You’ll recall that in the fall of 2012, as Jerry Brown campaigned for Prop. 30, his tax-hike plan to balance California’s budget and boost school funding, right-wingers argued vociferously that the measure would be a disaster.
“It allows the politicians to take money currently earmarked for education and spend it on other programs. We’ll never know where the money really goes . . . it gives the Sacramento politicians a blank check without requiring budget, pension or education reform . . . it hurts small businesses and kills jobs,” cried Joel Fox of the so-called Small Business Action Committee (otherwise known as Joel’s Special Interest Laundry), John Kabateck of the alleged National Federation of Independent Business and Kenneth Payne of the Sacramento (We Don’t Like Being) Taxpayers Association.
And yet. After Prop. 30’s passage, California’s budget is balanced (with a surplus, thank you very much, Gov. Gandalf). And as our old friend David Cay Johnston found, in a terrific special report for the Sacramento Bee: “Last year California added 410,418 jobs, an increase of 2.8 percent over 2012, significantly better than the 1.8 percent national increase in jobs. California is home to 12 percent of Americans, but last year it accounted for 17.5 percent of new jobs, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows.”
So much for the contention that raising taxes on rich people kills jobs.
While raising payroll taxes might hurt job growth, raising income taxes does not reduce hiring, David Neumark, professor of economics and director of the Center for Economics & Public Policy at UC Irvine, told Johnston:
What firms care about when deciding how many workers to hire is the marginal product of workers and the marginal cost of those workers. So if you are an employer and your personal income tax rate is increased, that does not raise the marginal cost of your workers, but it may encourage you to work a little less hard.
Johnston, a California native whose first reporting job was at the San Jose Mercury News when he was 19 years old, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for his coverage of tax policy. These days, he teaches the tax, property and regulatory law of the ancient world at Syracuse University College of Law and writes for several publications. He recently completed two years as president of the 5,000-member Investigative Reporters and Editors association.
We’re sorry to report that David’s fine piece has gotten almost no pickup from other mainstream media types around the state. Which is too bad because, as Johnston told Calbuzz:
“Comparing election claims to actual performance is one of the most crucial duties for journalists, even if they have to wait years for the results to become known.”
The only other writer to take note of the wrongheadness of the Cassandras on the right that we’re aware of is Paul Krugman of the New York Times, who weighed in after Johnston’s piece (without crediting it – c’mon man) last week with an op-ed titled in typical NYT derision toward California: “Left Coast Rising.”
George Will Gets Stupid In one of the most inane and unsupported columns he’s ever written, St. George Will meanwhile suggested the other day that Neel Kashkari, the Republican who’s running 20 points behind Gov. Jerry Brown in both the PPIC and Field Polls, is California’s Barry Goldwater.
Goldwater, Will argues, lost his 1964 bid for the White House to Lyndon Johnson because “Americans were not going to have a third president in 14 months” and his “don’t-fence-me-in libertarian conservatism was ahead of its time.” (Not to mention that his insistence that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” sounded just a little too trigger-happy to a country that felt it had just narrowly escaped nuclear holocaust during the embargo of Cuba.)
Goldwater’s agenda, Will said, “was to change his party’s national brand.” And that’s what Kashkari — who is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage — is trying to do in California. “Kashkari is not, as some careless commentary suggests, an anti-Goldwater, diluting the state party’s conservatism. He is Goldwater 2.0, defining conservatism a half-century on,” St. George argues. (Will does not tell us who the careless commentator is but apparently he was referring to an equally stupid article in the conservative American Spectator by Jeffrey Lord that argues Rand Paul is the embodiment of Goldwater.)
This is, we report more in sadness than in anger, bullshit.
Maybe George had too many martinis wherever he was staying in Menlo Park when he wrote about Goldwater’s nomination at the “unfortunately named Cow Palace” “fifty Julys ago, up the road near San Francisco.” Or maybe he just had to come up with something to write off his trip out to the hustings. But he has no point, at least not one he shared with his readers.
Because: The widely known political imp Tyrion of Kashkari has not for one minute shown an interest in re-branding his party. He’s desperately trying to make a case against a governor who balanced the budget and calmed the hyperpartisan dysfunction in Sacramento (with the help of voters who passed his tax measure, gave the Legislature the power to pass a budget with a majority of votes and approved measures to boost centrism).
Goldwater, a U.S. Senator, campaigned against Soviet communism, social programs and civil rights (winning only five Southern states in addition to Arizona). His spectacular loss allowed Johnson to pass his Great Society agenda. Sure, he pulled his party to the right, but the Republicans who came after him who did win the presidency — Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan — wouldn’t even be considered Republicans by Neanderthals who run the GOP today. Even Goldwater ended up fighting with the religious right at the end of his career.
Kashkari isn’t fighting for a cause or a movement or much of anything except to be governor. He’s a lot healthier face for the California GOP than Tim Donnelly would have been. And if his presence on the ticket signals a nudge toward reason among California Republicans, that’ll be a good thing for his party. But the suggestion that he’s the leader of some ideological shift is little more than the musings of a Washington Beltway scribe in search of a metaphor. And, no doubt, a fine dinner.
Another view, from far right field: For an amusing read by a deranged, confused and self-important right wing writer trying to make sense of conflicting attempts to appropriate Goldwater’s legacy, check out a piece by one Scott Mayer at the so-called American Thinker in which, among other oddities, the writer (perhaps suffering from PTSD) misremembers an encounter with one of your Calbuzzards some two decades ago when it appeared that Will was still a smart conservative, and we needed our electrics fixed.