Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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In Cash-Starved California, Green Is the New Black

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From this morning’s San Bernardino Sun, an interesting claim that legalizing undocumented immigrants would be a boost to California’s economy.

The claim isn’t the Sun’s actually, but the work of USC’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, which figures that the Golden State eventually could reap up to $16 billion if an estimated 12 million illegal aliens were brought into the mainstream (Social Security and Medicare contributions, plus higher income figured into the calculation).

Here’s a link to the report.

The argument isn’t a familiar one, but the timing is worth noting.

1) On the national level, the White House is making noise about an immigration reform push once the dust settles from the Obamacare debate.

Yes, Governor Schwarzenegger also is talking about illegal immigration — and wouldn’t it be a clever move if Arnold sided with the Obama Administration and put some pressure on the Republicans in Congress . . . provided the feds send a multibillion-dollar reimbursement check to Sacramento.

The odds of that happening: slim to none.

2) Back in California, it’s another example of green being the new “black” — that is, politicians and policymakers using promises of enhanced revenue as a means of breathing new life into a controversial ideas.

To wit:

1) Marijuana legalization, approved yesterday by a State Assembly Committee in a 4-3 vote, no longer is merely a discussion about the leafy green as a harmless vice or a gateway to more lethal drugs.

The new spin: slap on a $50 tax for each ounce sold to adults, and California stands to gain $1.3 billion.

You can expect more such talk as the bill makes its way through the Legislature, and a ballot measure comes up for consideration.

2) Offshore oil drilling no longer is limited to talk about energy independence or cutting off cash to terrorists.

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, promotes the idea of new oil leases in California waters as a gateway to $16 billion — or, as DeVore says, “enough to fill more than three-quarters” of the state’s current budget deficit.

Schwarzenegger also talks oil cash. His spin: use the $$ to keep state parks open.

Oddly enough, one issue that’s not a part of the new green dialogue: same-sex marriage.

Last year, the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute predicted a $700 million  boost to California’s wedding industry and $65 million for the state’s coffers from the new wave of ceremonies in the summer of 2008.

There’s nothing wrong with selling that or other ideas on their economic merits. But it does remind me of the old adage about the definition of a cynic: someone who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

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Written by Bill Whalen

January 13, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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