Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari didn’t just hold his own in tonight’s televised debate between him and our really old Governor, Jerry Brown. Kashkari took Brown to the woodshed!
Here’s how our friend Steven Greenhut summed up the debate, over at the U-T San Diego:
During the debate, Brown — as expected — centered his arguments on a California comeback, given the newly balanced budget following the 2012 passage of Proposition 30 tax increases. He touted an expanded minimum wage and the state’s newfound momentum. “A lot of people forget the mess California was in just four years ago,” he said.
In response, Kashkari focused on the state’s highest-in-the-nation poverty rates, on businesses that are fleeing and on high unemployment rates. He pledged to “rebuild the middle class” and to improve California’s low ratings in school performance and job creation. He rejected Brown’s “incremental” approach toward turning around the state.
With the debate focused heavily on economic issues, it’s no surprise that California-based electric-car manufacturer Tesla’s announcementearlier Thursday that it was opening its massive new battery plant at a site outside of Reno, Nev., was a major point of contention.
“Governor Brown frequently said businesses come and go. It’s not businesses coming and going. It’s Tesla. It’s Toyota. It’s Schwab. It’s Nestle. On and on and they’re all going,” Kashkari said. “Governor Brown has said we need CEQA reform, the environmental laws that are stymying business investment, and then you threw in the towel … so instead you try to get one-off deals to big companies that hire high-priced lobbyists.”
I’m glad he made the point about the need to improve the economic situation for all businesses, and not just tout special deals for those politically well-connected companies.
Kashkari said the anti-global-warming cap-and-trade program that Brown champions will — according to state officials — boost gasoline prices. Brown called such claims “scare tactics” and said they were of the same sort used by automobile companies to oppose California’s past efforts to boost miles-per-gallon ratings.
Kashkari turned even unrelated questions back to the governor’s decision last Friday to appeal the Vergara decision, in which a Los Angeles Superior Court judge tossed out the state’s system of public-school job protections as unconstitutional because they make it nearly impossible for school districts to fire bad teachers. Brown said he has expanded funding for public schools, while Kashkari admonished Brown for siding with the teachers’ unions in a case that could have helped the neediest students.
Kashkari, a 41-year-old asset manager from Laguna Beach and former U.S. Treasury Department official, painted the Democratic governor as an out-of-touch career politician while describing himself as a “middle-class kid” who is seeking the state’s highest office to help restore California’s middle class, as reported by the Mercury News.
“I think Gov. Brown means well, but his 40 years in government have left him out of touch with the struggles of working families,” Kashkari said.
Here are additional facts about Brown’s failure courtesy of the Kashkari campaign:
While Gov. Jerry Brown touts his “California Comeback,” the facts tell a different story – the destruction of the state’s middle class.
LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE: California’s Labor Force Participation Rate of 61.9% is the lowest in the state’s recorded history. “California’s labor force participation rate (LFPR) fell another 0.2 percentage point to 61.9 percent in July 2014. This is the lowest LFPR ever recorded in California in an official data series that goes back to January 1976.” (August 2014 California Employment Highlights, California Employment Development Department, 08/15/14)
JOBS: California’s 7.4% unemployment rate ranks 44th in the nation. (Unemployment Rates For States,BLS, 08/18/14)
BUSINESS CLIMATE: California has the least friendly policy environment for small businesses. The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council annually ranks the 50 states based on policy measures and costs impacting small businesses. For the second year in a row, California ranked No. 50. (Sonya Sorich, “California Ranks Last On Small Business Policy List,” Sacramento Business Journal, 12/23/13)
POVERTY: California has highest poverty rate in the nation – roughly 24% – once adjusted for cost of living. “An alternative way of measuring poverty shows that … California has by far the biggest share of people in poverty … The alternative yardstick, known as the supplemental poverty measure, is different from the official poverty rate in a few key ways: It takes tax credits and other government benefits into account. It also counts necessary expenses such as child care and out-of-pocket medical costs …In addition, it considers the different costs of housing from state to state … Using the alternative measure, California had the highest poverty in the country between 2010 and 2012 – 23.8%.” (Emily Alpert Reyes, “U.S.Poverty Higher, California Highest, When Housing Costs Added,” Los Angeles Times, 11/06/13)
Despite these harrowing truths, Gov. Brown fails to address the real needs of Californians and doubles down on a misguided and unpopular policy agenda that diverts scarce resources away from the state’s most pressing needs – jobs and education.
Gov. Brown exhibiting “political ego” and “hubris” in pushing for High Speed Rail and Twin Tunnel projects. “Political ego triumphed over common sense and the public interest in all three projects [Bay Bridge plagued by cost overruns and construction deficiencies, Sacramento Airport’s new billion dollar terminal, and the $200 million the city of Irvine sank into its "Great Park]. It’s something to keep in mind as Jerry Brown trumpets a bullet train and twin water tunnels, which together would cost at least $100 billion.” (Dan Walters, “Political Hubris Plagues Bay Bridge, Other Big Public Projects,” The Sacramento Bee, 08/05/14)
WATER: Gov. Brown clings to a Delta tunnel plan that is so politically toxic, he now vows to “charge ahead” with the twin tunnel project “with or without a vote of the people.” (Josh Richman And Jessica Calefati, “Gov. Jerry Brown Defends CPUC President, Delta Tunnel Plan,” San Jose Mercury News, 05/15/14)