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I’m an unapologetic fan of California. Don’t get me wrong, we make our share of mistakes out here. Most of those are getting the right effort wrong. Unlike the Trump admin, our agenda, in general, is kinder, gentler cleaner and more empathetic than GOP states. So Be It. I’m not moving away.
No disrespect to the other 49 intended. But we are one of the few states that really live in his head. Rent free. The irony is amaze.
California is now the world’s fifth-largest economy, up from eighth a decade ago. If it’s a socialist hellhole, it’s a socialist hellhole that somehow nurtured Apple, Google, Facebook, Tesla, Uber, Netflix, Oracle and Intel, not to mention old-economy stalwarts like Chevron, Disney, Wells Fargo and the Hollywood film industry. California firms still attract more venture capital than the rest of the country combined, while its farms produce more fruits, nuts and wine than the rest of the country combined. During the Great Recession, when the state was mired in a budget crisis so brutal its bond rating approached junk and it gave IOUs to government workers, mainstream media outlets were proclaiming the death of the California dream. But after a decade of steady growth that has consistently outpaced the nation’s, plus a significant tax hike on the wealthy, California is in much sounder fiscal shape; while federal deficits are soaring again, the state has erased its red ink and even stashed $13 billion in a rainy day fund.
Of course, every state is in better economic shape than it was during the Great Recession, but California has enjoyed its renaissance while pursuing policies Republicans associate with economic ruin. It has an $11-an-hour minimum wage, scheduled to rise to $15 by 2023. Its unusually aggressive implementation of Obamacare since 2013 has reduced its uninsured rate from 17 percent to just 7 percent. Its ambitious clean energy and climate policies in many ways inspired the Green New Deal; the state is committed to generating 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045, and its stringent fuel-efficiency standards help explain why it’s home to half the nation’s electric vehicles.
In general, California is flourishing while pursuing the exact opposite of the policies Trump is pursuing in Washington. And it has sued the Trump administration dozens of times, not only taking the lead on the new 16-state lawsuit against the president’s emergency wall declaration, but fighting for loan forgiveness for students defrauded by for-profit schools, net neutrality and Obamacare’s guarantees of free birth control, while fighting to stop the ban on travel from several Muslim countries, the ban on transgender service members, and a slew of environmental rollbacks. For example, Trump is trying to dismantle California’s strict fuel-efficiency rules, which have become de facto national rules since other blue states have adopted them and every automaker has complied with them, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is now battling the administration in court to protect them.
“If people want to call what California is doing socialism, fine, but it isn’t having a negative impact on the economy,” says political scientist Chris Hoene, executive director of the California Center for Budget and Policy. “By just about every measure of productivity, we’re at the upper end of the spectrum.”