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California poll support for Jerry Brown's tax increases has ominous implications for U.S. taxpayers too

April 25, 2011 |  3:24 am

California democrat governor jerry Brown 4-12-11

If the conventional mantra about California being on the forefront of the nation's political trends holds true, it's really bad news for America's taxpayers.

According to a new L.A. Times / USC Dornsife poll, a majority of Californians -- 52% to 38% -- are just fine with Democrat Jerry Brown's plan to fill the state's chronic budget deficit with $14 billion in new or renewed taxes along with cuts, as long as they get to vote on it.

This despite the recent history of waste, corruption and spending abuses in the most populous state's vast government.

This despite the state's continuing 12% unemployment rate, second-highest in the country.

This despite the weak 44% job approval rating for Gov. Brown.

This despite 41% of Californians believing that wasteful, unwise spending by ....

... state officials is responsible for the deficit.

This despite 67% of Californians believing the state's coughing economy is not yet improving and possibly worsening.

This despite 66% of Californians believing the country is on the wrong track under the Obama administration.

This despite 70% believing California is on the wrong track under -- oh, look! -- it's Jerry Brown again.

Brown's idea is to erase the $26-billion deficit in an $85-billion budget with a claimed $12 billion in  cuts and $14 billion in new or extended taxes, because who doesn't believe more government would help any situation?

Last year during his campaign against Republican businesswoman Meg Whitman, Brown promised he would put any tax increases before California voters, likely in June because some taxes are due to expire July 1. And we can't have any of that in such a blue state.

Alas for Brown, the state Legislature, which has Democratic majorities and blockading Republican minorities, did not approve of this electButton Impeach Everybodyion package idea. So now what-can-Brown-do-for-you is traveling around the state like a certain Democratic president traveling around the country talking up his deficit reduction plan. Maybe with a fall tax vote.

No risky tax referendum for Obama. His speech-making strategy is based on the belief that Americans favor increases in taxes paid by others. So, he talks about going after those wealthy few who, in his opinion, have enough money already. Hundreds of them donated millions of dollars to Obama's 2012 campaign last week during frequent fundraisers in California.

The Los Angeles Times / USC Dornsife Poll shows that only 30% approve of solving the deficit with spending cuts only. The Los Angeles Times news story approvingly quotes Anton Fleig, a 59-year-old Democrat, as saying: "It is unconscionable to cut some of these programs when disparity of wealth is what it is. It is just morally wrong .... I would rather have less money in my pocket."

You'll never guess a possibly emerging plan for Brown to get around the awkward absence of this promised popular vote on tax increases and extensions: Pass legislation to do it anyway.

So, if Brown pulled one of those political double-crosses, how would that affect public support for his budget plan among Californians?

The poll found it would prompt 40% to become less likely to support it and 22% more likely to support it. Four percent said they didn't know how it would make them feel and 34% said the switcheroo would make no difference to them. At least until they renewed their license plates.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: John Green / Associated Press (Brown); CafePress.