Leubitz, Brian

Brian Leubitz publishes Calitics.com a leading California progressive blog covering California politics. He holds a law degree from the University of Texas and a Master of Public Policy (M.P.P) from the Goldman School at The University of California, Berkeley. After practicing law in San Francisco, Brian transitioned into politics. He is a member of the Democratic State Central Committee, serves on the CDP's resolutions committee, and is on the boards of the San Francisco Young Democrats and the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.

Your New Legislators: The Term Limits Dance Shifts

By Brian Leubitz


With the new term limits structure amendments of a few years ago, Sacramento is seeing a lot of change. Lots and lots and lots of change. In the Legislature convening today, 72 of the 120 legislators have less than two years of experience at the state level. That's a staggeringly high number, and rather frightening for the institutional memory of both chambers. If you look at the new leadership team in the Assembly, you'll find freshmen legislators David Chiu, Evan Low, Jim Cooper and Miguel Santiago all in prominent positions.

Secretary of State Race Could Get Wild

By Brian Leubitz

The Secretary of State gig will be turning over this year, and there will be change. Lots of it. No matter which of the six announced candidates wins in November, the change from Debra Bowen will be stark. But as one of the two heavily contested races this year, I thought it would be worth a review of the current crop of candidates before the Democratic convention in LA this weekend. The race for the endorsement at this point seems to be Sen. Alex Padilla or a no endorsement position, but, of course, everything could change down at the CADem Convention. So, on to the candidates.

Steinberg's Prison Plan

Author Brian LeubitzBy Brian Leubitz

The prisons are a mess. However, things can get worse. My friend, and SF School Board member, Matt Haney co-authored an op-ed in the SF Chronicle with Van Jones about the governor's position on the issue:

Gov. Jerry Brown confirmed this week that he is pulling his prison policies out of a 1980s playbook. It is heartbreaking to watch our nation's most famous Democratic governor cling to outdated, lock 'em up notions that even conservatives are abandoning in droves.

CA GOP Continues its Death Spiral, Seeks Help From Prop 32 Supporters

Brian Leubitz

CRP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro in SacramentoCalifornia Republican Party faces fiscal, organizing questions. Banks on Special Exemptions.

The California Republican Party is in something of a desperate situation. They hold no statewide offices, and then they had a story in the New York Times titled "Republican Party in California Is Caught in Cycle of Decline."

That's never a good thing, especially when it is combined with a follow-up from the San Francisco Chronicle with some worrying financial numbers. Without getting deeply into the nitty, gritty, it is pretty bad. They are expected to reveal a deficit of nearly half a million dollars, and are considering closing their Sacramento office.

Like the TEA Party? You'll love the Special Exemptions Act!

By Brian Leubitz

At first blush, some would think that the Special Exemptions Act would be a step in the right direction.  That it would somehow reform our broken campaign finance system.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the Special Exemptions Act ends up making the system worse, and more biased against working Californians. It leaves open huge loopholes for Billionaires to spend in SuperPACs and Independent Expenditures(IEs), while stifling the voice of labor and working Californians. It's an unbalanced and unfair measure that would just increase the power of the undisclosed and poorly regulated SuperPACs and IEs and their tea party allies in California.

The Special Exemptions Act Would Make It Even Easier For Super PACs to Buy Our Elections

By Brian Leubitz

In 1980, Ronald Reagan spent $29.2mil to win the presidency. The incumbent, Jimmy Carter, spent $29.4mil to lose it.

In 2012, with the nominating convention still two months away, Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate with ambiguous goals has committed, so far, over $35mil to ensure that his voice is millions of times larger than any single everyday voter. Just a few days ago, Adelson committed another $10mil at the Koch Brothers luxury convention. No matter how committed the volunteer, no matter how many phone calls they make, no matter how many doors they knock, no single volunteer will ever approach the impact that Sheldon Adelson will have simply by writing a check.

PPIC Poll Shows Large Information Gap

By Brian Leubitz

When the Republican realized that they could make some electoral gains from becoming the "Second Santa" with their tax cuts, they knew they were on to something. They didn't have to be the bad guys promoting spending cuts, and their tax cuts would somehow net just as much revenue because the magic "Laffer curve" would make everything better. And if it didn't work, well, the Democrats would have to cut spending and do the dirty work.

And, unsurprisingly, it worked. It has clearly worked in California, where Prop 13 and its anti-tax brethren have wreaked havoc on the state. For a few decades we were able to hide much of this through some huge bubbles and creative accounting, but that is a thing of the past. And so we have a huge deficit, a dysfunctional tax system, and a government that only allows cuts. What's a Republican to do to keep up his role as a second Santa?

A New Year, Anything New?

By Brian Leubitz

If you care to look, it seems that the Sacramento press corps (all three to five of the hardy souls) have just written either a wrap up of 2011 or a preview of 2012.  You basically get a few points with slightly different order depending on the writer(s), but here are a few points worth noting:

1) Jerry Brown is just Jerry Brown

That isn't to say he's any worse than any other governor that we could have ended up with, but that he's not some super hero who can ride in to save the day.  Even with all of his experience, he can't magically do Jedi Mind Tricks on the Republicans to somehow be reasonable. I think there was a lot of hope this time last year that Jerry Brown, with all of his experience a generation ago, would be the adult in the room for the bunch of children in the legislature.  But I suppose sometimes the delinquents win.

2) 2012 will be a make or break year for Brown and California generally. Or not.

As Middle Class Dwindles, Corporations Continue To Pay Low Tax Rates

By Brian Leubitz

It is probably just happenstance that these two reports came out on top of each other, but it weaves a narrative that has been out there for years. The middle class is hurting, and the corporations, who need and require a strong middle class of consumers, is doing little to help. In fact, they are actively working to strangle their own customers.

First, let's start with our shrinking middle class. The Public Policy Institute of California is out with a new report focusing on California's increasing income inequality. The statistics on the middle class from the report fairly summarize what has happened to our economy over the past thirty years. In 1980, 60 percent of California families were middle income. By 2010, 47.9 percent of Californians lived in families considered middle income, after adjusting for the state's cost of living. These are families with incomes between $44,000 and $155,000.

Gov. Brown Releases Open Letter with Revenue Plan, Maintains Approval Rating

By Brian Leubitz

I was going to make this post about the Governor's approval numbers, but he just made it a little bit more interesting by releasing an "Open Letter to the People of California."  Quite auspicious sounding, but what it really is his revenue plan.  Here's the meat of that plan:

My proposal is straightforward and fair.  It proposes a temporary tax increase on the wealthy, a modest and temporary increase in the sales tax, and guarantees that the new revenues be spent only on education.  Here are the details:

· Millionaires and high-income earners will pay up to 2% higher income taxes for five years. No family making less than $500,000 a year will see their income taxes rise. In fact, fewer than 2% of California taxpayers will be affected by this increase.