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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Katy Grimes

Less Freedom in California: Residents Fleeing Growing Welfare State

People move for more freedom. States that have more freedom attract more businesses, more jobs and more workers.

According to the John Locke Foundation, freedom is based on fiscal policy, which measures taxes and budgetary measures, and generates 50 percent of a state’s score. Twenty percent each goes to education and to regulatory policies, and 10 percent to health care policy.

The ‘least free’ state according to the John Locke Foundation is New York, closely followed by California, then New Jersey, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

This would explain why California has a record number of residents who left the Golden State for other states during the last decade, according to new tax return data from the Internal Revenue Service. “About 5 million Californians left between 2004 and 2013,” the Sacramento Bee reported. “Roughly 3.9 million people came here from other states during that period, for a net population loss of more than 1 million people.”

The IRS said this also resulted in a net… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

California’s Eminent Domain Heist

It will not surprise anyone reading this that serious problems persist in the housing sector. Many solutions have been proposed, including several pieces of legislation I have introduced in Congress, to help homeowners, completely reform our housing finance system and fix the housing crisis. Most of the proposals out there are focused on struggling homeowners trying to make the next payment and are about the greater good of the country. However, you may or may not be surprised that a couple of California cities have decided to not waste a good crisis, to paraphrase the now infamous axiom, realizing there is a lot of cash to be made off underwater homeowners.

In an astonishingly expansive and untenable interpretation of eminent domain authority, several local governments, notably San Bernardino, have proposed plans to override private property rights through a scheme that is specifically designed to make money for over-leveraged cities. This scheme is being sold as assistance for hurting homeowners, but it is purely a ploy to use federal tax dollars to seize distressed home loans and force unconventional, yet profitable loan modifications.

However, not only will… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Fix It: Episode V

Episode V – Housing: For those of you who perhaps are new “subscribers” to this “Report from my Laptop to Yours”, I have been writing a series on the things I think we need to do in order to bring about a new, extended period of substantial growth that offers prosperity to our people, refreshes our culture and preserves and extends our hegemony in world affairs. This is Episode V. (You see how I cleverly use roman numerals in order to add a degree of erudition to these writings. My close proximity to the ways of Hollywood has not been completely without influence.) If you missed the first four Episodes, you can find them on my website HERE.

Now on to Episode 5…..I mean V. Regular readers of this missive will know that restoring growth to the housing market is one of my major priorities in Congress. This is not because I’m a housing guy. I’m not really. I’m a car guy. But, the fact is that the car business and the housing business have some similarities. Both are high… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Conforming Loan Limits

I’m a car guy. Most of you know this. However, I’ve recently become the housing guy in Washington. This is not due to any direct background or experience. I have only bought 3 and sold 2 houses in my life, all of in which the captivating Mrs. Campbell and I have lived. It is partly because I serve on the committee that deals with such issues. But, it is mainly because I know we never go into recessions without housing and cars leading us in, and we never recover without housing and cars leading us out. These two industries are just too big a part of the economy and too important to the psyche of consumers. The car business is doing better of late, but housing is not. There are many reasons our economy stinks, but one of them is certainly because the housing market is still in a decline. The economy will not be strong again until we turn it around.

When you have a sick patient, the first rule is, “Do no harm”. The housing market is sick. Much of what is causing this sickness is the fact that the housing finance system, anchored by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, failed. We have to replace that system. As many of you know, I have a… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Chaos in Washington

If I were to tell you things were chaotic in Washington last week, you might correctly exclaim, “So, what else is new?”. But, things seem to be even more chaotic than normal right now. I submit the following rundown for your consideration:

The President announced his latest strategy for Afghanistan in which he tries to thread the policy needle by giving a timetable for some withdrawal, but at the same time keeps more troops there throughout his term than at any time during the Bush presidency. I don’t think he succeeded in pleasing anyone with this plan – certainly not this Member of Congress. He also still has not indicated what it is we are now fighting for and what the desired end-state looks like. Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda is largely out of Afghanistan. Are we nation building? I think we are and I don’t think that is worth $2 billion a week and more American lives. I also believe you either fight wars with all you’ve got, or don’t fight them at all. Vietnam taught us that. The President seems to want to fight half a war. Speaker Boehner criticized the President’s speech and basically called … Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Growing the Private Sector

Things are not so good out there. The unemployment rate, already stubbornly high, climbed even higher in May. Economists are revising economic growth predictions downward. Housing prices continue to drop, thereby further reducing household wealth. Real returns on bank deposits and Treasury Bills are negative. The dollar is dropping. Gas prices are up, inflation is up. There are some bright spots, certainly, but the overall picture is that of stagnation. Unfortunately, none of this is a great surprise given what the government has been doing of late. We are printing money and artificially holding down interest rates to try and spur recovery. But, this is creating those negative real (after inflation) interest rates, which are distorting capital flows. Most of the country’s tax policies expire in 18 months, so no one can do any long-term investment planning about taxes with any certainty. The government is retarding the development of almost all forms of economical energy (oil, gas, coal, nuclear), while subsidizing expensive wind and solar. We continue to run record deficits, which divert capital from other more productive uses and create the massive public debt overhang… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Housing Finance Reform Act Q&A

About 10 days ago, I wrote you all about the Housing Finance Reform Bill (H.R. 1859) that I have written and am sponsoring along with Gary Peters (D-MI). I mentioned in that missive that this is an important bill that will consume a great deal of my time and energy over the coming months. Based on the numerous responses from all of you, you seem to agree. I appreciate all those who responded offering your support and assistance in moving this bill forward. I will be separately contacting those of you who did soon.

Reading your responses last week, I noticed there were questions on this fairly complex issue that came up several times. So, I have decided to include the “most asked” questions into this edition and am answering them to give you an even better idea of what this bill is, how it works and why I wrote it:

1. John, isn’t your bill just recreating the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac again? It looks like you are just going to have 5 of them instead of two.

No. The whole point of this bill is to kill the old GSE system and replace it with something completely different that will provide… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Housing Finance Reform

Housing Finance Reform: Housing is an enormous sector of our economy. We never go into recession without housing leading us in. And, we never come out without housing recovering. Arguably, part of the reason that our current economic recovery is so tepid is because the housing recovery is very weak. When you consider the construction of new houses, the sales of existing houses, the construction and remodel and renting of apartments, the home improvement industry and so forth, it represents a tremendous amount of employment, economic activity and is fundamental to a standard of living. And, none of it moves without adequate financing. Hardly anyone buys, builds or improves a house or apartment paying cash. Pretty much everyone needs to borrow some money.

The method under which most people borrowed that money during the last 70 years was through the assistance of the “government sponsored enterprises”, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And, it worked pretty well for most of those 70 years. But, as we all well know, both enterprises failed rather spectacularly in 2008 and were a major component of the economic crash that year. The… Read More