California sits on the brink of a fiscal crisis, with some warning that the state may be forced to declare bankruptcy. At the same time, even the Democratic Governor-elect recognizes that tax cuts are not a winning issue. On the home page of his web-site, his campaign suggests the he favors lower taxes, “Under Jerry Brown Californians saw their tax burden reduced by more than $16 Billion.”
He really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. In June of 1978 (just about the mid-point of his gubernatorial tenure), Californians (by a nearly 2-to-1 margin) voted for the tax-cutting Prop 13. That said, Jerry Brown recognized the spirit of that popular proposition is still alive in the (once-)Golden State; he didn’t campaign on tax hikes.
That means that to balance the state’s budget, he going to have to call for austerity measures and make major cuts in state spending, yet in his victory speech (alas the “Embedding [for this video was] disabled by request“), he seemed to be quite literally in another world. He talked about “creativity” and “imagination” and building for the future as if we didn’t have to first address the mistakes of the past twelve years, created first by a Democratic governor (his understudy Gray Davis) eager to placate the public employee unions and a spendthrift legislature, then by a pusillanimous* Republican governor and spendthrift legislature.
He talked about overcoming divisions and ending polarization, yet failed to acknowledge his opponent (save to say she won 90% of the Republican vote). If he were sincere, he would have done as most gracious victors do and praise her for running a spirited campaign and salute her commitment to fixing the problems of the state they both love.
Instead, he reminded us that he still carries, “this missionary zeal to transform the world.” What, Michelle Malkin asks, “was he smoking?” Before you change the world, first you’ve got to fix the problems in your own house. And California has some big ones. In his victory speech, the governor-reelect seemed blissfully unaware of them.
*You could say that’s a fancy word for “girly man.”