If you want to see why California is in such a mess, make sure to watch the video of Gov. Jerry Brown’s appearance on “Face the Nation.” CBS doesn’t allow embedding, but you can watch the, short 7:24 video here.
Brown, like the rest of the state’s political elite — Republican as well as Democratic — is living in a world of his own, a Hollywood fantasy playing in the theater of his own mind.
Brown said that, compared to when he first got into the field, politics is “more polarized.” Actually, it’s less. It’s hard to see any difference between him, a Democratic governor, and his Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or between him and the Republican opponent he defeated in 2010, Meg Whitman.
He said that campaign money is more centrally controlled. But that’s the fault of the campaign “reforms,” beginning with the 1974 post-Watergate “reforms,” which made it almost impossible for an average Joe or Jane Citizen to run for office. The laws today are so complex that only professionals (or rich people) run for office, and are must hire professionals to figure out the campaign laws. Brown himself is very wealthy, has been a professional politician all his life (his father was governor), and knows how to get support from wealthy interest groups, especially the powerful government-worker unions.
He said that, “particularly on the Republican side, there’s an enforcement of discipline that’s ideological” which “takes on the quality of a cult.” Again, it’s hard to find policy differences between Democrats and Republicans. Did things change when Democratic President Obama took office in 2009, replacing Republican George Bush? Or when the Republicans took over the U.S. House in 2011? No, everything still is the same.
And as to a “cult,” just try to be a Democrat who’s pro-life and favors tax cuts and decisive pension reform.
“So we’re in a much more adversarial environment,” he said. Perhaps we can forgive him for being a Californian, where Hollywood dreams become some people’s reality. It’s only the partisan rhetoric that is “adversarial.” That’s to fool the voters into thinking they have a say in matters.
After all, consider the choice this November, between the sitting president who imposed Obamacare, and a former liberal governor of the liberal state of Massachusetts whose Romneycare in that state inspired Obamacare.
Brown mentioned the “filibuster.” Apparently he’s talking about the filibuster that blocked the ”Buffett Rule” tax increase in the U.S. Senate last month. But the tax increase would have failed in the House anyway. And any tax increase — including Brown’s proposed $9 billion tax increase for California — only would take money from jobs and business producers, thus killing businesses and jobs.
“A great power can’t govern itself with this kind of disfunction,” he said. By “great power,” does he main military power? Because the United States remains by far the world’s greatest military power — although less so than a decade ago because the Iraq and Afghanistan wars bankrupted the country and severely harmed the military. Or does he mean a great economic power? But it’s the tax-and-waste policies he favors that have dimininshed America, especially in the last decade under both Republicans and Democrats. “Communist” China now has a freer economy, and more rapidly increasing prosperity, than America.
The way out? “We need some kind of decisive election.” Well he sure didn’t give us one here in California. He’s Arnold III without the Austrian accent. He could have charged into office in January 2011 with a bold plan to transform California’s finances with something like the flat-tax proposal he advanced nationally in his 1992 presidential bid.
Indeed, the economist who designed that 1992 plan for him, Arthur Laffer, has come up with a great plan do so for California: “Eureka! How to Fix California.” It was written for the Pacific Research Institute, CalWatchDog.com’s parent think tank.
But, no. Brown didn’t come up with anything new. Just a repeat of Arnold’s 2009 tax increase, which didn’t solve the budget problem at the time.
$16 trillion debt
And he never brings up the major problems: the $16 trillion national debt and the $1 trillion California debt. These debts are weighing everything down — even with low interest rates. When interest rates finally rise from the current absurd effective rate of zero, then those twin towers of debt will grow even taller — then topple.
He attacks Republicans for ignoring “12 million people” in the country, meaning illegal aliens. But thanks to the policies of Brown and others in both parties, the American economy is doing so badly that the illegals are returning to their homes. This is another indication that Brown still is living in the 1980s.
Brown said that “Republicans have to move out of that extreme cul-de-sac that some of their more extreme members are pushing.” Huh? They just nominated Romney, the poster boy for moderation, who changes his policies so often his own staff even compared him to an Etch A Sketch. And Schwarzenegger was so moderate he makes Brown look like a radical right-winer.
He said the economy is recovering slowly “not because of Obama, but because the mortgage meltdown was a financial recession, and the historic data show they take much longer to recover from.” No. The real problems are: the $16 trillion debt, at least $1 trillion in new debt every year, fluctuating currency values because there has been no gold standard since 1971, artificially low interest rates, massive new regulations such as Obamacare and AB 32 in California (both of which Brown supports) and uncertainty about tax rates, which well could go higher. Although Obama didn’t cause all that, he certainly has perpetuated it. The mortgage meltdown hit about this time in 2007, five years ago, which is more than enough time to clear out the bad investments and generate a recovery — if decent policies had been pursued.
He also blamed the lack of regulation, not too much of it. It’s true that mostly getting rid of the Glass-Steagall Act banking regulations in 1999 was a mistake, as even free-marketer Ron Paul has said. But since then, the Republicans in 2002 imposed the hideous Sarbanes-Oxley regulations on business, and in 2010 the Democrats imposed the horrible Dodd-Frank absurd regulations on business. China doesn’t have such anti-market restraints, which is why it kept growing during the recession that hit America.
Brown said his agenda today is the same as it was 30 years ago, more evidence he’s living in the past. His itemization of what he said was “right at the top of the agenda today”:
* “Pension reform.” Not only is his current pension reform plan pathetically weak. But the major culprit in the mess is Brown himself for signing into law the 1977 Dills Act, which allowed collective bargaining for government unions. Doing so effectively meant the unions would run the government. The employees would “elect our own bosses,” as one union boss put it. Surprise! The “bosses” spiked the “employees’” pensions, causing the crisis.
* “Completing the California water plan.” But the state remains stuck with the special interests pushing general tax increases for water pork, instead of real solutions.
* “Renewable energy.” This is just a slam on businesses and families to jack up energy prices for his boutique power-source fixation. California’s electricity rates already are 30 percent higher than the national average, and will be headed higher.
* “High-Speed Rail.” He’s still pushing what’s aptly called the Browndoggle. It’s nothing but waste and never will be built.
Notice there’s nothing on his list about creating jobs or making businesses more comfortable in what currently is the country’s most toxic environment for businesses and private-sector jobs.
Brown said that it takes 30 years to get some things done, whereas people want “instant gratification.” Well, maybe to a very rich man like himself. But if you’re standing in an unemployment line because his policies killed your job, you’re thinking about taking care of your family today, not what happens in three decades.
He said being governor is “abstract” and the Capitol, which includes his office “isn’t anywhere.” Still Gov. Moonbeam.
Brown concluded the interview by saying he’s “thinking about” running for re-election in 2014. While others have said he woudln’t, I’ve said all along that he would. What else is he going to do? Re-join the reality-based community?
(John Seiler, an editorial writer with The Orange County Register for 19 years, is a reporter and analyst for CalWatchgog. Originally posted on CalWatchdog.)