In poll, Golden State has lost luster

Half of U.S. adults in survey say California is in decline; 48% of Republicans say it’s ‘not really American.’

Robert Gauthier Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — California’s national reputation as a place of dreams and prosperity is in jeopardy, battered by Republicans who dislike almost all aspects of the state and many Democrats who see it as too costly and a poor place to raise a family.

Nationwide, 50% of U.S. adults believe the state is in decline, according to a new survey for the Los Angeles Times.

Political polarization has intensified the negativity: 48% of Republicans believe the state is “not really American,” the survey found. Three in 10 Republicans say the home of Yosemite’s sheer peaks, Sequoia’s towering redwoods and Malibu’s beaches has a worse natural environment than other states.

Nearly 40% of Republicans don’t even think California is a good place to visit, though a majority in both parties say they have been to the state, according to the survey of 1,004 adults, conducted Jan. 26-28 by Leger, a Canadian firm that has polled extensively in the United States.

“If you are a more conservative American, you basically do not like California,” said Christian Bourque, Leger’s executive vice president and the poll’s supervisor. “Of course, we all expected some of that, but the differences are actually quite striking.”

California has, however, maintained its reputation as a new frontier, particularly among young people, who have long fueled the state’s energy.

Six in 10 adults nationwide think that the state is a trendsetter and that it has had a positive impact on the country. The share who see California as a trendsetter rises to 7 in 10 among those ages 18-34. A similar share of younger Americans also says that California’s impact on the U.S. has been positive.

Younger people were also twice as likely (43%) as other Americans to say they would consider moving to the state. Job opportunity was the top reason they cited (36%).

Among Republicans, just one-third said that the state’s impact on the country has been positive, while two-thirds said it has been a net negative.

The extent to which partisanship drives opinion can also be seen in how much Americans’ views of California overlap with opinions on seemingly unrelated, but similarly polarized, topics such as climate change, gender equality, racism and abortion.

People who see racism as an important issue in the U.S., for example, are more than twice as likely to think California is a good place to visit (77%) as those who think racism is unimportant (35%).

Californians do have notably different views than the rest of the country on some issues. Abortion stands out: Nearly half (46%) of Californians say abortion should be legal in all cases, a view shared by just over 1 in 4 adults nationwide.

Beyond partisanship, the poll underscores how economic trends of recent years have affected California’s image. High housing prices have led to a persistent crisis of homelessness and have helped drive three straight years of population decline after more than a century of nonstop growth.

Californians in both parties, even those who appreciate the state’s natural environment and cultural values, have complained that it has become too expensive, with roughly 8 in 10 California residents and nearly 9 in 10 in the rest of the country holding that view, the poll found.

Only about 2 in 5 Americans called California a good place to raise a family, and a similar share said its economy is strong.

Fewer than 3 in 10 people nationwide judged the state’s colleges and universities — consistently ranked among the best in academic surveys — as better than other states’ higher education options. Notably, however, younger Americans and adults who live in California were significantly more likely to rate California colleges and universities as better than others.

The degree to which political or ideological beliefs color such opinions was pervasive. For example, fewer than 1 in 5 people overall said California has a better standard of living than other states. That falls to 1 in 10 among Republicans. A majority in the GOP say California’s standard of living is worse than most states.

By contrast, about 1 in 3 Democrats say California’s standard of living is better than most states, while 4 in 10 say it’s about the same and fewer than 2 in 10 call it worse.

Political divisions have subsumed many aspects of American life in recent years. But California has been the target of particularly virulent attacks from conservative media personalities and politicians as it has shifted from political battleground to Democratic lock. The attacks accelerated during Donald Trump’s presidency, when the state often sued the federal government, especially on immigration and environmental policies.

Memories of Republican Govs. Ronald Reagan in the 1960s and 1970s or Pete Wilson in the 1990s have receded for many Americans as the state has morphed into an emblem of progressivism — propelled by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s push to sign laws designed to combat red-state policies on climate,abortion, immigration status, gender and other hot-button issues.

Not all Democrats are on board with that shift — 30% call the state too liberal, a view shared by 81% of Republicans.

Conservative politicians have increasingly defined themselves by opposition to California: “Don’t allow Florida to become San Francisco,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared this month as he unveiled legislation designed to reduce homelessness that included a crackdown on camping in public places.

DeSantis has been a leading critic of the state, releasing videos from San Francisco as part of his former presidential campaign in which he claimed (without proof) that he had seen people defecating on the street.

Other conservatives, including Elon Musk, have joined in railing against the state’s former COVID-19 restrictions, its laws allowing gender affirming care for minors and its policies granting access to subsidized public healthcare for low-income people who came to the country illegally.

The public pounding by Fox News and conservative social media has helped drive negative views of the state on issues such as safety: Three-quarters of Republicans say they think the state is unsafe, despite recent improvements in crime statistics in Los Angeles and other major cities. In 2022, the most recent year for which the FBI has released state-by-state data, California’s reported rate of violent crime was above the national average, but similar to the rates in states as disparate as Colorado, South Carolina and Missouri.

The policy and cultural clashes over California came to a head in December when DeSantis debated Newsom on Fox News over whose state is better governed and whose definition of freedom better matched the American ideal.

The answer for many Americans appears to be a draw, according to the poll: California and Florida were roughly tied when people were asked which of the two states better represents their values — 52% sided with Florida, 48% with California. The division was similar when the poll asked about California versus Texas.

Views on whether California is more free than other states showed a similar split, with roughly a quarter saying it was more free and another quarter saying it was less free. The rest said it was roughly the same or declined to answer.

Newsom has argued that California stands for freedom, citing its protection of abortion rights, affordable healthcare, clean air and other progressive priorities.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Michael Smolens:  California Ballot Measures Could Give Republicans Strong Anti-Tax Argument

As California Democrats head into the 2024 election, several things seem to be going their way.

A measure on the ballot defending same-sex marriage could be an added turnout magnet in a presidential election year that already is expected to bring more Democratic-leaning voters to the polls.

Republicans in Congress, despite their current disarray, continue to ponder further limits or a ban on abortion — another Democratic motivator.

And the Republican Democrats love to hate, Donald Trump, may well be on the ballot again.

But California Republicans may have at least one ace in the hole: a potentially compelling anti-tax argument.

Three tax-related measures are targeted for the ballot, though none actually raises taxes.

A Democratic proposal would lower the voter-approval threshold to 55 percent for local taxes and bonds that now require a two-thirds majority to pass.

measure sponsored by the California Business Roundtable would require all local taxes and bonds to be approved by a two-thirds majority, including fees and charges that currently don’t require a public vote. The proposal also calls for voters to approve all state taxes.

To counter that, Assemblymember Chris Ward, D-San Diego, authored a ballot proposition that would require measures raising the approval threshold to be approved by that same threshold. In other words, the business proposal would need a two-thirds majority.

The two Democratic measures were placed on the ballot by the Legislature, while the business proposal qualified through the signature-gathering initiative process.

The support among Democratic lawmakers for the two legislative measures might suggest broad backing across deep blue California.

But support for — or opposition to — tax increases, among other things, don’t always fall along partisan lines. Majorities of California voters in 2020 sided with the GOP rather than the Democratic leadership position on a handful of ballot measures involving property taxes, rent control, criminal justice, affirmative action and the gig economy.

Whether that dynamic spilled over to candidate races, or whether it would next year, is far from clear.

But it certainly gives credence to what some Republican leaders for years have been saying is needed to improve the party’s fortunes in California: focus on pocketbook, quality of life, and state and local issues that cut across party lines, and avoid the divisive culture wars and national politics.

Easier said than done.

That approach was the Republican hope for the 2021 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom. But arguments about homelessness, crime and cost of living lost their steam once right-wing lightning rod Larry Elder jumped into the race to replace Newsom, who made Elder the issue and handily defeated the recall bid.

Plus, there’s no getting away from Trump, who can bolster Republican turnout but, more significantly, energize Democrats.

Some frustrated Republicans complain Democrats and the media overly focus on social issues and Trump. But it’s the conservative-dominated Supreme Court that scuttled a half-century of precedent supporting the constitutionality of abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade. And it’s Republicans pushing limits on LGBTQ rights across the nation.

True, Democrats led by Newsom and Senate president Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, did put a successful measure on the 2022 ballot to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. A “right to marry” law is planned for the 2024 ballot that would repeal the same-sex marriage ban under Proposition 8, even though the language of the 2008 voter-approved measure was invalidated in court.

But the Supreme Court’s Roe reversal suggests future rulings could override existing abortion protections and reactivate Proposition 8, which remains on the books.

Meanwhile, a move by some Republicans to drop opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage from the California GOP platform was swiftly rejected during the party’s convention last weekend. Granted, not many people pay attention to party platforms, but the short-lived challenge is emblematic of the state party’s struggle to move forward.

Arguments to protect the 1978 landmark tax-cutting initiative Proposition 13 may have lost some resonance over time. But concerns about taxes and economic burdens in general are evergreen political issues.

Democrats contend the high bar to raise taxes is unfair, pointing to numerous measures that were supported by large majorities yet failed the two-thirds test. They contend that has deprived governments of revenue for infrastructure and services desired by the public.

To what degree state and local tax increase proposals will appear on the ballot next year remains to be seen. In April, the governor rejected a state Senate proposal to raise business taxes as part of a budget package.

Democrats and many city and school officials are clearly concerned about the business-backed ballot measure. Last month, Newsom, Atkins and others filed an emergency petition with the state Supreme Court in an effort to keep the proposal off the ballot.

They contend the proposition would illegally revise the state constitution and cripple local government finances, in part because the measure is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, and would threaten taxes and fees enacted since then.

Should the current economic discontent roll over into the election year, Republicans may have a strong case for high voting thresholds as a safeguard against over-taxation in already-expensive California, where the cost of housing and gasoline trigger near-constant ire.

Carrying the anti-tax theme a step further, Republicans could point out the business measure also would ban road use charges, also known as vehicle miles traveled fees — which have proved unpopular in some regions.

Such fees are being considered in California and across the country as a replacement for gas tax revenues that are shrinking with the increase of fuel-efficient vehicles and electric vehicles.

A long-range transportation plan drawn up by the San Diego Association of Governments included road charges, but the political fallout jarred supporters.

The SANDAG board, including some Democrats, officially removed the mileage tax from the plan last month.

Click here to read the full article in the San Diego Union Tribune

Republicans’ Faith in 2024 Vote Count Low, Poll Finds

Few Republicans have high confidence that votes will be tallied accurately in next year’s presidential contest, suggesting years of sustained attacks against elections by former President Trump and his allies have taken a toll, according to a new poll.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that only 22% of Republicans have high confidence that votes in the upcoming presidential election will be counted accurately, compared with 71% of Democrats expressing high confidence — underscoring a partisan divide fueled by a campaign of lies about the 2020 vote.

As he runs for the White House a third time, Trump continues to claim that the 2020 election was stolen.

Overall, 44% of Americans surveyed said they had “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of confidence that the votes in the next election would be counted accurately.

Confidence in elections has risen among Democrats in recent years, but has dropped among Republicans. Ahead of the 2016 election, 32% of Republicans polled were highly confident that votes would be counted accurately. That share rose to 54% two years later, after Trump won the presidency.

But their confidence fell to 28% a month before the 2020 election as Trump signaled that the voting would be rigged, and now sits at 22%.

“I just didn’t like the way the last election went,” said Lynn Jackson, a nurse and registered Republican from Contra Costa County. “I have questions about it. I can’t actually say it was stolen — only God knows that.”

Trump’s claims were rejected by dozens of judges, including several he had appointed. Multiple reviews, audits and recounts in the battleground states where Trump disputed his loss — including several overseen by GOP lawmakers — confirmed Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.

Even so, Trump’s claims led GOP-dominated states to pass new laws increasing voting restrictions, primarily by restricting mail voting and limiting or banning ballot drop boxes. Across the country, conspiracy theories related to voting machines prompted many Republican-controlled local governments to explore banning counting machines in favor of hand counts.

The AP-NORC survey found that political independents — a group that has consistently had low confidence in elections — were also largely skeptical about the integrity of the 2024 elections. Just 24% said they had the highest levels of confidence that the votes would be counted accurately.

Chris Ruff, a 46-year-old unaffiliated voter from Sanford, N.C., said he lost faith in elections years ago, believing they are rigged. He also sees no difference between the two major parties.

“I don’t vote at all,” he said. “I think it only adds credibility to the system if you participate.”

The conspiracy theories about voting machines, promoted through forums held around the country, also have taken a toll on confidence among Republicans even though there is no evidence to support the claims.

About 4 in 10 U.S. adults said they were highly confident that scanning paper ballots into a machine provides accurate counts. Democrats are about twice as confident in the process as Republicans — 63% compared with 29%. That marks a notable shift from a 2018 AP-NORC poll that found just 40% of Democrats were confident compared with 53% of Republicans.

Gillian Nevers, a 79-year-old retiree from Madison, Wis., has been a poll worker and said she had confidence — based on her experiences — in the people who oversee elections.

“I have never seen any shenanigans,” said Nevers, who votes Democratic. “The claims are unfounded and ridiculous.”

The conspiracy theories have led to death threats against election officials and an exodus of experienced workers.

Among other poll findings:

Most Republicans — 62% — said they were opposed to voting by mail without an excuse, compared with just 13% of Democrats.

Requiring a photo ID to cast a ballot received broad bipartisan support. Seven in 10 adults said they would favor a measure requiring voters to provide photo identification, including 87% of Republicans and 60% of Democrats.

A slim majority of Americans — 55% — said they supported automatically registering adult citizens to vote when they get a driver’s license or other state identification.

Four in 10 adults said eligible voters being denied the right to vote is a major problem in U.S. elections, but about as many Americans said the same about voting by people who are not eligible. The perceived significance of each issue varies by political party: 56% of Republicans said illegal voting is a major problem in U.S. elections, compared with 20% of Democrats. And 53% of Democrats said eligible voters being unable to vote is a major problem, compared with 26% of Republicans.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Republicans Balk at Plan to Replace Feinstein on Judiciary

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats’ efforts to temporarily replace California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the Senate Judiciary Committee met quick opposition Monday from Republicans, complicating their plan as some of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees remain on hold during her extended medical absence.

Feinstein, 89, last week asked to be temporarily replaced on the Senate Judiciary Committee while she recuperates in her home state from a case of the shingles. The statement came shortly after a member of California’s House delegation, Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, called on her to resign from the Senate, saying it is “unacceptable” for her to miss votes to confirm judges who could be weighing in on abortion rights, a key Democratic priority. Feinstein has been away from the Senate since February.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday that he is moving forward and hopes to put a resolution on the Senate floor this week seeking a temporary substitute on the panel. But it’s unclear if Democrats will have the votes.

Multiple Republicans indicated on Monday that they would object to the rare request, meaning there would have to be a roll call vote — and Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to vote with them for approval.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican on the Judiciary committee, said on the Senate floor that he hopes to see Feinstein back in the Senate soon, but “until then, President Biden’s most controversial, partisan judicial nominees will have to wait.”

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, a member of Republican leadership, said she wouldn’t support a temporary replacement. “We’re not going to help the Democrats with that,” she told reporters.

The uncertainty over Feinstein’s status, and over the fate of some of Biden’s judicial nominees, is the latest tangle for Schumer as he navigates his party’s one-seat majority in the Senate. Feinstein’s absence comes as another Democratic senator, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, has also been on an extended medical leave. Fetterman, 53, returned to the Senate on Monday after checking himself into the hospital in February for clinical depression.

It also comes as bipartisan votes on federal judgeships — lifetime appointments, in most cases — have been increasingly steeped in partisanship. While the Judiciary committee has moved some of Biden’s judicial nominees with a handful of GOP votes, Republicans are loath to give approval to a plan that will help Biden place more judges on the bench.

“I will not go along with Chuck Schumer’s plan to replace Senator Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee and pack the court with activist judges,” tweeted Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., a member of the Judiciary panel.

Democrats say the are currently 12 federal judge nominees they have been unable to advance because of Feinstein’s absence. It is unclear how many of the nominees would be able to move with some Republican support.

Several Republicans questioned the motivations behind the effort. North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis said he was skeptical because Democrats aren’t trying to replace Feinstein on the Intelligence or Appropriations panels.

“Why one and not all three?” asked Tillis, who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Chuck Grassley of Iowa said they think Democrats are pressuring Feinstein unfairly.

Collins said that she and Feinstein are good friends, and she thinks there has been a “concerted campaign” to push her off the Judiciary committee. “I will have no part of that,” Collins said.

Feinstein has come under increasing pressure to resign or step down from her duties. While she has defended her effectiveness, she has faced questions in recent years about her cognitive health and memory, and has appeared increasingly frail.

In 2020, she said she would not serve as the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel after criticism from liberals about her handling of of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation. Earlier this year, she said she would not serve as the Senate president pro tempore, or the most senior member of the majority party, even though she was in line to do so. The president pro tempore opens the Senate every day and holds other ceremonial duties.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a longtime member of the panel who is the same age as Feinstein, chastised Democrats for denying Feinstein the opportunity to become chairman of the committee and trying to force her out of office “because she’s old.”

“I don’t intend to give credence to that sort of anti-human treatment,” Grassley said.

If Feinstein were to resign immediately, the process would be much easier for Democrats, since California Gov. Gavin Newsom would appoint a replacement. The Senate regularly approves committee assignments for new senators after their predecessors have resigned or died. But a temporary replacement due to illness is a rare, if not unprecedented, request.

It is unclear how long Feinstein will be away. Her office has not given a timeline for her return, and Democrats have not said for how long they would seek a temporary replacement. She has been away from the Senate since Feb. 27, just two weeks after she announced she would not run for another term next year.

Schumer said he spoke to Feinstein in recent days, and “she believes she will return soon. She is hopeful of that and so am I.”

Asked if Feinstein should resign, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin said Monday that “I’m not going to push her into any other decision.” Durbin had previously expressed frustration about his committee’s stalled nominees.

Click here to read the full article at AP News

Battles with Biden and Within New Majority Anticipated

Republicans secured the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, boosting the party’s ability to stymie President Biden’s agenda even though the midterm results stop well short of a mandate from the electorate.

It took more than a week for the Associated Press to determine the GOP had won the 218 seats needed to win control. The belated milestone underscored Republicans’ underwhelming performance in an election cycle when economic conditions, historical precedent and a sour national mood had been expected to give them a greater advantage.

The party’s gains mean Biden will contend with a divided government in the latter half of his current term. Democrats have cemented control of the Senate with 50 seats, and can further bolster their ranks if Sen. Raphael Warnock wins reelection in a Georgia runoff next month.

Republicans had projected confidence before last week’s election of a “red wave” that would yield them at least a dozen more House seats. But Democrats’ surprising strength, powered largelyby voter outrage over the Supreme Court’s reversal of federal abortion protections, blunted the GOP’s edge to single digits.

Republicans claimed their majority with a victory by Rep. Mike Garcia over Democrat Christy Smith in a northern Los Angeles County district that Biden won by 12 points in 2020. The AP called the race Wednesday, though official results will take longer. Six competitive races, including four California contests, remain to be called.

“Republicans have officially flipped the People’s House! Americans are ready for a new direction, and House Republicans are ready to deliver,” House GOP leader Kevin Mc-Carthy tweeted after his party clinched control of the chamber.

Biden congratulated McCarthy and pledged a willingness to collaborate with the GOP, reiterating his call to move past “political warfare.”

“The American people want us to get things done for them,” he said. “They want us to focus on the issues that matter to them and on making their lives better. And I will work with anyone — Republican or Democrat — willing to work with me to deliver results.”

A Republican House is widely expected to clash with the Democratic president on policy, including potential standoffs over raising the debt limit and providing more aid to Ukraine. GOP members have also threatened impeachment proceedings against Biden and members of his Cabinet, and have vowed to launch multiple investigations, particularly into allegations against Hunter Biden, the president’s son.

But the GOP confer-ence’s relatively small majority could exacerbate its ideological fissures. Many of the incoming members from deep-red districts hail from the party’s right flank and are loyal to former President Trump, even as prominent Republicans grow increasingly vocal about his drag on the GOP. A narrow majority means that a small number of defectors can have an outsized impact on the party’s agenda.

McCarthy, who has doggedly pursued the speakership, has played down disappointment that Republicans didn’t pick up a larger number of seats.

“Remember, in the House, they don’t give gavels out by ‘small,’ ‘medium’ and ‘large.’ They just give you the gavel,” he told Fox News’ Jesse Watters, referring to the symbol of House control. “And we’re going to be able to govern.”

But his party’s slim margin leaves the Bakersfield Republican little room for error as he seeks the votes to become the next speaker. Though McCarthy had assiduously worked to strengthen alliances with the GOP’s most conservative faction, he nevertheless faced open hostilities from the right after he led the party to a lackluster midterm showing.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a staunch Trump ally, blasted McCarthy last week, tweeting that he represented “FLIGHT over FIGHT when the chips are down” and “is not a Speaker for these times.”

McCarthy cleared the first hurdle for the job on Tuesday after House Republicans voted for him to be nominated speaker. But with roughly 30 conservatives backing a challenge by Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, it is clear McCarthy does not yet have the 218 votes necessary to cement his place as top House leader.

“My bid to run for speaker is about changing the paradigm and the status quo,” Biggs tweeted before the vote. “Minority Leader McCarthy does not have the votes needed to become the next speaker of the House and his speakership should not be a foregone conclusion.”

The speaker of the next Congress will officially be determined by a vote of the entire House in January.

The current speaker — Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco — agreed in 2018 to step down from House Democratic leadership by the end of 2022. Her spokesman said she would announce her plans Thursday.

“House Democrats defied expectations with an excellent performance: running their races with courage, optimism and determination,” Pelosi said Wednesday. “In the next Congress, [they] will continue to play a leading role in supporting President Biden’s agenda — with strong leverage over a scant Republican majority.”

Republicans had reason for high hopes this election cycle. Large majorities of voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, polls have shown, an indicator that theoretically should bode well for the party that does not hold the White House. Persistent inflation gave them an opportunity to run on the economy — an area where many people tend to favor the GOP over Democrats.

Biden threatened to be an albatross for Democrats. Only twice in the decades after World War II has the party that controlled the White House gained seats in Congress — in 1998 and 2002, when the approval ratings for Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively, were in the 60s. Biden’s ratings, in contrast, have been in the low 40s.

That Democrats performed so well — not picking up House seats, but avoiding significant losses — makes this midterm even more of an anomaly, said Jacob Rubashkin, an analyst with Inside Elections, a nonpartisan newsletter.

“For the first time, it really does feel like midterm voters were willing to get beyond their dissatisfaction with the president,” he said.

The GOP’s underperformance was most apparent in its failure “to make inroads into places that they were hoping would be most competitive. … They were unable to claw back the suburbs. And they were unable to make New England Republicans a reality again. And they were unable to dislodge quite a few strong Democratic incumbents in places that they had hoped they could.”

Trump, launching his 2024 presidential bid this week, cheered Republicans’ House takeover, but acknowledged they should have done better.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

Republicans Act On Homelessness Where Democrats Have Failed

The progressive experiment is failing in California. Take a walk around any of the cities controlled by Democrats here and you’ll see dozens of homeless encampments, feces, and heroin needles littering sidewalks and streets.

Despite containing only 12% of the nation’s population, California is home to a whopping 28% of its homeless, and an astronomical 47% of its unsheltered homeless. Since 2018, the state has thrown $17 billion at homelessness and the problem has only continued to grow.

Under more than a decade of complete Democratic control of state government, California’s approach on this issue has been disjointed and scattershot.

Democratic ideas to address homelessness have failed – evidence of that failure is visible to anyone who witnesses the suffering that has taken over our streets. In Gov. Gavin Newsom’s own words, Democrats have been “as dumb as they want to be” when it comes to homelessness.

Still, their “plan” to address homelessness is to simply carry on the same ineffective programs but spend more money. If we continue in their direction, we can only expect to see continued worsening results.

It is time to look at new ideas instead of doubling down on failed ones.

That’s why Legislative Republicans have introduced a comprehensive package of more than a dozen bills to ACT on homelessness, now. These bills prioritize accountability, compassion and treatment. Specifically, they demand accountability from our leaders, focus resources on housing and shelter accessibility, mental health and substance abuse assistance, and provide support for people at risk of becoming homeless.

Our first set of bills will bring accountability to homelessness programs and ensure funding gets to programs that actually keep people off the street and deliver the help they need. Californians cannot afford to continue providing blank checks with no results. Our proposals would require the governor to make an annual report to the Legislature on his homelessness efforts and begin a long-overdue audit of state homelessness spending and outcomes.

California has spent billions on housing efforts for the homeless population – yet those programs have failed. That’s why Legislative Republicans have proposed measures to support programs that help keep people off the streets and help those in the cycle of homelessness grow beyond the shelter walls. The Republican plan will streamline shelter construction, protect faith-based organizations that provide shelter and fund local government efforts to increase shelter capacity.

Ignoring mental health and substance use disorders within the homeless population is the furthest thing from compassionate. Californians in every community of this state see streets littered with needles and walk past those who struggle to grasp reality. Legislative Republicans want to bring real compassion to the homelessness crisis and ensure those who need help will receive it. Among our proposals are bills to provide addiction services for the homeless using opioid settlement funds, provide prompt treatment to people having a mental health crisis and ensure those with severe mental illness are placed into treatment instead of left on our streets.

While every homeless person comes to homelessness in their own way, we know certain groups – former foster youth, veterans, the mentally ill, the addicted, domestic violence victims, and the recently incarcerated – are at far greater risk than the general population. However, California’s prevention programs, to the degree they exist, show little evidence of success or accountability.

Republicans plan to help these populations break the cycle of homelessness, overcome adversity, and find and keep employment within the state. Republican proposals will create incentive and training programs to provide at-risk youth with employment opportunities and establish reentry programs for jail inmates at risk of becoming homeless upon their release.

Homelessness is all around us, and getting worse despite the continued empty promises from Capitol Democrats. Their ‘money solves everything’ approach is failing spectacularly, but they refuse to see it.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

GOP Leader Says Republicans Could Flip 60 Seats Next Year

Republicans took a victory lap Wednesday following Republican Glenn Youngkin’s stunning win in the Virginia governor’s race, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) predicting his party could flip more than 60 House seats in next year’s midterm elections.

“If you’re a Democrat and President Biden won your seat by 16 points, you’re in a competitive race next year. You are no longer safe,” McCarthy told reporters while flanked by his leadership team and Virginia Republicans.

“It’ll be more than 70 [Democratic seats] that will be competitive. There’s many that are going to lose their races based upon walking off a cliff from [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] pushing them,” he continued. “She may not care if she lose. She lost 63 the last time she was Speaker moving policy that the country didn’t care for. 

“Many believe she won’t stay around” in Congress, McCarthy asserted. Speaking to Democrats, he added, “So she’s not going to be there to defend you.”

Pelosi and the Democrats did lose 63 seats — and the House majority — in the Tea Party wave of 2010, the midterms that came two years after former President Obama won the White House.

Click here to read the full article at thehill.com

An Agenda to Make California’s GOP Relevant Again

CA GOPCalifornia’s Republican party has nothing to lose. They’ve lost every battleground district. The Democrats are going to do whatever they want in the Legislature. Corporate interests are cultivating competing factions among the Democrats. All the smart money is with the Democrats, because the Republicans don’t matter anymore. California’s GOP should seize this opportunity. This is a tremendous moment.

How often does any organization have the chance to experiment wildly, to try something radical, to risk everything, because they have nothing to lose? That’s what faces California’s GOP today. The GOP airplane is in a nose dive. Finding a pilot who will give the plane a soft landing, or prolong the time until the crash, accomplishes nothing. Push the throttle. Pull some Gs. Stress the airframe. Take a chance. Because otherwise you’re dead.

Trump, for all his tactless bombast and alarming disregard for convention in almost all things, has stimulated political engagement at a level not seen in the last 50 years. Trump’s ability to challenge the premises of America’s uni-party elite on the issues of trade, immigration, foreign interventions and “climate change,” along with his disregard for the pieties of libertarians and socialists, and his indifference to the encroachments of political correctness – all this may eventually be recognized as having had an extremely healthy impact on America at a critical time.

There are issues specific to California that can “make California great again.” It is not necessary for California’s GOP to select all of these issues. They can pick and choose. All of them address the greatest inequity that Californians confront, but never solve – the criminally high, utterly contrived, scandalously avoidable, punitive cost-of-living in this state.

To make California affordable again, a new, unafraid, assertive California GOP would have to rethink its ideological underpinnings. It would have to violate many socialist and libertarian taboos in favor of pragmatic choices reminiscent of 1950’s California, when vast sums of government funds were applied with an efficiency that makes mockery of today’s tangle of bureaucratic delays and interminable lawsuits.

For example. it isn’t heresy to use government funds, from bonds or operating budgets, to subsidize infrastructure. What’s needed, however, is a determination to set priorities that benefit the people of California, and a willingness to fight through waves of endless litigation to score precedent setting court victories. Doing this will help ensure that most of the money spent in subsequent projects will go to people who operate heavy equipment, instead of most of it paying people who sit in front of keyboards. Some of these priorities might themselves be heretical, or anathema to special interests, but here goes….

Education

Enact school choice. Don’t just fight a rear guard action protecting the beleaguered charter schools. Approve school vouchers and allow competition between traditional public schools, charters, parochial schools, and private schools. Quit tiptoeing around this issue. California’s public schools are failing. Turn the state into a laboratory for education, and let parents choose which schools their children will attend. A lot of pedagogical debates would be settled pronto, if principals and teachers were able to run their schools any which way they wanted, yet were held absolutely accountable by the parents.

Enforce the Vergara reforms so it is easier to retain quality public school teachers and easier to fire the incompetent ones.

Offer vocational training in the trades as an option for high school students after age 15, including private sector funded apprenticeships for high school credit. Look to the European systems for examples.

Restore the balance in California’s colleges and universities so that the ratio of faculty to administrators is 2-to-1, instead of the current ratio that allows administrators often to outnumber teachers.

End all discrimination and base college admissions purely on merit. Expand STEM curricula so it represents 40-50 percent of college majors instead of the current 15-20 percent. In all publicly funded institutions of higher education, fold all of ethnic and gender “studies” majors into the traditional fields of history and sociology. Consolidate these majors and reduce the number of enrollments to make room for more STEM enrollments.

Get rid of all of the horribly misguided campus “safe spaces” and other malevolent hate-nurturing segregationist boondoggles. Stop appeasing the professional race hustlers. Tell the truth to people of color – California is the best place in the world to thrive, California is a tolerant, diverse society, and all this victim mongering will not make society better and will not make you successful or happy. Say this loud and proud and never back down. Fire the entire diversity bureaucracy.

Criminal Justice and Immigration

Restructure the penal system to make it easier for prisoners to perform useful public services. For example. along with working the fire lines during fire season, they could work all year clearing dead trees out of California’s forests. Use high-tech monitoring devices to reduce costs. Reserve current prisons only for the truly incorrigible.

Support comprehensive federal immigration reform that includes merit based legal immigration, and attenuates chain migration. Support something, anything, that squelches illegal immigration. If that’s not a border wall, then push for stronger employer verification. Quit agreeing with the Democrats. This is not a “manufactured problem.” It is not in the interests of American citizens, especially in low income communities, to continue to allow the entry of unskilled immigrants – legal or illegal – and the only people who don’t accept this are either denying basic economics or they are part of a special interest group. Come to some reasonable accommodation with ICE.

Transportation

Add at least one lane to every major interstate in California, and upgrade and resurface all state highways. Widen and upgrade roads up and down the state. Kill High Speed Rail.

Begin investigating and facilitating private sector rollout of next generation transportation solutions, including coordinating development of aerial taxi corridors as well as high speed “hyperlanes” for next generation smart electric cars. Prepare for the advent of flying cars, self driving cars, share cars, ride hailing, micro-transit companies, and high speed cars.

Water

Complete plant upgrades so that 100 percent of California’s sewage is reused, even treated to potable quality. Kill the Delta Tunnel(s) and do seismic upgrades on the Delta levees instead – that will have to be done regardless. Build a hatchery to replenish Delta Smelt.

Unlock water markets. If farmers had the right to sell their water allotments without risking losing their historical water rights, municipalities would never have shortages of water. It’s truly that simple, because California’s total urban water consumption – all of it, residential, commercial, industrial – is less than 7 million acre feet per year, whereas farmers in California consume on average over 30 million acre feet per year.

Pass legislation to streamline approval of the proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach, and fast-track applications for additional desalination plants, especially in Los Angeles.

Spend the entire proceeds of the $7 billion water bond, passed overwhelmingly by Californians in 2014, on storage. Build the Los Banos GrandesSites, and Temperance Flat reservoirs, adding over 5.0 million acre feet of storage to the California Water Project. Support federal efforts to raise Shasta Dam. Pass aggressive legislation and fund aggressive legal actions and counteractions, to lower costs and enable completion of these projects in under five years (which is all the time it used to take to complete similar projects).

Work towards a grand bargain on water policy where environmentalists accept a few more reservoirs and desalination plants in exchange for plentiful water allocations to threatened ecosystems, farmers pay more for water in exchange for undiminished quantities, and taxpayers bear the burden of some new debt in exchange for permanent access to affordable, secure, and abundant water.

Energy

Permit slant drilling to access 12 trillion cubic feet of natural gas deposits from land-based rigs along the Southern California coast. Build an LNG terminal off the coast in Ventura County to export California’s natural gas to foreign markets. Permit development of the Monterey Shale formation to extract oil and gas. Permit construction of new natural gas power plants.

Promote nuclear power as a solution that not only makes the dawning electric age – from electric cars to rampant, exponentially multiplying bitcoin mining operations – utterly feasible. Nuclear power is only costly because permits and regulations and insurance premiums (mostly to insure against the cost of lawsuits, not actual hazardous calamities) are artificially elevated. Retrofit and reopen San Onofre. Keep Diablo Canyon on line and add capacity. Permit construction of “generation 3+” nuclear power plants and prototype micro-reactors.

Housing and the Homeless

Unlock open land for development. Quit acting like there’s not a single square mile of open space that isn’t sacred to the environment. California has over 25,000 square miles of cattle ranch land. If just one-third of that land were developed, California’s urban footprint would double. There’s plenty of room. Subsidize practical new public infrastructure (i.e., roads, not “light rail”) throughout new regions opened up for land development.

Repeal the 2006 “Global Warming Solutions Act” and “Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act” of 2008 and make it easy for developers to build homes on the suburban and exurban fringes, instead of just “in-fill” that destroys existing neighborhoods. Cancel the war on the single family dwelling, and allow developers (or in some cases even require them) to build homes with large yards again. Repeal excessive building codes such as mandatory photo-voltaic roof panels. Create a regulatory environment that encourages private investment in new housing developments instead of discouraging it.

Allow police to enforce vagrancy laws, even if it means expensive corrective litigation going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Build inexpensive tent cities for the homeless. Some cities in California have already had success with this tactic. The corrupt and futile opposite extreme is to construct “permanent supportive housing” which in Los Angeles has cost over $400,000 per apartment unit.

Pensions and Infrastructure

Require California’s public employee pension funds to invest a minimum of 10 percent of their assets in infrastructure projects as noted above. They could issue fixed rate bonds or take equity positions in the revenue-producing projects, or a combination of both. This would immediately unlock approximately $80 billion in construction financing to rebuild California’s infrastructure. At the same time, save the pension systems by striking down the “California Rule” that prevents meaningful pension reform.

Once the California Rule is abolished, prospectively reduce pension multipliers to pre-1999 levels for all future work for all employees, existing as well as new hires. That, along with defending the reforms of PEPRA, might be all it would take.

Vision and Leadership Will Save California’s Republicans

Until California’s GOP is willing to embrace bold policies that will offer California’s struggling middle and low income communities opportunities for upwards mobility, they will remain irrelevant. It isn’t enough to “join together.” It isn’t enough to secure some reliable flow of donor support. To thrive, a political party needs to have a distinct vision of the future, a policy agenda that will achieve that future, and leaders that understand and can express that vision. Those qualities are more important than money. Meg Whitman proved that.

An important reason Democrats win is because they invariably speak with moral authority, whether they deserve it or not. But the moral worth of Democratic policies is shallow. In the name of earth justice and social justice, they have made California the most inhospitable place in America for low and middle income residents. The Democrats are incapable of compromising on their rhetoric or their policies. They are locked into the ideological straight-jackets of climate change hysteria and identity politics. The Republicans must demonstrate their ability to find the balance that Democrats are incapable of finding. They must promote and enact policies, some examples of which have just been described, that challenge some of the premises of environmentalism and social justice. There is a moral value to providing opportunity by making California affordable. There is a moral value to instilling pride by abandoning race and gender preferences. There is a moral value to embracing policies of abundance – by turning the private sector loose to increase the supply of housing, energy, water, et al. – rather than creating politically contrived artificial scarcity.

One very encouraging sign at California’s state GOP convention of February 2019 was how diverse the attendees have become. Democrats should find this very alarming, because the so-called “people of color” at the GOP convention were not part of the rent seeking coalition that Democrats have built, looking for reparations and entitlements to compensate for their supposedly disadvantaged status. These were confident, self-sufficient individuals, who valued the opportunity to compete and succeed on their own merits. There were hundreds of Latinos, Sikhs, Indian Americans, African Americans, Asians. More of them than ever, they came to Sacramento to be among fellow Republicans. This should not only trouble Democrats, perhaps it should also trouble establishment Republicans, because nearly all of them were enthusiastic Trump supporters.

If you were at the GOP convention last weekend, you could have talked to a Latino whose cousin has a ranch in the Rio Grande Valley. He would have told you why we need border security. You also could have talked to an African American grandmother who has watched hope return to members of her extended family, because they have good jobs in the Trump economy. These people are proud Americans. They don’t want to be patronized or appeased, and more and more, they see right through the Democrat’s game. They want the tough truth. Because honest hard work, reckoned by immutable and evenly applied standards, is the only true pathway to achievement. They are waiting for Republican leadership to fight to make California great again, not attempt to become Democrat-lite.

The themes that will capture new voters can’t just be marketed as “bold.” They have to be bold. There is an alternative vision, embracing solutions, not just identifying problems. It can incorporate some or all of the agenda just set forth. But it will mean launching a sustained assault on the government unions, the extreme environmentalists and their allies, the plaintiff’s bar, and the social justice fanatics that have taken over public education. It will require challenging not their lofty idealism or their proclaimed altruism, but their premises and their methods.

No, we are not running out of land, energy or water, and yes, we will entitle vast tracts of open land for development and build infrastructure including dams and desalination plants and encourage private sector investment partners.

No, if we don’t go “100 percent renewable” by 2050 the planet will not burn up, and yes, we will develop natural gas reserves and build nuclear power plants.

No, we will no longer admit unqualified students to colleges and universities, and yes, we will establish uniform admissions requirements, reserving our enrollments for the finest students in the world.

No, we will not tolerate mediocre results in our public schools, and yes, we will fight for school choice, vouchers, charters, and eliminate union work rules that prevent dismissing bad teachers and protect good teachers if layoffs occur.

No, we will not allow pensions to bankrupt the state, and yes, we will restore pension benefits going forward to pre-1999 formulas, and we will require California’s pension funds to invest at least 10 percent of their assets in California infrastructure projects.

For every no, there is a yes. For every problem, there is a solution. And the moral worth of these solutions must be asserted unflinchingly. These solutions will create opportunity for all Californians. Fighting for these solutions is risky. It will invite a furious response from the entire Democratic machine. But it could work. And it’s the right thing to do.

Edward Ring is a co-founder of the California Policy Center and served as its first president.

Election Nears, Republicans Go Soft On Social Security

With the Senate potentially within the Republicans’ grasp, some GOP candidates are flip-flopping on how they view Social Security, the Washington Examiner reports.

The ads, run by Crossroads GPS, have appeared in North Carolina, Arkansas, and California, and show Republican candidates aggressively defending Social Security and attacking Democratic opposition.

Georgia is a prominent example, in which the National Republican Campaign Committee viscerally attacked Democratic Rep. John Barrow for “leaving Georgia seniors behind.” Republicans at this hour in the game are gunning for electoral support from the more senior demographic. Seniors reliably turn out at a higher rate to the polls in non-presidential elections than other groups.

According to the polls, both parties appear to support Social Security, but how the Republicans will manage entitlements in light of priorities of fiscal responsibility remains to be seen if they take a majority in one or both chambers. Allegations of hypocrisy have been flying since the incident in Georgia, as Democratic opposition to Social Security, according to Democrats, is part of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson plan. In other words, Republicans are supposed to agree to raise taxes, and Democrats will in turn agree to reduce spending, to bring down the $17.9 trillion dollar national debt.

A former Republican senator from New Hampshire struck back against the few Republicans trying to trap opponents in an awkward position.

“It really is inappropriate for Republicans to attack people who stand up for entitlement reforms, especially hard reforms to Social Security and Medicare along the lines of what Simpson-Bowles proposes,” Judd Gregg told The Washington Post.

However, some Republicans point out that the whole issue is completely overblown in the first place—nothing more than an election ploy. The campaign against the Bowles-Simpson plan isn’t gaining any ground and is relegated to a few states, where Democrats, too, have broken the bargain. In Louisiana, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu has criticized her opponent for wanting to raise the retirement age.

“Entitlement reform has always been the most difficult piece of the debt-reduction equation,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, noting how politically fraught and heated the issue is around election time.

This article was originally published on the Daily Caller News Foundation

Rand Paul Urges Poor Americans To Give Up On Dems

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a likely 2016 hopeful, is urging middle- and working-class voters to give Republicans a chance to guide the economy.

“The constituencies that voted for [President Obama] aren’t doing very well,” Sen. Paul said in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio. Income inequality is higher in states and cities with Democratic leadership, he explained, and “ridiculous” low interest rates held in place by the Federal Reserve in recent years have artificially boosted the stock market and hurt the ability of middle- and working-class Americans to save.

“If you are unemployed or underemployed, maybe you need to look to other people and new policies,” Sen. Paul said. “Maybe you people need to give Republicans another chance if you want to improve the lot of people who are suffering.”

The Federal Reserve is expected to increase rates sometime in the next year for the first time since 2006, but uncertainty about when and how much rates will rise has contributed to confusion and volatility in financial markets. The Dow Jones fell by 335 points Thursday — the worst single day drop of 2014.

Sen. Paul is a vocal critic of the Federal Reserve, and has pushed several times, so far unsuccessfully, to pass a bill in the Senate to audit the Fed. He pointed to the latest downturn as evidence a larger and longer “correction” to come that would be bad news for investors.

“The message really is that I’m concerned about every person who is either under employed or unemployed,” he added in the interview. “That the way we get them jobs is by enhancing capitalism. What does that mean? Smaller government and bigger market place. Lower taxes and less regulation, more trade.”

This piece originally appeared on the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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