L.A. Times Buried Lede: 86% Support Cutting California Spending

Just when I think I've gotten the full measure of the Los Angeles Times' dishonesty, the dying organ shows there are always new ways to lie. 

A Times/USC poll asks 1,503 registered California voters about their views on the state's structural budget and dying economy. It gets some grim views on the state's future and finds Californians very skeptical of the spending-heavy budget proposals supported by the Democratic machine that has monopoly control of the state's political functions (though somewhat favorable to Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal). 

You can read the question-by-question results here [pdf]. Only nine percent of Californians support balancing the budget by raising taxes. Three times as many Californians overall – and nearly six times as many Latinos – support closing the deficit by cutting spending rather than raising taxes. 

This is news. Californians have a long and well established history as spending-happy voters. In popular referenda during the last five years, California voters have voted themselves nearly $100 billion in bonded debt. The belief that Sacramento brought the Bear Republic into modernity through progressive taxation (the state boasts three different tax-collecting bodies) and wise spending (on everything from education to boards of chiropractory and horse welfare) is a bedrock of California identity, reflected in popular politics and the tombstone-sized state histories published every few years by Kevin Starr. 

The only time a poll result is news is when it differs from historical results, so compare these numbers with 2008 results, when large majorities opposed spending cuts and there was even broad majority support for traditionally popular tax increases, such as on cigarette sales. The current poll shows Golden State voters much more averse to tax increases and much more open to broad cuts than they have been in the past. It’s not just news; it’s big news: If Californians are this opposed to new spending, something must seriously be changing. 

Even more strikingly, the Times/USC poll finds that at least half of Golden State voters blame Sacramento and local governments for the state’s bad-and-getting-worse economy. From a paragraph toward the end of the story

By 50% to 37%, voters surveyed said state policies and economic conditions have created a poor jobs climate, discouraging businesses from locating in California or expanding here. Less than a third, 29%, said they believed the economy was starting to improve, with 39% saying things were going to get worse and 28% saying the economy had bottomed out but was not getting better.

Other interesting points: A minority approves of Jerry Brown’s performance, and a very large majority disapproves of the Democratic-controlled legislature. A plurality (41 percent) believe the deficit is due to “State leaders having been wasteful and have not spent wisely in recent year” – a much larger percentage than those who blame either “the national recession” (20 percent) or whatever the hell “not enough help for the struggling middle class and working people” means (13 percent). 

So what headline does the copy desk choose? “Californians support tax hikes to help close budget gap.” 

This true-as-far-as-it-goes factoid comes from Question 36, wherein 53 percent support closing the deficit through “Combination of cutting spending and increasing taxes.” But as the Golden State Liberty blog points out, this is not the question that’s actually being considered in Sacramento: 

The set of questions pertaining to the tax hikes essentially ask subjects which approach would be best for covering the state's remaining budget shortfall. 54% [sic] of subjects said they favored a combination of spending cuts and higher taxes, which is what the Times is referring to. But, importantly, if you believe Sacramento's Democrats, that's not the option the voters need to consider; prominent Democrats are talking tax increases and new spending pretty much exclusively these days. Of those who preferred to see a mix of taxes and cuts, the majority hoped to see them in roughly equal proportion, which is certain[ly] not what's on the table in Sacramento. So how many respondents supported balancing the budget with tax increases only? 9%. Interestingly, poll respondents favored closing the deficit with spending cuts only at three times the rate others favored a tax-only solution.

Also left out of the Times story is the incredible pessimism the report reveals. Californians are in a smack-talking mood as regards the state's direction, political institutions, business climate, and immediate prospects (i.e., most believe the state's economy has yet to hit bottom).

It’s good news that Californians are souring on a big, buttinski government that can’t even bring itself to stop subsidizing free bus rides to Dodgers games. I wish I could read about it somewhere. I know there used to be this thing, that was delivered by kids on bikes, and it was on paper, and had news in it. I forget what it was called. 

Update: California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro has a response at Fox & Hounds Daily, covering something I wanted to include out but didn't because I wanted to keep this post short: This poll contains some of the most loaded, leading questions I've ever seen in a putative non-partisan opinion poll. 

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  • ||

    Good old Fourth Estate, helping to hide the truth from voters. That's why everyone went to J-school, right?

  • ||

    Uh, yeah, actually, ProL; it is. To be the gatekeepers.

  • ||

    I thought it was to be the Keymaster.

  • LA Times||

    Take me now, subcreature.

  • ||

    Was just watching this last night! A comedy about a non-existent deity coming to Earth in human form, what could be more appropriate for Easter?

    Zule: "I want you inside me."
    Binkman: "No, I can't. It sounds like there are at least two people in there already."

  • ||

    "Binkman"? I dunno, I think we need to suspend your decoder ring until we can verify your ghostbusters fandom.

  • ||

    He got Venkman and Zuul wrong. 0 for 2, dude.

  • Hugh Akston||

    He was obviously watching the porn version: NutBusters.

  • ||

    He got Venkman and Zuul wrong. 0 for 2, dude.

    FUCK, I didn't catch "Zule". I saw "Binkman" in my 1st pass, and fixated on that. Decoder ring is in the mail, *sob*

  • Sudden||

    Your punishment will be to dress up as Rick Moranis for Halloween.

  • ||

    Your punishment will be to dress up as Rick Moranis for Halloween.

    *not going to reveal my planned Rick Moranis costume for '11, in fear of the punishment becoming worse*

  • ||

    Maybe I gotta milkbone or something...

  • ||

    You will perish in flames!

  • ||

    You will perish in flames!

    Yeah, the perishing would be punishment, but I love fire, so it's kind of a toss-up.

  • ||

    I though Zuul was Zool. Damn.

  • Zeb||

    Double "u"s always make words look foreign and kind of evil.

  • ||

    I said I watched the movie. I didn't dress up in a Ghostbuster uniform and read the script to my dog.

  • Cyto||

    "When someone asks if you are a god... you say YES!"

  • ||

  • ||

    You kept the white background! I'm so happy for you.

  • ||

    The poll is still up, but black on white is in the lead. I voted for black on black, but the people have spoken.

    The focus groups are inconclusive so far, ranging from people refusing to even speak to one guy asking why the Urkobold posts in all caps. He's been since detainted.

  • LarryA||

    "All the news that we think is fit for you to hear."

  • ||

    As someone who just got the callup for a job promotion to move to...ugh, Henry Waxman's district in the next three weeks I have hope in this poll; just as a solitary prisoner grabs at a fleeting shaft of light leaking into his living tomb.

  • Sudden||

    I just moved out of Waxman's district. It's a beautiful area, but it made me almost suicidal being represented in congress by him. I now happily live in Tom McClintock's district. He's not perfect by any stretch, but the difference is so profound that I can forgive his significant shortcomings.

  • Sudden||

    Nevermind, I'm in Elton Galleghly's district. I thought he had resigned and let McClintock take his seat, but it looks like McClintock actually carpetbagged his way up to NorthEast California.

  • ||

    Yes, the thinking of a lot of folks (but not enough) is that he chose this northern district to help funnel free water to his friends in SoCal.

    I've sent him email several times to sign on for several pro-gun rights bills and gotten no response. I think he's as single-minded for spending money on water control as that last damned corrupt fool.

  • Pip||

    "the dying organ shows there are always new ways to lie."

    For a moment there I thought I was reading another rather / zombie bukakke story.

  • rather ||

    stop writing them, and you won't have to read them

  • Sudden||

    Shouldn't the headline be 91% favor cutting spending?!?!

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    It's tempting to say "91 percent oppose tax hikes [alone]," but instead I totaled up the "combination" vote (53 percent) and and the "cutting spending" vote (33 percent).

  • Ted S.||

    53+33=86.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Damn math!

  • Otto||

    "Why are we losing readership? We're making up the nicest lies we know."

  • Joe M||

    It’s good news that Californians are souring on a big, buttinski government that can’t even bring itself to stop subsidizing free bus rides to Dodgers games.

    Definitely a big buttinski in that link.

  • ||

    As a life-long Californian, I don't put too much into these results. Although my family is fairly conservative, folks in general here mostly fall into the "intellectually lazy, gullible, bleeding heart" group.

  • Sudden||

    They all say they favor cutting spending.

    But I guarantee there will be another $500 million Children's Hospital on the ballot this year (literally every fucking election cycle there is this or its equivalent). It will pass 70/30.

  • GSL||

    Thanks for the nod our way, Tim. Much appreciated.

  • Tony||

    All you people who bash California are just jealous that you do not not live in the most progressive state in the world. Once all those Republicans have finally left, this place will be even richer and advanced than ever before.

  • LA Times||

    But once the Republicans are gone, who will you blame the failures of the state government on?

  • Tony||

    There will be no failures anymore.

  • MAX||

    LIBERTARIANS!!! All ten of them!

  • Sudden||

    Little known fact, all libertarians in California are named Ken, as evidenced by Ken Schultz, Sloopy in CA, and myself.

  • ||

    So, Libertarianism isn't the Kochtopus at work, it's a far more insidious Mattel/Hasbro conspiracy.

  • Sudden||

    Libertarian Ken comes with a top hat and monocle, and has never paid a dollar of taxes on his Malibu Barbie Beach house. He drives his Malibu Barbie car over starving old people, autistic children, and the noble poor.

  • ||

    Is it wrong that I got a unique urge to play with dolls after reading that?

  • Sudden||

    If your urge to play with dolls was rooted in running over starving old people, autistic children, and the noble poor, then not only is there nothing wrong with that, you have proven yourself a worth vanguard of the libertarian revolution.

  • ||

    Oh, sorry, no. It was the top hat & monocle accessories.

  • ||

    And his Malibu Barbie car was made in China by slave labor to boot.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Nah, some of us have boys names.

  • Sudden||

    At least I think Sloopy's name is Ken... I thought it came up in a thread somewhere. I could actually be wrong on that.

  • Really?||

    Ha - I always thought it was "Sloopy Inca" and it was some obscure reference that I didn't get.

  • ||

    Mark me down as for "I thought it was Sloopy Inca" too.

    I thought it was a dig on "Old Mexican". "Sloopy Inca is further south, more indigenous, and sloopier."

    Not that I have any idea what "sloopy" describes, or why sloopyINca would be diggin on OM.

  • Sudden||

    OM also lives in California IIRC. Since he is Mexican, he is the one libertarian that cannot be expected to be named Ken.

    Therefore, we refer to him as Quien.

  • Really?||

    Who? :P

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    It was always Sloopy Inca to me, too.

    And the reference was to "Hang on Sloopy" from the golden age of the 60's, although I don't know what that had to do with Incas.

    "Old Mexican" is a former Californian, now living in Texas.

    ... "Northern NM" Hobbit

  • ||

    Duh.

    You blame the failures of the state gov ON the repubs leaving!

    "If those greedy capitalist pigs hadn't abandoned the California Universal Love Fest, we could've taxed them until the defecit was nothing more than a faint memory. But nooooooooo, they stole off in the night with as much of our resources as they could carry on their crooked, evil, backs."

  • ||

    And, of course, The Council Of Ten, like max said.

  • Sudden||

    And, of course, The Council Of Ten Ken, like max said.

  • ||

    Thanks for catching that typo, my bad.

  • ||

    finds Californians very skeptical of the spending-heavy budget proposals supported by the Democratic machine that has monopoly control of the state's political functions

    I think it's pretty clear that they want more spending.

  • The L.A. Times||

    "I know there used to be this thing, that was delivered by kids on bikes, and it was on paper, and had news in it. I forget what it was called."

    I think the word you're looking for is "propaganda". And don't fret, we still deliver!

  • Jim||

    Jeez, if only there was an alternative political philosophy that would appeal to the Californians who voted in that poll. Perhaps one that emphasizes fiscal restraint and reducing barriers to business, without the dogma of social conservatism that makes the GOP unpalatable to Californian voters.

    *sigh* Sadly, there is no such philosophy, and even if there was, it certainly doesn't have any kind of organized party or movement to promote it. A man can dream.

  • The L.A. Times||

    We have the answer to your problem!

    But first you must answer a couple of questions.

    1. Have you ever heard of the Democratic Party?
    2. Would you like a subscription to our newslettter?

  • ||

    it certainly doesn't have any kind of organized party

    That part kinda killed the spoof. If there was actually some sort of libertarian party (that wasn't batshit insane), it would've worked.

  • Apologetic California||

    While I do use libtards abusively against Leftist scum, I think only the LA Times seem to embody the spirit of the term "libtard" perfectly. It sends Pulitzer Prize winning reporters to tell us endless examples of how government is a venal piece of shit institution that serves the public good as well as spiked rubber glove provides pleasurable handjobs. Then the Libtard Times turns around and runs I

  • GSL||

    only the LA Times seem to embody the spirit of the term "libtard" perfectly.

    To their credit, they're doing good work destroying the myth of local government in LA County. Montebello is on the chopping block these days.

  • Apologetic California||

    Then the Libtard Times turns around and runs I *HEART* GUBMINT CHEESE editorials right next to the mug of Robert Rizzo.

  • ||

    Back in the day, what newspapers wrote really mattered.

    Can you imagine?

    Huge numbers of likely voters got most of their information from the LA Times...

    Thank God for capitalism comin' along and breakin' up that trust!

  • cynical||

    Well, arguing for cuts would end up hurting California's unions. They probably just don't want to get bombed again.

  • BigBob||

    El Tiempo/LA Pravda has been doing this for years, I'm really not surprised. What is surprising is that more Dems in this state haven't come to the realization that the public employee unions are a bigger threat to their social programs than conservatives could hope to be.

  • Jan||

    Thanks4Sharing

  • GSL||

    What is surprising is that more Dems in this state haven't come to the realization that the public employee unions are a bigger threat to their social programs than conservatives could hope to be.

    Well, some have. Sort of.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Too bad the L.A. Times has no much influence on public opinion in the state.

  • JoshINHB||

    I know there used to be this thing, that was delivered by kids on bikes, and it was on paper, and had news in it. I forget what it was called.

    Sure as hell was never the LA Times.

  • alan||

    California:

    [Photo Caption Contest Entry: Two ugly old hippies eating bowls of granola]

    It's what progressives are having for diner.

  • Jason S.||

    It’s not just news; it’s big news

    Yep. Looks like they're trying to ignore this like they ignored John Edwards' affair. Bastages.

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