Newsletter: Essential Politics: Gov. Newsom calls Trump’s border crisis ‘manufactured,’ removes California troops

Essential Politics

The centerpiece of last week’s State of the Union was the lengthy defense by President Trump of his approach on border security as justified by an “urgent national crisis.”

On Tuesday, in his State of the State speech in Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom will do nothing short of calling the president a liar.

“The border ‘emergency’ is a manufactured crisis,” Newsom will say, according to prepared remarks released by his office. “And California will not be part of this political theater.”



And to prove his point, Newsom has decided to cancel the state’s National Guard deployment made to provide border assistance. It’s an action that could further burnish the new Democratic governor’s credentials as a key challenger to the Republican president.

On Monday, Newsom used his power as commander-in-chief of the state militia to recall the roughly 360 guard members from the mission on which they embarked last April under former Gov. Jerry Brown. The troops will no longer perform duties along the U.S.-Mexico border and instead be redirected to efforts combating drug trafficking and preparing for the coming wildfire season.

“We are currently experiencing the lowest number of border crossings since 1971,” Newsom will say in Tuesday’s statewide speech, according to excerpts released on Monday. “In California, like our nation, our undocumented population is at its lowest level in more than a decade. Some 550,000 fewer in our state alone.”

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The decision comes on the heels of a new statewide poll that suggests Newsom is channeling his fellow Californians. The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California reported last week that just 27% of those it surveyed see a “crisis” on the border. Sixty-nine percent opposed the construction of a new border wall.

Last week, state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra warned that California is ready to go to court should Trump try to pay for a border wall through a declaration of a national emergency.

We’ll see what else Newsom has to say in his first State of the State speech. The event is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the chamber of the state Assembly.

(If tradition holds, he’ll be introduced by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis — a big moment in her new job too.)


It’s the rallying cry of the early 2020 presidential jockeying among Democrats: “Medicare for all.”

But what does it mean? That depends.

“When you’re hearing a politician speak, you’ve got to know the politician to know what they mean by Medicare for all,” said Michael Lighty, a fellow at the Sanders Institute, a think tank founded by the wife of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.


Don’t be surprised if some version of the goal of universal healthcare coverage becomes a key litmus test for the party’s presidential hopefuls.


-- Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar joined the race for president Sunday with a different promise: credibility with Midwesterners who soured on the Democratic Party in 2016.

-- Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren made her own bid for the presidency official Saturday with a populist call to fight economic inequality and build “an America that works for everyone.”

-- Sen. Kamala Harris used the vibrant, multiracial city of Oakland as a launch pad for her presidential ambitions. But some don’t see her as part of the community because she grew up in Berkeley and pursued a political career in San Francisco.

-- The 2020 presidential race is the first since the #MeToo movement changed the nation’s cultural and political climate. Democrats are already struggling to control the damage from their own shortcomings.

-- With congressional negotiators nearing a deadline for a deal to keep government agencies open and talks seemingly stalled, the White House chief of staff is warning that another government shutdown can’t be ruled out.



Newsom’s state budget proposal, which is starting to get a close look by the Legislature in Sacramento, proposes to under a decade’s worth of fiscal sleight of hand: the payroll gimmick enacted in 2009.

In my Sunday column, we took a look back at how state leaders chose to delay paychecks of government workers by 24 hours and consider it saving money — all because the two days were in different budget years.

Newsom wants to finally eliminate the gimmick, even though doing so means having to add $1 billion in expenses.


-- Newsom has requested $24.6 million and 41 new staff position in the governor’s office next year to bulk up his inner circle of advisors and reopen the administration’s field offices all over California.

-- California lawmakers met last week with former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, gravely wounded in a 2011 mass shooting, and agreed to form a working group to pass gun control laws that can serve as a model for other states.

-- California lawmakers will try once again to make it easier to prosecute police officers for killing civilians.

-- California lawmakers will need a $3-billion effort to grant nurse practitioners more autonomy, increase opportunities to study medicine and expand doctor training programs in order to avoid a looming healthcare crisis, according to a report released last week.

-- In 1950, Californians voted to put a provision in the state Constitution that makes it harder for poor people to find a place to live. That law remains on the books.

-- Former First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the Grammy Awards with a bang, making a surprise appearance alongside Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jennifer Lopez during host Alicia Keys’ opening remarks. Los Angeles Times

-- Reluctantly sporting a Tom Brady New England Patriots jersey, Newsom paid off a Super Bowl bet with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.


Essential Politics is published Monday and Friday. Next week, we’ll take a brief hiatus for Presidents Day.

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