US should avoid Gov. Newsom’s ‘California model’

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom is touted as the Democrat of the future, the man who could step up if Joe Biden decided not to run again. He has the hair, the teeth, the Hollywood aura, the raspy voice that shows he means business. 

But if his pitch is that he wants to make America more like California, we’re in trouble. 

Newsom’s latest moment in the national spotlight came Thursday, when reports leaked about the nine-member Reparations Task Force, which “has spent months traveling across California to learn about the generational effects of racist policies and actions.” 

When he signed the 2020 bill that established the task force, Newsom called it an important step “in the right direction to building a more inclusive and equitable future for all.” 

And here’s the cost: The Task Force will recommend giving every descendant of slaves $223,200, for a total of $569 billion

That’s almost twice what Sacramento spends in a year in the state budget. 

Copies of the interim report issued by California's first-in-the-nation task force on reparations for African Americans
The Reparations Task Force will recommend giving every descendant of slaves $223,200.
AP

Newsom has set up the ultimate can’t-win scenario in the name of “social justice.” That cost is massive, politically divisive and unlikely to be paid. It also is likely to annoy, or inspire, other groups with historical grievances, such as Native Americans. But if the money isn’t spent, that will only further embitter black activists. Congratulations, Gavin — you made race relations worse. 

The reparations effort is another in a long line of California policy proposals and bills that make headlines, set off knowing nods in blue state capitals and city halls, but do nothing to make the state a better place to live. 

You know what would make California better? Not having such a lax attitude toward drug dealers that a baby this week overdosed on fentanyl he found while crawling around at a San Francisco playground. 

Gavin Newsom responds to a question during a gubernatorial debate with Republican challenger, state Sen. Brian Dahle, on Oct. 23, 2022 in San Francisco.
Gavin Newsom signed the bill establishing the Reparations Task Force in 2020.
AP

Rolling out the list of troubles in California that have been caused by poor public policy and foolish executive decisions under Newsom and previous administrations is a heavy lift. But here’s a start: 

The state’s perpetual drought is man-made, its raging wildfires fueled by misplaced priorities. The brazen street crime that we’ve all seen on video is invited by legislation that incentivizes lawlessness. Somehow the richest state in the country has the highest poverty rate in America as well as a $25 billion budget deficit likely to grow worse in the looming recession. 

Businesses are fleeing as are residents; housing is unaffordable; blackouts will become common events due to the Newsom administration’s reckless rush toward an electrical grid powered by only renewables; already-steep energy bills will continue to climb; and public education would get an “F” if grading were still accepted as a means of indicating proficiency. 

This is the California model, the baggage that Newsom would lug into the White House if he were ever elected president. The Golden State is a national embarrassment. 

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute. 

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