What caught my attention when legislative leaders hired former United States Attorney General Eric Holder was not the obvious rationale expected of the Democratic majority promising resistance to a Trump presidency on issues of immigration, climate change and health care, or even the need and expense for such a move considering the state Attorney General’s role to stand up for California, but the expectation that Holder’s law firm will help preserve California’s economy. According to the Los Angeles Times, senate president pro tem Kevin de León said, “Hiring the former attorney general — the nation’s top lawyer — it shows that we’re very serious in protecting the values of the people of California against any attempt to undermine the policies that has made us the fifth-largest economy in the world.”
There can be debate over whether the policies de León speaks of actually held back the California economy with its high taxes, burdensome regulations, and restrictive housing, water and transportation policies.
However, there is no doubt that California’s policies dealing with the economy he wants to defend have a dark side, which will remain in place if Holder stands up for the state’s progressive agenda.
Crime is increasing, the middle class is disappearing, poverty, especially as measured by the number of citizens on Medi-Cal, is at record levels. While the world-class economy of which de León speaks is anchored by coastal economic power, inland California has pockets of severe unemployment and poverty. A number of businesses see golden futures far away from the Golden State. Even those powerhouse members of the digital economy look for areas away from California to expand, mainly concerned with California’s cost of living and housing prices.
Historian and political analyst, Victor Davis Hanson sums up the down side of the California condition this way: “We suffer not only from the highest basket of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, but also from nearly the worst schools and infrastructure. We have the costliest entitlements and the most entitled. We have the largest number of billionaires and the largest number of impoverished, both in real numbers and as a percentage of the state population. California crime likewise reflects the California paradox of two states: a coastal elite and everyone else. California is the most contentious, overregulated, and postmodern state in the Union, and also the most feral and 19th-century.”
The world-class economy is producing too much flotsam and jetsam that threatens to undermine the current economic upswing. When the economy dips, as it will, the state policies the former attorney general was hired to defend will become a heavy weight on the state’s economy and, importantly, the state budget.