A few weeks ago this column addressed all the “happy talk” coming from both our elected representatives and the news media about how California had finally turned the corner on our economic woes and we are now in full recovery mode. Continuing our role as official California curmudgeons we suggested that the facts didn’t paint quite the rosy picture that Governor Brown and his fans would have us believe.
Today we note more regretfully than gleefully that recent reports suggest our pessimism is well founded.
Just before Christmas Santa seemingly gave California a shiny new present wrapped in lovely decorative paper that contained the following headline: “California Unemployment Rate Dips Below 10% to 9.8%.” Such a wonderful gift indeed! But the contents of the present didn’t quite match the lovely packaging. The fact is that actual payrolls in California dropped by 3800 jobs. In most media reports that fact was buried further down in the story.
Moreover one of the assumptions upon which the prediction of California’s recovery was based is resolution of the “fiscal cliff” standoff in Washington. As of this writing (and things could change) it looks like we may indeed go cliff diving. And even if we don’t it appears that the deal being put together at the federal level may at best just kick the can down the road.
Either way President Obama has already made it clear he will blame the Republicans for anything and everything that goes wrong with the economy. So what else is new? The question we have is whether the majority party here in California will similarly blame Republicans at the federal level if their repeated predictions of recovery don’t come to pass. They probably will. But here is where things can get interesting.
Let’s assume that for whatever reason California slips back into recession. Will the same occur in those states that have a more friendly tax and regulatory climate? In November red states became more red and blue states became more blue. And nowhere did a state become more blue than in California.
So if federal policies are to blame then won’t all states suffer more or less equally? But if states like Texas Utah Florida Indiana and Nevada flourish while California stumbles won’t that say a lot more about California’s policies than it does about federal policies?
Indeed those of us who believe that the hostility toward taxpayers and businesses here in California will continue to inflict damage to our economy have an obligation to make the comparisons between the states in order to convince voters of all political stripes that California deserves better.
So for the New Year let’s watch very carefully what happens between Illinois and Indiana; Texas and California; Virginia and Maryland. Each of these pairings reflect states with roughly similar demographics but each reflects one state that supports policies of economic growth and one that does not.
This could be very helpful in swaying voters in future elections. And it is something that can even make us curmudgeons optimistic.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.