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Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’



Texas Gov Shovels Cow Pies About California

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Rick Perry, the blow-dried blowhard  recently re-elected as the Republican governor of Texas, was back at it last week, trying to puff up his national political prestige by dumping all over California.

This loudmouth clodhopper loves to boast about his economic development “hunting trips,” which he falsely claims have led a stream of companies to flee the Golden State for the Lone Star State. In that vein, he told a Washington gathering that  “California businesses are going to keep relocating out of that state,” according to a Richard Dunham dispatch:

In a speech to the Texas State Society in Washington, he cited California’s tax burden, its fiscal mess and its failure to adopt tough tort reform as reasons why its businesses are leaving. Unlike California, he said, Texas offers businesses headquartered there “a stable platform.”

Talk about big hat, no cattle.

The anti-evolution theorist Perry, who harbors delusional dreams of living in the White House, likes to travel the country bragging on what he calls the “Texas Miracle.” In this political fantasy, the low-tax, low-service government of America’s reddest state fuels a mighty engine of recession-proof economic growth, in sharp contrast to the policies of the  bluest in the nation.

But as the Calbuzzers in our Southwest Region and Turquoise Jewelry String Tie Bureau like to say: “Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.”

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Beyond Tom Meyer’s splendid sum-up cartoon today, recent takedowns of Texas by prominent economic columnists, from the estimable Michael Hiltzik to the hysterical Paul Krugman have shown that, by a wide variety of measures, Perry’s miraculous narrative is a fabrication.

Because Texas has a two-year budget – and because it was propped up by billions in federal spending from the stimulus bill that Perry never tired of hypocritically trashing — he dissembled throughout his re-election campaign, bloviating about how his right-wing fiscal policies had put his state into surplus, while California wallowed in red ink (loyal readers will  also recall that Meg Whitman, who like Perry has but a passing acquaintance with the truth, often pointed to Texas as a model of how she would govern if she beat Jerry Brown. But we digress).

But when the bill came due, shortly after Perry’s inauguration, it turned out Texas faced a $25+ billion, two-year deficit (representing about the same percentage of its total budget as California’s), along with high unemployment, plus education and health care services among the lowest in the country. As Hiltzik puts it:

The bottom line is that fashioning fiscal policies strictly along low-tax lines doesn’t protect you from budget deficits or business slumps or make your residents necessarily happy or healthy…

While Texas Gov. Rick Perry sucked up to the tea party, declaring himself opposed to “government bailouts” and prattling about seceding from the union, he papered over his state’s budget gap with $6.4 billion in Recovery Act funds, including increased federal handouts for education and Medicaid. So when you, the California taxpayer, hear talk of the Texas Miracle, you should take pride in having helped pay for it.

As for those businesses that Perry has allegedly stolen for his state from California, well, as we say around the Calbuzz campfire, “You can put your boots in the oven but that don’t make ‘em biscuits.” The redoubtable Evan Halper reports:

Even Perry’s claims of companies that have decamped from California to lay down roots in Texas appear to be overblown. When the Austin American-Statesman looked into the Texas governor’s boast that there were 153 such companies in 2010, reporters found the claim included California firms that stayed put but maybe opened a Texas branch. The newspaper concluded that Perry’s figure was grossly inflated.

Perry’s staff said the governor was too busy to be interviewed in Austin last week. Media reports later revealed that he was on a five-day trip through California, which involved trying to coax companies east. His spokesman refused to name the companies.

We just bet he did.

Now when it comes to Texas, this ain’t our first rodeo. In fact, a mere 19 years ago (see photo evidence) your Calbuzzards conducted our own extensive, on-the-ground Actual Reporting about the state (key finding: no  coincidence it’s where air conditioning was invented).

So our well-considered bottom line on Perry and all his budget bushwah is this: Just because a chicken has wings don’t mean it can fly. And that ole boy thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow. Anyways, he’s as fulla’ wind as a corn eatin’ horse.

Besides, we still live in California, and he’s still stuck in Texas.

California Voters Turn Back the Angry Red Tide

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Republicans seized control of the House of Representatives, pounding Democrats in states throughout the South, Midwest and Northeast, but the raging red wave that swept across the country crashed against the Sierra Nevada and washed back, as California voters rejected Meg Whitman for governor and Carly Fiorina for U.S. Senate.

The crushing victories of Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer in the nation’s largest and most diverse state –with an electorate that is increasingly younger, more Latino and more non-partisan — represented a counterpoint to the Beltway notion that America is in the throes of a massive and structural shift to the ideological right.

As of midnight, when Calbuzz first posted this report based on exit polling and partial vote counts, neither Whitman nor Fiorina had yet conceded. But as Brown told his supporters at the Fox Theater in Oakland: “They haven’t got all the votes in yet but hell, it’s good enough for government work. So it looks like I’m going back again.” (Whitman conceded a few minutes after midnight.)

Despite the most expensive race ever run in any state, Whitman, 54, the former CEO of eBay with the platinum resume and gold-plated consultancy was unable to overcome a crusty, former two-term governor who, at 72, will be twice the age he was when first elected in 1974.  At the last accounting, eMeg had spent more than $160 million, including $142 million of her own fortune, while Krusty the General had raised $32 million, supplemented by $25 million spent on his behalf by labor and other Democratic interests.

With his bare-bones staff and his flinty resolve not to start spending money until after Labor Day, Brown accomplished the one political challenge that eluded his father, the late Edmund G. “Pat” Brown — a third term. Pat Brown lost an attempt for a third term to a political newcomer in 1966: Ronald Reagan. (Term limits were adopted after Jerry Brown had already served twice.)

Brown’s “knowledge and know-how to get California working again” proved a compelling argument to voters who saw in the Attorney General and former mayor of Oakland, a candidate with both a hard head and a soft heart. Whitman, who fired her illegal immigrant housekeeper and ran a relentless barrage of negative ads against her opponents, was seen as hard-headed but hard-hearted, too.

Speaking to supporters Tuesday night before Whitman had conceded, Brown talked about the impulses, honed in his long-ago training to be a Jesuit priest and his study of theology, that drives him back to Sacramento.

“I take as my challenge forging a common purpose, but a common purpose based not just on compromise but on a vision of what California can be . . . We’re all God’s children and while I’m really into this politics thing I still carry with me my sense of kind of that missionary zeal to transform the world and that’s always been a part of what I do,” he said. “So I understand the political part but I also understand what it’s all about – the vision. And I’m hoping and I’m praying that this breakdown that’s gone on for so many years in the state capital and we’re watching it in Washington – that the breakdown paves the way for a breakthrough.”

And Fiorina, 56, who clutched as tightly as she could to the same policies and politics that carried conservative Republicans to victory in smaller states, was unable to dislodge 69-year-old Boxer, one of the most durable liberals in the Senate.

“The Giants beat the Texas Rangers and we beat the Texas polluters tonight,” Boxer told her supporters as she claimed victory before the final votes were tallied.

Certainly, the elevation of Tea Party favorites like Senator-elect Rand Paul in Kentucky – who said we are “enslaved by debt” and will have the singular power to plunge the world economy into darkness by filibustering raising of the U.S. debt ceiling limit – is a resounding victory for the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

But the anger propelling the Tea Party is less a positive vote for any Republican agenda than it is a vote to punish President Obama and the Democrats for the perceived failure to bring about the change they promised in 2008. It’s a vote to “just say no.”

Whether the new members of Congress and the Senate — which remains under Democratic control — will be rewarded for obstructionism or not remains uncertain. But as they seek re-election, Obama and the Democrats will now have the recalcitrant Republicans to blame for gridlock in Washington – an argument that Bill Clinton and his party made in 1996 with considerable success after their losses two years earlier.

The biggest loser among California Democrats, of course, is soon-to-be-former Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who oversaw a crushing defeat that cost her the leadership mantle she had historically claimed in another mid-term just four years ago. Along with her, House committee chairs like Representatives Howard Berman and Henry Waxman were reduced to minority status by the Republican sweep that rolled through other states.

On the other hand, Southern California Republican Congressmen Darrell Issa, Buck McKeon and Jerry Lewis are in line to become chairmen of powerful committees in the House under speaker-presumptive John Boehner of Ohio. Issa, the conservative car-alarm magnate who lost the GOP nomination for Senate in 1998 and who has dedicated himself to opposing Obama and his policies, was all over TV Tuesday night promising a new era in Congress.

The weepy Boehner along with Eric Cantor of Virginia, Issa and other triumphant Republicans spoke over and over Tuesday night about “the message sent by the American people.” Apparently Californians, who represent one-eighth of the nation’s population, aren’t included among the American people.

Democrats in California and their progressive allies also won two important victories by rejecting Prop. 23,  which would have overturned the state’s ground-breaking law to roll black greenhouse gas emissions and by approving Prop. 25, which will reduce to a majority, from two-thirds,  the vote required in the Legislature to approve the California budget. These represented huge political statements by the voters on behalf of the environment and in favor of streamlining the budget process in Sacramento.

As expected, Prop. 19, the measure to legalize personal use of marijuana, went up in smoke.

Although Democrats and their progressive allies did not carry every office or measure,  the Brown win at the top of the ticket, which came despite high unemployment and despair about the direction of the state, suggested that voters have grown tired, at least for now, of divided government in Sacramento as they rejected Whitman’s mirror-image candidacy of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s just four years ago.

[Updated 7:30 am] The only Republican statewide candidate who appeared to have a chance for victory early Wednesday morning was Steve Cooley who was slightly behind Kamala Harris in the race for Attorney General. Gavin Newsom was well ahead of Abel Maldonado in the race for Lieutenant Governor; Debra Bowen was crushing Damon Dunn in the race for Secretary of State; John Chiang was way ahead of Tony Strickland in the race for Controller; Bill Lockyer was cruising to victory over Mimi Walters in the race for Treasurer, and Dave Jones was crushing Mike Villines in the race for Insurance Commissioner.

Labor Day Preview: Actual Facts About Job Creation

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

By Michael Bernick

Over the past year, I’ve been engaged in a research project on the transformation of employment in California since World War II. The project has involved research on the shifting employment relations in California (particularly the breakdown of the employer-employee relation and rise of contingent employment) as well the ebbs and flows of job creation and employment.

The chart below shows the growth and decline of total payroll jobs in California during the five recent Governors, beginning with Jerry Brown …

Among the storylines:

1. Job growth has been strong during the 35 year period under all Governors: Despite several ups and downs during the past 35 years, overall job growth has soared from 7.7 million payroll jobs in January 1975 to a high water mark of 15.2 million payroll jobs in July 2007, and around 14 million payroll jobs today. Job growth has been strong under all of the Governors, including Governor Schwarzenegger, until the current Recession.

2. Job growth was strongest during the 8 years of Jerry Brown’s Administration: The greatest job growth in absolute terms was during the eight years of Governor Deukmejian, when 2.7 million jobs were added. However, the more revealing job number is California’s job growth as percentage of national job growth. This was highest during the 8 years of Governor Brown, when California’s job growth of nearly 2 million jobs totaled 17% of the total payroll jobs added in the United States. California’s percentage of job growth has not been as high since that time.

3. Each of the 5 Governors has seen job growth in California undermined by major downturns in the national economy: In the last year of the Brown Administration, the national economy encountered its worst economic downturn since World War II, with national unemployment climbing to 10.8% in December 1982 (and California unemployment at a corresponding 11%). Similarly, Governor Wilson saw state unemployment climb to 9.9% in December 1992, as the national unemployment rose to 7.4%. For the first nearly three years of Governor Schwarzenegger’s tenure, job growth averaged over 235,000 jobs annually. Since the current national Recession started in mid-2007, California has averaged over 300,000 jobs lost annually, and unemployment today stands at 12.3%, following the rise of the national rate to 9.5%.

Marc Lifsher of the Los Angeles Times recently made reference to the job numbers noted above in a short posting in the newspaper’s online edition. This posting immediately brought forth claims of partisanship by the Whitman campaign, which has been trying to portray Brown as a “job killer”. Fair enough. If the Whitman campaign can show that these numbers are inaccurate or misleading, such should be done.

I have known and periodically supported Jerry Brown since serving as a summer law school intern in the office of his State and Consumer Services Secretary, Leonard Grimes, in 1978. I recall well the job debates and policies of the 1970s and early 1980s. There was then and remains today a real and destructive anti-business wing of the Democratic Party in California. But Brown was not a part of it then, and he is not remotely part of it today.

Michael Bernick is the Former California Employment Development Department Director and Milken Institute Fellow. This piece was first published at Fox & Hounds.

PPIC: Voters Oppose Offshore Oil & AB 32 Rollback

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

By large margins, California’s likely voters oppose expanded offshore oil drilling and believe that enforcement of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions law will create more jobs – not kill them – a new Public Policy Institute of California poll shows.

Public attitudes are polarized between Democrats and Republicans on the two high-profile environmental issues but, significantly, the crucial swing blocs of independent and moderate voters both oppose the GOP position by 2-to-1.

With tight races both for governor – where PPIC shows Jerry Brown ahead of Meg Whitman 37-to-34% with 23 % undecided -  and for U.S. Senator – where Barbara Boxer leads Carly Fiorina 39-to-34%, with 22% undecided – the poll points to key political opportunities for the front-running Democrats to differentiate themselves from their Republican rivals.

Given the registration advantage of Democrats in statewide elections, PPIC President and CEO Mark Baldassare told Calbuzz, the poll’s findings on the views of independents, particularly on the jobs vs. greenhouse gas regulation debate, are “hugely significant.”

“The ‘more jobs versus fewer jobs’ debate will be a center of discussion this fall with the effort to suspend AB 32,” Baldassare said. “It poses a real challenge for Republicans to explain why they believe differently” than most voters.

Climate change and jobs: As a political matter, the findings on AB 32 — California’s landmark legislation to regulate emissions — offer the clearest look yet at the state political landscape surrounding the issue of climate change, at a time when debate on the matter is growing more vocal.

Conservative Republicans, joined by several large coal and oil companies, have qualified Proposition 23 for the November ballot. The initiative would suspend enforcement of AB 32 unless and until unemployment fell to 5.5 percent in the state; AB 32 requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

With the state unemployment rate now at 12.5 percent, supporters of the measure argue that the greenhouse gas law is an environmental “job killer” that California cannot economically afford. But the recession has had little effect on changing the public’s favorable opinion about AB 32, according to the poll, which shows likely voters:

1-Favor AB 32 overall by 61-to-28 percent; while Democrats support it 80-10 and Republicans oppose it 49-39, independents support the law 73-16%.

2-Think California should make its own policies, separate from the federal government, by 56-38%, with Democrats backing that position 63-to-30% and independents by 60-to-30%, as Republicans say California should not have its own climate change policy, 50-43%.

3-Believe that global warming is a very or somewhat serious threat to the economy and quality of life in the state by 63-to-35%; Democrats perceive it as a serious problem, 86-12% while Republicans do not find it so, 55-41% and independents express serious concern 77-to-22%.

For the 2010 campaigns, however, the most important numbers on the climate change issue show that likely voters, for now at least, are rejecting the central argument of the conservatives and industry groups spearheading the Prop. 23 effort, namely that tough greenhouse gas emissions regulation is a “job killer” making the recession worse.

In fact, a large plurality of likely voters believe that state global warming legislation will increase employment. While PPIC did not poll the ballot language of AB Prop. 23, because the final version was not available when they were in the field, researchers did ask about the jobs argument:

Do you think that California doing things to reduce global warming in the future would cause there to be more jobs for people around the state, would cause there to be fewer jobs, or wouldn’t affect the number of jobs for people around the state?

The result: By 43-28, likely voters said it would mean more jobs, not fewer; Democrats took that stance 57-14%, while Republicans said it would mean fewer jobs, 43-to-24%.

Swing voters agreed with the Democrats: Independents said global warming measures would mean more jobs rather than fewer, 50-to-25%, while moderates agreed, 49-to-20%.

Offshore oil drilling: In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon calamity in the Gulf of Mexico, the poll showed a dramatic swing in attitudes about offshore oil drilling in California.

After many years in which state voters strongly opposed expanded drilling off the coast, sentiment began to swing in favor two years ago, when gas prices spiked.

In 2009,  when asked their view about more drilling off the coast “to address the country’s energy needs and reduce dependence on foreign oil,” likely voters favored drilling 55-to-41%. But in the new survey, likely voters oppose drilling 59-to-37%, a huge swing of 36 points.

“After consistently opposing more offshore oil drilling, residents began to waver as gas prices increased,” Baldassare said. “But events in the Gulf appear to have renewed opposition to more drilling here.”

What it all means: As a practical matter, the PPIC poll represents especially bad news for GOP Senate candidate Fiorina.

She has positioned herself on the far right on a host of issues, including her call for expanded drilling off the coast of California, and her support for Proposition 23, coupled with her mocking of Boxer’s oft-expressed concern about climate change (Fiorina calls it a fixation on the weather) and her questioning of the science of global warming.

With 41% of likely voters saying the candidates’ views on the environment are very important, compared to 21% who say they are not too important, Boxer leads Fiorina overall, 39-to-34%. Each candidate has very strong backing from her own party but Boxer leads among independents 35-29%.

In the governor’s race, Whitman has switched her position on offshore drilling several times and, most recently, opposes it, while Brown consistently has been against.

In courting right-wing voters in the GOP primary, Whitman said she would suspend AB 32 for at least one year, while Brown has been adamantly against relaxing it.

It’s significant that Whitman has not yet taken a position on Prop. 23 and, given her flip flops and flexibility on other issues, it would not surprising to see her come out against it yet. Our guess: she’ll say she’s got a better plan and Prop. 23 goes too far. This, of course, would raise new questions about her opportunism and commitment on the issue by both sides of the debate.

The PPIC findings are based on telephone (landline and cell) surveys of 2,502 Californians, conducted July 6-20, in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean. The margin of error for the sub-sample of 1,321 likely voters is plus or minus 2.7 percent.

You can access the complete poll here.

Conservative Yakkers: eMeg “Lying” on Immigration

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

The ferocious pounding that high-profile conservative talk show hosts John and Ken delivered to Meg Whitman over the L.A. airwaves this week clearly shows that her blatant untruthiness isn’t playing any better on the right than it is on the left.

“If she’s going to lie to us during the engagement process then the hell with her,” said John Kobylt, one half of the dynamic duo featured on the “John and Ken Show.”

“Schwarzenegger did it after he was elected twice and then he screwed us over on taxes… She’s lying about immigration already.”

Broadcast with partner Ken Chiampou, the popular 2-7 p.m. weekday show on KFI-AM 640 is a loud megaphone for hardcore conservative views, and a Southern California touchstone for right-wing true believers. Mindful of offending the base of the party, Republican candidates of all stripes, including eMeg, covet the political blessing of the frequently entertaining, if ideologically reflexive, pair, who routinely savage GOP apostates by calling for their “heads on a pike.”

This week, their own heads exploded over the recent spectacle of Her Megness gussying herself up as some kind of moderate on immigration issues, mounting a lavish, Spanish language multi-media campaign to woo Latino voters with kissy poo noises after portraying herself in the GOP primary as the fiercest scourge of illegals since Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

John and Ken’s outrage over Whitman’s transparent, 180-degree pandering was the focus of verbal assaults from them and their radio callers this week, as they also festooned their home page with a huge “Stop the Pandering” headline above a call to action for listeners to contact the Whitman campaign and “tell her not to take your vote for granted and to stop pandering to the open borders crowd!”

Worse for Whitman, the pair sputtered their splenetic outrage on the evening newscast of mainstream KTLA-TV, where they also have a regular gig. In the episode, which the Brown campaign posted on its You Tube page the yakkers railed at eMeg for trumpeting her opposition to Prop. 187, for claiming in a Spanish language op-ed that she and Krusty are virtually identical on immigration – “Jerry Brown is for amnesty!” – and for running away from the tough stances she struck in competing for right-wing support against the vanquished Steve Poizner in the GOP primary. Said John:

She’s saying one thing in Spanish and the exact opposite in English…She is going to lose white, black and Asian votes and she’s going to lose a lot of conservative and independent votes, if she’s acting as if she’s two-faced, and she’s acting like she’s two-faced…You can’t believe the anger coming out of the phone lines.

Said Whitman spokeshuman Sarah Pompei:  “Meg is the best candidate for Californians who want to see the laws enforced and our borders secure.”

Up next: eMeg unveils new $2 million ad buy charging John and Ken, Calitics and the CNA are conspiring to stop her – She refuses to be stopped! – from letting California fail.

Three dot lounge: Interesting to note that Carly Fiorina’s sudden flip flop on unemployment insurance legislation in the Senate comes the same day a new Field Poll shows that 53 percent of her supporters – not to mention 71 percent of independents – agree with Roe v. Wade, which the Hurricane has promised to undo. Must be getting kinda’ lonely out there on the far right, despite what horse’s ass George Will sez about how mainstream she is…

You know you’re in trouble when the New York Times enlists recalled governor Gray Davis to give you advice on how to save your sinking presidency…News to us that you can still watch the great Watergate-era newspaper show “Lou Grant” in reruns. Where the hell are Rossi and Billy when you need ‘em?…Kudos to Coco Timesman Steve Harmon for flying the MSM flag  on calling eMeg to account for her Pinocchio prevarications.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Major bust for minor blockbuster.