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An article published on January 17th by the Los Angeles Times is drawing attention and concern among many Republicans. The article is titled “Make America California Again? That’s Biden’s plan.” According to the report, the next Biden administration aims to nationally replicate several California policies, although many have not been successful for the Golden State.
To analyze California, one needs to understand the context. California is going through a complex situation, not only because of the pandemic, which generated health and economic devastation but also at the social and service level.
For several years California has experienced a variety of structural problems and that have not been resolved their progressive Democratic authorities.
The electricity and homelessness crisis are California’s letter of introduction, but there are also other issues that are increasingly worrying the inhabitants of this state, for example, the high cost of living for the middle class, a problem that has increased the movement of Californians to other more profitable states with a better quality of life; the increase in crime – robbery and drug trafficking – and now we have to add the health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
The “Make America California Again” would be a sort of replica of California’s more progressive social policies in the rest of the country. One could describe it as a return to the Obama days, but with an even more radical approach.
This situation causes panic among Republicans because, for several decades, these policies have generated massive problems for the Golden State.
According to the Times, “California is emerging as the de facto political think tank of the Biden-Harris administration and of a Congress that will soon be under Democratic control. This revives the clichés of the past about the state – incubator of innovation, first laboratory of democracy, land of great ideas – even as it fights the growing infections of COVID-19, a safety net worn down by the number of pandemic victims, crushing housing costs and wildfires, all fueling an exodus of residents.
The Times itself admits that “There is no place where the incoming administration relies more on inspiration to set a progressive policy agenda.
The scenario is perfect for California to enter the DC spotlight. First, with the next vice president, (who will no longer be a senator from California), Kamala Harris; second, with Democratic control of the Senate and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as leader of the House; and third, with Joe Biden ready to implement progressive legislation.
Biden has also already chosen a number of Californians to be active in his cabinet. For example, Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been nominated to head the huge Department of Health and Human Services. The nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, former Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen (a professor at UC Berkeley), as well as the nominee for Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm. Alejandro Mayorkas, who is a longtime California resident, is the nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security.
“California has never had a Democrat on the national ballot, much less a winning ballot,” said former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis: “Kamala Harris will be at all meetings and will have the final word with the president when they are over. She will share ideas, innovations, and California’s progress that can help solve problems nationwide.”
Why Make America California Again?
“The incoming administration is adopting some of California’s most pioneering initiatives, such as programs for rapid grid decarbonization and free college, as well as darker and more progressive policies,” the Times notes. “Also on the new White House agenda will be steps to ban mandatory arbitration clauses in employee contracts and the revival of the “Cash for Clunkers” program, designed to provide incentives to take polluting cars off the road, which is the signature of California’s policies.
The media itself explains that, even, “some ideas that have not worked so well in California are on the national agenda now.”
Biden is also a “fervent advocate of high-speed railroads, as well as the new protections for gig economy workers that California voters watered down in November.”
Another California plan that inspires and encourages the Biden-Harris Administration is to completely eliminate carbon-emitting energy sources from its power grid by 2045. The Biden Administration, in fact, “proposes an even more aggressive timeline, seeking to move the grid to zero emissions nationwide by 2035.”
This policy is diametrically opposed to what was promoted by the outgoing administration of Donald Trump, who never opposed the demand for fossil fuels. Yet, under his administration, CO2 emissions in 2019 were reduced by 2%, while greenhouse gas emissions fell 10.3% in 2020. Gas was used more in the electricity sector as an energy source to the detriment of coal. How is this achieved? With energy independence and through fracking, a technique for extracting natural gas from unconventional fields.
Biden’s proposal is to change the approach given by the Trump Administration to the United States. His proposal involves a $1.7 trillion plan for clean energy, green jobs and aims to make the electric sector, as stated, carbon-free by 2035. In addition, the most ambitious would be to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The Biden administration also intends to return to the Paris Climate Agreement, something that will undoubtedly affect traditional oil and gas industry jobs. This proposal is not only very expensive in economic terms, but will also have a high political cost.
If fracking is affected by the decisions of the Democratic formula, gas prices will rise as never before and the jobs in the industry – predominantly blue collar – will be wiped out.
In addition to the environmental issue, the report mentions “Make America California Again” because the next Democratic administration also wants to address social and health policies and take them to the national level.”
“One of the California policies that Biden promises to replicate aims to reduce the high rate of black women dying in childbirth or within the next year,” the Times explains. “While the program helped the state make significant progress in reducing the maternal mortality rate, it did not narrow the racial gap. Black women still account for 40% of deaths. The Biden camp says it will propose additional actions to address racial inequalities in health care.”
At the same time, the Biden-Harris administration is mindful of California’s labor laws for the protection they provide workers in the areas of overtime, employer retaliation, wage theft, discrimination, and protection from sexual harassment.
Why are people worried about Make America California Again?
The first 100 days of Biden’s administration will be key to clarifying the picture and seeing if he really intends to carry out a Make America California Again style movement.
But, beyond that, there are a couple of things that should cause concern.
California is the fifth-largest economy in the world, yet it is a state where the average citizen does not want to live. Its residents are moving because of the various structural problems that the Golden State has. In addition, millionaires like Elon Musk are also moving to Republican states like Texas.
So, what is the intention in carrying out such a plan? How can we replicate the Californian policies that could improve the United States?
That said, there is something that was not mentioned by the Times that seems imminent: Biden will have to throw out Trump’s economic plan. That is, he will increase taxes and probably state regulations, which is a California formula. And this will be a necessity as public spending, along with social and subsidiary policies, will skyrocket and the taxpayer will have to foot the bill.
Historically these policies have not helped the average citizen, but harmed them. The aggressive rise in homelessness is an illustration of this.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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