Fearless 2017 California Predictions

John Seiler
Former Editorial Writer at the Orange County Register

For the first time in many years I’m optimistic about the economy and politics, even for California. So what’s going to happen in 2017?

1 — Boom times. As I detailed in “Here Comes California Boom Boom” on this site, Trumponomics is going to restore a strong prosperity across America. Although it will be somewhat less in the Golden State because of its pyrite politics, the boom still will flow across us like a tsunami.

Just take Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook strongly opposed Trump and held a big fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. After the election he met with Trump to talk about “a very large tax cut.”

2 — No Trade War. Trump’s attacks on China and other countries for ripping us off are opening riffs for making “deals.” Nikkei Asian Review reported, “HONG KONG – Of all the factors that could decide the fate of Asian corporations in the new year, nothing looms bigger than the ascension of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, according to a group of analysts who spoke with the Nikkei.”

TPP was a bad deal to begin with. NAFTA and the WTO long have needed to be renegotiated. Even a U.S. minor tariff of, say, 5%, would be swallowed up in the overall reduction in taxes and regulations soon to be enjoyed by American companies and consumers.

3 — Boom state budget. Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2017-18, which begins on July 1, is due soon. It will continue the caution of his past proposals, but be somewhat more optimistic. It’s an old Brown tactic: Plan for the worst, then when the money gushes in, use it to placate elements of the Democratic coalition that said he was too cheap.

His final budget document from last July 30 included section warning, “Planning for the Next Recession.” Fortunately for him and the big spenders in the state Capitol, Hillary lost.

4 — Infrastructure building boom. Due to its own risible neglect, California suffers the country’s worst roads. The new 10-cent extra gas tax is going not to fix potholes, but for CHP pensions. (What would officers Frank Poncherello and Jon Baker say?)

Trump plans a big national infrastructure building program – with a large private component. According to Edward Woodson, “The Trump stimulus marks a pivot from bureaucracies toward transactions. Private companies will not only independently pay for and build the internal improvements, but also own them. The personal ownership and equity stake of these institutions will ensure that they are always well-maintained and profitable.”

5 — Kamala Harris will rise as a new star in the Democratic Party firmament. Coming from the Bay Area, she has been part of the California’s progressive-left royalty. Yet she handily defeated moderate Rep. Loretta Sanchez, also a Democrat, 62%-38%. Harris even won Sanchez’ Orange County home, 53% to 47%.

Harris replaces the more progressive Sen. Barbara Boxer. But in the Senate, Harris will be mentored by the senior senator from California, moderate Dianne Feinstein, also from the Bay Area. As with DiFi, for Harris the key will not be rhetoric, but actual votes and accomplishments.

For example, as the Chronicle reported, last month Feinstein teamed up “to slip a legislative rider into a giant end-of-year water infrastructure bill that would override endangered species protections for native California fish for the purpose of sending water to San Joaquin Valley farmers. Retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., angrily denounced the rider as a ‘poison pill.’” Harris will be in that Feinstein mold.

6 — The governor’s race obviously will heat up. I expect such liberals as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be overshadowed by Treasurer John Chiang, who’s the most like Brown: liberal, but prudent with the budget. A dark horse, as I wrote earlier, will be Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.

She just got married on New Year’s Day to Nathaniel Fletcher, a former assemblyman. The Union-Tribune reported, “Fletcher changed his GOP registration to nonpartisan during an unsuccessful race for mayor of San Diego in 2012. He later became a Democrat and unsuccessfully ran for mayor again in the 2013 special election. He served as a delegate for Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.”

Are Nate and Lorena California’s version of Bill and Hillary?

7 — Housing prices will stabilize. The booming economy will increase demand, putting upward pressure on prices. But interest rates were boosted in December by the Federal Reserve Board, with more hikes likely in 2017, which will raise lending costs.

8 — Immigration will be less an issue than people expect, especially in California. Trump will begin fulfilling his immigration limitation pledges by building a wall and deporting illegal immigrants. But a wall already exists in California, reducing the chance of protests. Most construction will occur in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Trump will begin by deporting the 820,000 who have committed crimes, about 85% of them felons, according to the Urban Institute, a liberal group. Those who object to this will look silly. The sanctuary cities movement will have a hard time protecting rapists, robbers and killers.

The Trump Prosperity also will lift the economies of other nations, in particular those in Latin America. And Trump will refrain from meddling in those countries’ politics, promoting stability.

By contrast, Secretary of State Hillary backed the 2009 coup in Honduras against democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya that has sent hundreds of thousands of Hondurans fleeing here. According to the liberal Salon site, “The U.S. role in the coup is verified in Clinton’s memoir and released emails. WikiLeaks cables from 2009 show that the state department at the time had no illusions about what was happening.”

Just not destroying countries will encourage their folks to stay home.

9 — Climate change out, drilling in. Trump’s appointee to head the EPA Myron Ebell, is a “climate-change skeptic,” as the New York Times puts it. So he doesn’t believe the temperature ever changes? Or that sometimes it rains or snows? No. The phrase means he doesn’t buy into the “climate change” phrase as a replacement for “global warming,” which was dropped a decade ago in the middle of two decades of no global warming.

But the New York Times reported on Dec. 26, “In a show of defiance, Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and legislative leaders said they would work directly with other nations and states to defend and strengthen what were already far and away the most aggressive policies to fight climate change in the nation. That includes a legislatively mandated target of reducing carbon emissions in California to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.”

Brown himself told the paper, “California can make a significant contribution to advancing the cause of dealing with climate change, irrespective of what goes on in Washington. I wouldn’t underestimate California’s resolve if everything moves in this extreme climate denial direction. Yes, we will take action.”

What can Brown and the others do outside of California? Send the California National Guard to invade China to stop it building 155 new coal-powered energy plants?

We’re long past the days, now more than 10 years ago, when the inaptly named AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, enthused, “National and international actions are necessary to fully address the issue of global warming. However, action taken by California to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases will have far-reaching effects by encouraging other states, the federal government, and other countries to act.”

Moreover, when the first tiff with Trump burbles up, all he has to do is tweet, “CA Gov. Brown wants energy conservation, reduction, yet imports 33% of state’s electricity. Just exporting pollution. Hypocritical.”

In short, it’s going to be a prosperous year. And for us political junkies, a fun one, with no shortage of great stories to dissect.

An Orange County Register editorial writer, columnist and editor for 29 years, John Seiler now writes freelance. His email: [email protected]

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