Pat McCrory's Unemployment Fable

The governor spins a dog-whistle story with no basis in reality but lots of oomph for the xenophobic

Thank goodness Pat McCrory and the legislature cut unemployment benefits. Undesirables were crossing the border to graze on them.

The governor slipped this pile of dung past a napping Tom Campbell recently on the Sunday morning talk show NC Spin, which interviewed McCrory last week. (Video below; the exchange begins at 2:53.)

WRAL-TV’s Mark Binker responded with a fact check:

The claim: During a recent taping of NC Spin, Gov. Pat McCrory was asked to defend controversial changes to the state unemployment system. As part of that conversation, he said that, until those changes were put in place, people were moving to North Carolina because the state's benefits were among the most generous in the country. 

“We had the ninth-most-generous unemployment compensation in the country,” McCrory said. “We were having a lot of people move here, frankly, from other areas to get unemployment … People were moving here because of our very generous benefits, and then, of course, we had more debt.”

The question: Were people moving to North Carolina attracted by unemployment benefits?

Er … no.

North Carolina’s own rules prohibit people who have not worked in the state from tapping the state’s unemployment insurance system, and economists say there’s scant evidence for people moving across state lines for any work-related reason, much less because they’re comparison shopping for unemployment insurance.

Given that McCrory can offer scant evidence for his claim, it would be hard not to rate his statement as false.

It’s more than that — like so much that’s emerged from McCrory’s mouth over the last year, it’s so ludicrous on its face it makes a fact-check seem superfluous.

Even if someone weren’t required to have worked in North Carolina to receive benefits, the supposed payoff simply makes no sense: Someone’s going to pack up and move from another state for an extra $100 per week, give or take, in unemployment benefits?

If you stop and think about it for a second, it falls apart like cotton candy in acid. That’s the problem. The tale of “outsiders crossing the border to leech off our precious resources” has limited basis in fact but immense emotional resonance for a large portion of the Republican base.

It’s a xenophobic fable those folks just love to hear — including, apparently, McCrory himself, who explained through a spokeswoman that he’d heard about the in-migration of feeders at the benefits trough from “personal stories he’s heard.” Personal stories from whom? Who’d be in a position to know? Rush Limbaugh?

Got another video for you.

It’s the first episode of a new web series, “Pillow Talk With Joanne,” starring my friend Joanne Spataro, who is a kook, but in a good and welcome way. Charlotte needs more kooks. Only a couple of more — let’s not go overboard here — but more.

The show’s conceit is a bedroom interview, sort of like an old-school John and Yoko thing, but with a mimosa, purple nightgown and sassy Sicilian chick. (All we are saying is give sass a chance.)

Her first episode (above) is with former Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jennifer Roberts. It’s a fun time. Roberts dons a captain’s hat. Dale Earnhardt Jr. makes an appearance, kind of. That’s always entertaining.

Anyway. Just hipping you to it since I promised Joanne I would. Some of the future guests may be political types. Nonetheless, I’ll be watching. So should you.

Categories: Poking the Hornet’s Nest