The Dilemma of a “Shut It All Down” Solution for Porter Ranch

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Now that the Porter Ranch gas leak has been temporarily stopped there will be renewed pressure to shut down the entire storage area of 115 wells. Local and state officials are walking a tight rope between the demand made by some environmentalists and residents who suffered from the leak to close the entire storage facility and the consequences of closing a major energy reserve.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander, whose district encompasses Porter Ranch, confronted the tricky question of shutting down the facility at one of the many citizen meetings he set up in the community. Englander said he believed in the “Shut It All Down” theme, but he asked the follow-up question: “Then what?”

It’s an appropriate query. While guaranteeing the safety of the Porter Ranch and neighboring communities is paramount, officials also have to be concerned about Southern California’s energy needs.

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S & P Undermines The Argument That Budget Spending Is Up

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Facing Democratic demands for more spending, the Brown administration has been at pains to show that it’s been spending more. The governor’s State of the State speech included lists showing boosts of spending, emphasizing education spending and Obamacare.

An assessment of the budget from Standard & Poors, the credit rating agency, undercuts the idea that spending is up. S&P emphasizes how the budget spending base remains low.

S&P likes this (it wants state credits to get paid back, of course). And so it praises the state for its frugality. Increases in tax receipts have “shrewdly” gone to one-time purposes, like deferred school aid payments that don’t add to the funding base. And “beyond education,” S&P says, “much of the growth in general fund spending since 2011 has similarly been limited to one-time outlays for debt repayment and to capitalize the state’s budget reserves.”

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This Is Why You Can’t Afford a House

Joel Kotkin
Editor of and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

The rising cost of housing is one of the greatest burdens on the American middle class. So why hasn’t it become a key issue in the presidential primaries?

There’s little argument that inequality, and the depressed prospects for the middle class, will be a dominant issue this year’s election. Yet the most powerful force shaping this reality—the rising cost of housing—has barely emerged as political issue.

As demonstrated in a recent report (PDF) from Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy, housing now takes the largest share of family costs, while expenditures on food, apparel, and transportation have dropped or stayed about the same. In 2015, the rise in housing costs essentially swallowed savings gains made elsewhere, notably, savings on the cost of energy. The real estate consultancy Zillow predicts housing inflation will only worsen this year.

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What the GOP Establishment Can Learn from Bernie Sanders

Luke Phillips
Research Associate for the Center for Opportunity Urbanism and Senior Correspondent at Glimpse From the Globe

Plenty of conservative commentators have already remarked upon what the Establishment GOP can learn from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, but the jist of the lesson can be distilled from a recent Bloomberg piece– rethink unfettered free markets, open immigration, global free trade, financial deregulation, and supply-side tax policy, and start adopting pro-productivity, pro-working-class policies across the board. This includes greater infrastructure spending, industrial policy to spur manufacturing, trade protectionism, and restricted immigration. In the medium-to-long term, this is easily a recipe for winning back the white working class from Trump voters (though fiscal libertarian purists of the Cruz-Paul ilk will not be pleased by “conservative big government.”)

But the working class economic crisis is only one of at least four devastating structural crises threatening the Republic in 2016, and to solve the others we’ll have to learn from figures other than the Trump. In particular, the GOP can steal a surprisingly large number of policy ideas from the most vociferous critic of conservatism in American national politics today- avowed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders.

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Feel the Burn: Aloe Vera Added to Prop. 65 List

Tom Scott
CA Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

There are two very different types of actors in the realm of making our economy tick. Entrepreneurs wake of every day trying to think of new ways to innovate, to expand, and thus create new jobs. Then there are the regulators in Sacramento who wake up every day thinking of new, creative ways to add burdens and barriers to operating your business in California and beyond. Their latest regulatory red alert: Aloe vera.

You read that correctly: Aloe vera. In December of last year, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) published its intent to list Aloe vera, whole leave extract to the Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer. Despite the widely accepted extensive health benefits of Aloe vera, an unelected regulator in Sacramento can now tell you and all consumers it will cause cancer, even if no cases of cancer from Aloe vera exposure exist.

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Meet the Toughest Mountains in California

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Don’t mess with the Tehachapis.

California has taller mountain ranges, more famous mountain ranges, even more beautiful mountain ranges. But no mountains here are tougher—or more important—than the Tehachapis.

A mishmash of mid-sized peaks that extend some 40 miles across southern Kern County and north Los Angeles County, the Tehachapis effectively form the wall that defines our state. This is their paradox: The Tehachapis at once separate and connect California’s regions—north and south, valley and desert, Sierra Nevada and coastal range.

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How Did Eric Linder Win The Left And The Right?

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

Several times in the last year, Assemblyman Eric Linder (R-Corona) pushed the green “Yes” button on his desk when most of his Republican colleagues pressed “No.”

He broke from his party to vote for labor-backed bills requiring more disclosure of health care rates, new layoff protections for civil servants and a system for workers to collect unpaid wages from employers.

Those votes, along with his efforts to mediate a labor dispute at a hospital in his Riverside County district, helped Linder earn an unusual distinction last month: he’s the first Republican in more than 20 years to get the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union.

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The Small Business President

Fox and Hounds Daily Editors

The United States Chamber of Commerce has begun a letter writing campaign to the next president of the United States to emphasize good choices for the economy. The project is labeled Dear 45, as in a salutation in a letter to the 45th president. The US Chamber will publish a letter a month up to the election.

This month the US Chamber published a letter by Thomas “Mack” McLarty, former White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton, calling for the next president to be “The Small Business President.”

In his letter, McLarty proposed three initiatives to invigorate small businesses:

“First, reform the tax code. Small companies can’t compete with big corporations that find creative ways to lower taxes. They spend a larger share of resources to comply with the byzantine tax code.

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The Presidential Race: But Seriously…

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

When George Wallace ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972, his slogan was “Send Them a Message!”   Last night’s winners might as well have used the same catchphrase. The New Hampshire primary was a political Festivus, in which Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders performed feats of strength while the electorate undertook the airing of grievances. Voters wanted to show that they were fed up with the political and economic establishments, and the double-digit margins got the message across quite vividly.

Trump and Sanders have become the voices of discontent by positioning themselves as “outsiders.” In neither case is the mantle a perfect fit. Sanders has held office for 33 of the past 35 years, and has always caucused with congressional Democrats. His avowed socialism scarcely sets him apart in a party that has galloped leftward ever since Bill Clinton let go of the reins in 2001. Trump has direct experience in government. Rather, he bought his seat at the table of power by spreading money liberally among New York politicians. If Trump supporters are right that most political insiders are prostitutes, then Trump has distinguished himself by being a john.

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Hillary’s Tin Ear for Politics

Stu Spencer
Longtime California Political Consultant and Chief Political Strategist for Ronald Reagan

An article by Politico Magazine chief correspondent Glenn Thrush on Monday titled “Clinton Weighs Staff Shakeup” jogged my ancient memory.

As I recall this happened in the 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign.  This year her complaints are that she is dissatisfied with the messaging and digital operations, which are two of the three main components of a campaign, the other being money.  This woman has been running since 2008 for the presidency, more than enough time to find the right political consultant and the right team to develop a campaign plan and how you’re going to message. A message that fits the world today and yes, have a relationship with the staff so that you can massage the message if needed by events.  

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