Why Should We Pay Attention To Norquist?
I believe the District of Columbia needs to eliminate its homestead property tax exemption and lower its overall property tax rate. Given that the nation's capital has a higher overall state and local tax burden than any North Carolina city other than Charlotte, I'd also suggest that it lower its sales and income taxes too.
By now, residents of the District of Columbia, including one named Grover Norquist, should be thinking, "Who is this Scott Mooneyham, and why should anyone here care what he thinks?"
Norquist isn't thinking that because he likely has never heard of me.
Nonetheless, my question is much the same of him:
Who is Grover Norquist, and why should any North Carolinian give a hoot what he or anyone else who is not a resident or property owner in this state thinks of this state's tax structure?
As to the who, Norquist heads a far-right, anti-tax group called Americans for Tax Reform and has been a fixture in Washington for 30 years.
The other day, he was in North Carolina telling Rob Christensen of The News & Observer of Raleigh, among others, what this state ought to do to change its tax policies.
The words of wisdom flowing from the mouth of the great sage included a recommendation that the state needs to ditch its progressive income tax system for a single-rate system.
"There's North Carolina, 7.7 percent income tax. Or, not that far away, Florida, zero income tax. Or Texas, zero income tax. It's hard to compete with zero," Norquist said.
It might be hard to compete if Florida and Texas didn't have wacky property tax rates in which two people can live next door, in homes of equal value, and pay vastly different amounts based on how long they have lived in the home.
And it might be if Florida taxpayers weren't on the hook for billions in insurable losses the next time a big storm rolls through the state.
But why let the facts get in the way of a pretty story?
I suppose, when you've been a creature of Washington your entire adult life, it becomes kind of habit-forming to tell everyone else in every other nook and cranny of the country what they ought to be doing.
Oh, but wait. Norquist says his group is a grassroots organization.
Maybe 10 North Carolinians are donors/members. Maybe the number is 100 or 1,000 or 10,000.
No one knows because Norquist won't reveal his donors.
But I stray.
Back to the original question: Who is Grover Norquist, and why should any North Carolinians care what the man thinks about how this state structures its taxes?
If any of our current or future elected representatives do care, and believe they should take directives from Norquist or anyone else not from this state, I've got a suggestion:
Move to D.C. Then you can better look out for your real constituents' interests.
Scott Mooneyham writes for Capitol Press Association in Raleigh. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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