Paul Berger: Facts just a mouse click away
Paul S. Berger
“Wake up Californians,” Dick Panzica’s letter to The Union ominously declares. Any time I read the phrase “wake up” I know what’s about to follow: a self-indulgent, uneducated rant.
Mr. Panzica is actually upset that California has a budget surplus, fearing it will go to teachers and the poor (heaven help us). Mr. Panzica’s letter represents a well-worn tactic of self-styled conservatives: take news that portrays Democrats in a flattering light and try to turn it against them. They did it to John Kerry, when the Swift-boaters took his undeniably heroic war record into tried to turn it into a tale of cowardice.
According to Mr. Panzica, “It’s time to bounce the Demos out of government and elect conservatives. Look at the states that have conservative governors – Texas, Wisconsin, Louisiana … They have got [sic] the right ideas and know how to successfully run a state, create good jobs and provide quality education for their children. We need to elect one of them president …” Since presidential election season is upon us, let’s a look at the track record of these governors, each of whom wants to occupy the Oval Office:
(1) Former Texas governor Rick Perry is presently under indictment for abuse of office. Under his “leadership” Texas ranked 49th out of 50 in education spending per pupil. And Perry’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act has cost the state $8 billion in federal funds and deprived 6 million Texans of health insurance, leaving them no option but to show up at emergency rooms.
(2) Under Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin made the largest cut to education in the history of the state, more than $1 billion. Despite stagnant wages and loss of earning power for low income workers, Walker has refused to support raising the minimum wage, calling it a “grandstanding stunt.” Wisconsin is facing a billion dollar budget deficit and is one of only five states whose economy is contracting rather than expanding.
(3) Governor Bobby Jindal’s “conservative” policies wreaked havoc on the Louisiana budget, turning it from a surplus into a $1.6 billion dollar deficit. While big businesses are enjoying tax cuts, the state university system is looking at an 80 percent budget cut. Jindal’s approval rating among Louisianans now stands at 27 percent.
In the meantime, California, with a Democratic governor and Democratic-controlled Legislature has gone from multi-billion dollar deficits to budget surpluses that far outpace the rest of the nation. The unemployment rate has fallen from 12.5 percent to 6.4 percent. We lead the nation in solar power and in creating green energy jobs. And the number of Californians without health insurance has been cut in half under Obamacare.
All too often “wake up” letters such as Mr. Panzica’s are long on vitriol and chauvinism but short on facts. But the facts, i.e., the records of these governors and others who are running for the highest office in the land are readily accessible and only a few mouse clicks away. The next time you consider who should be our next president, it would be wise to pay attention to them.
Paul S. Berger lives in Nevada City.
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