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Meg Whitman's misleading campaign to pigeonhole Jerry Brown

Untitled-1 It's almost pointless to express dismay over less-than-accurate political ads, but occasionally a commercial comes along that is so intentionally misleading and false (but potentially effective) that it deserves a beating. Put Meg Whitman's recent "hide your wallet" TV spot on Jerry Brown --a screenshot of which appears to the right -- in that category.

The ad alleges -- among other things -- that Brown said he would "ask voters for even more new taxes," citing a KTLA interview with the former governor; it's also probably a very loose interpretation of Brown's promise never to raise taxes without voter support. Here's the part of the KTLA interview Whitman excerpts on her website to support her claim:

Anchor: Let's talk about tax increases. Right now Democratic lawmakers in Sacramento are coming out with a plan to fix our budget crisis, massive deficit.

Jerry Brown:
Isn't that interesting, coming out with a plan in August? I mean the budget came out in January and…

Anchor: Well let me ask you -- Democrats are saying we need to raise taxes across basically every tax bracket, that the vehicle license fee needs to come back, your thoughts?

Jerry Brown: Well as I understand the plan -- I haven't seen it because it just came out -- they want to raise some taxes, lower them for no net increase and when you take in the tax deduction from the federal government it will be even for the taxpayers. Look it's another idea. The problem is it's August, the budget is supposed to be in by June 15th. My proposal, if I'm the next governor, is start in November. If I'm elected I'm going to start the next week. I'm going to get all 120 of those people, who are the [legislators], who get paid, who get pensions, and what are they doing? I don't think they're doing enough and this latest scheme it's got to be vetted to the public. It's like Bell, Calif. You can't operate in the shadows, people have a right to know.

Anchor: You've said the people, any tax increase needs the vote of the people. How realistic is that?

Brown: Not when you start in August. It's realistic if you start in November because then you have time and for example if I were governor and we got our budget deal together, we needed money, you can go to the voters. Or you need big cuts, you can go to the voters. If you start in April you can have a vote in June.

You can judge for yourself whether Brown comes across as being open to increasing; his statements about giving Californians enough time to digest proposed budgets before voting on taxes or cuts may lead you to think so. But Brown does little more than merely entertain the idea. Nowhere in this interview -- or in Brown's official position on raising taxes -- is any promise that he actually plans on going to voters for a tax increase. 

The Whitman ad also oversimplifies Brown's tortured relationship with Proposition 13, noting that he called the initiative "a fraud" before it passed in 1978. Though he did say that, his actions after the 1978 election are more illustrative of his approach to taxing and spending. As Times columnist George Skelton previously noted, Brown initially opposed Proposition 13 but implemented it so swiftly and thoroughly that he won the public support of Howard Jarvis, the antitax crusader behind the law. Whatever Brown may think personally about boosting state revenue, he has an established, well-known record of respecting voters' wishes on taxes.

This isn't to say Brown's position is necessarily the right one for California; in fact, you could argue that Brown deflects on the issue in a way that Whitman -- who signed the infamous antitax pledge -- doesn't. But the Republican's clunky attempts to pigeonhole Brown as a big-spending liberal may not be so well-taken in a state whose voters remember the former two-term governor as something of an unpredictable political chameleon. Judging by polls that show Brown maintaining a lead over Whitman, voters aren't buying the Republican's "truthiness."

-- Paul Thornton


Comments () | Archives (22)

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Joe Six

If the author's agrument is that a liberal democrat won't be inclined to raise taxes, that is simpley false. The author is getting caught up symantics and not looking at the fact that one candidate (Brown) believes higher taxes are a soloution, and the other (Whitman) believes lower taxes are a solution.


I like the author's quote "merely entertains the idea" of tax increases. The Democrats have always entertained tax increases. When was the last time a Democrat entertained a tax decrease with comparable cuts in spending? Once a tax increase is on the books it will NEVER be removed by a Democratic congress.


Anyone who spends as much money as Meg Whitman has an isn't ahead in the polls does not deserve to win. With all the ad money, everyone obviously knows her positions on things as well as has a more negative view of her opponent because she runs so many attack ads and yet she still isn't winning. That's the sign of a subpar candidate. Not to mention, I can't ever get behind just trying to buy an election. Meg, you were a so-so CEO at EBay with a tremendous product and the country needs better than a so-so these days.


My opinion is Meg Whitman almost killed eBay, she was lucky to have been on the ride early on and she did absolutely nothing but rip off ebay users especially the sellers with higher and higher fees, that was about the only way she could raise revenue for eBay. Since she left, there have been some very refreshing changes made, not everything is great but a lot better than under meg, the listing fees are the lowest ever, multiple spamming type listings are a thing of the past, feedback has become better, etc etc.

So overall a much refreshing change at eBay so if you reflect that into running a state, meg will just raise taxes directly or indirectly and nothing new will show up, honestly I am not into politics and dont even know which party Meg represents, I just remember her from ebay where I sell occasionally as a hobby and can tell exactly what to expect of her.

roger roger

Well, if you are saying that ALL democrats entertain tax increases, that's like saying that ALL Republicans entertain tax decreases. BOTH have entertained tax increases and decreases, one of which being Obama's tax cuts associated with TARP. You all assume that, since a Democrat is in power, there will be higher taxes -- the problem here is that might be the only recourse after 8 years of a tax break for the wealthiest 1% of Americans alongside massive spending increases including 2 wars and an increase in big government WITH Republicans controlling all 3 branches of government! Your argument that Democrats = tax increases and spending is therefore total bull.

Average American

Wow, California, you deserve the hard times you've brought on your self! Be a "safe haven" for all illegal criminals, legalize pot, legsilate yourself into the darkness of no electricity and whatever you do don't elect a true business person to get you back on tract! Well, I'm telling you now we will not bail you out again! So sit in the dark with your "no habla ingles" friends and roll up some bud in your welfare check and smoke it! Just remember, that smoke won't make your problems any less real...


"raise some taxes, lower them for no net increase and when you take in the tax deduction from the federal government it will be even for the taxpayers." GREAT! The feds give us a tax break so the economy grows, and our state takes it. It's a wash? Not since the income for that person was cut in half (like mine was). That little break from the feds WAS going to be a big help to make up for the loss, now the state claims it to pay for their agenda. Just cant get ahead (or make ANY headway) with this government entitlement to MY money. Tax increases are NOT going to happen, get over it and stop asking. Be more efficient, not greedy! We all have, now it’s California’s turn to tighten their belt. I’m on the last hole, and cant give ANY more.


Well, Brown didn't come out openly and bluntly against taxes. He was evasive at best with the usual mumbo jumbo as he is usually on any issues. He always takes two sides on any issue and talks about the pros and cons of the issue with no specific stand. Of course, I don't favor Meg whitman and she is evil. california would become the worst state in the union if she ever becomes the governor and california might get sold to Goldman Sachs. Golden state run by Goldman sachs, can you believe that? You better believe it, Republican fools.


roger roger- While Bush set an unprecedented government growth (DPT of Homeland Security, and other agencies) because we were attacked & went to war, Obama has tripled what Bush did with what new war? The war budget was factored in, why the MASSIVE growth? Obama just pushed us into debt so he'd have an excuse to raise taxes. Yes Regan did a huge tax increase, as well as Bush Sr. but what Democrat lowered taxes like Bush Jr. did? Any of them? Here’s a novel idea, cut spending if you can’t afford it. The public did. How did congress (just 2 weeks ago) vote NOT to increase Medicare cost of living for us (equaling a $3,000 loss over 2 years due to inflation and other cost increases), but DID vote themselves a $10,000 EACH over 2 year raise! Screw them, the rest of us are loosing income or worse a job, but not our Congress, they deserve that raise! BBB SSS!!! We are now mostly out of Iraq now, but that decrease in spending is not mentioned. Where is that extra cash going to? Nobody has even mentioned that new income. MAKE DUE of pay it yourself. How about congress taking a pay CUT like us? Fat chance, Fat Cats.

Siamese cats

The best choice for governor is someone who does not vote


Why can't these campaigns be about "blowing your own horn" instead of mudslinging? I want to hear a candidate talk about the issues and how they plan on resolving them, not flinging dirt on the opponents character or their opinion of how awful their opponent is.

I know, I'm so naive.


"Average American," when did you ever bail California out? As for your claim that we should "elect a true business person to get us back on tract" [sic], that would be fine except that Mrs. Whitman is not a "true business person." She has laid claim to being a top executive, based upon successes at eBay which had nothing to do with her being the CEO, and has run from the facts that she engaged in corrupt business practices, physically assaulted an employee, and laid off 10% of its workforce before skating with a $120 million golden parachute. Yeah, THAT'S the person I want running California - someone whose every decision will be calculated to her own advantage, and damn the little peasant citizens if they suffer in the process.


This is laughable. 'Brown the clown' has not even attempted to identify who uttered the term that started 'whoregate'. The national NOW gang has demanded that that person be identified and fired, but ol' Jerry doesn't care. It is a-okay to continuing paying the sexist hater.

'Brown the clown' owes his heart and soul to the state employee unions. If the LATimes refuses to believe he would raise taxes to give the unions more, well, we understand why.

Steve Gonzales

Both sides have been less than truthful period. Having said that, the last thing we need is a rerun of Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown. He has had his day in the sun and gave us public sector unions who are a large factor in bankrupting this state and the infamous Rose Bird. That kind of governor I can do without. Whitman may not be prefect by any means but is an outsider and has some new ideas. The big question is can she implement them? People are not happy in this state and because of this just might be able to make some important changes. I am willing to "shoot crap" and give her the chance. Too bad McClintock is not running....now that is someone who I could vote for!

I can read.

@YingYang - Do you pay taxes at all? If you ever had, you would realize that this quote "raise some taxes, lower them for no net increase and when you take in the tax deduction from the federal government it will be even for the taxpayers" refers to the federal tax deduction that you receive on state taxes that you have paid.


Brown wants to send illegal aliens to college at state expense as he admitted in the first debate; and guarantee the pensions of the state unions that support him. How can the author of this article entertain even the possibility that Brown won't raise taxes immediately? I've lived here for 35 years: I know exactly where Brown is going: Higher taxes, higher fees, and we'll have fewer jobs.


I really hate to say this, but we really need professional politicians. The amateurs are killing us!


I'm not the same person I was thirty years ago. Neither are you. Neither is Jerry Brown.


What bothers me most about Meg Whitman is that the points she puts up are either false or to Jerry Brown's benefit, not hers.

I remember one of the Republican criticisms of Brown when he was governor was that he said one thing and did another.

What he did was to have opinions, but wasn't married to his opinions, he did what the tax payers voted for.

A concept our ideologically driven office holders could learn from.

Big Mike

The writer of this article sure softens (and that's an understatement) how much Jerry Brown opposed Prop 13 during his first tenure as Governor Moonbeam.

Prop 13 was initiated because of him!!! It was initiated when Moonbeam refused to lower the state's insane high property taxes (that he imposed) when the state didn't need the revenue.

Moonbeam called prop 13 a "Con", "Stupid" and long line of other things. Then when it was passed by a huge majority of voters, he tried to make it sound like it was his own idea. Moonbeam was a joke. He partied like a rock star and spent tax money like it was going out of style. During his 8 years as Governor, he raised taxes like 6 or 7 times. He is so full of it. I really feel like I need boots on when he talks.

This entire article is way out in left field! If you want to report on Moonbeam and Prop 13, please write it correctly and accurately.


It is far from clear where Brown stands on the issue of "no taxes w/o voter approval"

AYres Cayo

Halloween - decrepit "Icabod Crane" MoonBEam rides again

- MoonBEam long gone and forgotten has regenerated the same tired burned out hippy economic mantra's that put California at continuous "Low Tide"

- "Collective Bargaining for "State Employee" and Illegals
- "Shall talk to the "State Employees" about voting themselves huge raises and pensions"

"Secret Economic Plan" - that MoonBEam can't release until after the election. MoonBEam's brain is digressing

You can take the burned out fried hippy out of the commune, but you can't take the failed economics out of the lunatic hippy.



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