California: If we can’t tax you, we’ll let the other guy do it!

June 13, 2011

Really, I sometimes wonder if Democrats oligarchs  in the state legislature are issued fake mustaches so they can twirl them and laugh maniacally as they find new ways to shove new taxes down our throats.

The latest comes as a result of our annual battle over the state budget, which is due June 15th. The Democrats will have no problem passing the budget, since it requires only a simple majority and they control both chambers (1). But, they still have to come up with the money to pay for that budget, since there’s a statutory requirement that it be balanced.

Now, the governor and and his legislative allies want a special election to impose new taxes to help fund that budget. (They call them “extensions of existing tax hikes,” but, since those are set to expire no matter what, they’re really tax hikes.) A special election requires a two-thirds vote of both chambers, and the Republicans are holding out, creating an impasse; correctly, in my mind, but we’ll come back to that.

So, faced with solid opposition, what does Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg do? He calls for the political equivalent of an end-around play, introducing a law allowing the counties to impose income taxes:

Counties, school districts and community colleges would have broad authority to seek taxes on income and a vast array of products including cigarettes and alcohol under a bill approved by the California Senate on Friday.

The bill, which Senate leaders say will pressure Republicans to support the governor’s tax plan, gives the local entities power over taxes that currently only the state Legislature can impose. The Senate passed the bill after Republicans, and a handful of Democrats, refused to support a measure sought by Gov. Jerry Brown to place extensions and increases of current state tax rates on a special election ballot. That measure needed a two-thirds majority vote from the Senate.

The special election measure would have asked voters this fall to extend and increase personal income and sales taxes, along with the vehicle license fees, through June 2016. But Democrats in the Legislature altered the plan so that if voters rejected the measure, most of the taxes still would have been imposed for the remainder of 2011-12 fiscal year.

The article goes on to point out that Steinberg is playing hardball (with our paychecks as the ball) to pressure the Republicans to accede to a special election (2). But implicit is the threat to send the bill to the Assembly, where I’m sure it will pass easily. And there are several problems with this:

First, We The People made our will clear about new taxes in 2009, when Prop 1A was crushed 65-35. The voters sent a very loud, very clear message to Sacramento that we are taxed enough, thank you, so instead please do your jobs and come up with a budget that meets existing revenues. Instead, they either want another expensive special election (3) to ask us the same question we only just answered, or they’ll let the counties and school districts do it (to us). This is not only “playing hardball” with Republican legislators, it is also a slap in the face of the voters who’ve already made their will plain.

But arrogance is often a trait of oligarchy, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

The second problem is with the very idea of giving county boards of supervisors, school districts, and community colleges the power to tax — they’ll go right ahead and do it. Sure, they’ll have to call an election, but all they’ll wind up doing is encouraging the most productive elements of society to move elsewhere. This only gives wastrel government more money to waste and helps them avoid dealing with massive waste and inefficiency by encouraging them to rob their constituents. It’s like giving an alcoholic the keys to the liquor store.

Finally, the fundamental objection is this: We are taxed enough. California has an income tax with eight rates. The top two tiers pay 10 and 11 percent, respectively. Now, you might think only the wealthy get hit with these rates. Well, in California, we have a different idea of “wealthy.” The second highest tax bracket, 10%, starts at $47,055. Yes, you can make less than 50 grand a year, and Sacramento thinks it only fair that you fork over 10 percent. And let’s not forget sales taxes that range from 9.25% to 10.75%.

And Brown, Steinberg, and the Democrats want more, one way or another.

The real problem here isn’t that taxes aren’t high enough, it’s that nearly 40 years of Democratic control of the legislature have lead to insane spending and borrowing, as well as unsustainable public employee pensions. Instead of a bloody-minded obsession with raising taxes, the legislature should be bending all its efforts to creating the conditions here that will stop the flight of businesses from California and encourage others to come here: fewer regulations and lower costs to do business. And they should be easing the way for intelligent exploitation of our natural resources, including the billions of barrels of oil estimated to sit off our coast. All of these would create jobs that would bring in revenue without having to raise taxes.

Instead, we get political gamesmanship and an unwillingness to see that the Golden State is going the way of the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Footnotes:

(1) And see what that’s gotten us? Let this be a warning to the rest of you.

(2) More money we can’t afford to spend.

(3) I think they learned it from the EU: “You’ll keep voting until you give us the answer we want, peasant!”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Pelosi: “Elections shouldn’t matter”

April 13, 2011

Well, at least she gets points for being honest about her elitist, anti-democratic, nigh-on fascist* values. While speaking to students at Tufts University last week, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives**, the woman who not too long ago was second in line to be President of the United States, had this to say:

To my Republican friends: take back your party. So that it doesn’t matter so much who wins the election, because we have shared values about the education of our children, the growth of our economy, how we defend our country, our security and civil liberties, how we respect our seniors. Because there are so many things at risk right now — perhaps in another question I’ll go into them, if you want. But the fact is that elections shouldn’t matter as much as they do…But when it comes to a place where there doesn’t seem to be shared values then that can be problematic for the country, as I think you can see right now.

“Elections shouldn’t matter.” We’ve seen this time and again since last November: at the national level, the President and the Democratic leadership regularly act as if they hadn’t suffered a total repudiation at the polls, still pushing an agenda the nation clearly rejected. And at the state level, they’ve brought out their allies in Wisconsin, Ohio, Washington, New Jersey, Idaho, and soon in Sacramento to intimidate the elected representatives of the people and overturn the results of a democratic election. Tells you all one needs to know about the leadership of the Democratic Party — and why they should never, ever win another election in our lifetimes.

via Lance

LINKS: Real Clear Politics has the video. Historian Steven Hayward analyzes this and shows how it represents a continuity in Progressive thought from its foundations to the present.

*Trust me, I’m not exaggerating — Read Goldberg’s book. This appeal to “shared values,” a unity that rises above politics, a “third way” — it’s all straight out of the Progressive/liberal fascist manual and has a history stretching back more than 100 years.

**You know, the chamber often called “The People’s House,” whose frequent elections are supposed to better reflect popular will. But, if elections “shouldn’t matter as much as they do,” then who are they representing?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Steny Hoyer, family psychologist

January 6, 2011

I’m getting so confused. You see, I thought I and others like me opposed ObamaCare and other liberal-fascist Democratic programs because we believe strongly in limited government that operates within the bounds of the Constitution and that those same programs were actually harmful to the nation. In other words, we were acting in good faith and on principle.

Silly me.

Since the (Social) Democratic Party was given free reign with the election of President Obama, we’ve been variously told that we’re Nazi sympathizers, racists, and an angry mob that makes a fetish of the Constitution.

Now we know the root causes of our irrational rage. It’s not our fault — we’re victims!

According to Steny Hoyer (D-MD), former House Majority Leader and apparently a specialist in Family Psychology, our opposition to all the wonderful things the Democrats have done for us is rooted in our dysfunctional families:

There are a whole lot of people in the Tea Party that I see in these polls who don’t want any compromise. My presumption is they have unhappy families. All of you have been in families: single-parent, two-parents, whatever. Multiple parent and a stepfather. The fact is life is about trying to reach accommodation with one another so we can move forward. That is certainly what democracy is about. So if we are going to move forward compromise is necessary.

Representative Hoyer said that two days ago. Contrast his arrogance with the humility shown by John Boehner as he was sworn in yesterday as Speaker. Isn’t it usually the loser who’s humble and the winner who crows?

Hoyer’s “diagnosis” is yet another example of the stunning arrogance and patronizing contempt for their fellow citizens that permeates the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which is to say the majority of what’s left of their caucus on the Hill. It is the attitude of an arrogant oligarchy that cannot come to terms with having some of their power taken away and facing the prospect of losing the rest of it in two years. They’re like an employee fired for incompetence who refuses to own up to the truth and instead whines that his boss was out to get him.

Steny, I think you’re the one who needs the psychologist. Not us.

RELATED: I wonder if Hoyer has read Max Blumenthal’s book? They sure think along the same lines…

via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gerrymandering: the legal way to rig an election

October 31, 2010

Why bother stuffing ballot boxes and getting felons to vote when you can just draw the district boundaries to ensure your guy or gal wins? Via Reason.TV, here’s an interview with Bill Mundell on the dangers of gerrymandering:

It may not be the sexiest political issue of our time, but it is of fundamental importance to the health of our democracy. Allowing legislators to draw their own districts creates a tremendous conflict of interest between creating districts that accurately represent a community of interests and thus fairly represent the people of an area, and the self-serving needs of politicians.

This is a particular problem in California, where “safe seat” (or “incumbency gerrymandering,” as Mundell calls it) boundaries almost guarantee the reelection of a state or federal legislator. The problem is so bad that almost every member of California’s congressional delegation gets reelected in election after election, even though Congress has a miserable approval rating. And the situation with our state legislature isn’t much different.

We took a big step to fix the problem in 2008 by passing Proposition 11, which took the power to draw legislative districts away from the legislators and gave it to a citizen’s commission. This year, we aim to finish the job by passing Proposition 20, which would do the same thing for congressional districts. But, you guessed it, the oligarchy has struck back, getting Proposition 27 on the ballot. If passed, this measure will eliminate the citizen’s commission created by Proposition 11. It is nothing less than a swinish attempt by the legislature and their allies in the House to seize power from the people and preserve their hand-drawn fiefdoms.

And you wonder why I call California’s legislature “arrogant.”

For the sake of genuine representative democracy in California, it is essential that Proposition 20 pass and Proposition 27 fail.

Put an end to gerrymandering. Break the oligarchy.

UPDATE: J.E. Dyer at Hot Air’s Green Room has an excellent post on seven votes that may determine California’s future.

UPDATE 2: Also take a look at an article in the LA Weekly about Props 20 and 27 and why you should give a rip. It includes a map of my entry into the California Hall of Shame for Shameless Gerrymandering, CD 23, which is 200 miles long and, at one point, only 100 yards wide.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


When Democrat congressmen go wild

October 16, 2010

First, we saw Bob Etheridge (D-NC)  attack a student asking him a question:

Then , Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX) acted as if he was about to swat a constituent with a newspaper, as one would a dog:

Now we have Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) first telling a reporter to shut up…

…and then going for his throat:

After the shooters turned off their cameras and started to break down, Hinchey made a beeline for Kemble and got in his face, according to a YNN videographer who was on the scene. The congressman poked Kemble in the chest aggressively, according to the YNN staffer.

I spoke with Kemble briefly this afternoon, and he told me Hinchey “put his hand on my throat” and then “realized what he had done and walked away.” The YNN shooter told me he did not witness this part of the altercation.

(via Legal Insurrection)

The oligarchs are frightened, folks, and when frightened, they might lash out at peasants (i.e., us) who dare to question their exalted, entitled selves.

Let’s be careful out there.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Oligarchy has its privileges

September 10, 2010

Such as turning a tiny town’s treasury into your personal bank account:

Top managers for the city of Vernon, Calif., enjoyed pay and perks that outpaced some of the nation’s top leaders.

It is one of a growing number of California municipalities confronting questionable practices by municipal employees.

Vernon has only 90 residents, but top city managers were earning an astounding $1.6 million per year with some fancy perks, including first-class air travel around the world and $800-a-night hotel rooms.

“For these city officials to be receiving salaries larger than the governor, larger than the president of the United States is absolutely unjustifiable,” said Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies.

The city’s small homeowners association is outraged that their city leaders were living the high life, particularly in a town that recently laid off workers and cut health insurance because of budget problems.

At one angry council meeting, residents shouted, “Shame on you!”

Read the rest for other small California towns whose “leaders” live the high life while unemployment skyrockets and the state faces financial insolvency.

Maybe those pitchforks-and-torches mobs in the old movies had the right idea.

(via Gabriel Malor)


Maybe they’re all trying out for Cabinet posts?

September 10, 2010

Perhaps inspired by the example of Treasury Secretary Timothy “Turbo-tax” Geithner, 41 White House aides owe a collective $831,000 in back taxes. And, as the LA Times’ Andrew Malcolm explains, the problem isn’t just limited to the West Wing:

Over the years a lot of suspicion has built up across the country about Washington and its population of opportunistic transients coming to see themselves as a special kind of person, somehow above average working Americans who don’t work down in that former swamp.

Well, finally, an end to all those undocumented doubts. Thanks to some diligent digging by the Washington Post, those suspicions can at last be put to rest.

They’re correct. Accurate. Dead-on. Laser-guided. On target. Bingo-bango. As clear as it’s always seemed to those Americans who don’t feel special entitlements and do meet their government obligations.

We now know that federal employees across the nation owe fully $1 billion in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.

And here’s just one example:

In the House of Representatives, 421 people owe a total $6,524,892. In the Senate, 217 owe $2,774,836. In the IRS’ parent department, Treasury, 1,204 owe $7,670,814. At the Labor Department, where Secretary Hilda Solis’ husband had some back-tax problems before her confirmation, 463 owe $7,481,463. Eighty-one workers for the Federal Reserve System’s board of governors owe $1,076,733.

Yet Congress wants to raise taxes on all of us to pay for health care and all the other stupid ideas wonderful reforms its enacted?

“Obedience to the law is for thee, not for me!” cried the oligarch.

Maybe they should garnish the deadbeats’ wages until the backlog is cleared, instead. Just a thought.

LINKS: Hot Air.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Caddell: “November will be a tidal wave”

August 6, 2010

I’m paraphrasing in the subject line, but that’s the gist of what Pat Caddell, a liberal and former pollster for President Carter, had to say about the Democrats’ chances in the midterm elections. And that isn’t all he said, ripping into his party for elitism and arrogance. He even went so far as to describe the situation in the United States as “pre-revolutionary.” Now, I think that’s a bit overwrought, but he makes several good points. Listen for yourself:

LINKS: Via Ace, “They’ve gone and made it personal.” At Confederate Yankee, “This will go badly for all concerned.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Meet Congressman Pete Stark (D-Oligarchy)

August 2, 2010

What is it with Democrat politicians, lately? They’re not even trying to pretend they’re public servants anymore; challenge them, and you get some variant of “How dare you, peasant?” A few weeks ago it was Representative Bob Etheridge (D-NC) taking offense at a young man who dared to ask him a question; Etheridge assaulted him in return. Then there was Texas Democrat Ciro Rodriguez, who was so angry at being challenged by a constituent that he smacked a newspaper on the table. (Was he going to swat her on the nose for being a bad doggy, next?) Here in California, our Democrat-dominated palace of the mandarins legislature is trying to slip past the voters a ballot measure that would reclaim for the legislature power the voters took from it just two years ago. Time and again, when talking about citizens expressing their grievances at tea parties or directly to them at town-hall meetings, Democrat politicians have revealed utter contempt for the voters.

Now it’s contempt for the Constitution and the foundational principles of our government, too, as “Representative” Pete Stark (D-CA) proclaims in response to a citizen’s question about how the Federal government can declare health care a “right:”

The federal government can do most anything in this country.

Watch and learn as an oligarch, not a representative of the people in a constitutional republic, bares his soul:

Wrong Pete, dead wrong. The Constitutional Convention, in its creation of a general government, agreed that it would be a limited government of specifically enumerated powers.  The Founders certainly did not create one that can ignore the Constitution at will and do whatever the Hell it wants. That, “Representative” Stark, is called “tyranny.” Please reread (or read for the first time) Article 1, section 8 for your job description. Note that nowhere does it give Congress the power to declare something a “right” in the way Americans understand rights, because natural rights are something we are born with, you moron.

And here, folks, we see crystallized in a moment of time, like an insect (or a congressman) trapped in amber, much of what is wrong with the American polity: representatives who do not represent, but instead rule; who have a greater connection to each other and to their big donors than to the people who elect them; and who see the greatest, most successful governing document ever devised by Man as something to which one just pays lip service, something that’s outdated.

It’s time to throw them out, folks, any and all who harbor the same kind of ignorance or disdain for the Constitution and the citizen as Pete Stark or Ciro Rodriguez. They may act like an oligarchy, they may think of themselves as a ruling elite, but they still need us to keep their jobs. Did they vote for ObamaCare? Then you have your answer. Are they in favor of card-check, which will take away the right to a secret ballot in union elections? There’s another clue for you.  Look your representative and senator over, check their record, their words. They can’t hide their attitudes anymore. You have the power to throw them out and put better men and women in their places.

I’ll leave you with the wise words of James Garfield, spoken in a speech he gave years before he became President:

Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. …

If the next centennial [of the Declaration of Independence] does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

Let’s send the oligarchs home.

LINKS: Blue Crab Boulevard and Big Journalism.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Oligarchs: they’re not just in California

July 12, 2010

Texas has a few of them, too, as “Representative” Ciro Rodriguez (D) takes umbrage when an uppity peon a concerned voter calls him on his lies about ObamaCare:

Ciro’s anger and bluster, folks, hides a more basic emotion: fear, bordering on panic. He knows the rubes have stopped buying what he and his buddies in the oligarchy are shoveling; you can see it in his frustration when faced with facts. And he knows November is going to be bad for the party that shoved this nonsense down our throats.

Very bad, indeed.

(via Moe Lane)

LINKS: More at Hot Air, Big Government, and Sister Toldjah.

RELATED: California’s oligarchs.


California’s arrogant legislature

July 11, 2010

I’ve often said in recent years that California isn’t a democracy; it’s instead an oligarchy ruled by a corrupt and distant elite in the legislature who only appear before the people when they need our votes for reelection, but otherwise ignore us and treat us as bothersome children at best.

Next November’s election will see a glaring example of that oligarchy at its arrogant best. On the list of ballot propositions sits number 27, which will eliminate the citizen’s commission created to draw legislative district boundaries and give the power to the legislature.

What’s wrong with that, you ask?

Proposition 27 is a ballot initiative that effectively repeals Proposition 11, which the voters passed in 2008 for the express purpose taking the redistricting power away from the legislature. California has long had a problem with “safe seats,” assembly and state senate seats in which the incumbent is almost guaranteed reelection because the district has been gerrymandered to give the legislator a majority of favorable voters. The result was a group of lawmakers who really had no need to listen to the voters and could rule almost as they wished – in other words, as an oligarchy.

Allowing legislators to draw their own districts is like letting corporations create territories in which they agree not to compete with each other: for customers and voters, the lack of genuine competition and choice can only work to their detriment. Proposition 11 was meant to break this corrupt arrangement, and the citizen’s commission being formed now will get its first chance to draw genuinely competitive districts next year.

Yes, that’s right. The oligarchs behind this measure are trying to gut the commission before its been tried even once. So desperate are they to protect their incumbencies (and six-figure salaries, plus hefty perks) that they are going to try to slip this sham through, hoping the public isn’t paying attention. That’s how little they think of us, even as they claim it’s for the good of the state.

And this measure is not only intended to take back for the legislature the power to draw its own districts, but also gut the intent of Proposition 20, a follow-on measure to add the drawing of congressional districts to the duties of the citizen’s commission. Democrats in the California congressional delegation fought earlier combined redistricting reform attempts tooth and nail. But now that Prop 20 looks like it has a good chance to succeed, Pelosi, Berman, and others have joined with their Sacramento colleagues to protect their own safe seats with Proposition 27 serving as a Trojan Horse.

Make no mistake: the arguments in favor of Proposition 27 are bunk. It isn’t about democracy, saving the state money, or making those who draw the districts “accountable to the voters.” (PDF. That last is one of their sick jokes, I’d guess.) It is nothing more than an attempt by the oligarchy to thwart the will of the people and  preserve their legislative fiefdoms. Don’t let them fool you. Vote no on Proposition 27 and yes on Proposition 20.

And tell the oligarchs to go to Hell.

(via FlashReport)


I love my hometown…

November 1, 2009

…But there are times I want to nuke Sacramento from orbit. Usually (and in this case) it’s because of some boneheaded move by the State government.  What did they do this time? Oh, nothing, really, except decide to take an extra ten-percent from our paychecks in the middle of a recession:

Starting Sunday, cash-strapped California will dig deeper into the pocketbooks of wage earners — holding back 10% more than it already does in state income taxes just as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks into gear.

Technically, it’s not a tax increase, even though it may feel like one when your next paycheck arrives. As part of a bundle of budget patches adopted in the summer, the state is taking more money now in withholding, even though workers’ annual tax bills won’t change.

Think of it as a forced, interest-free loan: You’ll be repaid any extra withholding in April. Those who would receive a refund anyway will receive a larger one, and those who owe taxes will owe less.

But with rising gas costs, depressed home prices and double-digit unemployment, the state’s added reach into residents’ regular paycheck isn’t sitting well with many.

“The state’s suddenly slapping people upside the head,” said Mack Reed, 50, of Silver Lake. “It’s appalling how brash that is.”

Brittney McKaig, 23, of Santa Ana said she expects the additional withholding to affect her holiday spending.

“Coming into the holidays, we’re getting squeezed anyway,” she said. “We’re not getting Christmas bonuses and other perks we used to get. So it all falls back on spending. The $40 gift will become a $20 gift.”

Sheer genius. We’re now over a year into a severe recession, and this Christmas is when the stores will really feel the pinch. The money the state takes will be unavailable to retailers big and small, who will thus have less money with which to pay for new employees or keep current ones. California’s real unemployment rate tops 17% at least, and many people rely on part-time seasonal retail jobs to help them make it, so every job counts. The last thing you want to do is divert money to non-productive expenses, such as a blueberry commission.

“But at least it’s not a tax!”

What a farce. In California, all tax increases have to be approved by a two-thirds majority of both chambers of the legislature, something that’s hard to get since the Republicans have just enough votes to hold the line.  We are already one of the most highly-taxed states in the Union, so any increases are very unpopular right now.  So the legislature and the Franchise Tax Board get around this by calling it a “loan.”

When Tiquon and Little Dog take a forced “loan” from a South-Central liquor store, it’s called “robbery” or “extortion.” But when Sacramento does it to the whole state, it’s okay, it’s just a loan.

You can call it what you want, Governor, but a tax is a tax.

But wait,” you say, “they promise to pay it back!”

Would you like to buy the Golden Gate Bridge, too? First, this is an interest-free loan. Whatever money you “loan” to California will be worth less when you get it back, because inflation isn’t accounted for. You are permanently losing money. The state gets the benefit of the current value, you have less when you get it back, ergo that forced exaction of value from our money is a tax.

Oh, and remember those IOUs from earlier this year when the state was running out of money? For years now, the government has not been able to accurately project revenues, consistently overestimating them. What makes anyone think they can get it right this time? How will you feel if (more likely “when”) your involuntary loan is repaid with an interest-free IOU?

Sacramento’s irresponsibility and unwillingness to face reality is appalling. These are people we elected to run the state for the best interests of all, yet they continually mortgage our future and dig an ever deeper fiscal hole, refusing to make the admittedly harsh spending and tax cuts needed to begin to restore California to financial health. Instead they pander to the public employees unions ( the prison guards, for example) and other left-wing single-interest groups that live off the taxpayer and in turn are big donors to legislators’ election campaigns. So they kick the can down the road, pretend that “this time, we’ve fixed the problem” and hope that no one remembers the next time it happens.

California’s political culture is sick, and its public servants instead constitute a ruling class. This is not a democratic republic: thanks to safe seats and special-interest donors, our state government is instead a self-perpetuating oligarchy of professional politicians. This farce with accelerated withholding is just another example of how out of touch with the average Californians the Mandarins of the Golden Dome have become.

If California is to have any Hope, it’s time for a major Change.

(hat tip: Hot Air)

LINKS: Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard calls it outright theft. McQ puts it this way: “California – ‘We Need The Money More Than You.’” Sister Toldjah and Right Wing News.


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