The issue of employment dominated the race for governor Thursday as Meg Whitman slashed rival Jerry Brown for failing to offer a plan to create jobs while she unveiled a glossy, 34-page booklet on the subject that she plans to mail to voters across California.
As she campaigned at a flashlight factory in sweltering Ontario, Whitman reiterated her economic proposals: enacting targeted tax cuts that she believes will spur job creation, streamlining regulations and competing with other states for businesses.
“Jerry Brown refuses to put down a detailed plan,” Whitman said. “He talks in generalities, but Californians need to know what his plan is.”
Brown countered that he has put forth a “very powerful” and detailed clean-energy plan that would create 500,000 jobs and noted that he created 1.9 million jobs during his previous two terms as governor in the 1970s and ‘80s.
“Like much of what she’s doing in this campaign, either she’s not informed or she’s just not telling the truth,” Brown said on CNBC on Thursday. “I know how to get this thing done.”
Jobs appeared to be the latest skirmish in the candidates’ continuing battle over whether the state would be better served in the next four years by a newcomer with executive experience or a veteran politician.
Whitman, in remarks to hundreds of Maglite employees, painted the race as a battle between someone who has run for office 14 times versus a businesswoman who shepherded EBay from a small start-up to an international powerhouse.
“I promise you, Jerry Brown is part of the old school, part of the old approach.... We cannot afford a third term of Jerry Brown as governor,” she said. “We’ve got to take an entirely different approach. That is why I’m running. I have met a payroll, I have gotten a return on investments, I deeply understand the economy and jobs, and that is what I will bring Sacramento.”
Brown, for his part, insisted that his experience would prove beneficial.
“What it takes here is not a plan with mostly pictures or tax reductions that you don’t say how much they are going to cost,” he said. “You need a plan to engage the people and the legislators because you’ve got to persuade. It’s not like being CEO, you don’t give edicts to the legislators or the civil servants. You got to lead them, and it’s damn tough, and I’ve done it before.”
Whitman has put out more detailed policy proposals than Brown. Yet her claim that her proposals would lead to the creation of 2 million jobs by 2015 appears to be speculative: The booklet Whitman unveiled Thursday acknowledges that uncertainty on a page that purports to break down job gains by sector.
“No expert or group of experts can accurately predict or guarantee the future, and the exact state and federal policy environment California will face over the next four or five years, as well as the condition of the global economy, is always uncertain,” the booklet says.
The booklet, which features glossy pictures and graphics, is a mixture of Whitman’s policy proposals and criticisms of Brown. It contains some of the same falsehoods that have been featured in Whitman’s television ads or statements.
Whitman accuses Brown of spending $230,000 to redecorate the attorney general’s office, but remodeling was planned before Brown took office and was to make room for 12 additional attorneys.
The booklet is also disingenuous in its discussion of the economic conditions during Brown’s two terms as governor, from 1975 to 1983. It says Brown left the state with “record high” unemployment rate of 11.1%, Unemployment was higher both during the Great Depression and today, and the booklet fails to note that his departure coincided with a recession in which joblessness rose nationwide.
“It’s not new, it’s the same as her old one, just with more pictures, which I didn’t think was possible,” Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford said. “The attacks on Jerry are old lies, new format.”