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K. Lloyd Billingsley
John Campbell
Jon Coupal
Ray Haynes
Steven Hayward
Hugh Hewitt
Lance T. Izumi
Harold Johnson
Carol Platt Liebau
Ken Masugi
Tom McClintock
Michael New
Stefan Sharkansky
Shawn Steel
Guest Contributors

California Learning

Recall has its first victory.
NEW TODAY [Michael J. New] 8/22/03 |
Fiscal conservatives won a quiet victory last week when California enacted a budget that did not include a major tax increase. Plagued by an immense $38 billion shortfall, the summer months produced much in the way of acrimony and little hope for a resolution. As a result, many were surprised when the assembly passed a $100 million budget, which Governor Davis promptly signed into law on Saturday. | Now, this budget is far from perfect. It triples the vehicle-license fee and hikes other fees. Furthermore, the budget is dependent on one-time borrowing and will likely result in another budgetary shortfall next summer. Still, the fact that the impasse was resolved without a large tax hike exceeded the expectations of all but the most optimistic of observers. | So how was California able to escape from its $38 billion deficit without a substantial tax increase? Several reasons. One, assembly Republicans demonstrated remarkable solidarity in their opposition to tax increases. Senate Minority Leader Jim Brulte even threatened to campaign against any Republican who voted to raise taxes. | Two, California's supermajority requirement played an important role. In California, Democrats possess majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. As a result, the opposition of Republicans would have meant little if only a majority was necessary for a tax increase. However, California's supermajority requirement — enacted in conjunction with Proposition 13 — gave assembly Republicans the ability to block tax increases and obtain concessions from Democrats. [more inside]

Dear Tom McClintock Supporter ...

Arnold may not be ideal, but first you have to win.
[Hugh Hewitt] 8/21/03
| Dear Tom McClintock supporter, | Thank you for listening to my show. I appreciate it. I have built my California success on your support, and whenever I take a call from San Diego or Los Angeles, the Inland Empire or Sacramento, San Francisco or Fresno or anywhere else in the Golden State, I know that if it is a conservative, it will be a passionate but informed conversation. | You may recall I endorsed Tom in the election of 2002 and had him on the program. You may also recall I had Bill Simon on the program many, many times as well, and endorsed him before the primary election in March of 2002. I told you then that I was supporting Bill over Dick Riordan because Bill had a better chance of beating Gray Davis. | I still believe that, and had Dick Riordan gotten into the recall race instead of Arnold, I suspect I would have ended up supporting Bill or Tom for the same reasons I plugged Bill in March of last year: I vote for the most conservative candidate with a reasonable chance of winning. | Throughout the summer and fall of 2002, I lectured moderate and liberal Republicans and independents in California, and across the country, to put aside differences with candidates they thought too conservative and support the GOP nominees. Sometimes that meant supporting conservatives like Simon, or U.S. Senate candidates like John Thune, Norm Coleman or Jim Talent. | My point always was – and remains – that the Republican Party is the party of national security and national prosperity, and that the Democratic Party has become a captive of narrow and greedy special interests camouflaged behind class-warfare rhetoric. | You can't always get a moderate nominee, I told these centrist voters, but they needed to clearly think through which party was better positioned to govern well – and vote accordingly. | Now, a center-right Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is campaigning for the governorship in California, and many of you have declared for Tom McClintock no matter how unlikely his victory becomes. You already know he cannot win, and his poll numbers and fund-raising receipts show this. [more inside]

The Purpose of a Great Party

McClintock is true to conservative principles
[Joe Armendariz] 8/21/03 | Abraham Lincoln said the purpose of a great Party isn't to defeat the other Party, the purpose of a great Party, according to the Great Emancipator, was to provide superior leadership. Lincoln went on to suggest that the way to serve your Party best, is to serve your country first. | With all due respect to each and every one of the prospective candidates lining up to serve this great state as its next Governor, one individual stands out from the rest and has proven himself to be a great leader. First elected to the State Assembly at the age of 26, within two years Tom McClintock was serving our Party in a leadership position. And what a leader he has been. | They say you can't hold a good man down and that cream rises to the top, so it is with Senator McClintock. He is a man utterly incapable of compromising his principles or acquiescing to political expediency. When one considers the fiscal crisis California finds itself in, it is impossible to imagine a more suitable remedy then to elevate McClintock to the office of Governor. | Common sense says that when you have a medical problem, you consult a doctor. When you have a legal dispute, get a lawyer. If you spot an intruder entering your property, call the police. When your state is mired in fiscal chaos, due to out-of-control spending and excessive regulation, who better to call then the only man in California who consistently projected correctly the magnitude of the crises of the 1990s and was consistently among the most accurate forecasters of the effects of state tax and spending policies? | Senator McClintock is that individual and Senator McClintock is exactly what California needs. [more inside]

California Gives Junk Bonds a Bad Name

[Joe Armendariz] 8/18/03 | If California were a business, there would be nothing left except finger-pointing. Unlike a capital -starved new company with an exciting innovation or novel product, California is a bureaucratic monstrosity with dwindling market share and an incompetent management team. | Even after the"compromise" hammered out this summer, California's budget remains structurally out of balance for the next several years, while current and future spending is being financed with illegitimate taxes and illegal borrowing. California taxpayers have little to celebrate as a result of the compromise. | The decision to enter the budget compromise marks a significant victory insofar as the spend-happy legislature was prevented from raising taxes yet again. But in fact, the 16 Republicans in the Legislature who voted for this structured settlement have, in a sense, embraced the worst of both worlds. Not only have they agreed to rob Peter in order to pay Paul -- they have the audacity to ask Paul to lend them the money to repay Peter. [more inside]

Scheering Prop 13
The rich get richer and some avoid taxes
[Stefan Sharkansky] 8/20/03 (Editor's Note: Stefan Sharkansky provides a valuable ongoing service deconstructing LA Times "columnist" Robert Scheer.) | In this week's column, Robert Scheer takes on California's Proposition 13, the 1978 ballot measure which strictly limits property tax increases. Headline: A higher tax on all your houses. A more honest headline might be "A higher tax on all my houses", because Robert Scheer and his wife own at least three houses, while most of the rest of us own at most one house. Prop. 13 is in the news again, because Warren Buffett, in his role as Arnold Schwarzenegger's economic advisor suggested last week that California's property taxes are too low. | There are legitimate criticisms of Prop. 13. As a recently former California homeowner, I agree with those who say that Prop. 13 gives the state a silly property tax structure. Not so much for the aggregate amount of tax revenue collected, but for the way the burden is unevenly distributed. Because property values are reassessed to market value only at the time of a sale, there is an enormous advantage to long-term owners at the expense of those who enter or re-enter the market. It is precisely a form of rent control with the same undesirable side effects. Do you want to give young entrepreneurs with growing families a reason to leave California to start their businesses elsewhere? Prop. 13 is the solution for you! [more inside]

Talk About Déjà Vu!

Special interests have brought back the economic problems of the early 90's
[Ray Haynes] 8/19/03 | When I joined the Legislature in 1992, California was facing two major crises—our business environment was falling apart and our budget was seriously out of balance. Businesses were leaving the state in droves, complaining that worker’s compensation premiums were doubling and tripling, and that the regulatory environment was stifling the establishment and expansion of business in California. Other states were poaching our employers, and they were taking their jobs with them. State revenues were falling through the floor. | Governor Wilson had just tried to solve the budget crisis by raising taxes, and instead saw his revenues collapse. For the first time since 1952, California had just seen a year-over-year decrease in revenue. State spending exceeded state revenue by 15%. My first day in office I had local business owners complaining about how they had to lay off employees, and government employees asking me to raise taxes so they could keep their jobs. The Commission on California’s Competitiveness had just come out with a long report detailing how the government regulatory environment interfered with job creation. Things got so bad that even then-Speaker Willie Brown felt compelled to convene an economic summit, inviting business and labor leaders to discuss solutions to the problems. | Governor Wilson got to work. He immediately began to work on the worker’s compensation issue and other regulatory issues to make it easier for business to create jobs in California. By the end of 1993, the Legislature had reformed worker’s compensation, passed a number of regulatory relief bills, held the line on tax increases, and changed a lot of people’s attitudes about California’s approach to business development. By the end of 1994, the early 90’s California recession was over, businesses were creating thousands of new jobs, and California’s revenue was increasing so much that by 1995, and for four years thereafter, California was able to cut tax rates, and still experience huge surpluses. [more inside]

Trumping the Race Card

Republicans Can’t Let Democrats Win the “Race” to the Bottom
[Carol Platt Liebau] 8/18/03 | The most recent Field poll purporting to show support for Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante running three points ahead of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the governor’s race – and the media’s breathless reporting of it –calls vividly to mind the well-known quotation by author O. Henry: “A straw vote only shows which way the hot air blows.” | The poll, crippled by a small sample and at odds with other reliable measures of public support, is most likely wrong. But its significance lies less in its inaccuracy than in its implications for the upcoming recall election. The Field poll has probably put the last nail in the coffin of Governor Gray Davis’ political career. The increased public support for Cruz Bustamante will convince California Democrats that they have a better chance of helping him reach a 42% plurality (the probable threshold for victory) than persuading 51% of voters to retain the governor. Accordingly, Davis will be left for (politically) dead -- the focus will shift from the recall itself to the campaign for a new governor. | But for Democrats, here’s the rub: Bustamante is by no means a dream candidate. Indeed, he bears an unfortunate resemblance to the cartoon character “Wimpy” of “Popeye” fame – the mild-mannered man who continually promises, “I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” (a phrase, incidentally, that seems to sum up Bustamante’s economic philosophy, or at least what we know of it). And the lieutenant governor’s political career has been strikingly nondescript, except for two damaging episodes: his inadvertent use of a racial slur while addressing the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in February of 2001, and his widely-reported attempt to slip out the back door of his office to avoid dealing with a contentious budget issue when he was serving as Assembly Speaker. | Given their candidate’s deficiencies, it’s unlikely that Democrats will see many more polls showing Bustamante in the lead once Californians have become better acquainted with him. And when Arnold Schwarzenegger begins to pull ahead consistently in the polls, Democrats will confront the reality that their best chance of winning rests on their ability to turn out a large Latino vote against the Republican frontrunner. As Democratic desperation grows, it will be readily identifiable through one clear measure – the frequency and ferocity of Democratic attempts to play the “race card.” [more inside]

Q&A: What Taxpayers Need to Know About the State Budget
[Jon Coupal] 8/16/03 | Q. What period of time does this budget cover? | A. Currently, California has an annual budget which runs from July 1st to June 30th of the following year. This is why they call it the "fiscal year" instead of a normal calendar year. The $99.1 billion budget which was just approved was for the 2003-2004 fiscal year. Because of the close relationship between the state and local governments, the latter generally operate on the same calendar. | The budget was approved several weeks late this year, but given the chasm between the two parties, it could have been much worse. Additional pressure was placed on lawmakers to resolve the budget impasse when, as a result of a suit filed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the California Supreme Court ruled the state lacks legal authority to spend money -- with a few minor exceptions --after June 30th without a budget.| Q. How come there is no consistency is describing the size of the deficit? | A. Various figures have been used to describe the size of the deficit, ranging from $26 billion to over $38 billion. The problem is that the size of the deficit depends on state revenue projections and other assumptions about future events. There are two major problems with California's financial situation. First, on a day-to-day basis, government is spending more money than it is taking in. Second, we have a massive amount of accumulated debt. | Think of it this way: Suppose your weekly take home pay is $1,000 a week but you are spending (with a little help from Visa or MasterCard) $1,200 a week. That means every week you fall further into debt. Then suppose that, unlike politicians, you begin to act responsibly and reduce your spending to the $1,000 per week that you are taking in. That's a great start as you are now operating on a balanced budget. However, there is one remaining problem: You must now repay your debt. | California is the same way. Whatever the politicians tell you, we are still spending more money than we are taking in and our children will be saddled with billions of dollars in debt. [more inside]

Remember the Big Picture on California Education

It's the standards...
[Lance T. Izumi] 8/16/03 | On August 15, California's education officials are scheduled to release student scores on the 2003 state standardized tests. While the results are an important indicator of student and school performance, there are other criteria that shouldn't be forgotten. A comprehensive overview of all key indicators is contained in the California Education Report Card: Index of Leading Education Indicators, Third Edition, recently released by the Pacific Research Institute. | In 2002, California students as a whole did not perform well. For instance, on the California Standards Test, which is the main measure used to rank school performance, only about a third of students scored at or above the proficient level in English/language arts and math. It is likely that student scores on the 2003 test will increase somewhat, which is certainly a good thing. However, not only will a significant majority of students still be performing below a proficient level, other yardsticks of education performance continue to tell a discouraging story. [more inside]


And some
Lingering Observations

Recall Choice Really Between Tom, Bill, Arnold
[Shawn Steel] 8/15/03 []

Prop 187 Revisited
[Joe Armendariz] 8/14/03 []

This Conservative Is Voting For Arnold
[Hugh Hewitt] 8/13/03

California Muggin'
A Golden State Debate...
[Eric Metaxas] 8/13/03 []

When Chaos is Good
Finally, we can all see the result of failed leadership
[Ray Haynes] 8/12/03 []

Our Glorious Recall
Or, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love California”
[Carol Platt Liebau] 8/11/03 [more inside]

Driven to Judicial Fiat
Desperate Davis Turns to the Courts for "Leadership"
[Carol Platt Liebau] 7/24/03 []

King of the Ring
Big-time strategists, a jungle recall/election, and Democrats scheming over a live microphone. You won't believe what's happening in California.
[Hugh Hewitt] 7/24/03 [Weekly Standard]

Recall Strategy
The California GOP Needs to Stay Flexible – and Above All, Unified
[Carol Platt Liebau] 7/21/03 []

Highway Robbery
Illegal taxes are what political revolutions are made of.
[Tom McClintock] 7/9/03 []

A “Taxing” Responsibility
The Power to Change Sacramento Rests With Us
[Carol Platt Liebau] 7/7/03 []

Pull My Trigger. . .
An unaccountable, self-triggering tax that only a liberal could love
[Ray Haynes] 6/28/03 [more inside]

California's Coming 100-Year Political Storm
[Tom McClintock] 6/18/03 [more at Claremont Institute]

Slap the Greedy Hand [Reprint 6/16/03]
Authorizing Local Taxes Is Just Plain Wrong
[Carol Platt Liebau] 6/9/03 [more inside]

People Must Demand Recall
After the Damage Davis Has Caused In One Term, Can State Afford to Go Through Another?
[Shawn Steel] 6/2/03 [more inside]

Memo to My Wife
A household budget - Gray Davis style
[Tom McClintock] 5/29/03 [more inside]

Recalling Our Principles
Why the Davis Recall is Worth Reconsidering
[Carol Platt Liebau] 5/9/03 [more inside]


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