Editorials

PayPal a wakeup call? Not for these guys

The Observer editorial board

John McCabe, left, senior vice-president of Global Operations at PayPal, holds up a carved wooden bowl presented to him by Gov. Pat McCrory after McCrory announced last month that PayPal was opening an operations center in Charlotte.
John McCabe, left, senior vice-president of Global Operations at PayPal, holds up a carved wooden bowl presented to him by Gov. Pat McCrory after McCrory announced last month that PayPal was opening an operations center in Charlotte. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

It’s all a game for Sen. Phil Berger and other Republican leaders in Raleigh, even when it costs 400 people a paycheck.

When PayPal CEO Dan Schulman announced Tuesday that his company was canceling plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte because of House Bill 2, he appeared to change the debate from red-vs.-blue to green, as in millions of lost dollars for North Carolina. Fallout from legislators’ discriminatory bill had suddenly morphed from threats to the very real loss of well-paying jobs.

Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, Rep. Dan Bishop and others, though, saw it as another chance to fire up the PR machine. They didn’t utter a word of regret about losing a major expansion by one of the nation’s most innovative companies. Instead, Republicans insulted that company and, in an unsettlingly Orwellian move, blamed the victim.

Just weeks ago, Gov. Pat McCrory was at the Charlotte Chamber touting the PayPal news and boasting that it was the kind of company North Carolina needed to recruit. By Tuesday, the N.C. Republican Party was slamming PayPal executives as hypocrites guilty of “extortion” who do business in countries with human rights abuses.

We can only imagine how recruiters in other states are drooling over North Carolina’s new economic development policy of attacking prospective employers.

Ignoring PayPal’s statement that it was declining to do business in Charlotte because of HB 2, the Raleigh gang turned it around. With straight faces, they blamed Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts for the economic hit and warned that she needs to be stopped before she costs Charlotte more jobs.

“If Jennifer Roberts, Roy Cooper and the far-left Political Correctness Mob she’s unleashed really care about the economic future of her city, they’ll stop the misinformation campaign immediately … before more damage is done,” Berger and Moore said in a statement.

Someone needs to take the wheel back from the teenagers.

PayPal didn’t pack its bags when Charlotte passed its ordinance. It did so when Berger and Bishop led the legislature to pass House Bill 2 and its discriminatory provisions.

The bill also provoked Lionsgate into pulling production for “Crushed,” a show that was supposed to be filmed in Charlotte. Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias said Tuesday his company will “seriously reconsider” its plan to add 500 jobs in Charlotte. If HB 2 is not repealed, Elias said, “our long-term plans for aggressive expansion in North Carolina will change.”

Will legislators respond by maligning Red Ventures? Will they bad-mouth the NBA if the league moves the 2017 All Star game? And how many companies have crossed North Carolina off the list without anyone knowing?

So economic developers pull their hair out while McCrory equivocates and the Biffs in Raleigh high-five.

We are used to the never-ending tug-of-war of politics, the dueling charges and counter charges designed to score an electoral edge. Now, though, there’s a price beyond having to endure the back-and-forth nails on the chalkboard. Republicans’ effort to ratchet up voter turnout among their base is now costing the state jobs, capital investment and paychecks. All in the name of delaying equality.

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