserver.comJune 25, 2014 

Energy Summit McCrory 42

Gov. Pat McCrory

JEFF WILLHELM — jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com Buy Photo

For just a brief moment there, it looked as though Gov. Pat McCrory was siding with – rather than sticking it to – struggling Tar Heels.

Sure, Gov. McCrory rejected, the first chance he got and seemingly out of spite, billions in Medicaid moolah that would have helped about 500,000 uninsured people get treatment. And yes, he reduced the amount of money people receiving unemployment insurance payments can get and how long they can get it.

At every turn, the governor appeared indifferent or hostile to the state’s poor.

This week, however, he vetoed a House unemployment bill that would have forced people receiving payments to verify that they contact at least five potential employers each week to continue receiving payments. Under the existing rules, they have to contact two and show proof.

“Nay, nay,” one envisions a suddenly vertebrate Gov. Pat bellowing on behalf of the poor as he sought to prevent the Republican-led legislature from bringing its heel down even harder on their necks. “I’ll not have you do this awful thing, requiring people with no job and few resources to contact – and verify that they’ve contacted – that many potential employers. It is odious, it is abhorrent, it is oppressive.”

Employer hardship

That doesn’t even take into account the hardship the new requirement would inflict upon employers, having their phones ringing incessantly with calls from job-seekers who just called the previous week.

All together now for Gov. McCrory: “For he’s a jolly good ...”

Say what?

Oops. Turns out we were delusional. McCrory did help the unemployed of his state, but not on purpose. In a statement released Tuesday, McCrory set the record straight on his priorities. “Although the vast majority of this bill contains much-needed revisions to unemployment laws,” he said, “there are unacceptable provisions” in it.

Sorry, poor, unemployed people of North Carolina. Gov. Dude deep-sixed the bill not because of any increased hardships it would have placed on you, but because those “unacceptable provisions” would have diluted his power by allowing both the House and the Senate to place a member on the Board of Review.

McCrory at present appoints all three members to the board, and home slice is in no mood to share that crony-rewarding power with the legislature. The board, of which you’re likely unfamiliar, reviews decisions on unemployment benefits made by the Division of Employment Security. It’s a plum piece of patronage pie, that post, allowing its members to remain out of the spotlight while making $120,000 a year.

‘Board of Review’

Is there any wonder the governor wants to hoard that board power, even if it means – EGADS! – unintentionally helping the unemployed?

With apologies to Elvis and his classic “Blue Suede Shoes,” here is Elvis McCrory’s version, called “Board of Review.” Maestro, hit it:

You can knock the poor down

You can spit in their face.

Slander their name all over the place.

Do anything that you want to do

But don’t you mess with my Board of Review...

Kick ’em outta their house

You can steal their car

Make ’em go potty in an old fruit jar.

Do anything that you want to do

But unh unh honey

Lay off of my Board of Review.

You can do anything

but stay off of my Board of Review.

You know how in war, people who are injured or killed despite not being the intended target are referred to as “collateral damage”?

What do you call people who, like North Carolina’s unemployed in this battle between the governor and the legislature, are spared despite not being the actual targeted beneficiaries?

Lucky, I guess. For now.

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or bsaunders@newsobserver.com

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