On Monday, Meg Whitman’s rapid response division (team doesn’t do justice to its size) unleashed a response to Jerry Brown’s ad on his gubernatorial record today.

The response used lots of data and statistics to argue that Brown didn’t leave California in the best economic and budgetary shape in 1982. But looking at the numbers, I had a reaction that I don’t think the Whitman people intended.

Take me back to 1982!


The Whitman campaign says that "Brown left California With a $1 Billion Deficit"

If Jerry Brown could get the state deficit down to $1 billion, taxpayers would happily pay for a Bell-sized pension and ticker tape parade for him and his budget director. (Does anyone have ticker tape anymore? They had it in 1982. Take me back!).

We’re now in an era of $20 billion annual budget shortfalls. Someone in the Meg campaign needs to ditch the $1 billion figure and start using some percentages. Even then, our current budget problem is much, much worse. Take away message: bad Jerry Brown is better than the present.

The Whitman campaign quotes a New York Times story saying he left office with "the unemployment rate, worsened by a national recession" at a "record high of 9.9 percent."

Hallelujah! 9.9 percent unemployment would be a big decline from our current figures, which are north of 12 percent. So Jerry Brown Redux means more than 450,000 of today’s unemployed being put back to work.

Where do I sign up?

1.3 million people were unemployed in 1982.

Awesome! It’s 2.3 million people now.

Other parts of the Brown ad deserve condemnation. Brown wants to take credit for the politically attractive consequences of Prop 13 (tax cuts) without getting blame for the negative consequences (greater spending, budget deficits). Of course, Whitman has been on the air for months blaming Brown for the negatives of 13 without giving him credit for the positives.

And it’s awfully rich of Brown to brag about the quality of schools and universities that experienced declines that he must take responsibility for – because of his frugality in building a too-large surplus, and because that surplus helped fuel the tax revolt that produced Prop 13.

All that said, I’d rather be sending my kid to those 1982 schools.

So Meg, buy the time-traveling DeLorean and send me back.