More Columns

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Among the many reasons the political discourse in Washington has gotten so toxic, and at the same time so unproductive, is that the legislative branch of our federal government has allowed itself to become increasingly irrelevant.

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When Democrats attack pro-growth tax reform as “trickle-down economics,” I can understand their rhetorical intent. But the charge is silly on multiple levels — including the fact that every Democrat whoever serves in state or local office spends great time and effort to try to recruit busine…

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After getting many political predictions wrong in 2016, including but not limited to the results of the presidential election, I threw my long-cherished crystal ball out and started building a new one.

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As of November, North Carolina’s state government has some $4 billion in unreserved cash in its General Fund, plus well north of $1 billion in its rainy-day account and other reserves.

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Despite the current spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths, there is good news on the not-so-distant horizon. Three effective vaccines are in the pipeline. Some North Carolinians — those battling coronavirus on the frontlines as well as those put at greatest risk by infection — will be vacc…

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There are about 300,000 fewer jobs in North Carolina today than there were in February, before the start of the COVID-19 recession. That’s a 7.5 percent drop in total employment — the biggest decline in the southern United States.

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North Carolina’s state government began its 2020-21 fiscal year with $1.5 billion in cash left over from last year plus another $1.8 billion in rainy-day funds and other earmarked reserves. Since then, the state has collected some $1.5 billion more in General Fund revenue than it has yet spent.

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I am about as close as you can get to a First Amendment absolutist. When it comes to “the freedom of speech, or of the press,” the framers of the constitutional amendment chose to be unambiguous: “Congress shall make no law” abridging these freedoms.

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North Carolina’s state and local governments will likely overspend their projected revenue this year by billions of dollars. So far, few public officials seem panicked about the prospect.

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You may recall that back in early April, a panel of health analysts presented Gov. Roy Cooper with two forecasts: 250,000 COVID infections by June 1, if Cooper’s initial lockdown orders were kept in place, or 750,000 infections by June 1 if the orders were lifted.

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When I began my syndicated column in 1986, politics in North Carolina, and in America more generally, was strikingly different from today’s political scene in many ways. How voters get and process political information has changed, for example. Campaign strategy and tactics have adjusted acc…

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As soon as he heard the news that a mob had torn down statues on the grounds of North Carolina’s State Capitol on the evening of June 19, Gov. Roy Cooper realized his mistake.

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If most Democrats truly believe the proper response to the George Floyd case — and that of others killed during interactions with law enforcement — is to “defund the police,” they are dangerously out of touch with reality.

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The gruesome death of George Floyd, captured on video in vivid and revealing detail, will revolt and enrage anyone with a moral conscience. You witness one human being mistreating another with either actual malice or callous disregard. You witness the tragic result.

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Over the first two months of the coronavirus crisis, our labor-market cratered. The number of employed North Carolinians dropped by 820,000, or 17 percent. Only 56.3 percent of working-aged residents were either employed or actively looking for jobs. That’s the lowest rate of labor force par…

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Our elementary and secondary schools will reopen this fall. During these past months of disruption, dismay and despair, I have never once doubted it. There really is no practical alternative to reopening schools. Life, work and education must proceed.

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So far, the federal government has agreed to borrow some $4 billion and then transfer the money to North Carolina state and local governments to address the health, education, and economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

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The precise course of the COVID-19 outbreak and its medical, social, and even political consequences are impossible to know at this writing. But there is at least one thing state lawmakers and other policymakers can take for granted: North Carolina’s economy is in recession.

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Over the past two weeks, Gov. Roy Cooper and local officials have imposed a regulatory regime of increasing severity on North Carolinians. Their stated goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19 so the number of cases requiring hospitalization won’t shoot far above the maximum capacity of hospit…

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I am a conservative who seeks to expand freedom and limit government. In most circumstances, there is an inverse relationship between the two. When government grows in size and scope, it must either collect more taxes or issue more regulations. Both restrict the freedom of individuals to mak…

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President Donald Trump’s latest budget contains some conservative proposals to save the taxpayers’ money. But it relies on an unconservative practice — one that North Carolina’s legislature has wisely chosen not to use.

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Everyone knows that North Carolina is a closely divided purple state. Everyone knows that in 2020, many statewide races and control of the state legislature will be hotly contested. And everyone knows that with Democrats increasingly dominant in urban areas and Republicans in rural areas, th…

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I gather from my social-media feeds and hate mail that North Carolinians are supposed to be infuriated at the way things are going in our state. I have my frustrations with certain politicians, to be sure, but I’m not infuriated. Nor am I alone.

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“Prudence,” wrote the British statesman Edmund Burke, “is not only the first in rank of the virtues political and moral, but she is the director, the regulator, the standard of them all.” Quite right. Unfortunately, prudence has been sadly lacking on the issue of voter identification. It’s r…

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It requires a certain kind of person to think that a 300-page policy report could ever resolve a longstanding political dispute. I fear that, in my early days as a journalist and think-tank analyst, I may have been one of those persons.

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While the health care debate has usually focused on questions of insurance coverage and finance, the composition and delivery of medical services have been changing significantly. Some of these changes are worrisome. Others are promising.

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About this time last year, progressive activists and Democratic politicians were trumpeting the news that North Carolina was 49th in the country in friendliness to teachers, according to a study by the website WalletHub. The state’s low ranking proved that Republicans disliked public educati…

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During the 1990s and early 2000s, urban elections were an arena of robust partisan politics in North Carolina. Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and other major cities elected Republican mayors — although usually these were officially (read: nominally) nonpartisan races.

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When it comes to North Carolina redistricting, the handwriting is on the wall. The old system for producing legislative and congressional districts is going away. But we still don’t have agreement about what happens next — how to interpret that handwriting, in other words.

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Most North Carolinians think it is reasonable for voters to show identification before casting a ballot. A solid, although not overwhelming, majority voted last fall to place a voter-ID requirement in the state constitution, although a vocal minority continues to see it as dangerous and disc…

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When State Treasurer Dale Folwell took office in early 2017, he found North Carolina’s state health plan to be in even worse shape than he originally thought. Costs were soaring. The terms of the plan’s contracts with medical providers were unclear. And the unfunded liability for retiree hea…

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It began with flubs. It ended in fury. And it made North Carolina politics even more rancorous and destructive. I’m referring, of course, to a 55-9 vote in the House last week to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto.

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The latest ratings of highway systems are out — and for North Carolina, the news is mixed. In general cost-effectiveness, our state’s roads and bridges rank a bit better than average. We fare well on some measures. But when it comes to the safety of rural roads, North Carolina comes in next-…

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The political temptation to protect “domestic” industries from “foreign” competition is strong, persistent, and understandable. But for the vast majority of North Carolina workers, their interests would best be served if politicians resisted the temptation rather than yielding to it.

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Roy Cooper didn’t run for governor in 2016 as a hard-left progressive. He won the election — one of the narrowest gubernatorial contests in American history — by convincing ticket-splitters who voted for Donald Trump and Richard Burr that Cooper would be a reasonable, consensus-building lead…