Chamber launches ‘California Comeback’

Aug. 31, 2012

By Joseph Perkins

Here’s an ad:

“California is struggling … badly.  Two million people out of work… Huge deficits… High taxes… Over-regulation…” 

“Instead of creating jobs, politicians increased spending $30 billion since 2008. And bureaucrats put $37 billion in hidden unaudited accounts.

“We can fund our schools and make government work … By cutting waste and creating jobs.

“Check the facts at the California”

When I caught this ad this week, I thought it must be the brainchild of a California industry group, lamenting the impediments to growing a business here in the Golden State.

But I was mistaken. The spot is actually sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has just launched its “California Comeback” campaign.

“America’s economy cannot fully recovery,” says Thomas Donohue, the Chamber’s President and CEO, “unless and until California recovers.” And that is only going to happen, he said, “if the state breaks its addiction to excessive government, while acting decisively to reverse a serious erosion of its business reputation.”

As it is, chides the Chamber, echoing a stinging editorial published this past spring in Investor’s Business Daily, our troubled state is “The Sick Man of America.”

And lest the state’s various apologists protest too much, a Chamber report offers prima facie evidence:

“California’s jobless rate is the nation’s third-worst. The percentage of residents that can be considered middle class has fallen below 50 percent. We are the nation’s biggest welfare state, in real terms, with one-eighth the nation’s population but one-third its welfare recipients.” 

“Nearly 1.5 million people fled our state the past decade, withCali’s out-migration ranking second in the country. Our state ranked dead last in 2010 in creating new businesses, after years of ranking first or second.

“We have the nation’s fourth-highest foreclosure rate, as the dream of homeownership has become a nightmare for many Californians. The state’s share of the nation’s exports shrank to 11.4 percent in 2008 from 15.4 percent in 2000.

“And only 22 percent of our state’s eighth-graders passed a national science test, ranking them fourth-worst in the country.”

“California is not going to soon recover from its seeming across-the-board economic decline. Yet, the U.S. Chamber is optimistic that a California comeback is possible. 

That is, if the Sick Man of America heeds the Chamber’s worthy advice:

“Get runaway spending and unsustainable pensions under control. Establish a competitive tax system. Ease the state’s regulatory burden. Unleash the state’s energy potential. Rebuild the state’s roads, ports, airports and other infrastructure. Restore excellence to California’s schools. Fix the state’s broken legal system. And expand international trade and tourism.” 

“If,” says Donohue, “the Golden State can break out of the vicious, failed cycle of tax, spend, borrow, regulate, and sue, then there is no question that we will see a California comeback.”

And, who knows, maybe we’ll also see the swallows miraculously return each spring to San Juan Capistrano.

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