California Forum

Obamacare repeal + Spicey reverts to form + Erika Smith stirs San Fran

Stephen Colbert, left, and Sean Spicer pose backstage at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards.
Stephen Colbert, left, and Sean Spicer pose backstage at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards. Invision for the Television Acad

Good Sunday morning, and 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 to sign up.

Obamacare repeal

The New York Times diagnosed it as “zombie” legislation. The Baltimore Sun dubbed it “repeal and replace redux.” “The Category 5 Hurricane known as Graham-Cassidy is a man-made disaster that may yet be avoided,” The Kansas City Star pleaded last week, as Senate Republicans made yet another attempt to wreck the Affordable Care Act. But of all the voices to rise against GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy and their plan to essentially make health care the states’ problem, the most derisive were from California. “Another day, another lousy GOP health care bill,” sneered the Los Angeles Times, noting that the bill, whose do-or-die is this week, not only offers all the same cruelties as in the past – more uninsured people, soaring premiums for those with pre-existing conditions – but divvies what dollars the feds will hand out in a way that benefits red states over blue states. The San Francisco Chronicle framed it as the hard-right response to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ hard-left “Medicare for all” bill, which has gathered momentum. Not many fans of Graham-Cassidy here, either.

Delta tunnels

More diverse were the takes from around the state after Westlands Water District voted 7-1 against helping to pay for Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion Delta tunnels project. The Mercury News said the vote “should be the death knell for an awful idea that will squander billions without accomplishing the ‘WaterFix’ its name implies.” The Modesto Bee agreed, adding that the tunnels “don’t deserve to be built.” In our view, Gov. Jerry Brown shouldn’t walk away from the issue. Whoever replaces Brown as governor after the 2018 election will be less knowledgeable on this slow-motion mess.

Gas tax repeal

Republican attorney and initiative writer Tom Hiltachk filed an initiative to repeal the 12-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax to pay for road maintenance. Last week, his Sacramento law firm opened a campaign account called Give Voters a Voice. As of this posting, it had reported no donations. Yet. Dave Gilliard will be the committee’s consultant. His clients include Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said to be the wealthiest member of the House.

Erika D. Smith

Erika D. Smith stirred ’em up over in San Francisco by disparaging invading Bay Area refugees, asking, “who else wears head-to-toe black in 95-degree heat, drinking hot coffee, and complaining about being hella hot and hella thirsty,” and rents and buys “like drunk millionaires in a dollar store”? The San Francisco Chronicle’s Alix Martichoux responded that the Bay Area exodus is real, but quibbled that the drunk millionaire line was a “rather harsh characterization.” What’s harsh is the run-up in rent.

Spicey reverts

Hollywood gasped, then giggled, then, finally, applauded Sean Spicer at the Emmys. And with that, we opined, the breathtaking dishonesty that has been a signature of the Trump administration was reduced to a sight gag. We weren’t laughing. The cost of government dishonesty shouldn’t be a laughing matter, we wrote, stirring letter writer Daniel Broderick to respond that we were being too tough, and citing the estimable Will Rogers: “We are all here for a spell, get all the good laughs you can.” A reasonable position. But soon enough, Spicer was back to old ways, threatening Axios reporter Mike Allen, who dared to ask Spicey a question.