national opinion

Monday Column
Carol Platt Liebau

[go to Liebau index]

Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

Subscribe to CRO Alerts
Sign up for a weekly notice of CRO content updates.

Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news

Michael Ramirez

editorial cartoon

Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today

CRO Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]
















Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist

Carol Platt Liebau is a senior member of the editorial board. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.

California Screamin’
Why Residents of the Golden State Are (and Should Be) Angry
[Carol Platt Liebau] 6/23/03

Shakespeare once wrote, “What’s in a name?” As it turns out, there’s quite a lot. California Democrats have begun a “Save California” campaign to persuade police, firefighters and local officials to support higher state taxes to help balance the state budget. The campaign’s name is unintentionally revealing of the mindset that has simultaneously driven California to the edge of bankruptcy, and Governor Gray Davis to the precipice of the political abyss. Apparently, our Democratic leaders believe that California will be saved through the imposition of higher taxes.

The absurdity of this concept would be funny if its proponents weren’t actually in charge. But they are. And with a state mired in tough times, their only concern seems to be just how many costs they can pass on to California’s steadily eroding tax base. Last year, Californians paid $130 billion in taxes to state government. Apparently, that’s not enough. More must be extracted, and the Democrats are hot on the taxpayers’ trail. Of course California was hit hard by the bursting of the tech bubble from the late ‘90’s. But that’s not the explanation for the fact that California lost 21,500 jobs last month – more than the other 49 states combined. No, the state economy continues to struggle because of the choices made by the governor and the Democrat-controlled state legislature, and the philosophy underlying them.

Just last Friday, in fact, the Davis administration tripled the car tax by administrative fiat, so that the average taxpayer will pay $158 more to register a car. And Gray Davis wonders why so many people want to recall him? Similarly, just this April, there were over 100 bills awaiting consideration by the legislature, which taken together would have increased Californians’ already high taxes and fees by a whopping $20 billion.

The governor and legislature have likewise allowed workers’ compensation insurance rates to skyrocket, making it prohibitively expensive for businesses – small businesses, especially – to hire new employees. And California’s elected officials have seen fit to impose a host of other new decrees – including extravagant dictates in favor of family leave and against flex-time – that seem designed to punish businesses whose only crime is their decision to locate in California. (As syndicated radio talk show host and author Hugh Hewitt often remarks, to see what America would look like under liberal hegemony, just take a look at California.)

But the Democratic legislature’s naiveté -- or, less charitably, its ignorance -- is such that, despite all the obstacles it has gleefully strewn in businesses’ path, it actually voted in favor of a resolution last week urging Boeing to locate its new commercial jetliner plant in the state. As state Sen. Tom McClintock noted (in the context of an elegant speech diagnosing the state’s ills and a prescription for them [linked from this site on 6/18]), it becomes difficult for Fortune 500 companies to stay in California today when they can relocate, say, in Florida – and employees will pay no state income tax, a 6% sales tax (contrasted with LA County’s 8.75%) and $40 to register a car.

To their credit, Republican legislators are standing firm in their opposition to any tax increases, despite heavy pressure from Democrats and their interest groups. And it’s about time. Their stance will be supported by Californians – because they are finally fed up with high taxes and the legislators that impose them.

Any Democrat who might wonder why Californians are so angry had only to examine newspapers from across the state this week. The Los Angeles Times reported that drastic cuts in the Capistrano Unified School District will be largely avoided, thanks to donations by parents supplementing the taxes they already pay to educate their children. Although it seems odd that parental donations would be necessary in a state that spends $8556 per child each year (according to the NEA Rankings and Estimates report), perhaps a clue as to the reason could be gleaned from a story in The Orange County Register. There, it was revealed that most of the 70-person staff at Horace Mann Elementary School was heading off to a resort in Indian Wells for a weekend retreat – at a cost of $8100, all funded by the state money granted to the school to help boost low student test scores! And The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the University of California Board of Regents had approved a raise and a $20,000 annual bonus plan so that Senior Vice President Joseph Mullinix can scrape by on a state salary totaling $370,000.

Nor was The Los Angeles Daily News of any more comfort to the harried, underappreciated California taxpayer. There, readers learned that social workers in an elite unit, charged with caring for Los Angeles County’s most troubled children, were actually jogging at the gym, running errands, and even going to the movies during work hours! And finally, The Sacramento Bee chipped in with a story about how legislators were told this week that a program earmarking state contract money for disabled veterans’ businesses was being undermined by widespread fraud.

Despite these stories and more, the legislature’s Democrats have been strangely silent about the waste, fraud and abuse running rampant in California to the tune of $10 billion each year, according to the California Taxpayers’ Association. Nor, during the budget crisis, have Californians heard anything from the Democratic majority about meaningful cuts to the size of the state payroll, or about suspending some of the state pay increases that have long outpaced inflation, or about reducing state benefits that far exceed anything provided to employees in the private sector – or about a whole host of other potential spending cuts championed by Republicans, state Sen. Tom McClintock in particular. No, “sacrifice” seems to be the province of the taxpayers, not of the bureaucrats they support in such grand style.

Californians are generous people and they work hard to fulfill their obligations to each other and to the state. But enough is enough. The governor and a cohort of tax-happy legislators have collected too much of our hard-earned money and spent it with a callous disregard, bordering on contempt, for business owners and private enterprise of all stripes. And through it all, they have somehow forgotten that the money they so imperiously collect and appropriate isn’t theirs at all – it’s ours.

So as the Democrats criss-cross the state on their “Save California” campaign, remember all that that name stands for. Think of the taxes that too many greedy politicians have squandered, the opportunities they’ve wasted, and the once-thriving state economy they’ve decimated. Such recollections, more than anything, force to mind the grim line penned by Victorian artist and author Dante Gabriel Rossetti -- “Look in my face: my name is Might-have-been.”

CRO columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA.


Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005