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Taxpayers’ list of the naughty and nice

As the song goes, he’s making a list and checking it twice. He’s going to find out who is naughty or nice. While that song refers to St. Nick, the Ghost of Howard Jarvis has his own list.

Here are a few for the naughty list.

Gavin Newsom: While Newsom’s opposition to Proposition 30, a tax increase on high-earning Californians to fund electric vehicle subsidies, may have gotten him a spot on the nice list, he immediately put himself right back on the naughty list for suggesting that California impose price controls on oil and gas refiners.

Price controls don’t work. They lead to shortages and rationing, a greater dependence on foreign oil and, ironically, higher prices. The Legislature would be wise to reject this when they come back in January.

California election officials: Florida took its embarrassing “hanging chad” fiasco seriously and cured the defects in its election process. California, on the other hand, seems to take pride in its inability to count votes in a timely fashion. This year, Florida finished its count on election night while some California counties were still counting votes a month after election day. (In mitigation, election officials must grapple with the bad election laws enacted by the Legislature.)

Employment Development Department: Our unemployment insurance program is insolvent thanks, in no small part, to the EDD sending out as much as $30 billion in unemployment benefits for phony claims. EDD projects that at year’s end the unemployment insurance program’s total debt will exceed $19 billion. Because of its insolvency, it must pay $470 million in interest payments to the federal government. And when I say EDD must pay, I mean you.

Government union bosses: The leaders of these unions relentlessly seek more creative ways to deprive taxpayers of their hard-earned money while imposing escalating costs that will spell disaster in any future economic downturn. A lump of coal here.

As for those who have been nice this year, I have some ideas too.

A few district attorneys: Keeping with the EDD theme, our state district attorneys and U.S. attorneys deserve credit for their continuing efforts to punish the fraudsters and claw back some of those stolen unemployment benefits. Just last week, a former gang member and prison inmate in Kern County was sentenced to five additional years for his part in ripping off taxpayers.

Journalists: While the media in this state undoubtedly have a leftward bent, there are several reporters who do an outstanding job of uncovering waste or fraud that otherwise would have gone undetected. Without them, many of the worst cases of government malfeasance (like the EDD fraud) might never have been uncovered or, at least, would have been allowed to fester for years or decades longer. Independent journalist Ralph Vartabedian gets a gold star for his relentless reporting on the joke that is the high-speed rail project.

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Voters: The voters were wise this year to reject Proposition 30. California already has the highest individual income tax bracket in the country. The wealthiest Californians already pay the lion’s share of the taxes. Because of the progressivity of our state income tax system, we are heavily dependent on them to keep the state running. They are already taxed enough and they’re well aware that Nevada, which has no state income tax at all, is just next door.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of taxpayers’ “naughty and nice” people but, with not much imagination, we’re sure that the readers of this column can come up with a list of their own.

Taxpayers who are expected to be Santa Claus should keep a pencil handy to take notes for the next election.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association.

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