August 24, 2003

Dan Weintraub Is a Very Strange Person

The Sacramento Bee's Dan Weintraub is a very strange person.

He believes that right-wing politicians like Simon and McClintock are selling snake oil when they tell voters they will balance California's budget without cutting programs or raising taxes by eliminating waste and sticking it to the bureaucrats:

California Insider: Simon and McClintock are to the right of the California mainstream on social issues and the environment, so they are running on one issue -- smaller government. While I share their reflexes, polls suggest that Californians are unwilling to give up any of the government services they get now in exchange for the ideal of limited government. And while both candidates can credibly claim that there is still plenty of waste to cut in state government, I don't think the budget can be balanced by cutting waste alone. The gap is too large, and most of the money is in transfer payments to program recipients, not bureaucrats. Californians are simply demanding more services than their taxes can support. The state must either cut programs or raise taxes or both...

Weintraub admits he has absolutely no clue what Arnold Schwarzenegger would do as governor:

Californians, if they want Arnold [Schwarzenegger] to be their governor, are going to have to take a leap of faith, to buy into his leadership abilities, his charisma, his communication skills, all of which are considerable, and accept his vision that the budget can be balanced without new taxes or cuts in education even as he repeals the recent increase in the car tax. Thatís not a reasonable proposition...

And he believes that Cruz Bustamante has a program that at least holds together:

Cruz Bustamante has produced a bold but politically risky proposal that he says would close the stateís budget gap while increasing spending on the schools and reducing the car tax for people whose vehicles are worth less than $20,000. The plan would raise taxes by $8 billion on the wealthy, business owners, commercial property, and on the users of cigarettes and alcohol. Bustamante said his proposal would cut $4.5 billion in spending, but $2 billion of that represents a shift in health care costs for the working poor from the general taxpayers to employers. His plan also projects savings of $500 million by fighting Medi-Cal fraud and $2 billion in unspecified cuts. If elected governor, Bustamante said, he would call a special session of the Legislature and introduce his plan. If it was rejected, he would gather signatures for a ballot measure and call a special election to put it to a vote of the people...

A normal person, if offered a choice between candidates (McClintock, Simon) who are lying to you, a candidate (Schwarzenegger) who refuses to say what he would do both because he has no clue and because he thinks "people do not care about the numbers and figures," and a reasonably-smart guy who understands what the tradeoffs are and has a set of ideas about what to do with them--as I said, a normal guy would choose the clued-in candidate who is not lying to him.

But, as I said, Dan Weintraub is strange. The clued-in candidate who is not telling lies is to be avoided at all costs:

class warfare... wrapped in a cloak of shared sacrifice... raise taxes... downplay the difficulty... he managed to offer this agenda in a tone that was not combative.... If you didnít know about the holes in it or realize its true scope, it might even leave you feeling warm and fuzzy...

Who is he going to vote for? For McClintock because of his "twenty years of experience on California economic and fiscal issues" (never mind that he is lying about how to balance California's budget). Or for Schwarzenegger. Why? Because he tells a "generally optimistic, immigrant-based" story, "with its focus on individuals and small business, creating good jobs, turning California around from the ground up" (never mind that Schwarzenegger has no clue what he would do as governor).

Anyone have any idea why Dan Weintraub is such a strange guy?

Posted by DeLong at August 24, 2003 02:52 PM | TrackBack


Because Weintraub is a knee-jerk conservative who is nevertheless just honest enough to admit that the people he favors ideologically are being dishonest in this campaign -- but who can't quite bring himself to actually vote against them in consequence. (This disorder is not always limited to conservatives.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on August 24, 2003 03:22 PM

Because underneath all the hype, his gut is telling him that Bustamante means more of the same from the people who brought you (and paid for) Gray Davis.

Posted by: JK on August 24, 2003 04:55 PM

next we'll see how strange mickey kaus is. . .

Posted by: roublen on August 24, 2003 04:58 PM

Bradford, you have GOT to do something about your Comments link.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on August 24, 2003 06:16 PM


I can't find the last part in the Weintraub piece. It appears to be merely a lot of analysis of the election rather than him endorsing anyone. Is the bit about the "20 years experience" archived somewhere?

Posted by: James Joyner on August 24, 2003 06:40 PM

Maybe it's because you hang around an academic crowd that you think a "normal" person would chose anyone who admits to planning to raise taxes, regardless of how obvious, sensible and inevitable the proposal. I think that Weintraub is more normal and those who think rationally are abnormal. But that may be because I live in Texas.

Posted by: rps on August 24, 2003 08:13 PM

But they're dishonest in *every* campaign. The only way they ever win elections is by pretending that their tax cuts can be financed by reducing "waste, fraud, and abuse"; or that their tax cuts will actually raise more tax revenue. Voters *like* the social insurance state and its programs...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on August 24, 2003 08:19 PM

Right. If you filter everything through the Fundamentalist sieve, then even things that you know in your little brain make sense, can't get past the keyword kneejerk generator.

Taxes? Arghh! Bad! Always! Every circumstance!

Tax cuts? Yay! Good! Always! Every circumstance!

And yet, there are still several voters left who are able to get past symbols and buzzwords and make decisions of the "not 100% what I want, but reasonable" variety.

Some of those may even be Conservatives, but it looks less and less likely...

Posted by: craigie on August 24, 2003 09:36 PM

Once at a child's birthday party, the very smart (teaches at a NY area medical school, for what it's worth) rather non-political father of one of the part-goers asked me why people were willing to put up with obvious lies and equally obvious bad policy choices, even cheering the perpetrators on. Half seriously, I told him that an awful lot of people seem to view politics as a team sport. No matter what else may happen, you want your team to win. If the game is lopsided, it is a good bit less exciting, and it is annoying to see your guys breaking the rules over and over, but still, it is the final score that matters most.

At another birthday party a year later, he told me he had spent many bad nights remembering what I said, after watching instance after instance of bad governance and worse excuses the preceeding day. I'm not sure I believe my smart-aleck response, but is certainly would explain Weintraub's behavior, not to mention poll readings for Bush.

Posted by: K Harris on August 25, 2003 04:42 AM

While it may sound snap and simplistic, one of the fundamental themes about the whole California recall mess (which I THINK was first articulated by Mickey Kaus - somebody please fact-check!) is that is an incredible flight from reality on all sides. The Calif. GOP have, IMO, wildly abused the recall process - in their usual fashion, using money leverage to exploit a loophole in the rules to try to undo the results of an election they were roundly trounced in just 10 months ago: California's serious fiscal crisis (and Gray Davis' personal unpopularity) added more impetus: but, really: What on Earth ARE they thinking out there?
Virtally every commentary I have ever read or heard about the State of California's financial woes clearly identifies the problem: a huge deficit caused by too much spending and too little revenue. Yet each (political) side has run away shrieking from the core of the problem, retreating into the politics of personality and politics-as-media-circus, rather than even have to MENTION a viable plan for the State, since they take it for granted that either solution (cutting spending/raising taxes) will anger too many of the voters to be workable. Worse, even a plan like Bustamante's (wishy-washy as it is) gets savaged from the get-go - since in trying to "split the difference", ends up offending both sides.
Dan Weintraub's commentary may seem odd, but is, sadly, only "normal" by the standards of California's contemporary political psyche - traumatized by a problem, and in serious denial about it on all sides. This, IMHO, is more of a task for a shrink to deal with, not a politician or a pundit - if California were an individual, its spending/revenue binge would qualify for an intervention by the family - but how do you put a whole state on the couch (or on meds?)?

Posted by: Jay C. on August 25, 2003 06:35 AM

"class warfare... wrapped in a cloak of shared sacrifice... raise taxes... downplay the difficulty... he managed to offer this agenda in a tone that was not combative.... If you didnít know about the holes in it or realize its true scope, it might even leave you feeling warm and fuzzy..."

Just because Cruz Bustamante is honest and knowledgeable and has fair and balanced ideas for governing California is definitely NO reason to vote for him. Better radical right wing liars and evaders who will slice the middle class up with a smile and with NO class warfare ever ever to be mentioned.

Posted by: lise F&B on August 25, 2003 08:21 AM

"Virtally every commentary I have ever read or heard about the State of California's financial woes clearly identifies the problem: a huge deficit caused by too much spending and too little revenue."

Nonsense, nonsense! Please read :

August 22, 2003

Conan the Deceiver
Paul Krugman - NYTimes

The key moment in Arnold Schwarzenegger's Wednesday press conference came when the bodybuilder who would be governor brushed aside questions with the declaration, "The public doesn't care about figures." This was "fuzzy math" on steroids ó Mr. Schwarzenegger was, in effect, asserting that his celebrity gives him the right to fake his way through the election. Will he be allowed to get away with it?

Reporters were trying to press Mr. Schwarzenegger for the specifics so obviously missing from his budget plans. But while he hasn't said much about what he proposes to do, the candidate has nonetheless already managed to say a number of things that his advisers must know are true lies.

Even Mr. Schwarzenegger's description of the state economy is pure fantasy. He claims that the state is bleeding jobs because of its "hostile environment" toward business, and that California residents groan under an oppressive tax burden: "From the time they get up in the morning and flush the toilet, they're taxed."

One look at the numbers tells you that his story is fiction. Since the mid-1990's California has added jobs considerably faster than the nation as a whole. And while the state has been hit hard by the technology slump, it has done no worse than other parts of the country. A recent study found that California's tech sector had actually weathered the slump better than its counterpart in Texas. Meanwhile, California isn't a high-tax state: through the 1990's, state and local taxes as a share of personal income more or less matched the national average, and with the recent plunge in revenue they're now probably below average.

What is true is that California's taxes are highly inequitable: thanks to Proposition 13, some people pay ridiculously low property taxes. Warren Buffett, supposedly acting as Mr. Schwarzenegger's economic adviser, offered the perfect example: he pays $14,401 in property taxes on his $500,000 home in Omaha, but only $2,264 on his $4 million home in Orange County. But the candidate quickly made it clear that Mr. Buffett should stick to the script and not mention inconvenient facts....

Posted by: jd on August 25, 2003 08:58 AM

Bruce, the article on Kaus's politics was in Los Angeles magazine, not LA Weekly.

Posted by: Kevin Roderick on August 25, 2003 10:00 AM

- This reminds me of that passage in "Through The Looking Glass" in which the White King tells Alice, "There's nothing like eating hay when you're faint." When Alice questions this, the King snaps, "I didn't say there was nothing better. I said there was nothing LIKE it." -

These rightee wolves in sheep clothes is nuttier and nuttier.

Posted by: lise on August 25, 2003 10:09 AM

Because Dan is a Sacramento Insider, and has been conditioned to think that proposing excessive taxation is the "responsible" thing to do, even if his own internal ideology tells him otherwise.

To the contrary, excessive taxation and regulations have been causing the middle class to flee CA in droves. McClintock understands this.

Posted by: right-wing vegetarian on August 25, 2003 10:24 AM

He's not strange. He calls 'em as he sees them. Sometimes, things change and, to paraphrase Keynes, opinions should also.

Otherwise, read his "Why a Blog" post. You'll see that Weintraub recognizes that "the opinions I express might be more apt to evolve over time." That's the nature of blogging, and of honest reporting.

To his credit, I have no idea who Weintraub will be voting for. He is a journalist, not a partisan, and as a journalist, his up-to-the-minute posts on the weblog are a tremendous public service.

Posted by: Spooky on August 25, 2003 10:34 AM

Hereís my snap theory, made up on the spot:

American politics has pretty much devolved to the center. Few voters have a single, burning issue that will determine their vote, like civil rights or Vietnam. Rather, most voters have a laundry list of things that they like and dislike. But frequently, they can see the opposing argument, and in any event nothing is important enough for them to really pay attention. So most people vote for the candidate that they think will tend to act in favor of causes they like, or just as likely, against the candidate with the opposite tendency. In other words, most people vote on trust.

The exceptions to this portrayal are those at the activist fringe (both left and right) and special interests: the family values people, tax hawks, gay rights advocates, labor activists, teachers unions, etc. These groups have figured out how to game the system (in the general election or, failing that, in their own parties), thus wielding a disproportionate amount of influence on who actually gets elected. The result usually is that elected officials hew closely to the agendas of those special interests that helped them into office, but routinely fudge the promises they made to the public Ė but not so egregiously that voters feel their trust has been betrayed.

But thatís exactly whatís happened in California: voters feel acutely that Davis has betrayed their trust. Hence this amazing recall, which is not only tossing him out but also short-circuiting the usual election process and allowing the actual voters to have a much greater influence than usual. Thus the next Governor is less likely to be the candidate with the right special interest backing, but rather the candidate who can generate the greatest public trust. (The best example of this: Schwartzeneggerís refusing to fill out the CTAís policy questionnaire, instead repeating his commitment to education as a priority.)

Weintraub knows this, and it influences both his personal preferences and his read of how the election will turn out. It doesnít matter (at least not as much) who says what, since after October 7 promises are mostly meaningless. It matters who you trust.

Posted by: gw on August 25, 2003 10:41 AM

Of course, middle class people have not been and are not fleeing California in any sort of droves. Radical rightees simply can not help lying. Screw the middle class with a smile, is always the radical rightee Republican intent. Lie on radical rightee Republicans. Cruz Bustamente will become a fine Governor in spite of your rightee lies.

Posted by: Ari on August 25, 2003 10:45 AM

AP 8/25/03

The new poll, conducted by the Los Angeles Times, showed a big lead for Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the only major Democrat on the replacement ballot.

Bustamante had 35 percent support among likely voters, compared to 22 percent for Schwarzenegger, a significant reversal of earlier polls showing a virtual dead heat or a Schwarzenegger lead.

- Love Cruz Bustamente!!!!!

Posted by: jd on August 25, 2003 10:59 AM

Perhaps you missed the recent story of how CA lost over a million *citizens* to nearby states during the 90s - only to be replaced by illegal aliens?

One thing is a given: Conservatives make nice, safe, and enjoyable communities to live in. You liberal vermin eventually grow tired living with the results of your "social experiments" and move in to our communities and infect them with your warped and depraved beliefs. Witness what has happened to the burbs over recent years.

The conservatives will then flee to states like Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona. You will then follow them there and do the same damn thing all over again.

Eventually, we will have to move to Iowa, then build a giant wall around the state after you follow us there.

Posted by: right-wing vegetarian on August 25, 2003 11:03 AM

Sure, Ari, just keep telling yourself that. When the last major business leaves the state, that will probably be the Republicans' fault, too. You know what they say about that river in Egypt.

Posted by: Xrlq on August 25, 2003 11:08 AM

Oh, so the problem in California is families like mine who came here from Mexico. I understand. I will be working even harder for Cruz Bustamante against these rightees who so despise Latinos. California will remain Democratic for a long while, because Latinos are not leaving.

Posted by: Ari on August 25, 2003 11:19 AM

Gentlemen & Ladies:

To build on gw's post: Californians really seem to HATE Davis because of the breakdown in trust. By all means, have the N.Y. Times attempt to tell us what choices we should make. Drive us in the opposite direction. Does anyone really think that the voters believe the line "Republican's are trying to steal this election.."? Not the Bay-Area hard core democrats I know, who incidentally hate Davis so much they are ready to vote for AS.

While I may think I know what's best for, say, Albany, N.Y. - sitting here in California I lack sufficient hubris to lecture that state and capital. I know what I hear and see around me, and it supports Dan's postings.

Note: California is an overwhelmingly Democratic state - yet it is the Republicans to blame!! getting those "voters" so aggitated they may "vote" in an election authorized by state law. Is there no end to their perfidy!!?!

Posted by: Californio on August 25, 2003 11:23 AM

Ari - First, you won't have to work as hard if you lose that massive chip off your shoulder. Sadly, Latinos don't vote in high numbers. When we do, it usually is done as a lap dog of the Democrats. This is not the path to political power. Dan notes that the race is wide open and that the standard demagoging may not play well this time. Surely this is a good thing!? Or are Californians only supposed to wait for the patrons to give their imprimatur of who is to be Governor. Note: race politics usually means "sit down, shut up, and do as I tell you." Again, this is political empowerment?

Posted by: Californio on August 25, 2003 11:43 AM

The locos is loose. Whooo radical rightee Latino bashing locos. Whooo.

Posted by: Ari on August 25, 2003 11:54 AM

I think Mr. Weintraub very much WANTS Schwarzenegger to fulfill a certain "reforming" role in the state political landscape. I do not think this is possible. It almost seems that Weintraub is willing to bet the farm on platitudes so general that any candidate could agree with them. Where's the substance? Nowhere, yet. I don't think it will emerge in this election at all. Maybe he'll change his tune as this thing plays out...

Posted by: David Diebel on August 25, 2003 12:04 PM

Is there anyone Cruz will not tax? All business owners and some commerical property owners are not necessarily wealthy..THEY get taxed (HARD)..

The wealthy of course are included, which in California means you make as an individual over $38,291 or twice that for a married couple (Yes America, THAT is the filthy rich in CA who pay the top 9.3% marginal rate for every dollar afterwards),

and of course so are the poor (through the "sin" taxes Cruz espouses that hurth these groups proportionately more than the upper and middle classes).

THEN, calling a 2 billion expense a cut, when it is simply a NEW tax on business does not wash. And 2 billion in "unspecified" cuts is the same sort of cop-out that the Republicans are alleged to be making.

So that leaves 500 million in TRUE non-tax cuts that Cruz supports. And where? Fighting "fraud" (which I thought the state was already doing). Again, no specific plan how HIS fraud fighting saves an extra 500 million.

Looks like Cruz thinks the problem with CA is that the citizens and businesses are simply not taxed enough. As a resident AND small business owner here, I must disagree. I assume Weintraub thinks the same which is why he is not endorsing Cruz..much to the perplexity of Bradford.

Posted by: Steve_in_Corona on August 25, 2003 12:14 PM

Bustamente has a plan. Raise taxes and spend MORE. If you are willing to raise taxes enough, you can balance any budget. Problem is, he can't get it passed. He has even less ability to rally the people than Davis did, as hard as that is to believe.

McClintock has a plan, too. Cut the bureaucracy to the bone and cut welfare services. If you are willing to cut services and fire peope, you can also balance anything. He also cannot get it passed. He may have more ability to rally people, but there's the 60+ % Democrat majority in the Legislature that won't sit still for it.

Arnold has a plan, too: Get some VERY heavyweight econ types (Shultz, Buffet, and several others including the guy who financed the Intel startup) together and let them review a thorough audit and propose a total restucture, and then implement it. Arnold as Chairman of an impressive Board of Directors.

Consider the tax structure of California: every tax payment ends up somewhere different than where it's supposed to, and everyone is borrowing agaisnt future payments -- city, county and state. WIlson started this and it's totally nuts.

Consider the bureaucratic structure. I dare you. The education bureaucracy alone is mind-bogglingly large. Then there are the myriad boards and commissions.

Arnold is the only candidate who can effectivelyy rally the people from a bully pulpit. He can get reforms through the legislature. Yes, I disagree with some of the stuff he wants to do, but the status quo is SOOOO unacceptable, that half a loaf is fine.

I suspect some of this is running through Weintraub's mind as well.

Posted by: Kevin on August 25, 2003 12:32 PM

I have a question. Does anyone actually move to flee the "burden of taxation"? We here in the great state of insanity (NY) just raised our income tacx through the roof- for high incomes only. Yet, I know none of my wall street co-workers, all of which earn lots of money, are packing up to move. Why is this so hard to do in in California? Most of us here seem to believe in the temporary nature of our budget problems and are willing to accept a "temporary surcharge" in order to avoid massive property tax increase and school funding cuts. Of course its not that simple here- point is there must be somthing that is politically feasible in Cal-e-forn-ia.

Posted by: JM on August 25, 2003 12:34 PM

"Arnold is the only candidate who can effectively rally the people from a bully pulpit. He can get reforms through the legislature. Yes, I disagree with some of the stuff he wants to do, but the status quo is SOOOO unacceptable, that half a loaf is fine."

Sure. You have NO idea what Arnuld wants to do, because Arnuld will not say. Suddenly all the lying right wing Republicans are about.

Posted by: Rhoda on August 25, 2003 12:50 PM

Bradford, you have GOT to do something about your Comments link.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on August 25, 2003 01:49 PM

reich-wing vegetarian wrote:
"One thing is a given: Conservatives make nice, safe, and enjoyable communities to live in. You liberal vermin eventually grow tired living with the results of your "social experiments" and move in to our communities and infect them with your warped and depraved beliefs. Witness what has happened to the burbs over recent years.

The conservatives will then flee to states like Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona. You will then follow them there and do the same damn thing all over again.

Eventually, we will have to move to Iowa, then build a giant wall around the state after you follow us there."

Just goes to bolster my opinion that when you scratch the surface of a conservative, you always find a white sheet.

I say good riddance, take yourselves to some barren stretch of red territory in the middle of the country and found yourselves some fascist nightmare of a community. That will certainly improve things for the rest of us who won't have to put up with your greed and fear inspired rantings anymore. Meanwhile you can be quite secure in your delusion that San Francisco and Los Angeles and Sweden and Denmark remain anti-utopias filled with soulless marxists. And we will continue to enjoy living here with higher taxes and better public services and a higher standard of living overall.

We survived through the tragedy of Pete Wilson and Pukemeijian, certainly we will be able to take whatever garbage Ah-nuld has to dish out if it should come to that (but that looks increasing less likely).


Posted by: non economist on August 25, 2003 01:57 PM

Of course Weintraub is strange, but I do not take from his comments any indication he supports Bustamante. The fact that Bustamante's proposals 'hold together' does not suggest they are realistic, nor does it address the possibility they could reach a vote, and I think ultimately Dan (and others) factor that into the equation.

I have to credit Dan for reaching accurate conclusions in his soothsaying regarding is clear that the public needs a leader...someone to trust with the heavy lifting that needs to be done. Voters know that the lower taxes and increased spending they desire cannot be reconciled - but the fact they want these things doesn't mean they are morons - it means they are looking for someone to make the call, take the political risks, and act like a Governor on their behalf.

For my money, the only guy I trust to fix things is McClintock...from where I sit in government, he has the most accurate knowledge of the problem. But the only one to answer the call (so far) for a true leader as described above, is Arnold. Bustamante can produce a balanced budget, but like Davis, he is absolutely clueless about how to get one passed.

Posted by: Andy on August 25, 2003 02:23 PM

So you prefer someone who is clueless about making budgets (or dishonest) but can get his cruddy budgets passed?

I can't vote for someone who doesn't trust me enough to give an honest picture of his plans. Californians don't care about numbers, Arnold says. How insulting!

Posted by: Adam on August 25, 2003 02:34 PM

Blue Dog Democrats - which I suspect Gray Davis is - can easily win a debate against the free lunch crowd which Arnold seems to be one of. All the Blue Dog would have to do is to ask the free luncher a single question - "where will you cut spending - and be specific". You see - the free lucnher will not answer this question. They will be nice sounding words but no real response. Arnold says he'll let us know when he takes office. It would seem Gov. Bush told us that in 2000. Just take a look at Federal spending in the last 2 1/2 years - even nondefense spending has risen a lot. In fact, I cannot think of a time when a Republican run government has cut nondefense spending. A lot of meaningless words but no real actions. So how would they reduce the deficit? Not by new taxes and not by real spending cuts. I guess it's faith based fiscal policy

Posted by: Hal McClure on August 25, 2003 02:40 PM


You are so right. When I saw Ed Rollins a couple of weeks ago, he was saying Californians don't care about numbers and specifics. I knew then I could never vote for his candidate. THE issue is how to deal with the deficit issue. If Arnold does not want to tell us upfront - he has no right to ask for MY vote.

Posted by: Hal McClure on August 25, 2003 02:48 PM

Talk about putting the cart before the horse. I bet Gray Davis cringes at discussions like these. Arnold (or Cruz) could get 100% of the vote and it would be meaningless if Gray simply gets 50% plus one in question 1.

I think Arnold understands this point, and that is what is meant by comments like "Californians are not interested in the numbers". He has made it clear that new taxes are not the answer, and many seem to believe he believes this and will govern accordingly.

Cruz has offered a "solution" (talk about the medicine being worse than the sickness..) and is vague on numbers too when it comes to cuts, and woefully optimistic that businesses will not flee further when saddled with new taxes and entitlement mandates. (And to the person who asked above, YES, people DO leave this state due to taxes and red tape..maybe your Wall St. friends need to live around Wall St..but a small business owner does not have to stay here to make or sell his wares)

What I notice is that the left is spending a lot of time being critical of the Republicans running in this thing than they are coming out in solid, unified support of Gray Davis and seeking that 50% plus 1 vote total that ends all this.

Even those who "defend" Davis speak only in terms of the recall being bad, expensive, undemocratic, reverse elections etc etc.

Why is NOBODY defending Davis so he can get 50% and keep the job???

Posted by: Steve_in_Corona on August 25, 2003 03:14 PM

There isn't anything strange about Weintraub. He's a careful reporter. The tax increase option will not work. I wrote an analysis for The Orange County Register showing that the state's natural limit for spending is 6.2 percent of personal income. It went above 7 percent during Davis' 1999-2001 spending spree, causing the structural deficit of about 1 percent of personal income (about $10 billion). Increases in tax RATES would not bring increases in REVENUES because producers and investors would flee the state.

Gov. Wilson found that out when he increased taxes $7 bil but revenues DROPPED from $42 bil in fiscal 91-92 to $40 bil in fiscal 93-94. Only deep cuts now can forestall deeper cuts later mandated by the NY banks, who are close to dropping the state's bond rating to junk status. McClintock is right.

My analysis follows; also click on the graphic marker on the right to see the chart:

John Seiler
Editorial Writer
The Orange County Register

Posted by: John Seiler on August 25, 2003 03:38 PM

Frankly, I could care less whether Mr. Weintraub is a strange fellow. I only care about whether, as a capitol columnist, he provides incisive recall analysis, and on this front, he has been rather disappointing.

Consider this post:

Mr. Weintraub exhaustively explains the many deficiencies of the recent Los Angeles Times poll and other public opinion surveys, then concludes that he is "not going to believe anything" he reads "from any of them." To be sure, he makes some good points about the fluidity of the numbers, which should make us all cautious about embracing them. But, in my opinion, a good pundit shouldn't be too dismissive about such data, however potentially unreliable. A good pundit should instead consider the political ramifications of such incomplete information, as Tyler Cowens suggests in his application of game theory to the recall:

For instance, at this stage of the election, might Arnold Schwarzenegger actually benefit from a tight contest, because it might force his party rivals to come to terms with the dangerous prospect of a Democratic victory? Of course, a tight contest might also just embolden Tom McClintock and Peter Ueberroth, who could begin to spot Arnold's vulnerabilities, but the point is that analysts should weigh such varying options for their readers. Mr. Weintraub doesn't.

Furthermore, in the same post, Mr. Weintraub notes the ethnic angle of the recall, as if it had just recently emerged. Actually, some of us have been discussing the importance of this dynamic since at least the beginning of August (see, which begs the question: where has the California Insider been on this front? It represents yet another instance in which our recall expert has fallen short of meeting our justifiably high standards.

Mr. Weintraub has scooped many news stories, all of which have been valuable to his readers. But, to be among the truly elite members of the media, his analyses will need to improve.

Posted by: Robert Tagorda on August 25, 2003 03:41 PM

He seems strange because he doesn't let his political ideology twist his reporting into something totally out of touch with reality.

Posted by: McGehee on August 25, 2003 03:53 PM

Ah, yes, The Orange County Register. That bastion of fair and balanced journalism behind the Orange Curtain. A veritable den of fundie conservatives more like it. Makes the USA Today look like the BBC in comparison.

Just because an ultra-right wing columnist spouts some piece of discredited Laffertian garbage out of touch with the opinions of the vast majority of economists does not make it the truth.

Posted by: non economist on August 25, 2003 04:42 PM

To Mr. non economist:

An ad hominen argument still is no argument at all. By the way, the Register editorial page is libertarian, not conservative. For example, we strongly opposed the recent Iraq war and favor decriminalizing drugs. As with other U.S. editorial pages, we are separate from our news page; editorial pages are supposed to have a point of view. We are one of the few in the U.S. that is libertarian.

Please deal with the facts of the argument I put forward. I used the data sent me by the Davis finance dept. Has the state ever increased spending above 7 percent of personal income for long? No. Therefore, it's unlikely to be able to do so again. So spending cuts, not tax increases, are the only thing that will work. Q.E.D.

But go ahead and increase taxes and see what happens.

John Seiler
Editorial Page
OC Register

Posted by: John Seiler on August 25, 2003 05:08 PM

Mr. Seiler,

Go ahead and cut spending on popular programs and see what happens.

Posted by: nameless on August 25, 2003 05:33 PM

The biggest problem California faces is the insanity of Proposition 13, which allows landholders to collect even more economic rent than they do in the rest of the US.

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on August 25, 2003 06:10 PM

non economist calls me "reich-wing vegetarian".

I am not surprised. Ad hominem attacks from liberals are as predictable as the Sun rising from the East.

non economist is content to have this cess pool to himself, showing that he fails to realize the significance of CA losing its middle class base. Who is going to pay for all of the socialist give away programs once the tax payers flee?

Posted by: right-wing vegetarian on August 25, 2003 06:14 PM

I don't think Weintraub is "strange". To the contrary, I think he's about nailed it.

Here's the problem: Ideologues on both sides prevent a pragmatic solution. Anyone with an iota of sense knows a real answer to the California budget deficit will include a combination of (1) tax increases; (2) spending cuts; and (3) structural reform to programs such as Workers Comp. The Republicans take an ideological stance against taxes; the Democrats won't cut programs; and no one wants to take on the insurance companies and lawyers to reform workers comp.

So we get no solution- instead we get this recall sideshow which will solve nothing because: (1) if McClintock wins, the Dems will block his spending cuts; (2) if Bustamante wins (or the recall loses), the Republicans will retreat back to their ideological corner opposing tax increases (but favoring borrowing, which costs much more over the long term); (3) if Arnold wins, he'll spend his first year in on-the-job training, and will figure out his rose-glasses scenario can't work, in which case either he (a) panders to the Republicans, with a result similar to (1); or (b) tries to reach a compromise, with a result similar to (2).

So how am I voting? Why, like any good Democrat- "no" on the recall, "yes" on Bustamente! I want Bustamente to win just so I can listen to Hugh Hewitt, Al Rantel and Rodger Hedgecock cry in their beer on the radio the following day. Besides, think of how inspiring it would be to have an up-from-the-bootstraps Latino win the governorship? Adelante, Cruz!

Posted by: davkopp on August 25, 2003 06:17 PM

Some of you are missing the big picture of the harm Gray Davis PERSONALLY has done to California and why the idea of cutting popular programs (or raising taxes) are not the only answers.

How about the no-bid purchase from Oracle of 95 million dollars worth of unneeded (per state auditor) software in exchange for a $25,000 contribution the next day.

How about the 34% prison guard salary increase in exchange for 2.3 million?

This list could go on, but THIS is the nonsense that got California in the mess it is in under Davis' leadership. Remember, revenues have increased over the last few years ahead of inflation and population growth, just spending has gone through the roof.

Allow an independent auditor to go through the books and point out the waste and many will look foolish for their gloom and doom predictions of kids starving on the street next to grandma who got kicked out of the nursing home.

Posted by: Steve_in_Corona on August 25, 2003 06:47 PM

" (1) if McClintock wins, the Dems will block his spending cuts;"

Nuh uh uh... California has a line-item veto. Gov. Deukmejian used this power masterfully."

Huh? In case you hadn't realized it, the Dems hold the majority in both the Leg and the Sen. If they don't approve the spending cuts, the governor's veto doesn't even come into play.

Posted by: nameless on August 25, 2003 07:39 PM

The reform California most needs is to make it illegal for a public employee to belong to a union. That would solve most of our problems.

Imagine getting rid of the Neanderthal teachers' unions. A hundred flowers would bloom.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 25, 2003 08:25 PM

nameless -

"Huh? In case you hadn't realized it, the Dems hold the majority in both the Leg and the Sen. If they don't approve the spending cuts, the governor's veto doesn't even come into play. "

Wow, you really have no idea what a line-item veto is? With a line-item, the Democrat legislature can pass all the spending they want, and the governor can veto each dollar of spending, line by line.

When Deukmejian was governor, the Democrats refused to reform Cal-OSHA. So he line-item vetoed the entire Cal-OSHA budget, and like that, the program ceased to exist.

Posted by: right-wing vegetarian on August 25, 2003 09:36 PM

"When Deukmejian was governor, the Democrats refused to reform Cal-OSHA. So he line-item vetoed the entire Cal-OSHA budget, and like that, the program ceased to exist."

And the Democrats immediately responded with a ballot measure reinstating CAL-OSHA. What do you think would happen if McClintock, elected with about 30 percent of the vote, line-item vetoed any program with similar popular support- like something that would close hospitals or shutter one or more of the UC campuses? Bingo. I can hardly think of a faster way to institutionalize the Democratic Party as the dominant force in California politics.

"The reform California most needs is to make it illegal for a public employee to belong to a union. That would solve most of our problems."

Yeah, that's right, its all the fault of those "evil" unions. Imagine, the gall of those working people joining together to improve their working conditions? What could be more "evil"? Besides which, the anti-union forces couldn't even get Proposition 226 passed! Face it, most people think the right to join, form and organize unions is basic to a free society. Wanna tell firemen and policemen their unions are illegal? Good luck, my friend. And those teachers unions you hate so much are no great supporters of Gray Davis anyway, or perhaps you haven't heard much of what Wayne Johnson (CTA head) has been saying this past year. But go ahead and dream away.

Posted by: davkopp on August 25, 2003 11:03 PM

Governor Davis has shown some courage in standing up to the teachers' unions. That is his best point. The majority of Californians. liberal though they may be, don't like sending their children to bad schools, and Governor Davis knows this.

The teachers' unions are the number one enemy of America's children. They are a cesspool of stupidity, incompetence and parasitism. Until their monopoly is broken there is no hope of improving public education.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 25, 2003 11:20 PM

JW Yes, thousands and thousands of taxpayers have fled in the past five years. The state legislature has consisently raised spending higher than anticipated income. The result? Disconnects on services and increased deficits.

Ari, it is sad to see a latino who has sold himself - and his voting loyalty - for a lie. Conservatives don't 'hate' latinos. How could they hate themselves? You, on the otherhand, hate conservatives because it is easier to do that than to think for yourself. Shame on you. You ignore the values of your culture, and fall for the idle promises of white elitists who would rather indoctrinate the gullible in our colleges and universities, than create something with positive values by the power of their intellect.

Posted by: 49erDweet on August 25, 2003 11:47 PM

Weintraub's a hell of a lot closer to the political apparatcheks in Sacramento than any of us and he probably knows damned well that (a) something needs to change in Sacramento and (b) Bustamante isn't going to change anything.

Weintraub strikes me as a moderate Republican type, but probably someone who might have tolerated Feinstein (and if I had to guess, he voted Feinstein in 1994 & 2000, but Matt Fong over Boxer in 1998, and Wilson over Feinstein in 1990). It's not all economics, Brad, and while I would have considered Feinstein, Bustmante is clearly part of the spending problem up there.

Posted by: Andrew on August 26, 2003 03:17 PM

We need a moderate Republican as governor. Arnold is pretty, but is he smart enough?

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 26, 2003 06:13 PM

Davis is dead meat, so would you rather have a Davis clone (Bustamante), a well-intenioned Hollywood actor with little to say about the issues with no leadership experienced (remember, Reagan was president of the SAG for many years before he ran for governor) or a prominent State Senator with many cogent thoughts on what is wrong with California's fiscal system and how it should be fixed, Tom McClintock?

Moreover, someone who is not paid off by the labor unions and gambling interests (i.e, Indian tribes).

Just check out his website for his brilliant remarks on what is wrong in California and how it can be fixed.

Posted by: Christopher Warren on August 26, 2003 06:56 PM

Sorry for the typos.

By the way, Weintraub is excellent. I wish the Bay Area had someone of his caliber writing on politics-- I would subscribe to that paper in an instant.

Posted by: Christopher Warren on August 26, 2003 07:14 PM
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