Political Animal


January 11, 2013 5:08 PM Golden State in the Black

By Ed Kilgore

Those who make a living comparing California to Greece as a hellish socialist cesspool of debt will have to work a little harder to make their case. As reported by the New York Times’ Adam Nagourney, Gov. Jerry Brown was able to report an extraordinary development when he unveiled his budget for FY 2013-14:

“The deficit is gone,” Mr. Brown proclaimed, standing in front of an array of that-was-then and this-is-now charts that illustrated what he said were dramatic changes in California’s fortunes.
“For the next four years we are talking about a balanced budget,” he said. “We are talking about living within our means. This is new. This is a breakthrough.”
Mr. Brown was not just talking about a balanced budget. He projected that the state would begin posting surpluses starting next year, leading to a projected surplus of $21.5 million by 2014, a dramatic turnaround from the deficit of $26 billion — billion, not million — he faced when he was elected in 2010.
The governor said California’s finances were strong enough that he wanted to put aside a $1 billion reserve fund to guard against future downturns, and included in the budget sharp increases in aid to public schools and the state university system, both targets of big spending cutbacks.
The change in fortunes reflected cuts that were imposed over the past two years, a temporary tax surcharge approved by voters in November that expires in seven years, and a general improvement in the state’s economy.

Yes, skeptics grumbled over Brown’s numbers, but even less optimistic analyses concluded that the budget is in near-balance after years of big deficits and chronic budget crises. And if Brown turns out to be right, the state would be able to begin socking away money to hedge against a future economic downturn.

Brown seemed to have an eye on Victor Davis Hanson and Joel Kotkin in uttering these lines:

Mr. Brown, in presenting his budget, suggested that the turnaround should be a rebuke to “a couple of characters” who have “written off California as a failed state,” a reference to conservative commentators who have, for a year, questioned the state’s economic policies and its very future.

Ah, never fear. Conservative Cassandras have already decided to predict the new taxes imposed by voters will produce an exodus of jobs and capital to more enlightened states like Texas and Mississippi.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • danimal on January 11, 2013 5:42 PM:

    I'd bet the two characters Brown was baiting were LA's radio hosts John and Ken, who have made a career out of doom-and-glooming CA's budgetary issues.

  • c u n d gulag on January 11, 2013 6:07 PM:

    Not, "Cassandra's," but '@$$-enders."

    Now, can the MSM cover this, properly?
    Or, will the VDH's of the world get invited to predict even more disaster - AGAIN! - and, as usual?

    Yeah, I know - the latter.

  • Doug on January 11, 2013 6:28 PM:

    "...will produce an exodus of jobs and capital to more enlightened states like Texas and Mississippi." snark by Ed Kilgore

    Sort of a "Silicon Valley" on the Rio? Or maybe replacing "of Beverly Hills" with "of Tupelo"? Pascagoula to become the new San Francisco, while Gulfport becomes the next Malibu? "Frederick's of Hattiesburg"?
    This is fun!

  • patrick II on January 11, 2013 7:07 PM:

    If some people are dumb enough to leave California for Texas, I would gladly let them go.

  • exlibra on January 11, 2013 9:16 PM:

    Not, "Cassandra's, -- c u n d gulag, @6:07 PM

    Apologies for the OT, but I have no other way of reaching the recipient:

    I love you, gulag, and enjoy reading most of what you have to say, but I've reached the end of my tether with your misuse of the apostrophe in the plural form of nouns. If I -- a (half) Polack (dumb), for whom English is a second language -- can learn the basic rules... surely you can too, being a native speaker of it?

    Here's a New Year's gift from me to you (free, gratis, and with compliments, esp on the *content* of most of your postings). Please take the time to read it, including the last sentence of the first paragraph (relevant, given your own situation vis- a-vis job searching).


  • jjm on January 11, 2013 10:12 PM:

    Go, Jerry! You[re the best!

  • Jeff Johnson on January 12, 2013 7:03 AM:

    A good way for California to get rid of people who think low taxes is the most important aspect of a quality life and community. Has Victor Davis Hansen fled to Mississippi yet? If so good riddance.

  • flw on January 12, 2013 8:38 AM:

    People moving from CA t TX will increase the average intelligence of both states.

  • c u n d gulag on January 12, 2013 9:24 AM:

    I admit, I have this block about those nasty little things.

    And no, though I was born here, in NYC, actually English was not my native language.
    It was my fourth language.

    As a little child, I grew up speaking Russian, since my Mom was from Russia.
    And then picked-up Ukrainian, because my Father and his Mother, who was living with us, were Ukrainian, and my Mother also knew the language. And they spoke it when they didn't want me to know what they were saying.
    But I soon figured our Ukrainian - since it's not that much different from Russian.

    So, after I figured that out, they spoke in German, which they all picked-up in Labor Camps, and then Displaced Person's Camps in Germany.
    It doesn't take a child long to figure out languages, so I solved that problem, too.

    My first encounter with English was my first day of Kindergarten.
    And there, for the first few minutes, I thought the other kids had a problem, since they didn't know how to communicate with others. Then, I quickly figured out the one with the problem wasn't them - it was ME!

    And I've had problems with those hidious vicious things my whole life.
    Russian and Ukrainian don't have them. And, typically, neither does German. And I formally learned and studied those languages in public schools, private religious schools, and college.

    I have been dinged my whole life for this mental block. And I've read any number of books on grammar, and tried to learn - and still - FAIL!!!

    I'll try reading that site, though - Thanks.
    One never is too old to learn. And, maybe one day, hopefully, something will get through my thick cranium.

  • monoceros4 on January 12, 2013 4:59 PM:

    Victor Davis Hanson, ugh. I saw him speak many years ago at SDSU and he seemed sane enough, but then he seemed to get it into his head that the U.S. should turn itself into Periclean Athens or something. We all remember how brilliantly that worked out the first time. A classics scholar should know better.

  • Ashbee on January 12, 2013 9:20 PM:

    Who in the Sam Hill is trading California for the Sip? Nobody. They need to quit it, but thanks for the laugh though!