The Meadows-Hill Debate

By Scott Lilly | Sep 05, 2014

I appreciated the Mark Meadows and Tom Hill debate last night at WCU also broadcasted by WLOS on the internet.  The candidates were respectful to each other and I was able to clearly see each of their philosophies.  At one point the audience appeared to engage in the debate and I was glad to see the moderator ask the audience to show respect by not doing that.

The most valid point from Mr. Hill I think was around the topic of corporate tax loopholes.  Mr. Hill made a charge that corporations earning money here in the United States may shift profits to another country where those profits are likely to be taxed less.  That’s probably a good point; but anyone who knows how international finances work knows it would be difficult to regulate an international company.  A company like Burger King might be motivated to move their headquarters to Canada because the corporate profits might be taxed half as much as they would be in the United States.  Of course we can’t make Canada raise their corporate tax rates.  And we can’t make Burger King not have business outside the United States.  (The Berlin Wall taught us that.)  Canada keeps taxes low so that they can attract wealth and businesses.  Good for them.  Mr. Hill didn’t explain how he would make companies comply with his desire for them to pay more taxes here in the United States.  And he stated elsewhere in the debate that reducing taxes so that companies might choose to keep profits in the US is not something he would favor.

Mr. Meadows I think had two very interesting points that stood out.  First, he mentioned something called “comfortable poverty”.  We’ve heard about that before in this forum as our assistance programs stop paying benefits to the poor faster than the poor can earn their way out of poverty.  I can see how that could be called a “poverty trap”.  And if that’s true, that is a bad way to “help the poor”.  That might explain why the middle class is shrinking.  If you’re poor, it would be very difficult to earn enough to replace benefits that you lose by doing so.  That would motivate most to keep their “comfortable poverty” status and not grow into a middle class.  That can’t be good for anybody.  There was no real proposed solution to the problem.

The other topic Mr. Meadows raised was the picking of winners and losers – in the area of taxes.  My own personal example of this is if you have property in what FEMA describes as a flood zone (a lot of Hazelwood is), you are REQUIRED to pay flood insurance on most any mortgage.  That flood insurance is a national program and I get the feeling people paying into that program are doing little more than paying for Katrina and Sandy devastation.  (Has FEMA ever paid our community anywhere close to what it’s taken from us for this flood insurance?)  The point being that government taxes are just a way to spread money around.  If you live in Maggie Valley, you have to fight a majority of folks in Waynesville trying to vote your piece of the TDA funds away from you.  You have to fight a majority of folks in Mecklenburg County trying to vote your piece of state funds away from you.  And you have to fight for a majority of folks in California trying to vote your piece of federal funds away from you.  People in Maggie Valley don’t have a chance to get a fair share of much of anything.  That’s just how democracy works when dealing with taxes.  The implied solution to the problem was less taxes.

Since fracking has been notable lately, both candidates weighed in on that topic – but nothing notably constructive or noteworthy.  Mr. Meadows criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for being somewhat less than effective in known sites in NC that need remediation.  A point I can appreciate when considering how/if the EPA should get involved in new issues involving fracking.  If we “need” an EPA overseeing fracking, we ought to at least do more than hope that the EPA can be effective.  Based on their comments, I’d be willing to bet both candidates would agree with that statement.

I’d say these local debates are off to a good start.  If they spark smart conversation, they serve the public well.  The next one is on September 23rd where Mr. Queen and Mr. Clampitt will face off.

If you missed last night’s debate, you can find it on YouTube.  Just search “Meadows Hill Debate”.  What were your take-aways from the debate?  Let the "smart discussion" begin!