California’s media likes to play up Tom Campbell as some sort of “moderate” or “sensible” Republican. As compared to Attila the Hun this might be plausible. But even a cursory glance at his alternative budget solutions shows that he is a typically conservative politician. Sure, his conservatism seems to be of the Ronald Reagan sort as opposed to the Grover Norquist sort. But there never was much difference between the two, except in tone, which is apparently all that matters to the media.
Campbell’s proposed budget claims to want to solve a “systemic” crisis in a way that doesn’t hurt our ability to recover from the economic crisis. Yet his budget merely offers a different method to achieve the same downward spiral that has afflicted the state – particularly Campbell’s total ignorance of the revenue drop and the negative impact of spending cuts on consumer spending.
Tom Campbell believes the budget can be balanced by hammering social services, even though there is unprecedented need for these services. An example of his proposals:
•15% salary reduction for state workers OR 15% layoffs of state workforce
• $156.7 million savings in Cal Works by implementing Federal work participation requirements.
• $248.5 million savings by reverting to federal minimums on Supplemental Security Income and the State Supplementary Payment.
• $114.1 million savings by reducing compensation to in-home supportive service workers to the state minimum wage.
• $882 million savings in Medi-Cal, provided California receives a federal waiver from terms of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
In other words, he’s offering a mixture of attacks on the poor and attacks on Obama’s stimulus. His rationale:
1. California must, in large part, return to national standards on welfare and health care; we cannot afford to provide more than the national average in areas where we have long exceeded those levels;
2. California must ask those capable of taking care of themselves to do so;
3. California must not undercut its ability to bounce back when the national recession ends. This means being careful about cutting education, especially Community Colleges where much workforce retraining takes place.
This is complete bullshit. First, the national standards on welfare and health care are woefully insufficient. Campbell acts as if there is no national health care problem, as if there is no issue with the working-class finding and holding jobs. Campbell is a typical Republican – wealthy and totally ignorant of how everyone else experiences life in California.
Second, how the fuck are people supposed to “take care of themselves” in a recession like this?! Campbell is the sort of guy who drives through a poor community in his Jaguar and shakes his head saying “why don’t they just get a job?” That statement alone is proof that Campbell is intellectually unfit for office by virtue of his unwillingness to understand the challenges facing most Californians.
Campbell also proves he has no clue about modern economics – otherwise he wouldn’t so blithely ignore the work of Nobel Laureates who point out that if you cut social service spending, folks have to replace that lost money by curtailing consumer spending, hammering jobs and tax revenues.
Third, Campbell’s whole budget blueprint is designed specifically to prevent California from enjoying economic recovery. How are people who have no health care benefits supposed to find work? How are people supposed to find work period if you’re scaling back Cal-WORKS? How are small businesses supposed to open when the state is laying off workers or cutting their salaries?
Campbell’s also internally inconsistent. He states he wants to be “careful about cutting education” and then proposes:
$150 million unallocated cut to UC and CSU (I realize this would require further increases in student fees, or improved fund-raising).
Tom Campbell isn’t some kind of new Republican. He’s no moderate. Instead, he is the same exact kind of Republican that the party has offered dating back to Herbert Hoover. He is a man of the upper class, determined to protect the wealth and privileges of the upper class at the expense of everyone else.
Campbell’s economic policies are no different than Reagan’s, or Bush’s (either one, 41 or 43). Campbell offers the vast majority of this state only reduced services and less money in their wallets. His Hooverite policies would merely make the recession worse, and ensure that when economic recovery does come, only Campbell’s rich friends see any of its benefits, while everyone else is left behind. Which will apparently be just fine with Campbell, since everyone else should just take care of themselves anyway.
We’ve all seen this movie before. We know how it ends – we’re living through it right now. Californians will reject Campbell’s Hooverism. But will the media report on exactly what Campbell offers? Or will they continue to lie to their readers and claim he’s some kind of “moderate”? I’m not exactly holding my breath.