Sunday, October 03, 2010

Five questions about the Bee editorial endorsing Jerry Brown

As noted in the earlier post, the Sacramento Bee's editorial endorsing the current AG for Governor is a mass of contradictions which seem to grant Brown every indulgence and applies a strict scrutiny standard to his opponent.  Presented below are five quotes (in RED) from the editorial which one should raise questions about.

Whitman is a student of what other states are doing to grow business. Brown shows little interest in such scholarship. California's position in a number of areas has gone from a leadership position to one which ranks us at the bottom.  For example, college going rate has been declining in recent years.  The business climate, which ungirds tax revenues as well as quality of life has been rated among the worst in the country.  Every major study of our current economic climate has suggested that a) businesses that can are moving either operations or new plants to other states.  Does the Bee contend that by not being interested in even understanding what other states are doing would not help the state recover its position?

Whitman proposes to freeze regulations and cut taxes, including the state capital gains tax. The former eBay CEO claims this will spur investment in California and grow jobs and state revenues. The editorial goes on to suggest that eliminating capital gains taxes would put $3 - $11 billion in revenues at risk.  Yet every business survey conducted in the last few years suggests that part of our sluggish growth has been conditioned on the difficulty in doing business in the state.  What is the practical effect of freezing regulations?  Would it not be beneficial to take a breath for a moment to understand what is happening or does the Bee support the same kind of head in the sand approach to what is happening around us, that they seem to endorse in the support for Brown's lack of inquiry about what others are doing?

Brown is more realistic than Whitman about what a governor can accomplish, given that California's fortunes are interdependent with the larger national and international economies. The Bee supports California's effort to control global warming through a series of tax and regulatory changes that are known as AB 32.  They have endorsed opposition to the measure which would delay implementation.  A major argument against AB 32 is that it neglects the interdependence of California with the rest of the world.  How do those two positions reconcile?

While we share her passion for reducing state pension obligations, she goes too far in advocating 401(k) plans that would expose state workers to the vagaries of Wall Street. The Bee's employees, like every other employee in the private sector, live under defined contribution plans not defined benefit plans.   One California study has suggested that the system of the largest three pensions are collectively half a trillion out of actuarial balance.  Why should public employees be granted pension rights that are significantly better than the people who pay the taxes to support those pensions?

And unlike in previous stints in office, Brown doesn't seem to have his eye on anything other than governing California. One of the constant criticisms of Brown has been that almost everything he does in office is political.   When you look at his management of every political office he has obtained he has used the office in a partisan manner.  One need only look at the odd decisions he has made in a number of areas as Attorney General, his current office.  The Bee asks us to take, evidently on faith, that he will (or has) change (d) in this quest.  Where do they develop that optimism from?

It is sad to see much of the media devolve into partisan mouthpieces, but that is the state of editorial boards at places like the Bee.

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