Opinion: Columnists

Welcome to California: America without Republicans

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Opinion,Conn Carroll,Columnists

"I believe that if we're successful in this election," President Obama told campaign donors in Minnesota last month, "that the fever may break, because there's a tradition in the Republican Party of more common sense than that."

Apparently Obama believes that if he wins this November, Republicans on Capitol Hill will all begin to act like Chief Justice John Roberts by betraying their conservative beliefs and signing on to Obama's unprecedented expansion of the federal welfare state. But what would America look like if the Republican "fever" did break?

We already know. It would look a lot like the state of California, where no non-cyborg Republican has been elected governor since 1994. Democrats have also enjoyed complete control of the state legislature since 1997. And they have governed exactly the way you'd expect Democrats to govern.

Spending has more than doubled, from $45.4 billion in 1996 to more than $92.5 billion today. Income, sales and car taxes have all been hiked. As a result, California has the most progressive income tax system in the nation, with seven income tax brackets, and the second-highest top marginal rate.

Even with all those tax hikes, California's 2012 budget is still $15.7 billion in the red. So what does Gov. Jerry Brown want to do? Raise taxes again, of course. He has proposed a ballot initiative that would: 1) raise sales taxes on everyone and 2) raise incomes taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year (like Obama has proposed to do nationally). But even this $8.5 billion tax hike would still leave the state $7.5 billion short. Where will California get that money? Who knows?

And that is not the only spending binge California Democrats haven't paid for. Just this month, the state legislature approved a $2.6 billion bond sale in order to fund construction on a scaled-back $68.4 billion high-speed rail project that will supposedly connect San Francisco and Los Angeles.

If California begins construction on the train before this December 31 (a big if), Obama has agreed to give the state $3.5 billion in federal money to help. But that still leaves a $62.3 billion hole. Where does California plan to get that money? Who knows?

With all of this unfunded government spending, Keynesian-Democratic thinking would predict that California's economy should be booming.

It isn't.

At 10.8 percent, California has the third-highest unemployment rate in the country. There are fewer private-sector jobs in the state today, 11.9 million, then there were in 2000, 12.2 million.

And thanks to liberal welfare requirements, a third of all the nation's welfare recipients live in California despite the state only containing one-eighth of the national population.

Contrast those numbers with Republican-controlled Texas, where private-sector jobs have grown from 7.8 million in 2000 to 9 million today.

Long before it became the nation's 31st state in 1850, California had been a target destination for Americans looking for a better life. Not anymore.

According to the last census, for the first time ever, the number of Californians born in other states actually decreased, falling from 7.6 million in 2000 to 6.6 million in 2010. And where did all those Californians flee? Many of them ended up in Texas, where the number of residents born in other states grew by almost 1 million.

The California dream is dead. Democrats killed it. Middle-class families can't escape the state fast enough. Conservatives must fight Obama and his agenda at every turn so that Californians still have other states to flee to.

Conn Carroll (ccarroll@washingtonexaminer.com) is a senior editorial writer for The Washington Examiner. Follow him on Twitter at @conncarroll.

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