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Five Pinocchios for Gavin Newsom

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By Joe Guzzardi
Syndicated columnist

Add California Governor Gavin Newsom’s name to the list of prominent elected officials who blatantly lied about their personal histories. 

Senator Elizabeth Warren lied for years about her alleged American Indian heritage. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal falsely claimed to have been a Vietnam war combatant. Instead of slinking silently away under the cover of darkness, Warren and Blumenthal shrugged their lies off and successfully campaigned for re-election. 

Warren first identified as an American Indian in the 1980s and listed under race on her State Bar of Texas registration form as American Indian. In her 2019 presidential bid, voters disregarded Warren’s brazen misrepresentation; 49% polled said they considered decades of lying about her heritage didn’t matter. In her telephone call to the Cherokee Nation’s principal leader Bill John Baker, Warren apologized, then went about her Senate career unscared.

Blumenthal claimed to have served in Vietnam, a falsehood that the New York Times exposed. Truth be told, Blumenthal never went to Vietnam. Instead, he obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war. Blumenthal claimed that he “misspoke” about Vietnam, but he nevertheless has been elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, 2016, and 2022.

Although not as outrageous as Warren’s and Blumenthal’s lies, Newsom’s whopper is notable, and an effort to enhance his shadow presidential campaign. 

As Newsom tells the story, he was headed to a community college until Santa Clara University’s baseball coaches phoned with a partial scholarship offer which, he said, “changed my life, my trajectory.” 

But former coaches and teammates countered that Newsom’s baseball biography, repeated again and again through interviews and glossy magazine profiles and coverage of his 2021 baseball-themed children’s book on overcoming dyslexia, inflated his baseball credentials, and gave the impression that he was a more accomplished player than he was.

A junior varsity recruit who played only during the fall tryouts in his freshman and sophomore years, Newsom left the baseball program before the regular season began without ever playing an official game for the Broncos, an NCAA Division-1 school. 

Newsom does not appear on the Broncos’ all-time roster or in media guides published by the athletic department.

Rumors persist that the Democratic National Party is plotting to dump Biden and his miserable poll ratings. Newsom waits anxiously in the wings. But from a national voters’ perspective Newsom’s curriculum vitae makes him increasingly unelectable. Should Newsom ever reach the campaign trail, he’d be on the defensive from the get-go. 

California has amassed an enormous $73 billion deficit, in large part because the dysfunctional state has driven taxpayers away. The non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) in its February update added $15 billion to its original $58 billion budget current deficit projection. The massive, mounting debt coincides with the large numbers of fleeing taxpayers, one of California’s primary sources of revenue. 

Census data shows that California’s population dropped by about 75,400 between July 2022 and July 2023. Many of the people leaving California are taking significant resources with them. California experienced a net loss of more than 27,000 tax filers with an adjusted gross income of over $200,000 between 2020 and 2021, according to the Tax Foundation. The state’s budget deficit is more stunning when compared to 2022’s $97.5 billion surplus which quickly morphed into a $31 billion-plus deficit.

Newsom will push more Californians out of the-once Golden State if the legislature approves his energy bill plan. California lawmakers propose to change the way electricity is billed to households, part of Newsom’s tax the rich scheme. Instead of paying for the electricity consumption a household uses, the home will also be billed based on its income. A draft of the new law requires that people earning $28,000-$69,000 be charged an extra $20 to $34 per month. 

Those earning $69,000-$180,000 would pay $51 to $73 per month, and people earning more than $180,000 would pay a $85-to-$128 monthly surcharge. California has one of the nation’s highest costs of living and ranks third in highest residential energy costs. Residents making $28,000 annually are struggling financially, especially if they’re supporting large families, and cannot afford an energy surtax. They too may soon be heading for the highway. The California Public Utilities Commission has until July 1 to implement the new rule into the billing process.

A stumping Newsom would meet strong headwinds on his immigration agenda, national voters’ biggest concerns. Newsom’s welcoming immigration laws will make it impossible for him to pose as an enforcement advocate. His latest affront: effective January 1, 2024, all illegal aliens, regardless of age, will qualify for Medi-Cal, California's version of the federal Medicaid program for low-income individuals. 

Newsom estimates conservatively that 764,000 illegal aliens will enroll, exacerbating the already strained Medi-Cal system that provides for 14.6 million Californians, about a third of the state's population. A LAO estimate calculated that providing Medi-Cal to California’s illegal alien population would cost the state over $6.5 billion annually, a tough nut for taxpayers to swallow when the budget is $73 billion in the red. For the DNC, pushing Biden aside to make room for the potentially less electable Newsom would be a roll of the dice. 

The party is better off with the devil it knows, Biden, than to gamble on the slick Newsom.

Joe Guzzardi is an Institute for Sound Public Policy analyst who has been writing about immigration for more than 30 years. 

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