Donald Trump At War

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Now that Donald Trump has the Republican presidential nomination sewn up, it is time to look at how he would approach important matters of policy such as the military.  With Mr. Trump this is a problem, because although hawkish today he is a classic Vietnam- era draft dodger.

For California Republicans this presents a dilemma, because they will have to repudiate one of the early pillars of Ronald Reagan’s popularity, as he was caustic about yellow bellies and draft dodgers.  Colorfully he once said of the Vietnam War protesters, “The last bunch of pickets were carrying signs that said ‘Make love, not war’.  The only trouble was they didn’t look capable of doing either.”

Of one unruly draft dodger Reagan said, “His hair was cut like Tarzan, he acted like Jane and he smelled like Cheetah.”

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The Easy Fix for Prop 39

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)

Let’s chill out at Prop 39. It’s easy to fix.

Yes, the AP and other media have reported on how little of the money collected in corporate taxation for green-energy investments has been spent, and how there is little accountability for what has been spent.

That’s good to know. But it shouldn’t occasion much outrage, or much concern. The fix is within the measure itself.

Prop 39 married a sensible change in corporate taxation (changing the formula to punish out-of-state corporations) to a questionable bit of ballot-box budgeting. That questionable bit involved carving half of the money out of the general fund for investments in projects in schools and other buildings to make them more energy efficient.

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The Good, The Bad, And The Tricky In Special Session

Assemblywoman Shannon Grove
California State Assembly, 34th district

We are nearing the end of the summer, which means that we are in the home stretch of the 2015 Legislative session. But this does not mean that things are slowing down in Sacramento. Democrats miss no opportunity to pass their pet projects, and the end of session is the perfect opportunity. You can expect to see plenty of efforts made to pass bills that will further hurt job creation in California and attempts to sneak unpopular legislation through at the last minute. Let me give you a preview of coming attractions.

To begin with, there are a number of “job killing” bills on the agenda in these final weeks. Senate Bill 32 would massively expand California’s cap-and-trade program, forcing businesses to pay even more for their carbon offsets. Senate Bill 350 would cut carbon even further by mandating in 15 years the following: a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use; more stringent energy efficient buildings; and require 50 percent of our electricity to come from so-called, but highly subsidized, renewable sources. 

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The Run for the Presidency: The Perilous Road Ahead

Richard Rubin
He writes about political issues and is President of a Public Affairs Management Firm. He also teaches courses on the Presidential & Congressional Elections at the University of San Francisco and is Vice Chair of the California Commonwealth Club.

We often hear the question why is there such a dearth of good candidates (or for that matter any candidates) running for important offices both locally and beyond?

The answers have long been known: It requires strong name recognition, heavy financial support, and a willingness to go through the crucible of punishment by press that accompanies almost every campaign, the scorn of those who oppose you, and, finally, dedication to performance of what are often thankless tasks.

Any volunteers?

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What Would Voters Do on Climate Change Bill?

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

Looking at the results of the California Business Roundtable/California Manufacturing & Technology Association poll on the SB 350 climate change bill, you can almost see how campaign arguments would be formulated if the hotly debated bill were on a ballot for voters to decide.

The poll conducted by M4 Mobile Research clearly showed that the public at large supports the goals of reducing greenhouse gases. While 82% of those polled consider climate change a serious or moderate threat to the state, when the components of the bill are tested the support remains strong.

Until the cost issue is raised.

Cutting petroleum use by half in cars and trucks by 2030, requiring 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources and doubling energy efficiency in buildings over the next 15 years enjoyed overwhelming support, all three items tested in the 70th percentile. Overall, SB 350 was favored 66% to 27%.

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When Stocks Drop, California Suffers

Bill Watkins
Executive Director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University

I recently made a couple of tweets/Facebook posts pointing out that market declines threaten California’s budget surplus. I referenced articles in the WSJ and Bloomberg, and I thought the observation was non-controversial—almost banal.

So I was surprised at the feedback. One person asked why. Another said it doesn’t mean anything until holders of declining assets cash out. Yet another pointed out that the wealthy were back to where they were eight months ago. Finally, one said we wouldn’t know of the impact until after the end of the next budget year.

Let’s answer the question “Why?” first: A decline in asset prices would have a detrimental impact on California’s budget because California’s tax system is extraordinarily progressive, with the result that a few really wealthy people pay a huge proportion of California’s taxes. California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office has estimated that the top one percent of California’s population paid half of the state’s income taxes in 2012. Income taxes are California’s major revenue source, comprising about 65 percent of the state’s income.

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Embrace Online Public Schools

Louise Arias
Board member of California Parents for Public Virtual Education. She is a former principal of the Elk Grove Unified School District.

Like many families throughout California, ours is taking the important step of beginning another school year. Although we live in Sacramento County, my sons will be attending an excellent public school in Sutter County. Or, more precisely, the school will be coming to them.

My sons attend California Virtual Academies (CAVA), an online charter school offered as a public education option and certified by the state of California. CAVA is among a growing list of diploma-granting public virtual education schools in our state.

Thanks to Governor Jerry Brown, California has recently made some giant strides in public education. Now I, speaking on behalf of many parent leaders, believe state lawmakers must join the governor’s enthusiasm and embrace the benefits of public virtual schools and the positive contributions they make to our children’s education.

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California Auditor Issues Report On “Improper Activities” Revealed By Whistleblowers

Ed Coghlan
Contributing Editor & Special Correspondent, California Forward

“For democracies to work, elected leaders need to be responsive and representative, and voters must be able to hold elected officials accountable for results. Democratic integrity requires an electoral process that empowers voters and gives candidates and incumbents the incentives to listen and lead. It requires transparency throughout the government so voters have an accurate understanding of public decisions and the results of public programs.”

Those words are from the California Forward website and help instruct our interest and work in public accountability.

It explains why we found a report on the California Whistleblower Protection Act from the California State Auditor released on Thursday so interesting. The law empowers the auditor to investigate complaints that state agencies and employees have engaged in improper governmental activity. (Here’s a link to the summary of the report)

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NLRB’s Latest Attack on American Jobs

Congressman Kevin McCarthy
Majority Leader, United States Congress

Small businesses are at the heart of the American economy. The spirit and vision of an aspiring entrepreneur or small businessperson is what this country was built on. Every day, people take great risk in starting something of their own. The endeavor can turn out to be a success or it can fail. At either turn, it is the individual left basking in the glory or picking up the pieces. That is what makes America different; what makes our country great. And through different business models which encourage flexibility and entrepreneurship, we have seen neighbors in our communities willing to dream to become the success stories of today and possibly the growing small and large businesses of tomorrow.  They often hold the name of a global brand but operate within the heart of the community, taking on financial risk and personnel decision-making, creating and offering much-needed jobs. In these respects, it is just as if they were starting their own sandwich shop, something I was fortunate to do in the past. So when I see a franchise, I celebrate the jobs they create. This same model goes for companies that provide a service to a larger one. The success of time-tested brands offers opportunity for others to achieve that dream.

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A Californian on the National Ticket?

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

Only one Californian—actually a former Californian—is even given an outside chance of appearing on one of the major party presidential tickets. That would be Carly Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard who while a resident of this state lost a senate race to Barbara Boxer. Fiorina has since moved to the East Coast.

So it appears that no Californian will find a place on a major party ticket in 2016—or maybe one could, but it would be even a longer shot.

We are still eleven months away from the Republican nominating convention in Cleveland and already pundits are having a field day with the ever-changing nature of the presidential campaign.

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