Friday, January 14, 2011

I Dare You Not To Raise Taxes

New/old California Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown has thrown down the gauntlet and is arm-twisting the endangered species Republicans in the state legislature into voting for his tax plan. Brown is attempting to get four Republican votes for his multi-billion dollar tax plan. California has already run businesses and individual taxpayers into greener pastures in other states, but the left's work is not yet complete.

Despite a nationwide move to the center or center/right, California bucked the tide and elected Democrats galore. Every single statewide office is now held by a Democrat, as are both Senate seats. California was so successful in divorcing itself from reality and the large majority of other states that in order to succeed in his scheme, Brown needs only four Republican votes. But lacking the courage to simply impose the taxes, this vote will be to place the proposal on the state ballot so the people themselves can be blamed (probably justifiably) for taking the final step into complete bankruptcy.

The people of the State of California were very well aware of the horrendous condition of the state's finances. But instead of throwing the bums out, they put the most irresponsible of the irresponsible into near-absolute control of the state and its budget. It's not much of a stretch to believe that they will continue the lunacy if Brown succeeds in getting the measure on the ballot. Now you understand why the Donner Party is so iconic in California. Cannibalism is the official state activity.

In all fairness, many of the taxes Brown is proposing are not actually new. They were imposed at the beginning of the national financial crisis (long after California's crisis had already begun), but Brown has no intention of giving them up. So Brown has proposed "massive cuts" to go along with the current and new taxes he proposes. Republicans have called for an austerity budget that would immediately save California $12 billion, nearly half of California's $25.4 billion deficit. In response, Brown has cut his office's budget by 25%, cutting the number of state employee cellphones by half and other cosmetic measures that will save all of about $20 million. Political insiders call that type of show cut "budget dust."

Brown's plan does not address the biggest issue of all--public employee pensions and benefits, which comprise the largest and most immediate cause of the spiraling debt. He has promised to "abolish some of the state bureaucracy" but has made no tangible moves to do so. His margin of victory in the recent election was largely attributable to the money and participation from the public employee unions. Even Brown won't bite the hand that feeds him (at least not while anybody's looking).

Despite some support from the California Business Roundtable (largely big business Republican moderates), Republicans who allows themselves to be snookered into this trap may pay the price within their own party, which is gasping for breath but not yet dead. In 2009, the state Senate and Assembly Republican minority leaders were ousted for their support of tax increases. Another Republican narrowly avoided being removed from office in a recall effort. Three out of six Republican legislators who sought higher office were defeated after their tax-raising votes.

California's arcane election laws allow His Royal Flakiness to get the proposal on the state ballot without the support of the four Republican holdouts. He has hammered the concept of "bipartisanship" deeply into the heads of the naive public, and wants to use the Republicans to prove what a generous politician he really is. Baloney. The Republicans have absolutely nothing to gain by voting to allow the measure on the ballot. It will get there anyway.

If the Republicans vote to place the matter on the ballot, and there is somehow an improvement in the economy, Brown would be able to point out his "bipartisan" effort to straighten out the state's finances. In the much more likely event that the scheme fails, he can blame the people themselves and remind them that the Republicans thought it was a good idea too. But if the Republicans vote against the proposal and for fiscal responsibility, Brown himself will have to force the measure onto the ballot and be almost solely responsible for its failure. And if the people vote in favor of it, well, a people gets the form of government it deserves.

On a personal note, I must carry some kind of curse with me. My adopted state of California is leading the rest of the nation over the cliff of bankruptcy. My birth state of Illinois didn't even bother to fake its intentions. In a midnight session, the state legislature raised personal income taxes 66% (wrap your mind around that), and corporate tax rates pretty much the same. Like California, the crippling public employee benefits and pensions were left untouched. But unlike California, zero, none, zilch was cut from public spending. My biggest hope is that the Illini who flee their state are not foolish enough to come to California.

20 comments:

T_Rav said...

So I wonder how long it will be until we see massive European-style protests in the streets of Sacramento or elsewhere by people who have become addicted to the system and who will scream like four-year-olds when everything finally collapses and their benefits get cut off. All I know is, if the federal government bails out California, I may just calculate how much of my taxes go to it and cut that part out. At which point I will probably pop up on DHS' list of enemies--I mean, list of potential security threats.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Hawk
The liberals will call you Chicken Little, but then they voted for Moonbeam.
It just boggles my mind that the people of California don't get it.
Do you suppose the majority of Californians operate their own finances the way the state does?
Obviously Californians do not learn from history. Last time this guy was Governor he did us no great benefit so it looks like we will loose again.

LawHawkRFD said...

T_Rav: We've already had some messy student demonstrations over tuition increases, and the legislature just did it again for the UC and Cal State University systems. The gimmes want their goodies back. I just received an e-mail from the Cal Alumni Association all indignant because for the first time the private portion of the tuition will be higher than the state contribution. I have no idea how, or if, California is going to get through this one. Of course they could always open up the valves and pumps and let agriculture save them--but that's too easy and too obvious.

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: Never have so many received so much for doing so little. Winston Churchill would be horrified.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: Yep. That's it. I'm a ChickenHawk. The only Californians who run their household budgets properly are the ones paying the bills for the rest of those who don't.

T_Rav said...

LawHawk, on that note, Nick Gillespie at Reason.tv just did a good piece on the Central Valley and all the wonderful things that have happened to it since they saved the poor delta smelt.

I've come to care less and less about public education the older I've gotten. I'm in the midst of applying to the Ph.D. program at my university--God help me--but for the first time, I don't think I care that much whether I get accepted or not. In my opinion, too much of grad school is a joke anymore, as are most of the undergrad programs, and it's really more of a hoop to be jumped through than anything. I could think of a lot worse happening than Berkeley or UC-Davis going under, and frankly, I wouldn't consider it the end of the world if my own university had to lose public funding, either. Even if that means it would run out of money for me, I wouldn't be that bothered. (Except I already renewed the lease on my apartment for another year, so I'd be out $3000.)

LawHawkRFD said...

T_Rav: Gillespie is one of my favorites. He's completely down-to-earth, and though he is a libertarian, he's not a movement libertarian, so much of what he says is just plain good sense.

I know what you mean about the UC campuses. Still, both Berkeley and UCLA are top-tier schools which produce an odd combination of know-nothing leftists and great scientists and doctors. Frankly, I'd be perfectly happy to celebrate the closure of the Muslim enclaves at Santa Cruz and Irvine, but closing Berkeley, UCLA and San Diego would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And Davis should go back to being the best agricultural school in the nation and give up trying to be Berkeley Lite. Of course, since the liberals and ecoweenies have just about done agriculture in California in, I suppose all they can do now is train radicals.

StanH said...

Aw…come on Hawk, don’t you know it’s for the children.

It’s like every ruling class mother in California dropped their kids on their heads simultaneously, 50 to 70 years ago causing the inability for reasoned thought in Sacramento. The good news, it will be a wonderful object study for the rest of the country, the bad news, you have to be there.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: I have my own well, lots of land and a clear shot from every direction. I'll just raise my own crops (good thing I like corn), milk the cows that wander across my lower property, and have lots of blackbird pie. I haven't yet decided if the Hawk's Nest is going to secede from California. LOL

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - good post. I realize you would have to move again, but do you think there would be support for kicking Kahleefourneeyah out of the union?

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: We'd have to win over New York, Illinois and the other big blue states. And since they're all joined together at the hip for fiscal suicide, it would be a difficult task. But in the event that Kahleefourneeah should get ejected, I'll already have seceded and sought statehood for my State of Caliente. That way, the United States loses a blue state and gets a red one (with a lot fewer electoral votes, however).

Writer X said...

Yes, the CA and ILL legislatures have done such a great job of managing the money so far, why not give them more?! I feel sorry for the people of CA (and Illinois) but they elect these idiots. Pretty soon the only people who will be living in these states are the politicians who are bankrupting them.

T_Rav said...

LawHawk, if I move to California, will you annex me? Because then I could get the undeniably beautiful scenery without the idiotic politics.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Hawk
Maybe we could get the whole County of Kern to secede from the fiscal lunacy.
I'll nominate you as Grand Potentate.
We could support the whole county by selling oil and almonds to the rest of North America. Raise our own crops and livestock mint our own money and thrive.

LawHawkRFD said...

WriterX: And then we'll get to see the magnificent spectacle of them trying to tax each other because there's nobody else left to tax.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: The more the merrier. We'll be like Switzerland. No minarets, surrounded by social welfare states, and we put everyone else's money in our banks.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: Can we leave the welfare slums of Bakersfield in California?

LawHawkRFD said...

T_Rav: I had a temporary brain aneurysm and couldn't remember the exact name of the earthquake fault that's going to send California (or at least Los Angeles) on a bon voyage. It's the Puente Hills fault, discovered only in 1999. It's a blind-thrust fault, and though it's not as active as the San Andreas, when it goes (every 11,000 years or so), it's a real beaut.

T_Rav said...

LawHawk, I look forward to my time in the future hypothetical Republic of Caliente.

Faults seem pretty much a dime a dozen in CA; all I know is one of them's sure to drop everything off in the ocean sooner or later. I say we Missourians still win, though. I sit on some great bottomland soil, underneath of which is a giant underground lake, and when our Big One hits it'll push all the water up through the dirt. They tell us when it hits, we've got 20 minutes to get out of Dodge and then we're screwed. St. Louis and Memphis will come off even worse. Oh well, this place ain't much to look at even as it is.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I have to admit New Madrid had one effect that we've never seen. Sand geysers. We've been too busy dodging rocks and houses.

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