California and President Trump are going to war with each other
President Trump had harsh words for one of his most fervent opponents during the pre-Super Bowl interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly that aired Sunday. Not President Vladimir Putin, mind you, whose alleged unpleasant habit of murdering journalists met with a shrug from the president. No, Trump lashed out at the nation’s largest state, California.
“I just spent the week in California,” O’Reilly said. “As you know, they are now voting on whether they should become a sanctuary state. So California and the U.S.A. are on a collision course. How do you see it?”
“Well, I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump replied. “Sanctuary cities, as you know I’m very much opposed to sanctuary cities. They breed crime, there’s a lot of problems. We have to well defund, we give tremendous amounts of money to California. . . . California in many ways is out of control, as you know. Obviously the voters agree or otherwise they wouldn’t have voted for me.”
“So defunding is your weapon of choice?” O’Reilly asked.
“A weapon. I don’t want to defund the state,” Trump said. “I don’t want to defund anybody. I want to give them the money they need to properly operate as a city or a state. If they’re going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly that would be a weapon.”
We’ll note first of all that sanctuary cities do not “breed crime.” Analysis of FBI data shows that crime in sanctuary cities is generally lower than in non-sanctuary cities. But that’s beside the point.
More importantly, Trump says two things. First, that California is “out of control.” Second, that he doesn’t want to yank federal funding from the state, but he will if he has to.
California is one of the few states where federal funding isn’t that great a point of leverage. In 2015, California generated $405 billion in tax revenue, more than $100 billion more than the next-closest state. It consumes a lot of federal funding, too, mind you. But data from the Pew Charitable Trusts for 2014 compared to 2014 IRS data shows that California gives the federal government more than it takes.