Moderate Republicans Have Been Conned Into Supporting Antonio Villaraigosa: The Most Hard-Left Gubernatorial Candidate in History

Photo courtesy Center for American Progress Action Fund, flickr

Photo courtesy Center for American Progress Action Fund, flickr

There are very important reasons why we should unite behind Cox. First, it’s about voter turnout in November. The top of the ticket always affects voter turnout so a ballot with no Republican at the top could suppress our turnout by enough to cause losses in many races down-ticket. Indeed, liberal strategists claim California is key to winning back the house and they’re hoping to flip at least five congressional seats. If that occurs, Pelosi becomes speaker, the Dems will impeach Trump based on phony Russia collusion allegations and the Trump agenda will come to a screeching halt. Moreover, there are important propositions on the ballot that will be affected by a low GOP turnout. Furthermore, we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of Cox winning in November. Yes, that would be a major upset, but then again, no one thought Trump would win and it’s entirely possible that Californians may be finally realizing they’ve had enough of big government, high unemployment, high taxes and open borders.

This is why it’s shocking to see so many moderate Republicans like Reed Hastings, Jim Cunneen, Meg Whitman, Richard Riordan and others come out in support of Antonio Villaraigosa. Like many moderate Republicans, they are not thinking about the larger political picture nor do they seem to be aware of the long-term goals of the left. Nothing new. And they are playing right into the hands of the left who have launched a campaign to attack Cox in order to end up with two Democrats on the November ballot so that GOP voter turnout in November is affected. If Cox didn’t have a chance of placing 2nd, why then are the Democrats, and their moderate Republican front groups, spending millions attacking him?

We also need to keep in mind that California is key to the anti-Trump resistance and they must keep the governorship in order to maintain its role as the lead resistance state. California is providing taxpayer-financed legal work to oppose many of Trump’s initiatives, particularly having to do with immigration. It’s all part of the left’s long-term strategy to legitimatize the idea that illegal aliens have the right to vote and to delegitimitize the idea that a nation needs borders and citizenship to govern effectively or to govern at all. The money and power California is providing to the resistance movement rests largely upon maintaining control of the governor’s house. The attack on American sovereignty, the concept of citizenship and the rule of law have always been targets of the left, but never did they imagine they would be able to con a few powerful moderates into supporting their dark agenda.

One PAC, headed by wealthy GOP moderates such as Reed Hastings and Eli Broad, and also funded by former New York liberal Republican governor Michael Bloomberg, is sending out numerous mailers full of falsehoods about Cox. The mailer is sponsored by a group called “The California Charter School Associate Advocates.” I’m sorry, but the CCSAA doesn’t represent all charter schools; in fact, I don’t know any charter schools who are CCSAA members and I was the leading advocate of charter schools when I served as the chairman of the Education Committee in 1994. Nor is CCSAA operating in any kind of democratic fashion. There wasn’t any kind of vote by charter school leaders to endorse Villaraigosa and to engage in phony attacks on John Cox. CCSAA is mostly a play-thing for a handful of politically naive moderates who don’t even know they’re being used.

Indeed, the idea that Villaraigosa is some kind of education reformer, as implied by CCSAA, is bunk. The entire time I served with Villaraigosa, he never broke ranks with the education unions. Not once. Indeed, in his past, he worked as a consultant for the California Teachers Association (CTA) and served as an Area Representative for the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), two radically left unions which have never supported any education reforms whatsoever. Nor was Villaraigosa anywhere to be found when the battle to create and expand charter schools was fought. Only now, decades after all the key charter bill battles were fought, is Villaraigosa claiming to be a charter school supporter all along. Is Hastings and his crowd really that stupid to think that after a lifetime of promoting the union line, Villaraigosa will be an education reformer as governor?

California remains near-last in the country in math and reading scores and has been there for decades. The turning point was in the 1990s when the teachers unions basically became so powerful and entrenched that the system reached the point of no return. It may be too late for any serious reform to ever occur. The only reforms that would have mattered would have been to infuse the education system with private funding and entrepreneurs by use of a voucher system, but Villaraigosa opposed all such efforts.

Then there is socialized medicine, with my friend and former roommate, former Assemblyman Jim Cunneen, telling me he supports Villaraigosa due to his opposition to Senate Bill 562, a bill that would allow the state to take over all health care at a cost of $200 billion – an amount larger than the entire state budget. Any idiot could have seen that there was no way the state could afford that bill, so opposing SB562 was really not a profile in courage. But voters need to know Villaraigosa does not oppose socialized medicine, just that particular bill. He says so himself on his own campaign website. He states that “our priority should be to achieve universal health care in California by expanding the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare]… .” I guess no one told the moderates, but Villaraigosa over and over says “we must – and will – protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and work towards universal care.”

The moderates seem to be completely ignorant of Villaraigosa’s record. One of the most serious state budget problems is the state pension system in which hundreds of thousands of state employees are benefiting from a system far more generous than comparable private systems. Villaraigosa claims to be a champion of pension reform but he refused to vote for the one bill that could have averted the current crisis. When Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian offered a bill in 1996 that would, as he stated, “permit all jurisdictions (including cities, counties, special districts and school districts, not just the state employer) to offer a 401K type of defined contribution plan,” it would have saved state and local government millions of dollars and prevented the chronic state budget crisis that we are now constantly dealing with.

Indeed, Villaraigosa has voted for every tax increase he’s ever encountered and will advocate for more tax increases as governor. But he’s always been a big government advocate; for crying out loud, he used to be the president of the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3230. The moderates point to the fact that Villaraigosa had to cut spending as Los Angeles mayor, when the budget, due to all the liberal social programs and its out-of-control pension plan, was way out of balance.   But he didn’t have a choice; balancing the city budget is required by law and Villaraigosa did not have all the budget gimmicks he relied on in Sacramento to hide millions of dollars. Unlike the state budget, the Los Angeles budget is very straight forward.

But to regard Villaraigosa as a fiscal hero is preposterous. As mayor, he spent millions of federal dollars intended for city services on renovating a million-dollar yacht owned by the city. He also gave massive raises – some as high as 25% – to the city’s 22,000 employees during his tenure. And not just once. There is little doubt that as governor Villaraigosa will increase the size of government and sign into law all kinds of new taxes. This is why he will not sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to not raise taxes. John Cox has. With the state already suffering from one of the highest tax burdens in the country, his policies will further devastate the state’s economy and chase more business owners out of state. Perhaps  Mr. Hastings can explain to the voters exactly how Villaraigosa’s big government policies will help the state economy.

Indeed, none of this should surprise anyone who knows Villaraigosa’s political background. He has spent his entire life as a professional leftist agitator and was even president of the Southern California chapter of the ACLU where one of his actions was to sue cities that tried to ban the poor gangbangers from city parks. He supports open borders, strengthening California’s status as a “sanctuary state” and, as he has made clear, will look for ways to further defy federal immigration law, even if it means jeopardizing the safety of Californians by refusing to release – or even detain – illegal aliens involved with criminal activity. Already, it is costing California’s welfare, education, health care and criminal justice systems tens of billions of dollars to handle the 3 million illegal aliens already here. More troubling, though, is that by maintaining California’s sanctuary status, as Villaraigosa will, it sends a signal to millions south of the border to cross the border. Illegal aliens are bankrupting the state but Villaraigosa does not care because he believes illegal aliens have all the rights citizens have. Just ask him.

Indeed, Villaraigosa’s history of involvement with radical Hispanic separatist groups is perhaps the most troubling part of his background. As a student, he was president of MEChA at UCLA, a Hispanic supremacist group that calls for the re-annexation of the Western United States to Mexico. It regards California as an “occupied state” and calls for the “physical liberation of our land.” Not kidding. MEChA rallies always feature racist and violent language. He was also chairman of the United Mexican-American Students (UMAS), founded by Eliezer Risco, a communist revolutionary trained by Castro’s thugs. He also wrote for Sin Fronteras (Without Borders), a vicious, anti-American, open borders propaganda organ for the Hispanic separatist movement. Villaraigosa gave angry hate-filled speeches at rallies in opposition to Prop. 187, which simply required all state programs to benefit only legal citizens.

The California Coalition for Immigration Reform issued a statement claiming that “Mr. Villaraigosa’s participation at the Latino Summit Response to Proposition 187 in January, 1995, placed him among those activists who harbor anti-American sentiments and beliefs bordering on sedition.” He also participated in the “Marcha de Libertad” march on Washington in 1996, again, organized by the Hispanic separatist movement. This march called for free education, health care and welfare for all Latinos, regardless of citizenship. This rally also featured revolutionary banners and signs featuring statements such as “Get off our land.” Villaraigosa actually spoke at this hate rally and again called for more “rights” for all Latinos, regardless of citizenship.

Indeed, I watched Villaraigosa spend many hours in Sacramento trying to figure out how to give more “rights” and benefits to illegal aliens. He was the author of the bill that gave illegal aliens the “right” to obtain driver’s licenses, which, of course, made it easier to obtain welfare benefits and to register to vote. His long involvement with Hispanic separatist groups, his advocacy for illegal aliens his entire career and now his support for the “resistance” movement that forces California’s law enforcement community to not cooperate with the federal government on immigration policies, make it clear that his loyalty is to his race first and to his country second. He is not fit to be governor.

Just think for a second. If John Cox was president of a white separatist group, spewed racist rhetoric at KKK rallies and spoke about breaking away, say, southern states for a white separatist nation, would the media have covered it? Of course they would have. But no one in the media will ask Villaraigosa questions about his past involvement with hate groups. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Now it’s time for the voters to speak.

Steve Baldwin is a free lance writer based in San Diego, a former member of the California States Assembly and former Executive Director of the Council for National Policy.  

Progressives’ situational, self-serving, love of transparency

CapitolWe’ve all heard of “situational ethics.” This column is about “situational transparency,” a phenomenon among progressives who love transparency in matters of public policy, except when they hate it.

Let’s review the areas in which progressives support transparency: the salaries of CEOs, the race and gender of employees, the details of business supply chains and, of course, extensive disclosures about campaign finance.

But in other matters, particularly relating to their own interests, the same people are flatly opposed to transparency. For example, progressives claim to desire disclosure of who pays for political advertising, and they backed legislation such as Assembly Bill 249, a burdensome mandate to add confusing content to political ads. It was so burdensome, in fact, that an exception was made for ads paid for by labor unions, major backers of progressive politicians.

Progressives also campaigned hard against Proposition 54, the California Legislative Transparency Act, which voters approved despite liberals’ complaints. Prop. 54 requires that bills must be posted online in their final form for at least three days before lawmakers can cast a final vote on them. Proposition 54, which the voters approved in 2016, also requires the Legislature to make video recordings of all public hearings, and it allows any member of the public to record a legislative hearing.

Another example of how those in power resist having the public see what they are doing involves public employee compensation. For years, government agencies and departments have resisted disclosing how much their managers and employees are paid in both salaries and benefits. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association had to file numerous lawsuits — or threaten lawsuits — to get local governments to disgorge the data. After prevailing in all those actions, compensation data is now available for public inspections — a healthy development in countering government entities that constantly plead poverty and demand higher taxes.

Perhaps the most glaring example of progressive hypocrisy when it comes to transparency is revealed by the defeat of Senate Bill 1074, authored by state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, which would have provided California’s millions of motorists with valuable information about the price of gasoline. Titled “Motor Vehicle Fuel: Disclosure of Government-Imposed Costs,” SB1074 would have required gas stations to post near each pump a breakdown of all the different costs that go into the price per gallon of fuel, such as federal, state and local taxes and costs associated with environmental rules and regulations, including California’s hidden tax, the permit fees that fuel producers have to pay under the state’s infamous cap-and-trade law.

As you might expect, the progressives who control the state Legislature refused to provide the public with the true cost of government when it comes to driving our cars. The same folks who rail against the oil companies and who are quick to allege deep conspiracies about corporate profits have no interest in informing the public about government-imposed costs that dwarf the oil companies’ profit margin on a gallon of gas.

We can also expect them to oppose the government transparency that would be required by an initiative that recently met the signature requirement to qualify for the November ballot.

The Tax Fairness, Transparency and Accountability Act of 2018 would require that any law creating a new, increased or extended tax must contain “a specific and legally binding and enforceable limitation on how the revenue from the tax can be spent.”

Even if the tax revenue will be spent for “unrestricted general revenue purposes,” the law must say so.

California politicians often complain about “ballot-box budgeting” and requirements for voter approval before taxes can be raised. But progressives have earned a reputation for hiding the cost of their policies, and voters can’t be blamed for playing an aggressive defense.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

This article was originally published by the Orange County Register

California’s solar-panel mandate for new homes will keep the cost of living unaffordable.

Solar panelsCalifornia, where a modest, burned-out home in San Jose just sold for nearly $1 million, well above its asking price, is in the throes of a housing-affordability crisis. The state’s latest response to the housing crunch: a mandate that builders install solar panels on every new home in the Golden State.

It’s tough to overstate the high cost of housing in California, even relative to the state’s high incomes. In San Jose, the average home costs 10.3 times the area’s median income, according to Demographia’s International Housing Affordability Survey. This high ratio is not due to some local bubble — it’s 9.4 in Los Angeles, 9.1 in San Francisco, and 8.4 in San Diego. Elsewhere in the country — even in relatively prosperous cities with high growth — housing is more affordable. In Columbus, Ohio, and in Atlanta, for instance, home prices average only about three times the median income. Even New York City, considered “severely unaffordable,” scores just 5.7.

Regulations that stifle building are a big part of the problem. Reason illustrated the absurdity of California’s building rules when it profiled a laundromat owner in San Francisco who has spent four years and $1 million trying to develop apartments on the site of his one-story, non-historic building in a city starving for new housing. It’s so tough to find an affordable place to live in San Francisco that people in their late thirties are living in dorms.

But beyond the zoning and regulatory barriers, mandates that raise prices are an underreported part of the housing price challenge in California. The New York Times estimates that the solar-panel requirement will add $8,000 – $12,000 to the cost of a home — close to the price of a year’s in-state tuition at UC Berkeley. One local chapter of Habitat for Humanity says that the charity will have to raise an additional $80,000 to $100,000 per year just to keep building the same number of homes. Advocates insist that solar power saves money in the long run, but if it’s such a great deal, why does California have to legislate it?

The state’s rationale for imposing the directive is, of course, climate change. But as New York Times climate reporter Brad Plumer tweeted, adding 10,000 new apartments in San Francisco would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions in the state by three times as much as the solar-panel mandate because urban apartment-dwellers use less energy than single-home occupants. California is already a green-friendly state. Building more housing that lets more people live in California, even at current energy-efficiency levels, would have a positive effect on emissions. The alternative is forcing people to move out of state and into more polluting jurisdictions.

State legislators made an attempt to expand housing availability with Senate Bill 827, which would have preempted local zoning rules by requiring cities to allow midrise construction near rail stations and major bus stops. The legislation should have pleased climate-change activists by facilitating the construction of new transit-oriented development and increasing density. But powerful environmental groups in California, including the Sierra Club, lined up against the bill, which failed in committee.

With its heavy-handed, top-down approach to zoning, SB 827 raised legitimate concerns about local control over land use—but the bill’s opponents block any plan that would materially increase housing supply in transit-accessible areas. California’s environmentalist-NIMBY axis has been highly effective in driving housing costs to unsustainable levels. The failure to build new housing in America’s most climate-friendly locales suggests that the underlying rationale for California’s rules is not climate, but exclusion.

Only 31% of Californians Want to Keep Paying for High-Speed Rail Project

Gov. Jerry Brown, Anne GustA new poll suggests that only 31% of registered voters in California want to keep paying for the California High-Speed Rail project, the “bullet train” that Gov. Jerry Brown sees as a major legacy project to fight climate change.

The USC Dornsife / Los Angeles Times poll asked 835 respondents whether they supported or opposed the project, and found Californians were evenly divided — until they were told about the cost, at which point support crashed, according to the Times:

About 48% of the poll’s 835 respondents said that in general they strongly or somewhat support the project, while 43% oppose it. USC poll director Jill Darling said those are not strong numbers of support or opposition, given the poll’s margin of error of 4 percentage points.

But when asked in a second question whether they would stop the project, given that the cost has doubled to $77 billion and the schedule has stretched to 2033, just 31% said they would keep going and 49% said they would halt construction. A sizable 19% did not know what to do about the problems.

As with many issues, the project’s strongest proponents are residents of the liberal San Francisco Bay area.

As Breitbart News has reported, the cost of the project has skyrocketed even as construction has bogged down. Gov. Brown has dismissed criticisms of high-speed rail as “bullshit,” but the fact is that the project, which was supposed to take passengers from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay area in less than three hours, cannot guarantee that travel time and will require heavy subsidies to remain competitive with air fares or driving costs.

Voters approved the project in a 2008 referendum, in the same election that brought Barack Obama to power. The new administration’s stimulus project emphasized high-speed rail projects — and sought to punish states that did not want to build them. But only California has persisted with its high-speed rail plans, and has done so despite facing opposition even from environmental groups.

Voters, too, are now souring on the project and its future seems dim — though gubernatorial frontrunner Gavin Newsom has reversed his former opposition and now supports the project.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California 

Campaigns Try to Fool California Voters

Gavin newsomPolitics – the means by which we govern ourselves – can be a positive, even uplifting human enterprise.

Too often, however, political tactics are based on the cynical assumption that voters can be easily fooled and the current election season is, unfortunately, rife.

Take, for example, the television ads that Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the leading candidate for governor, has been airing about John Cox, a San Diego businessman and the leading Republican.

Superficially, it’s logical that a Democratic candidate for governor would attack a Republican candidate. But these ads, alleging that Cox is closely allied with the National Rifle Association, have another, less obvious motive.

Newsom and his advisors know that if a Republican places second in the June 5 primary voting and thus wins a place on the November ballot, it would make Newsom’s election a near-certainty.

Conversely, were Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa to finish second on June 5, Newsom would have a real fight on his hands.

Therefore, the anti-Cox ad is not truly aimed at dragging him down, but rather to build him up among Republican primary voters, who are likely to be more pro-NRA and also likely to resent attacks on Cox by Democrat Newsom.

Clever? Yes, but also quite cynical, when you think about it.

In another example, Southern California’s 49th Congressional District is a prime battleground this year, thanks to Republican Congressman Darrell Issa’s decision to retire and the fact that the district favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016.

Democratic hopes of picking up a seat are complicated by having a bumper crop of Democratic candidates on the June 5 ballot, along with two well known Republican figures, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez and Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey.

Chavez and Harkey could finish 1-2 on June 5 and freeze Democrats out.

Therefore, the national Democratic congressional apparatus is hitting Chavez with allegations – aimed at GOP voters – that he is an untrustworthy Republican because he voted for Gov. Jerry Brown’s cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gases and the state budget.

Finally, California voters are seeing the usual quota of “slate mailers” that purport to advise them to vote for particular candidates.

While some do genuinely reflect the interests of the sponsoring organizations, many are nothing more than commercial enterprises.

Take, for example, mailers from a Torrance-based outfit called “Budget Watchdogs” that purports to favor candidates who are tight with the public’s money.

Uber-conservative Republican Travis Allen gets its nod for governor, but the rest of the mailer’s favored candidates are Democrats. They include arguably the Legislature’s most liberal member, state Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens, who is running for insurance commissioner and wants to double the state budget by adopting single-payer health coverage.

Budget Watchdogs was created by Rex Hime, a one-time Republican political aide who for years headed the California Business Properties Association.

Budget Watchdogs is a non-profit corporation and, Hime told me a few years ago, “I don’t get squat” from the money it collects for its various projects, including the mailer. “It’s not a commercial enterprise.”

Nonetheless, we know that all Budget Watchdog’s recommendations reflect money paid by endorsees because state law requires them to be marked by asterisks.

There’s an even darker side to the slate mailer business – a kind of extortion. Some slate mail operators tell campaigns that if they don’t pay to have their candidates or ballot measure positions “recommended,” their opponents will be promoted for free.

Regardless of underlying motives, it’s a grubby trade based on assumptions about the gullibility of voters.

olumnist for CALmatters

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Tech backlash roils San Francisco politics

San Francisco, CA, USAThe Seattle City Council’s interest in imposing an unusual “head tax” on large employers based on their number of employees won international headlines this month after giant online retailer Amazon protested by freezing a plan to add 1 million square feet in office space in the city. After proponents associated with Seattle unions and progressive groups agreed to cut the levy from $500 per employee to $275, the measure won unanimous council approval, and Amazon – which has about 45,000 employees in the Seattle area – resumed planning for its expansion. But business groups remain upset about the levy, which may be the target of a signature-gathering campaign for a ballot measure rolling back the fee.

While it hasn’t got nearly the attention, the same tensions between wealthy tech employers and local interest groups – which see the employers as hurting quality of life by increasing congestion and by making housing costlier – are playing out in the June 5 San Francisco mayor’s race. It’s being held to fill the vacancy created by Mayor Ed Lee’s death from a heart attack on Dec. 12. Lee’s death was lamented by tech executives who called him a key to San Francisco’s emergence as a world tech capital.

That sentiment is far from universal. A May 15 Business Insider analysis by Melia Robinson that was featured on the San Francisco Chronicle website was headlined “San Francisco is fed up with Big Tech, and residents are begging the next mayor to do something about it.”

Leading mayoral candidates critical of tech’s effects

It’s difficult to be confident who’s leading the mayor’s race since San Francisco is one of a handful of cities to use a top-three ranked voting system in which a candidate who doesn’t get a majority in the initial tally can still win based on her or his second- and third-place votes. But the consensus top three are all liberal to very liberal Democrats by national, if not San Francisco, standards. They are Board of Supervisors Chairwoman London Breed, who would be the city’s first African-American woman mayor and has the support of former Mayor Willie Brown’s business-friendly coalition; Supervisor Jane Kim, who would be the city’s first Korean-American mayor and is a mostly beloved figure among local progressives; and former state Sen. Mark Leno, who would be the city’s first openly gay mayor and who also runs well to Breed’s left.

Breed, who was deposed as acting mayor by progressive supervisors earlier this year, seems to want the most limited policy changes aimed at tech workers. She has backed limits on short-term rentals by companies like Airbnb and wants to cap the number of ride-hailing vehicles at any given time, and perhaps put restrictions on food deliveries as well.

Kim wants tech companies to improve pay and benefits for lower-rung workers so they can live in the city. She says companies subcontract services for janitorial and cafeteria work so they can avoid responsibility for the poor quality of life for those hired. She has expressed interest in requiring Uber and Lyft to pay a per-rider fee.

Leno wants to impose hiring rules on city tech companies to force them to hire city residents. He says this hiring shouldn’t just be for blue-collar positions but for administrative and sales jobs. He has also called for tech firms and their employers to “invest” in the city by committing to improving its lifestyle for those beyond the wealthy.

Some warn tech firms shouldn’t be taken for granted

The only Republican in the race – business consultant Richie Greenberg – and business groups say that mayoral candidates shouldn’t take tech companies for granted. They note that the city’s tech boom may have peaked in 2016, with exploding housing costs hurting San Francisco more than the broader Bay Area-Silicon Valley tech region in general.

But this point of view is a tough sell going into June 5’s voting. Perhaps the best example of this is a deal orchestrated in 2011 by then-Mayor Lee with the support of Supervisor Kim to revitalize the rough Tenderloin and Mid-Market districts west of downtown by giving a six-year break on city payroll taxes to companies located there. This was meant to keep Twitter’s headquarters from moving out of the city and to attract new tech firms to the area.

The proposal was widely seen as a smart way to maintain San Francisco’s tech momentum in 2011. In 2014, business groups hailed the agreement for keeping Twitter and for creating 13,000 jobs and generating much more revenue for the city than the sums lost because of the tax break.

But that same year, a San Francisco Chronicle analysis noted that the deal was seen by many residents as a sign of the city caving to business pressure – and it has emerged as a reason for progressives to question Kim’s bona fides.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Cap-and-Trade Math Not Adding Up

Air pollutionAs California accelerates its efforts to reduce greenhouses gases over the next decade, experts are pointing to vulnerabilities in its celebrated cap-and-trade system, weaknesses that could make the state’s goals difficult — even impossible — to reach.

Cap and trade, featuring a market where permission to pollute is bought and sold, is a key mechanism California uses to lower the volume of harmful discharges by industries that are subject to state emissions caps. But as the California Air Resources Board ponders a major retrofitting of the highly complex program, state analysts say that in a little over a decade emissions could soar much higher than the legally binding level.

Checking the math on cap and trade has taken on urgency this year because the state is leaning more heavily on the system to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The air board projects the program will account for about 46 percent of annual reductions in coming years, a figure that has surprised many experts.

One calculation is out of California’s control: a possible political shift in Ontario, Canada, after provincial elections there next month. One leading candidate has vowed to dismantle the province’s cap-and-trade system, which participates in California’s emissions-trading market. A Canadian withdrawal could undermine California officials’ message about its stability and growth as they recruit other states and nations to join.

Far more troubling are red flags highlighted in reports from academia, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, independent market experts and other major carbon markets, all concluding that California has a serious problem with too many unused pollution credits.

In the cap-and-trade system, major polluters must either produce fewer greenhouse gases to comply with California’s emissions caps or buy credits to offset their excess emissions from companies that pollute less. Credits are traded at state-sanctioned auctions and on secondary markets. And the state gives some free to utilities, natural-gas suppliers and industries that are vulnerable to out-of-state competition.

Some companies have not yet needed to use up the allowances to stay within state emissions limits and probably won’t have to in the next couple of years, according to some analysts, who estimate there are hundreds of millions of unused credits in the system.

The result is a glut of credits that could allow businesses to keep polluting past state limits in later years, after the overall cap becomes more restrictive. Unless the oversupply is addressed, experts say, polluters will have no incentive to cut emissions to required levels by 2030; instead, industries could continue polluting and use banked allowances to offset their emissions and technically keep them under the cap.

The state Legislative Analyst’s Office foresees a reckoning, estimating that because of excess allowances, actual emissions could be as much as 30 percent over the statewide target by 2030.

One analyst likened the problem to a game of musical chairs that starts with too many chairs and allows participants to save seats for later. The issue has plagued both the European Union’s carbon-trading system and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a consortium of nine eastern U.S. states that sells credits for the electricity sector. Both markets have put policies in place to limit surpluses.

In California, lawmakers instructed the air board to examine the issue last year, and the agency has  steadfastly maintained that the surplus of credits will not imperil California’s fight against climate change.

Rajinder Sahota, who oversees much of the cap-and-trade program for the air board, has testified numerous times before the Legislature on this topic. On each occasion she has assured lawmakers that the system is working.

“We do not believe that there are unused allowances in the system that will hinder our goals for 2020,” she told CALmatters.

She didn’t address how allowances might play out in subsequent years. But the agency forecasts that the state will also meet its 2030 target, when emissions limits will tighten dramatically, the number of free allowances will come down and the cap-and-trade program will expire.

Among the skeptics is Ontario’s environmental oversight agency. The commission’s annual report in January stated flatly that California has an oversupply of allowances that could last for the life of the program.

“We understand that the board believes…they don’t have an oversupply problem,” said Dianne Saxe, the environmental commissioner of Ontario. “Frankly, we don’t understand it.”

The disconnect will be addressed this week in a hearing before the newly formed Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies. The committee chairman, Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat from Coachella, said the air board will be grilled on how it intends to manage allowances.

“Our numbers don’t pencil out to be the same numbers they propose,” Garcia said. “We will go back and reexamine the numbers they are projecting. We have some questions about how they got there.”

Danny Cullenward is an energy economist with the climate-change think tank Near Zero and teaches environmental law at Stanford University. He’s also a member of the newly established Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee that is charged with reviewing the mechanics of cap and trade. He says the air board not only got its projections wrong but also used an incorrect model for its calculations.  The board’s most recent estimates are off by 10 percent and used a model that the agency identified in 2010 as problematic, he said in an interview.

“I can’t emphasize enough, this is a basic question of scientific integrity,” Cullenward said. The board has been reluctant to engage outside experts on the issue of allowances, “in a rush to justify that this is not a problem,” he said.

Sahota said external studies have not taken into account that allowances are set aside if they have gone unsold for 24 months—a “self-ratcheting mechanism,” she said, that prevents a glut on the market. The Canadian study, she said, relied on a flawed analysis conducted by Chris Busch, research director at Energy Innovation, a San Francisco-based climate-change and clean-energy think tank.

Saxe, the environment commissioner, stood behind the report’s conclusions, saying, “We did our own analysis.”

Busch, who was among the first researchers to identify the oversupply problem, is a longtime supporter of California’s cap-and-trade system, which he calls the best designed in the world. Busch said he used the air board’s own data to reach his conclusions about allowances, which he said were conservative.

“I sought to engage the air board to evaluate what they thought of the numbers,” he said. “They didn’t want to engage.”

Sahota said she had not read all of the recent reports, but the air board is taking all the research and criticisms seriously.

eporter for CALmatters

CA Democrats Pushing to Give Illegal Adults Full Health Care Benefits

MedizinCalifornia Democrats are reportedly pushing to give full healthcare benefits to illegal immigrant adults, which would mean that the Golden State not only may have to raise taxes but will also be a magnet for even more illegal immigrants.

According to a Monday Politico report, state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) is leading the charge by reportedly arguing that “California needs to be a laboratory for social change by taking the lead on progressive causes.”

“We are trying to address the fact that, whether you like it or not, our undocumented community needs the care, and we are paying for it anyway,” he reportedly said.

Politico points out that California Democrats are trying to extend the state’s Medi-Cal program this legislative session to nearly 1.2 million illegal immigrant adults who would qualify for it, and “companion bills in the state Assembly and Senate” have already “passed their respective health committees with party-line votes.”

The cost to expand Medicaid coverage to adult illegal immigrants in California is reportedly projected to cost $3 billion annually.

California Governor Jerry Brown, who extended Medi-Cal coverage to illegal immigrant children in 2015, has not commented on the pending measures but “is required by law to sign or veto bills passed this session by Sept. 30, just five weeks before the midterm elections.”

Political and health analysts are reportedly astounded that Democrats are trying to extend healthcare benefits to illegal immigrants before this year’s important midterm elections, reportedly saying that the measure would give Republicans in California relevance “they would never have before” in an election cycle in which House races in California could decide which party controls Congress.

Paul Ginsburg, director of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy, told Politico that the proposal would be “fiscally very dangerous” and  Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford physician and health economist, suggested to the outlet that such a plan would have to be paid for with tax increases.

Bhattacharya also pointed out the obvious—giving full healthcare coverage to illegal immigrant adults will make California, which is already an official “sanctuary” state, even a greater magnet for illegal immigrants.

The illegal immigrant who murdered Kate Steinle, for instance, told authorities that he came to San Francisco after being previously deported five times because he knew San Francisco was proudly a “sanctuary city.”

“If you make a program like this available, undocumented workers in other states might be attracted to California because of this,” Bhattacharya, the Stanford physician, reportedly said.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Dana Rohrabacher – The Last Reaganite Battles the “Resistance,” George Soros and Never Trump

Dana and ReaganOne early morning in the Spring of 1966, Ronald Reagan walked out the front door of his home at 1669 San Onofre Drive in Pacific Palisades. Wearing pajamas, bathrobe and shaving cream on his half-shaved face his purpose was to find the morning paper. He also found a young fan who became a lifelong friend, supporter and co-worker – Dana Rohrabacher.

Dana had spent most of the night camped out on Reagan’s front lawn, determined to save the newly formed “Youth for Reagan.” The gray beards in the gubernatorial campaign had determined that having an official youth arm would be too much trouble and ordered it disbanded. Rohrabacher, then chairman of Los Angeles Harbor College Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), was determined to save it.

Happily, Reagan was chairman of the California YAF Advisory Board, knew of the effective campus activism of its members and agreed with Dana that an energized youth arm would be an asset to his campaign. A few days later the campaign’s elders mysteriously changed their mind and reinstated the youth operation – staffed mainly by YAF members and serving as a huge recruiting tool for YAF throughout the campaign.

This was just the first of many times through the years that the Reagan-Rohrabacher collaboration worked together to accomplish good things. From Dana’s work in the ’76 and ’80 presidential campaigns to his seven years as a Special Assistant and speech writer in the Reagan White House to his clandestine trip to Afghanistan to help the anti-communist Mujahedeen to his career as one of the most reliably conservative, Reaganesque members of Congress it has always been clear that Dana and the Gipper had the equivalent of the Vulcan mind meld.

This has not gone un-noticed by friend or foe. Dana’s political profile – among other things lifetime ratings of 95% from the American Conservative Union, 97% from the National Tax Limitation Committee and A+ from the NRA – has long put him at the top of the Left’s enemies list. This year, energized by the “resistance” movement and funded by admitted former Nazi George Soros, the far left sees its chance to get revenge. Soros is spending millions of dollars in California to elect candidates who will implement his far-left ideas.

Concentrating on congressional and district attorney races, Soros is replacing the Left’s pink “pussy hats” with his green financial resources. Laundering money through various front groups and PACs he has helped target congressional seats in Orange County currently held by conservatives. Taking down Dana is at the top of the Left’s wish list.

Sadly it is also at the top of the wish lists of some Never Trump die-hards and a political huckster named Scott Baugh. As I wrote previously, Baugh is a former legislator, former lobbyist and full time self-promoter. He doesn’t talk much about his legislative career, and with good reason. The two “achievements” that stand out are his vote in favor of giving illegal aliens “in state” tuition to the U.C. System and twisting arms in the Assembly so other Republicans would join him in supporting the disastrous 1999 “pension spiking” legislation. That bill today is bankrupting cities and has left the state with hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities. Thanks, Scott.

Neither does he talk about his public promises of two years not to run against Dana and to refund contributor’s already-given contributions. He has done neither, so on top of everything else, Baugh is also a liar. We have enough of his kind of creature in the D.C. swamp already.

Unable to talk about his own record, his campaign against Rohrabacher has been scurrilous, duplicitous and truth challenged. Given Baugh’s refusal to be photographed with President Trump during a recent presidential Orange County visit, it is not surprising that his campaign is receiving support from local “Never Trump” bitter-enders. These folks thought the country would be better off with Hillary Clinton as president. They now think the country would be better off with Scott Baugh in Congress. As John Wayne said, “Life is hard. It’s even harder when you’re stupid.”

Baugh’s main critique of Dana is that he hasn’t passed enough bills during his time in Congress. Baugh may not know that when Obama left office there were 95,894 pages in the Federal Registrar. Because of President Trump’s regulation cutting and Dana Rohrabacher’s refusal to add new laws solely for the purpose of “doing something,” the number of pages has been reduced to a mere 61,950. Baugh thinks it’s the duty of congressmen to endlessly add more pages. Donald Trump add Dana Rohrabacher think 61,950 is still too many, but at least headed in the right direction.

Unlike Baugh, President Trump and Rohrabacher agree with Barry Goldwater, who in “Conscience of a Conservative” wrote: “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.” Someone needs to send Baugh a copy of “Conscience” and explain that passing more laws is in neither the conscience nor definition of a conservative.

A common question about Baugh’s campaign is “why now?” It is widely believed that this will be Dana’s final re-election. His service to the conservative movement, the Republican Party and the country have more than earned him the right to retire on his own timetable. Millions of dollars will be spent in this race that could have been saved for the November battles against the Democrats. Why? GOP activists have been divided. Why? Why can’t Baugh do the decent, honorable thing and wait until 2020?

Because of a diminutive, conservative tiger named Michelle Park Steel. A member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors and Korean by birth, Steel is wildly popular with both the GOP rank and file and the county’s Asian community – which just happens to be the fastest growing demographic group.

She has become a major leader in the statewide pushback against the insane “sanctuary” state and city laws. There are now 40 cities and 10 counties officially resisting the state’s “all criminal illegals welcome” sanctuary policy. She was at the White House last week meeting with President Trump and Attorney General Sessions to brief them on the burgeoning anti-sanctuary movement she is helping to empower.

Steel would obliterate Baugh in a 2020 primary election, and that is why he cannot do what even he and his most fervid supporters must know in their heart of hearts is the right thing – wait for two years. Personal ambition apparently trumps all in Baugh-world.

Dana’s and my mutual friend Ed Meese is likely the proper owner of the “last Reaganite” title, but Dana can easily claim it for members of Congress. From the half-shaven candidate meeting the teen-aged acolyte on the front lawn grew a lifelong association that spanned decades – on the campaign trail, in the White House, on Air Force One, at State of the Union speeches and so much more.

I know these are memories Dana cherishes, as the last Reaganite fights on. He is in a two-front war against the Soros-funded “resistance” and the blind ambition of a conservative poseur with a campaign fueled by Republicans who still hate President Trump. Orange county was pivotal in launching Ronald Reagan’s political career. County voters who want to win one more for the Gipper have an opportunity to do so – by re-electing Dana Rohrabacher.

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review.

How push polls pervert politics

Voting booth“There are lies, damn lies and statistics,” goes the old saying. It has always been true that statistics can be presented in ways that are highly deceptive and intentionally misleading.

A Midwestern city might truthfully claim that its average temperature is a perfect 74 degrees — just like the Hawaiian Islands.  It could be technically true, except that the deviation from that temperature in the sub-tropical climate isn’t very great, while the Midwestern city might swing from below freezing in the winter to triple-digit heat in the summer. That comfortable-sounding “average” is sure not the full story.

Still, for susceptibility to manipulation, statistics don’t hold a candle to polling — especially political polling.  During this primary season in California, the various candidates are releasing reams of polling to show how far ahead they are of their competitors.  Two different polls can show diametrically opposite results, with one candidate showing he or she is leading 80 percent to 20 percent over an opponent while the opponent might claim to be ahead by a margin of 90 to 10.

The credibility of political polling took a huge hit in the last presidential election. Virtually all the polling showed Hillary Clinton coasting to a relatively easy victory over Donald Trump.  In fact, his path to victory in the Electoral College was so narrow that he would have to “run the table” in every swing state — something all the pundits said was next to impossible.

What’s particularly odd about that election is that even the good polls were wrong. And by good polls we mean those administered by pollsters who don’t have a political agenda.  Good pollsters will admit that their reputations depend on being accurate in their predictions.

The lesson here is that voters need to take any polling with a grain of salt. That is especially true when the polling is paid for by an interest group.

One recent example makes this clear. There has been a recent push by supporters of higher taxes to impose a statewide “fee” on the monthly water bills of all water users — homeowners and businesses — to pay for programs to deal with contaminated water supplies.  Interestingly, the opposition to the proposal includes both the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, two groups frequently at odds over water-rate practices.  But here, both groups have deep concerns about the state intruding in an area best left to local government interests. …

Click here to read the full article from the OC Register