Monday, December 18, 2006

"Local poor would pay for Democratic agenda"

From the San Diego Union-Tribune:
If you are poor, we regret to report that Democratic leaders who soon will control Congress have vowed to help you. Their chief prescriptions, which include higher taxes, trade barriers and government-run health care, would pinch rich folks and stress the middle class – but they could devastate low-income families, particularly those in Southern California.

Consider the latest report by the Brookings Institution, which found that poverty fell significantly from 1999 to 2005 in Southern California. San Diego County's poverty rate declined from 12.4 percent to 11 percent; and Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino boasted similar reductions.

Without question, San Diego still has too many poor people. The federal poverty line in 2005 was an income of $15,753 a year for a family of three. That figure doesn't count the panoply of state and federal assistance, but neither is it adjusted for Southern California's ultra-high cost of living. An 11 percent poverty rate means struggle and vulnerability for too many families.

At the same time, the region is clearly moving in the right direction – exclusively because of our economic strength. The Democratic agenda would sap such strength, hurting the poor.

Nothing reduces poverty like a job. San Diego's unemployment rate never got above 6 percent after the 2000 recession; lately it's been closer to 4 percent.

Importantly, business owners and workers churned out this remarkable performance in spite of government policies rather than because of them. California's energy costs are the nation's highest, and taxes are right up there. Both kill employment.

On the other hand, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reformed workers' compensation and slashed billions from costs, thus aiding job creation on top of rescuing a key anti-poverty program.

But most credit goes to a special something in Southern California's DNA that attracts innovators and rewards flexibility. When the aerospace business crashed in the 1980s, technology clusters sprang up around our world-beating university system.

As manufacturing fled overseas in the 1990s, a housing boom began that tripled the wealth of individual homeowners, who in turn binged on remodeling projects, new landscaping and other job engines for the working class. Now housing construction has slowed, but financial and professional services are coming on strong.

Yet there remains unlimited potential for mischief in Washington.

Democrats who were swept into office on war fatigue have conjured a mandate to cure “income inequality.” Leaders want to reverse the 2003 cuts in investment taxes, thus jeopardizing all those jobs that depend on investment.

Similarly, these lawmakers rail against free trade, ignoring proof from their own economists, led by Robert Rubin, that trade creates more American jobs than it displaces. They forget Los Angeles and Riverside, where thousands of families depend on port traffic.

With friends like these, poor people have even more to worry about.
"Democrats who were swept into office on war fatigue" have misinterpreted their elevation to power as an endorsement of liberal policies. Conservatives made the same mistake in 1994, thinking that the Clinton-weary (and tax-and-spend-liberal-weary) electorate had "gone conservative" and supported all of their initiatives. While I was certainly a supporter of most of those ideas (zero-funding the NEA, NPR, and PBS; abolishing the Dept. of Education; etc.), most of the electorate did not support those ideas. The point is that getting elected is not always a 100% endorsement of a party's (or politician's) ideas, rather it's oftentimes a statement being made by the voters.

Anywho, as this op-ed points out, liberals who are hell-bent on Marxist "income equality" may end up killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Don't say that those of us on the right didn't warn you!