Jerry Brown pounded Meg Whitman on her capital gains tax cut plan in their first debate last night. Whitman didn’t defend or explain her reasons for the tax, as she should. There are good reasons to cut the capital gains tax.

The tax cuts are not simply a giveaway to the rich, as Brown contended. The capital gains tax cuts are part of her targeted tax plan to bring back jobs. Capital gains tax cuts can quickly bring money into the treasury by freeing up money that taxpayers are holding and are more likely to spend because of the cuts. Capital gains tax cuts provide the revenue necessary for entrepreneurs to succeed. Small businesses and entrepreneurs need resources to create jobs and spark the California economy, which these cuts can provide. Whitman has good reasons for supporting the capital gains tax cut and she should have explained her reasons to the voters.

Whitman offered more solutions for the state’s problems. She put Brown on the defensive about his close ties to public employee unions.

Brown didn’t shy away from the age issue. He took his age on directly talking about his pension and declaring he was too old to run for president (but if he was younger he probably would, Brown said.)

Whitman tried to remind voters – or more likely, inform them – about Brown’s history as governor. When Whitman hit Brown for appointing the anti-death penalty Rose Bird to the California Supreme Court, Brown fired off a rapid-fire, hard to understand response that President Dwight Eisenhower appointed former California Governor Earl Warren Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the president didn’t know he was getting a liberal justice.

Was Brown saying he didn’t know what he was getting when he appointed Bird? Hard to believe.

Brown told us that Arnold Schwarzenegger, a businessman with no government experience, could not solve Sacramento’s problems and we shouldn’t make the same mistake by electing Whitman. But Brown sounded a lot like Schwarzenegger with his opening comment that we must live within our means and combine agencies. Can you say blow up the boxes?

Meg Whitman was calm and analytical during the debate. She stayed on message and presented herself in a way that would make voters comfortable in voting for her. Jerry Brown was a bit frenetic, but he didn’t hurt himself with the voters during the debate and we learned he closed down the bars in Sacramento during his term as governor. Brown was predictably entertaining and, well, unpredictable.