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California versus Trumpland

By       Message Robert B. Reich       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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From Robert Reich Blog

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California is now the capital of liberal America. Along with its neighbors Oregon and Washington, it will be a nation within the nation starting in January when the federal government goes dark.

In sharp contrast to much of the rest of the nation, Californians preferred Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a 2-to-1 margin. They also voted to extend a state tax surcharge on the wealthy, and adopt local housing and transportation measures along with a slew of local tax increases and bond proposals.

In other words, California is the opposite of Trumpland.

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The differences go even deeper. For years, conservatives have been saying that a healthy economy depends on low taxes, few regulations, and low wages.

Are conservatives right? At one end of the scale are Kansas and Texas, with among the nation's lowest taxes, least regulations, and lowest wages.

At the other end is California, with among the nation's highest taxes, especially on the wealthy; toughest regulations, particularly when it comes to the environment; most ambitious healthcare system, that insures more than 12 million poor Californians, in partnership with Medicaid; and high wages.

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So according to conservative doctrine, Kansas and Texas ought to be booming, and California ought to be in the pits.

Actually, it's just the opposite.

For several years, Kansas's rate of economic growth has been the worst in the nation. Last year its economy actually shrank.

Texas hasn't been doing all that much better. Its rate of job growth has been below the national average. Retail sales are way down. The value of Texas exports has been dropping.

But what about so-called over-taxed, over-regulated, high-wage California?

California leads the nation in the rate of economic growth -- more than twice the national average. If it were a separate nation it would now be the sixth largest economy in the world. Its population has surged to 39 million (up 5 percent since 2010).

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California is home to the nation's fastest-growing and most innovative industries -- entertainment and high tech. It incubates more startups than anywhere else in the world.

In other words, conservatives have it exactly backwards.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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