Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Endorsements enshmorsements

Though Gilbert rightly points out that Phil has the backing of most of the Democratic establishment in California, that really doesn't reflect the quality of his candidacy. Endorsements are strictly an insider's game, reflective more of one's connections, fundraising, and past "back-scratching." Phil announced first, put together his campaign earlier, and looked to be the default nominee against Schwarzenegger. As Marie put it yesterday in a coment, it was assumed that Angelides' nomination was a foregone conclusion.

But Westly's outsider candidacy has been gaining ground since day one, and if endorsements were starting today I think it's safe to assume that many of those big-wigs on Angelides' side would be supporting Westly.

But I'd also to talk about policy a little. The greatest weakness in Angelides campaign is his over-reliance on tax increases. Anglides has proposed to close the state budget deficit, decrease college tuition and fully fund schools by raising taxes on the wealthiest Californians. That sounds all well and good until you consider this fact: the wealthiest Californians are already taxed extra for mental health services, and, if Proposition 82 passes next fall, will be taxed additionally for universal preschool. We simply cannot solve all our state's problems by taxing the wealthy over and over again, even if they can afford it. It's just not a sustainable policy.

Furthermore, such tax increases are simply not going to pass the legislature with a two-third's majority, as state law requires. As Dan Weintraub notes:
One problem with the treasurer's plan is that to enact it, he would need to get Republican votes in the Legislature to achieve the two-thirds majority required to raise taxes. And Republican lawmakers in recent years have been nearly unanimous in their opposition to tax increases.
So what has Westly proposed to do? As I noted before, as Controller, Westly collected unpaid taxes from the wealthy and corporations in an effort that netted $4 billion. With the budget deficit currently standing at $5 billion, another such effort, which Westly has proposed, would get us much closer to fiscal solvency. Other measures, such as revamping the lottery and negotiating better deals on state purchases constitute the rest Westly's budget reduction plan. Nothing sexy, but it's all workable and passable.

And though I believe, like Gilbert, that Californians are caring, I do not think that basing one's candidacy on raising taxes over $9 billion, as Angelides would have to do to implemented all his proposals, is the best way to get elected. Just ask Walter Mondale.


At April 19, 2006 3:17 PM, Blogger Gilbert Martinez said...

Not to sound facetious, but isn't collecting unpaid taxes part of the controller's job? I never really understood how enforcing tax collection could be construed as a major policy initiative.

Of course, Angelides also has other plans, including closing corporate loopholes. His direct investment in emerging domestic markets, the "Double Bottom Line" mentioned previously, is a policy starting to be employed nationwide that enhances communities and puts money into community economies. Improving and expanding this model will help to build a robust state economy, increase local revenues, etc.

Schwarzenegger cut taxes and refuses to raise them. He then went on to take out bonds that the next generation will have to pay for--the same as Bush fiscal policy. I see no benefit to someone who will not put tax increases on the table. We are going to have to pay for those bonds eventually and skirting around the obvious will only make the future impact worse. Short term, we can tweak the system--through twiddling with the lottery--but long term fiscal policy requires bold leadership.

As far as taxation, most middle class people think the wealthy pay too little in taxes. Furthermore, as David Cay Johnston points out in "Perfectly Legal", the wealthy aren't as averse to paying more in taxes as people claim. Heck, the people initially supporting Prop. 82 were, you guessed it, wealthy. This isn't to say we need unreasonable taxation, but without progressive taxation as a cause, the Democratic Party will cease to exist in current form.

At April 19, 2006 3:41 PM, Blogger Gilbert Martinez said...

Also, note that the Alliance endorsements are from this year and over the last couple months. Also, the endorsement from Miller and the other education leaders is from April 3, 2006. Doesn't have much to do with timing and early endorsements. Same with DiFi--she endorsed AFTER Westly joined the race.

At April 19, 2006 3:44 PM, Blogger Gilbert Martinez said...

One other thing, after the '84 election I believe Reagan actually raised taxes--he actually raised them more than once. The anti-tax policy has never really worked and it's time we start realizing that.

At April 19, 2006 10:37 PM, Anonymous Kyle said...

I'm sick of hearing about the Westly campaign's tax cheat story. They say they "brought in" 3 billion or 4 billion, or whatever, but almost all of that would have come in anyway OR WILL HAVE TO BE REFUNDED. Check out today's Chronicle people--this is nothing but pure campaign hype:

Westly's Controller's Office and the Franchise Tax Board put the collections for the program at $4.8 billion, but they agreed that all but $800 million represented advance payments or refunds.

A program easing penalties on people in abusive tax shelters brought in $1.4 billion, about half of which was new money.

We've got a serious problem on our hands--at least $5 billion to make up in the next budget. Westly's sound bites and band aids aren't a solution.

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