Welcome to Take Two, our weekly sampler of California opinion, drawn from The Sacramento Bee editorial board’s daily opinion-politics newsletter, The Take. Please go to sacbee.com/site-services/newsletters/ to sign up.
Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump rattled their sabers. Puerto Rico was flattened, as The Miami Herald wrote. The Republican-controlled Congress failed, again, to repeal Obamacare. (Good). Trump’s candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama got trounced by Steve Bannon’s candidate, Roy Moore, who believes, as E.J. Dionne wrote last week, that biblical law should override the Constitution. “The message from Alabama is clear; [Trump] and his party have unleashed forces they cannot control.” Why do we feel like we’re extras in a reality show?
‘Massive’ tax cut
Now that Congress’ attempt to kill Obamacare is on hold, for now, Trump and Republicans have turned to what the president promises will be a “massive tax cut.” What could possibly go wrong? Please don’t compare what Trump proposes to what Ronald Reagan did in 1986. Reagan’s tax overhaul, done with bipartisan support, actually raised taxes on corporations and on the super-rich, Reagan’s friends. Re-read “Showdown at Gucci Gulch,” a classic piece of nonfiction detailing how Reagan and Jack Kemp, true conservatives, teamed with liberals George McGovern and Bill Bradley.
One difference between the mid-’80s and now? The cost of congressional campaigns didn’t quite hit $330 million in 1984, Bloomberg’s Albert R. Hunt wrote in the introduction to “Showdown.” How quaint. The Center for Responsive Politics counted spending on congressional races in 2016 at $4.057 billion. Hunt still writes about money in politics, including this past week focusing on a new effort to overhaul campaign finance law. We hope, by the way, that Gov. Jerry Brown signs the DISCLOSE Act, AB 249, to more fully disclose big campaign donors to California ballot measures.
Taxes are so simple
Unlike health care, which is complicated, taxes are simple: Cut corporate taxes, lower the top rate for the super-rich, raise the standard deduction for the little people, and call it a day. Easy, right? Trump’s tax cut would mess with California by eliminating the deduction for state income taxes. A question for California’s 14 congressional Republicans: Will you raise taxes on your people for a massive tax cut for uber-rich people and corporations?
What about us?
Ramesh Ponnuru, who writes for Bloomberg View and the conservative National Review, argued that the Trump tax plan risks alienating blue-state Republicans, could increase the deficit and might cut taxes for the rich too much. These obstacles could be overcome, but at a price. He cannot forsake the middle class. Can he?
A state answer
Since returning to the Legislature in 2015 and for several years before, Sen. Robert Hertzberg has been working on an overhaul of California taxes. If Trump actually succeeds – if – look for the San Fernando Valley Democrat to unveil his plan to lower sales tax rates, and income tax rates for some people while taxing some services, not including health care, child care or education, among others. Hertzberg has been developing the plan with help from Nicolas Berggruen’s Berggruen Institute Think Long Committee, which has spent $348,000-plus at Hertzberg’s behest on research by former California Finance Director Tim Gage and political strategist Jim Deboo. We’re looking for names. “Showdown at the Ban Roll-on Building”? Ideas?
Taking a knee
Amid it all, Trump yanked our collective chain by assaulting athletes’ First Amendment rights and, classy guy that he is, called them sons of bitches. Sons and mothers took offense. Modesto mom Teresa Kaepernick tweeted that she is proud of her son, Colin, which stirred us to write an ode. “We know what the president thinks about women. But you, Mrs. Kaepernick, are a great mother. You don’t deserve to be called anything less.” Why do we feel like we’ve taken a presidential knee?