In a Los Angeles Times puff piece, California Governor Jerry Brown is touted as a 2016 presidential candidate to challenge Hillary Clinton. The Times only has one small objection to a Brown candidacy: his age.
Other than that caveat, the Times lauds 75 year old Brown for his “impressive list of accomplishments in the country’s most populous state — a state some once deemed ungovernable.”
The Times writes that Brown is widely known, loved by the media, and familiar with the path to the White House because he has run for president three times already. Furthermore, he has a dislike for the Clintons, as he stayed in the 1992 race long after Bill Clinton had sewed up the party nomination. Even after Clinton won the presidency, Brown opposed him on the Northern American Free Trade Agreement and welfare reform.
Quoting those who would like to see Brown run, the Times turns to long-time leftist Ralph Nader, who dislikes an automatic nod for Clinton. Nader said, “I want to see more competition. Let a hundred flowers bloom.” Nader noted that Brown has been trumpeting his success with California’s economy and his signing of both immigration-friendly and green energy legislation, while trying to appear centrist by resisting gun control advocates. Nader added, “Every move he’s making is the move of a presidential candidate. It’s almost a blueprint.”
Nader’s approval was echoed by Rose Ann DeMoro, the leader of a national nurses’ union and a friend of Brown’s, who said, “I think Jerry is precisely what America needs. He has the courage of his convictions, which we haven’t seen in a very long while.”
The Times has the audacity to write these glowing words:
With support from an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature — and a combination of spending cuts and voter-approved tax hikes — Brown has brought the state’s deficit-ridden budget under control, overhauled the education finance system to benefit poorer students, pushed through major environmental initiatives and reaped the benefits — job growth, an improved housing market — of a slow but steady economic recovery.
The facts the Times ignores are these: Brown himself admitted that the state has a “wall of debt,” and he is correct; his much-ballyhooed budget does not include unfunded pension and medical liability, which runs close to $27 billion, $10 billion of which is owed to the federal government. California’s Unemployment Insurance Fund was funded with that money, and there has been no attempt to return the money, which it began borrowing in 2009. The chief public employee retirement fund is rumored to be underfunded by $329 billion, and the unfunded medical benefit debt is estimated to be $64 billion in the red. Brown has even said that the unfunded medical benefit debt will skyrocket 59% in the next four years. To make matters worse, in September, Brown signed legislation to raise California’s minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10 an hour by 2016. Between 1992 and 2010, California lost $45.27 billion in annual adjusted gross income, most of it to states that were more business-friendly. Additionally, Brown’s budget for high-speed rail is greater than the funds he has intended for the California State University system.
Jim Evans, a spokesman for Brown, tried to pooh-pooh the Times push to see Brown run. When asked if Brown was interested, he quoted Brown’s own response last May, when he said, “Time is kind of running out on that … I guess I’ll just have to stay and do the work of being the governor, which I actually enjoy because I have some perspective that I didn’t used to have.”