I have a Tea Party friend from Texas who never fails to find opportunity to insult my state of California. Whether snarking about our economy, our progressive politics, our tax formula, or even In & Out, he has a certain unseemly fixation with a state he seems so hellbent on trashing. Kind of like the guy who skewers the hot chick who won’t give him the time of day. I thought of him with a certain degree of vindication when it was announced recently that Governor Jerry Brown had turned around the state’s economy, covered by my colleague at Addicting Info in a piece aptly titled, “Deficit To Surplus In Record Time – California’s Comeback Story.” Of course, I didn’t hear from Mr. Texas Tea Party on that story; odds are, he refused to read it or he just couldn’t find any small-minded rejoinders that applied.
So, of course, I thought of him again when I was alerted to another tall-taling Texan (albeit a California transplant Texan…does that make him less Texan?), who seems similarly fixated on the inferiority-complex kind of California bashing my Tea Party friend is so fond of. In fact, this guy, a former California Republican Senatorial candidate, Chuck DeVore, has made Cali-bashing a big part of his political “brand,” so to speak (frankly, I think the whole pitting-one-state-against-the-other is akin to that pathetic grade school “my dad can beat up your dad” kind of idiocy, but whatever).
DeVore, to give you some background, lived in California most of his life, from age 13 to just recently, when he moved to Texas to accept a job as Vice President For Communications and a Senior Fellow for Fiscal Policy with the conservative, Koch-funded non-profit Texas Public Policy Foundation. But before he did, he was a very active politician in the Golden State, serving as a Republican member of the California State Assembly from 2004-2010, then throwing his hat in the ring for California’s Republican seat in the U.S. Senate in 2008. He finished only third in the primary, receiving only 19.3 percent of the vote (Wikipedia), and in 2011 he headed for the big Lone Star.
Now, given his conservative Republican bona fides, and given the job description of his current employment, it’s not hard to extrapolate that he would jump from there to writing a book extolling the low-tax and regulation status of his new home state, focused on how that is contributing to a healthy business climate, certainly as compared to that of his state of exile. In fact, his appearance on Fox News on Monday, January 28, 2013, was designed to shill his new book to their conservative audience, and expound a bit on how Texas is a model for the rest of the country.
What he didn’t mention, and what Crooks & Liars pointed out in their piece What Fox Doesn’t Want You To Know About Texas Taxes, is that while his introduction focused on his authorship of the book, nimble host, Clayton Morris failed to mention his involvement with the Koch-funded think-tank, Texas Public Policy Foundation. Didn’t mention it; instead, got right to the book and its anti-California slant. After DeVore carried on about how burdensome that state was on business, a fawning Morris joined him on the dog-pile:
After some more California bashing, Morris said, “I want to know what is Texas doing right that California is not.” He put up a graphic with Texas’ supposedly favorable poverty and unemployment rates and noted that it has zero income taxes compared to California’s “highest bracket” of 9.3% and zero corporate taxes compared to California’s “flat 8.8%.”
“Remember during the election we were talking about Texas as a model for the nation? What were they doing right?” he “asked.” On cue, DeVore talked up not only the lack of taxes but how the lack of funding for state government supposedly prevented it from ruining everybody’s lives through regulations. He claimed that taxes and regulations in California were causing a “massive out migration.”
But, as with so many things conservatives say with impunity, this is not true. Reuters ran a piece in November of 2012 – Super-rich flight from California? Not so fast – that offered a decidedly different take on the status of business flight from the state, one that flies in the face of DeVore’s entire thesis:
In fact, more millionaires came to the state than left after California’s so-called Millionaire’s Tax was introduced in 2005 – adding 1 percentage point of tax to incomes over $1 million. A 1996 cut to taxes for those earning $110,000 and up did not spur migration into the state, either.
The number of millionaires has risen or fallen by about 10,000 a year, but that change has been almost entirely due to the state economy, not wealthy people coming into or leaving the state. Such migration accounted for about 47 people, net, on average.
The very richest, who were likely to have houses and properties in many parts of the world with creative means to finesse their taxes, were the least likely to move after the tax hike, but even those at the bottom end of the millionaires scale did not pick up and leave, according to the September study.
Yeah…so take that, Texas!
Like the bizarre and childish comparing of generations (which one is the greatest?), music (don’t get me started on 80s music!), family size, or what’s the best ice cream, the fist-pumping, chest-puffing, good old boy wagon-circling of a certain breed of Texan who actually thought it was a good idea to vote Rick Perry in as governor, is one that DeVore seems to have taken to like a fish to water. But, much like his California miscalculations, he seems to have missed a few things about Texas as well.
Back when old Rick Perry was taking his misguided stab at a run for the Presidency in 2011, the Texas Star-Telegram decided to follow up on some of Perry’s assertions about the state’s economy and did a little investigative work of their own. Here’s just some of what they uncovered:
What draws less attention is that sales, property and wireless service taxes are higher in Texas than in most other states.
…At the state level, Texas draws most of its revenue from federal funding and sales taxes. At the local level, property taxes play a major role.
…Combining state and local rates, Texas has the 14th-highest sales tax rates in the country and the 22nd-highest property tax rates, according to the Tax Foundation.??…Texas ranks near the top in property taxes as a percentage of home value.
“Once you start adding it all up and writing the check, you see there is no free lunch,” (Texas Republican pollster David Hill) said. “Texas is a nice state with medium-to-high taxes.”
…Texas has the fifth-most-regressive tax system in the country, according to a 2009 study by the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy.
And this was from a Texas newspaper!
So while the always ‘fair and balanced’ Fox News failed to make any of these salient points, I’m delighted to share the illumination offered by Crooks & Liars (how apropos, that name!) for our Addicting Info readers. As always, we believe truth is more pertinent than fiction.
As for my Tea Party Texan friend, I’d do a little gloating but, frankly, that’s more his style. What I will do is leave him a link here to go track down DeVore’s book. I have no doubt he’ll eat it up with a big ole Texas spoon and, as conveniently as DeVore and his Fox buddies have, continue to ignore truth in service to the big ole Texas lie. Ye haw, little doggies, git along!!
See video of interview: