Skelton: GOP would win if it became just like Dems

Elephant orphanage - wikipediaFeb. 19, 2013

By John Seiler

L.A. Times columnist George Skelton continues to amuse as he keeps telling Republicans they could win again if they just became like Democrats. After all, Democrats are winners, aren’t they? As the psychologists say, shouldn’t we “model” winners?

Commenting on its decline that began in the 1990s, Skelton writes, “The California GOP did make a brief resurgence under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was never fully accepted or appreciated by party activists.”

Skelton seems to be the only person in California who believes Arnold’s governorship was anything but a disaster. When Arnold took office in 2003, state unemployment was just above the national average. When he left office in January 2011, it was 3 percentage points above it. Jobs were fleeing the state because of his record $13 billion tax increase in 2009; and because of such regulations as AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

Seven years later, environmentalist extremists don’t even call it “global warming” anymore, but “climate change,” so they can use every bout of bad weather as an excuse to increase government control over the economy.

Skelton enthuses about Jim Brulte, the former Senate minority leader, becoming state GOP chairman. “And the party is dead broke, in hock by perhaps $800,000, Brulte says.” That really is inexcusable in a party that preaches fiscal discipline.

Skelton again: “Yes, a strong two-party system — one that facilitates a problem-solving consensus — is preferable. But a functioning one-party system with competing factions would be better than what we have had in recent years: a liberal majority and a reactionary ‘Party of No’ creating gridlock.”

Party of ‘No’?

What’s he talking about? Party of “No”? Schwarzenegger got enough Republicans to back his tax increase. And he didn’t need them for AB 32 and other attacks on business.

In 2010, voters enacted Proposition 25, majority vote to pass a budget. So the only leverage Republicans had left was that a two-thirds majority still was needed to raise taxes, or put tax increases on the ballot.

In 2011, Republicans did block Gov. Jerry Brown’s desire to put on the ballot, with a special election, a continuation of the Schwarzenegger taxes — that is, Brown wanted to increase taxes $13 billion. He could have gone around them by gathering signatures for an initiative, then calling the special election. But he chose not to do that because he wanted some Republicans on his side for political cover.

Tax increases killed jobs

And there’s evidence Arnold’s tax increases killed jobs. Former GOP Assemblyman  Chuck DeVore explained:

“Starting with the end of the recession in June 2009, there were 19 months where California had higher taxes followed by 23 months of lower taxes. Then, last December, small business owners’ taxes spiked back up. The employment data for this period speaks volumes. During the low-tax months, the number of jobs in California increased by 2.7 percent, the number of jobs in Texas increased by 4.3 percent and the number of jobs in the U.S. as a whole, minus the two biggest states, increased by 2.4 percent. So California did pretty well, slightly outpacing the national average.

“But, during the 20 months of higher taxes, California lost about 1.1 percent of its jobs while Texas, which held the line on spending instead of increasing taxes, added 1.2 percent more jobs while the other 48 states lost 0.4 percent of their jobs.

“So after the recession’s official end, California lost jobs at almost triple the pace of the rest of the nation when it had higher taxes but it gained jobs faster than the national average during the two years when its taxes were lower.”

Californians should be thankful that the “Party of No” created “gridlock,” meaning for once the devouring maw of the California government taxed us slightly less for two years, allowing the private economy to create more jobs.

With Republicans becoming a “superminority,” as Skelton calls them, there is no adult around to say no. Even Brown vetoes could be overridden.

The first several months of 2013 also will tell us how many jobs the Proposition 30 tax increase will kill. As Chris Reed wrote today here on, Brown and his economic guru, Kish Rajan, just don’t care about California’s toxic business environment and its resulting unemployment rate. Ditto Skelton.

The Skelton Plan for GOP Revival


“The GOP needs a different message, especially for Latinos. They’ve been voting heavily Democratic — largely because of Republican demagoguery on illegal immigration — and within months are projected to surpass whites as California’s largest ethnic group.

“The party also needs magnetic messengers — less-scary candidates who run on economic development, education reform and fiscal conservatism while piping down on immigration, abortion and gay marriage.”

But Latinos are more pro-life than Anglos. And the majority of Latinos voted for Proposition 8, which banned same-sex “marriage,” whereas the majority of Anglos opposed it.

So Skelton is confused.

At this point, Republicans are going to have a tough time getting back in the game in California. As Skelton rightly notes, Republicans have had a hard time attracting Latinos, who continue to increase in numbers. He writes, “They’ve been voting heavily Democratic — largely because of Republican demagoguery on illegal immigration — and within months are projected to surpass whites as California’s largest ethnic group.”

But the part on voting patterns is inaccurate. Latinos have voted about two-thirds Democratic for decades. They did so even after President Ronald Reagan granted illegal immigrants a vast amnesty in 1986. Ethnic voting patterns seldom change.

What Republicans really can do

The one thing Republicans can do is to prepare for picking up the pieces after a major economic disaster, for which Democrats will get blamed. And that disaster is coming. It’s not the national debt of $16.6 trillion, which is bad enough.

It’s the $222 trillion in federal unfunded liabilities, as calculated by economist Leonard Kotlikoff of Boston University. The unfunded liabilities include Social Security, Medicare, military pensions and medical care, etc. Reported Bloomberg:

“The U.S. fiscal gap, calculated (by us) using the Congressional Budget Office’s realistic long-term budget forecast — the Alternative Fiscal Scenario — is now $222 trillion. Last year, it was $211 trillion. The $11 trillion difference — this year’s true federal deficit — is 10 times larger than the official deficit and roughly as large as the entire stock of official debt in public hands.”

That means each American owes $705,000 for these unfunded liabilities Congress and the presidents have run up in our names. For a family of four, that’s $2.8 million.

Even if you taxed rich people at 100 percent, you couldn’t raise the money. And the middle class isn’t going to stand for many more tax increases. So, basically, that money won’t be paid.

That will mean large cuts not just in Social Security and Medicare, but in everything else the federal government does: military, welfare, farm subsidies, corporate subsidies, education, aid to states — everything. The cuts will ripple across the states like an earthquake. State budgets will take big hits.

Those in charge will get blamed. In California, that means Democrats. They’re going to have to do the cutting, and will get blamed for the resulting pain.


Republicans should prepare for that day. Instead of running clones of Democrats, as Skelton urges, they should be running candidates who call for cutting waste in government and reducing taxes to attract instead of repel businesses and jobs. Instead of running statewide candidates like Schwarzenegger and Meg Whitman, clueless egoists who never were in government, they should be running Rep. Tom McClintock, who with help from the state party would have won some statewide races in the past.

When the federal and state governments go belly up, people are going to be really, really mad at the Democrats. Republicans should prepare for that crisis.

Here’s what that $222 trillion in unfunded liabilities looks like: $222,000,000,000,000.00.

Here’s what your family of four owes: $2,800,000.00.

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