Editorial Roundup: North Carolina

Charlotte Observer/Raleigh News and Observer. January 27, 2023.

Editorial: One of Ted Budd’s first bills as NC’s senator is based on a GOP lie

It didn’t take long for Ted Budd, recently sworn in as North Carolina’s newest U.S. senator, to start twisting the truth.

Budd has joined the fight to “stop Biden’s IRS expansion,” announcing Friday that he has sponsored a bill that will spare working families from the terror of 87,000 new IRS agents.

Here’s the thing: it’s based on a wildly misleading claim that has been repeatedly debunked.

The bill — known as the BAD IRS Activities Act — would rescind the roughly $70 billion in Internal Revenue Service funding that Congress approved last year as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. A similar bill was passed by the House earlier this month as its very first piece of legislation under a new Republican majority.

Republicans allege that those dollars will be used to assemble an “army of 87,000 IRS agents” who will target hard-working Americans. Some have even gone so far as to say that the agents will be armed. In a press release, Budd said the government “should not be hiring 87,000 new IRS agents to treat working families and small startup businesses like tax cheats.”

It’s a good thing that’s not actually happening.

The GOP has pushed this wildly exaggerated narrative for months, even though it has never been true. The 87,000 figure was pulled without context from a May 2021 estimate from the Treasury Department, and it captures the total number of employees the IRS hopes to hire over the course of the next decade.

First of all — as a slew of fact-checkers have pointed out — only a fraction of those hires would be enforcement agents. Second, the majority of those hires will be necessary to simply maintain the size of the agency’s shrinking workforce, as some 50,000 workers are expected to retire in the next decade. In fact, the funding increases will actually be of benefit to taxpayers, as the services provided by the IRS have suffered over the years due to budget cuts.

If Budd wants to help his constituents, he shouldn’t try to weaken the agency that ensures people pay their taxes. Investing in IRS improvements would generate $180 billion in revenue over 10 years, according to recent Congressional Budget Office estimates. Nobody’s taxes would go up — it would simply ensure compliance with existing tax policies and laws. Rescinding the funding, per Republican wishes, would increase the federal deficit by $114 billion through 2032, the CBO said.

Budd and his colleagues surely know this, but they’re ignoring it because truth doesn’t help them much politically. It’s troubling to see Budd being dishonest after just a couple of weeks on the job, and it doesn’t inspire much hope for the next six years of his term. He might have a new job, but he’s still the same Ted Budd.


Winston-Salem Journal. January 25, 2023.

Editorial: Beth Wood should tell us the whole truth

There’s a reason longtime State Auditor Beth Wood commands respect (some might say deference) from Democrats and Republicans alike.

Given by state law the duty to “to examine all books, records, files, papers, documents, and financial affairs of every state agency” as well as the power “to summon people to produce records and to answer questions under oath,” her office pokes and prods and peeks under bureaucratic rocks without fear or favor.

Which is to say: She’s in the business of asking tough questions, regardless of politics, and Wood, a Democrat who has served as auditor since 2009, is very good at it. Now the state’s watchdog is being watched. And it’s Wood who’s being asked the tough questions.

To recap: Wood has acknowledged being charged in a hit-and-run accident in December as she was leaving a holiday social in Raleigh.

She was a driving a state-owned car that struck and significantly damaged a parked car on Dec. 8. In fact, Wood’s Toyota Camry lodged itself atop the fender of the parked vehicle to the point that the Camry’s rear right tire was lifted into the air.

Four days later Raleigh police cited her for misdemeanor hit and run resulting in property damage.

In a written statement released on Monday, Wood expressed remorse for her actions. “I sincerely regret my actions and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement,” she said. “I have served the people of North Carolina as their State Auditor since 2009. I made a mistake in judgment on December 8, but I am committed to continuing to perform my duties with the same energy and determination I am known for.” As for why she chose to leave the scene, Wood said: “I was shaken by the incident and, when I was unable to move my vehicle, I left the scene. That was a serious mistake and I regret my decision.”

Even though it arrived several weeks late, that statement was a helpful step forward, but Wood has yet to fully explain is the circumstances of the accident.

No one was injured. So why was she “shaken”? Fender benders happen. An “automotive loss report” filed with the state on Dec. 12 said Wood was traveling at 15 mph when she struck the parked vehicle and that she was neither using a cellphone or otherwise distracted at the time. So, what reason was there for her to leave? Why not simply seek out the owner of the other vehicle and exchange information? And was Wood under the influence of alcohol when the accident occurred? WRAL-TV has directly asked Wood’s office the second question and, as of Tuesday, had yet to hear back.

Wood is scheduled to appear in a Wake County court on Thursday. Meanwhile, reaction to the accident has been mixed, but not entirely partisan.

The state Republican Party huffed on social media that Wood should resign because leaving the scene “was intentional and wholly unbecoming of an elected official.” But Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson, a Republican, was not so unforgiving.

“Our society is quick to judge and slow to forgive,” Dobson said in a statement issued on Friday, WRAL reported. “Auditor Wood is a committed public servant and has worked hard for the citizens of North Carolina.”

A spokesman for Gov. Roy Cooper’s office called the accident “a troubling incident” and said “the governor is glad that the auditor has addressed it publicly.” The governor’s office is right. Wood has addressed the accident publicly — but not completely.

So, while it’s true that the party of George Santos (and, by the way, Mark Robinson) has some nerve to call out somebody else on what’s “wholly unbecoming of an elected leader,” Wood should be more forthright. Especially as someone whose office has established a well-earned a reputation for its fine-tooth comb approach to audits, she owes her constituents more answers.

She should tell us the truth… the whole truth. And then let the facts speak for themselves.