Friday, November 05, 2010

Why Republicans can't win in California

The WSJ tries to explain why the GOP is unable to make much headway in either California and New York. They reach a conclusion that should be very depressing to anyone who wishes those states well.
At some level, this Democratic immunity can be blamed on unforced errors like the dysfunctional Empire State GOP establishment, or on the fact that California's Democratic voters outnumbered Republicans by 13 points over the national average, according to exit polls. But the larger warning concerns the power that lies at the iron triangle of public employee unions, high taxes and social budgets that are larger than the economies in other states.

The fiscs in both Albany and Sacramento are perched atop a shrinking base of taxpayers, many so wealthy that they don't care what tax rates are. The highest-earning 1% funds nearly half of the New York budget. The liberal political class then feeds these dollars to its union constituents—not least in the form of gold-plated benefits and pensions—who in turn spend mightily to protect their patrons, even as the state budgets lurch ever closer to Grecian territory.

One of the most powerful forces in Golden State politics is the militant California Nurses Association, which might as well be a government workers union given the size of MediCal, the state Medicaid program. The nurses call Ms. Fiorina "Princess Carly." In New York, there's the Working Families Party, which is an adjunct of the public-sector labor movement and spent heavily to elect the Cuomo-DiNapoli-Schneiderman triumvirate.

As this agenda squeezes the middle class and drives jobs out of state, it leaves politics to a coalition of well-off knowledge professionals, public employees and lower-income workers who depend on the state for transfer payments. The well-paid elites in finance, fashion, media, tech or Hollywood tend to view environmental issues like cap and tax as enlightened social statements unrelated to economic growth.
The only hope is that Jerry Brown faces up to the reality of his state's catastrophic situation and does a Nixon-goes-to-China about-face on what has to be done to cut back on state spending, trim government pensions, and lower taxes. If not, everyone who is able will try to pull up and leave the state. They'll be left with just those paid by the government to funnel money to groups receiving aid from the government.