California is in desperate fiscal straits, facing a nearly unbridgeable deficit of $16 billion, the result of spending that continues to exceed estimates and tax revenue that fails to meet them. Those in better-governed states who are tempted to sniff at the Golden State’s comeuppance, however, should bear in mind that California’s position as a national trendsetter is still quite secure: What is happening in California is very likely to happen in other states — and possibly at the federal level — if action is not taken. There are lessons here for both the Left and the Right, and those who would not sink with California as it falls into a sea of red ink would do well to study them.
California’s present condition is the direct result of welfare-state governance in its full maturity. Intransigent public-employee unions use the collective-bargaining process to maintain their inflated compensation packages, while poorly administered programs for the elderly and indigent have produced a permanent dependent class with attendant expenses that are difficult or impossible to reduce: When Governor Jerry Brown attempted to impose co-pays on some recipients of medical benefits, the Obama administration blocked him. Governor Brown’s attempts to cut spending on health care by lowering some physicians’ reimbursements and subsidies for low-income Californians were blocked by the federal courts. Governor Brown has demonstrated very little that might be called fiscal responsibility, but such attempts as he has made at spending discipline have been blocked by federal authorities when they have not been blocked by Democrats in the state legislature. Those who suspect that Obamacare may turn out to be more expensive and less effective at controlling costs than its admirers have claimed should take a good long look at California to appreciate the difficulty of rationalizing out-of-control health-care spending in a single state. (And multiply by 50.)
Keep reading this post . . .