The California budget sucks, like a lot alot. The budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year was accidentally or “accidentally” leaked out online before its scheduled time, which of course, disproportionately affected the old, the sick, and the aspiring young (with the political components being health insurance, Medicare/Medicaid, and public education. I would just like to point out the one problem in this most populous state of the union: Proposition 13. Simply, a limit on taxes led to increased budget shortfalls and cuts to government-funded programs. This limit, though, is so egregious because of the highly partisan nature of the legislature of the state I live in. You’d think that California would have the most liberal legislature, much like a lot of the legislatures in the South are basically conservative; but because of rampant gerrymandering, term-limits, and the 2/3 threshold to raise taxes (one of 3 in the nation), that just makes it a pie-in-the-sky proposition. The blog post “Scott Brown is a more liberal Republican than Dede Scozzafava” shows a great graph about the partisanship among state legislatures between the two major parties (Differences in State Legislature Partisanship). The Politico article “California Budget: Jerry Brown Plan for Future Amid Cuts” details the harsh cuts being made to the Golden State and that is just really quite unfortunate.
With the national campaign, I have great admiration for Jon Huntsman. Simply, if he wins the GOP nomination, there will be no hesitation with me voting for him. In my own words, he is moderate, smart, worldly, and able to intelligently speak his opinions without bringing down his opponents and genuinely listens to all arguments by both acknowledging what he agrees and disagrees with. Time has written two articles on Jon Huntsman’s underdog status and the difference between his all-in New Hampshire and Rick Santorum‘s all-in Iowa campaigns. Iowa has received so many accolades such as the following:
Huntsman has held almost 160 events in the state; his itinerary resembles a gubernatorial bid rather than a presidential campaign. While he frequently boasts about his refusal to pander, Huntsman isn’t above trying to curry favor with Granite Staters by talking about his taste for lobster rolls, heaping praise on the state’s singular responsibilities and dropping his r’s. “Right here in New Hamp-shah!” he says, sounding like a SportsCenter anchor mimicking the cadences of a Red Sox fan. He is perhaps Utah’s only New Hampshire exceptionalist. His stump speech is a mix of nuanced policy and platitudes, earnestness and jocularity. When he delivers a potential applause line, he leans forward toward the crowd, hands gripping the lecturn, as if physically straining to make a connection.
I think it’s really important to bold the fact that Jon Huntsman seems to be in the middle of the United States electorate, but the Republican Party is looking for someone who can bring the party in power, rather than who can best represent the nation, which I will say is what Obama is already doing. In speaking about Jon Huntsman, Joe Klein has used Rick Santorum as a foil (and deservedly so) as an inflexible politician unwilling to compromise for the greater good and the progress of the nation in the following spiel about him:
For the record: I believe Santorum’s view of homosexuality is archaic and inhumane. I believe that the acknowledgment of homosexuality as a natural state has reduced the sum of unnecessary anguish in the world. I also believe that two men or two women who love each other, and want to share their resources, and be responsible for each other, especially late in life, should be able to do so legally–and that such couples should be allowed to adopt and raise children. Whether these sorts of arrangements should be consecrated by various religious sects is up to those sects (and that means that private agencies, like Catholic Charities, can’t be forced to provide adoptive children to gay couples–a current controversy). I know more than a few such couples; they are my friends and neighbors; they are active, positive citizens who add stability and social capital to our community. Any denigration of these people, even the slightest suggestion–implicit in Santorum’s question–that their love is comparable to bestiality, polygamy or anything less than the love of a man and a woman, is an act of anti-social violence.
But Santorum clearly wanted the fight, which is six different kinds of stupid. Watching him at both events yesterday, he seemed completely inept as a big league candidate. A professional politician would have emphasized his economic plan in a state traditionally obsessed with economics. Santorum’s desire to eliminate the corporate tax on manufacturing could be a very popular issue in New Hampshire, but he barely mentioned it. At the Glenn Beck event in Windham, he spent much of the evening responding to lunatic conspiracy theories about United Nations threats to U.S. sovereignty, promulgated by the ridiculous Beck. He didn’t pander, which was good. But he didn’t really get his message across either, which was bad.
The contrast with Huntsman couldn’t be more stark. Huntsman was sharp this morning, much better than the last time I saw him on the stump. He focused on the issues that actually matter–the economy, the deficit, energy and foreign policy, as well as the larger problem of trust or, rather, how to deal with the lack of trust in any of our big institutions, from Congress to the Presidency to Wall Street. Huntsman is a conservative. He is pro-life (with no flip-flops), he imposed a flat tax in Utah (and would have a lower, flatter but still progressive federal income tax structure), he favors Paul Ryan-style entitlement reform, he is opposed to Dodd-Frank and other government schemes to over-regulate the business community (but he has a plan to break up the “too big to fail” banks). He knows a lot and communicates it easily. But he’s going nowhere in this primary. Others have suggested that he “offended” the Republican base by acknowledging his belief in evolution and man-made climate change. If so, the Republican base badly needed offending.
But Huntsman’s real sin is deeper than that: his is a vitriol-free candidacy. There is no gratuitous sliming of Barack Obama or his fellow Republican candidates. There is no spurious talk of “socialism.” He pays not the slightest heed to the various licks and chops that Rush Limbaugh has made into stations of the cross for Republican candidates. He is out-of-step with the anger that has overwhelmed his party and puts it at odds with the vast, sensible mainstream of this country. Because he has refused to engage in such carnival tactics–because he hasn’t had any oops! moments, extramarital affairs, lobbying deals with Freddie Mac or flip-flops–the media have largely ignored him. That makes us complicit in a national political calamity. But Republican voters have been complicit, too: a conservative party that doesn’t take Huntsman seriously as a candidate has truly lost its way.
We will see if Jon Huntsman can make an impact, but I highly doubt it. My prediction for the Iowa Caucuses three days before were (1. Romney, 2. Paul, 3. Santorum, 4. Gingrich, 5. Perry, 6. Bachmann, 7. Huntsman – The official results were 2 & 3 switched.). My prediction, and I’ll include %s, based on my gut and polls are the following:
- Romney: 39%
- Paul: 20% (running total: 59%)
- Huntsman: 15% (running total: 74%)
- Gingrich: 13% (running total: 87%)
- Santorum: 9% (running total: 96%)
- Perry: 4% (100% total)
If I’m within +/- 3%, I’m going to start predicting polls in the future primaries/caucuses.