Last week, lame-duck Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came to Sacramento to audition as the far-left candidate for governor in 2014. His performance at the Sacramento Press Club included not just touching the third rail of California politics, but grasping it firmly with both hands. His winning formula for winning California’s highest office? Destroying Proposition 13.
Villaraigosa promised to restore California’s prosperity and fully fund government programs like schools, by eliminating Proposition 13’s protections for business, imposing new taxes on services and eliminating the two-thirds vote required to increase state taxes, local special taxes and parcel taxes on homeowners. Under his voodoo tax plan, if government takes a bigger slice of the pie, he believes everyone will have more pie.
During his speech, Villaraigosa also attacked Gov. Brown and Democrats in the Legislature for not taking bolder action to impose new taxes, even if it means dismantling Proposition 13. This of course exemplifies the disconnect between Villaraigosa and regular folks who view Proposition 13 as a protection, not an obstacle. In his manifesto, the mayor did not declare war just on Proposition 13, but on all California taxpayers.
If the mayor gets his way, everything from taking a jacket to be dry cleaned to calling a plumber to repair a toilet will cost more because he would tax these and hundreds of other services. And under his plan, working families can expect to pay more at the store for products, as businesses boost prices to cover the increases in their property taxes. Or the price hike may be the result of shipping charges to bring items, previously produced in California, in from other states and countries, since higher costs will spur even more business to flee the state. Then there are those jobs, which homeowners count on so they can pay their mortgages and feed their families, that will disappear with the exodus of businesses.
Taxpayers find it ironic, in addition to threatening, that this failed mayor of a failing high-tax, high unemployment city, wants to work his “magic” on the entire state. Taxpayers know from bitter experience that when liberal progressives get new taxes, it is never enough. When businesses respond by voting with their feet and tax revenue declines, homeowners will be in the crosshairs. Villaraigosa and his liberal sympathizers are always looking for more taxes to fuel the machine of government and they will take money from anywhere they can get it.
And, as if his remarks to the Press Club did not already sound foolish enough, in an effort to clear the way for his tax increase offensive, Villaraigosa repeatedly told reporters not to talk to the “Tea Party.” Again, the mayor is out of touch with reality. There is no third party called the “Tea Party.” Although a number of disparate groups use the name “Tea Party,” the name actually identifies a frame of mind. It represents the thinking of those who believe government should be the servant, not the master, that politicians and government employees should respect those who must work hard to pay their taxes and that these same politicians should make efficient and honest use of the money they receive. Proposition 13 is a manifestation, in law, of this thinking.
If Villaraigosa would get out a little more often, he would find that millions of people throughout the state share these values. It is these commonly shared beliefs, not just Proposition 13, that barred Brown and his tax hungry allies in the Legislature from imposing higher levies this year, not — as the mayor implies — their lack of effort.
Telling reporters not to talk to the “Tea Party” is like telling them not to talk to friends, neighbors, co-workers and even family members. We are everywhere, our voice is strong and we will continue to be heard in spite of the best efforts of the professional politicians.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -– California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.