A decade ago, former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg authored a book titled 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America. If Goldberg were writing today about Californians, he would no doubt include billionaire Tom Steyer near the top of the list.
Steyer achieved his extreme wealth as a hedge fund manager, an uber capitalist whose profitable investments have included oil, gas and coal.
In 2012, he separated from the management of his company – he still owns shares – and committed to a “green” agenda. He became the leading sponsor and financial backer of Proposition 39 on the 2012 ballot, which was sold as pro-environmental reform measure virtually guaranteeing its passage by Californians understandably concerned about the environment. Proposition 39 increased taxes on businesses — those evil companies that provide so many Americans their jobs — and directed the money be put into something called The Clean Jobs Energy Fund. Steyer promised it would bring in $550 million and create 11,000 jobs per year. But a recent investigation by the Associated Pressreveals that it has raised less than 60 percent of that amount over three years, and has created only 1,700 jobs mostly for consultants and auditors.
Steyer has shied away from taking responsibility for, or being critical of, these dismal results, even though one of his top advisors serves on the Proposition 39 oversight committee that, ironically, has yet to meet.
However, Steyer continues to insert himself and his views into the political arena. In 2014, he spent $57 million of his personal fortune in support of out-of-state candidates for the Senate and governor, most of whom lost. And there is talk of his being a candidate for governor in 2018.
When it comes to Steyer, voters may continue to have a bad taste in their mouths if the promises of Proposition 39 are not kept. He may come to be regarded as a guy with a huge ego who uses his money as a megaphone to promote ill-conceived plans on which he stamps a green label to gain public acceptance.
With the Sacramento politicians, led by the current governor, continuing to dedicate themselves to spending nearly 100 billion taxpayer dollars on a “green” bullet train that will be neither fast nor cheap, as promised, will they be ready to accept another politician with a pie-in-the-sky agenda, one who seems to have more money than sense?
Average Californians are tired of paying high taxes for little or no return. They are rapidly getting fed up with having to carry the burden for the dreams of limousine liberals who are concentrated in idyllic coastal enclaves where only the wealthy can buy homes. Those who can afford to insulate themselves from life’s rough edges should not ignore those who struggle to get to work, feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. If they do, they do so at their own peril.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis TaxpayersAssociation — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayerorganization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.