Voters Not Anti-Tax, just Anti-Sacramento

Douglas Jeffe
Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

In sizing up the prospects for voter approval of governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to extend a number of “temporary” tax increases, it is important to understand that California’s electorate is not unalterably opposed to raising taxes, but is dead set against feeding the dysfunction in the State Capitol.

Those who predict that voters will reject tax extensions because they rejected several measures on the 2009 special Election Ballot that would have allowed those taxes to continue. What happened two years ago was not a tax revolt, but voter revulsion at the Gang Who couldn’t Shoot Straight in Sacramento. Sure the hard-core anti-tax crowd voted No, but so did a lot of bleeding heart liberals who just wanted to send Arnold a message. This was just a case of too many people seeing the sausage being made and losing their appetites. Besides, there was no coherent campaign in support of the measures or, more importantly, the reasons the tax extensions were needed. Voters sent a message to Sacramento, but it wasn’t about tax increases.

That leaves the question of whether or not Jerry Brown and the powers that be can make a persuasive case that the blue smoke has been dissipated , the mirrors broken and State government is finally facing up to straightening out its fiscal house. This will require straight talk, an absence of gimmicks and specificity about what those tax cuts will buy.

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Did Whitman’s Bad Campaign Really Matter?

Douglas Jeffe
Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

Tony Quinn was right on target in his criticism of the Meg Whitman campaign, which will go down in history as one of the laziest and most arrogant of all time. With all that money, you would think they would come up with messages that amounted to more than content-free pabulum about better schools, leaner government and balanced budgets. They managed to use Governor Schwarzenegger’s rhetoric without the substance of his proposals to address these challenges. Why, with all there was to say about Jerry Brown’s first two terms as Governor, did they put up such smarmy, unconvincing attack ads that lacked a kernel of truth? I guess the consultants are crying all the way to the bank, but the most creative thing to come out of the Whitman camp were Mike Murphy’s protestations that the race was a dead heat at the end.

Murphy’s boom fog was rivaled only by Garry South’s non-stop criticism of the Brown campaign for months on end at full volume. South kept predicting gloom and doom because the Brown campaign didn’t fight back with TV in May and June and waged a barely visible campaign during the summer doldrums. According to South, Brown was digging a hole he couldn’t climb out of. Never mind that Jerry Brown had spent 40 years being conspicuous to California voters, often to his detriment. No introduction was necessary and when you are facing an unlimited war chest, it makes sense to hold your fire until you can see the whites of their eyes.

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Why Arnold Should Re-Register

Douglas Jeffe
Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been advocating “Post-Partisanship”. Now, it is time for him to walk the walk by abandoning his Republican label and re-registering as Decline to State. This move would make sense not only for his remaining time as Governor, but also for his ability to make an impact once he leaves office.

Here are the reasons why:

The middle is where the action is. It was Senators Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter who were in the driver’s seat in shaping the final Federal stimulus package. Senator Specter single-handedly got a $10 billion windfall for biomedical research into the final bill, while insisting the total package be cut back.

Californians will vote on an open primary amendment because moderate GOP State Senator Abel Maldonado was the swing vote required for passage of the State Budget deal.

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Penny Foolish, Pound Foolish

Douglas Jeffe
Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

Republican legislators in Sacramento seem willing to do anything to avoid voting for a tax increase—even if it means picking taxpayers’ pockets. The GOP push to siphon off more than a billion dollars in Proposition 42 funding—the sales tax on gasoline that is supposed to go for transportation—would do just that.

Traffic congestion is like a ball and chain on our economy. Most commuters spend hundreds of dollars each year paying for wasted fuel they burn up while stuck in traffic. It is estimated that the average California motorist is out of pocket more than $600 a year for excess repairs, wear and tear and poor vehicle performance as a result of our substandard roads and streets. And any time we delay a construction project, the cost skyrockets. The bottom line is that every dollar we don’t invest in fixing our roads and transportation infrastructure costs the taxpaying public a whole lot more.

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Oil and Politics Don’t Mix Well

Douglas Jeffe
Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

Folks in the oil patch probably cheered when President Bush made his pitch for increased off-shore drilling as a means of fighting high fuel costs. In reality, they probably should have groaned. The President’s ringing endorsement of off-shore petroleum development and his criticism of the Democratic Congress will just make it that much harder to gain approval for extracting oil from the ocean floor.

First Senator John McCain did an about face and proposed more off-shore oil production and then, the President jumped in and reignited the partisan fires. With President Bush’s approval rating a virtual dry hole, how could he possibly think that his pronouncement will advance the cause? The President keeps pressing the issue with his latest gambit being to lift the Executive Order limiting off-shore drilling and challenging Congress to follow suit.

The fall-out is predictable. Democrats like Senators Boxer and Feinstein have responded with vigorous dissents. Even Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has blasted the proposal. Environmentalists were given a boatload of air time to articulate all of the reasons we shouldn’t drill. And Senator Barack Obama has dug in further in his opposition.

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