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Trump Has Gone to War Against California

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On October 4, the Bureau of Land Management announced that it was ending a five-year moratorium on the selling of oil and gas drilling leases on public lands on California’s Central Coast. The bureau will soon be seeking bids for drilling on 725,000 acres of land across 11 of California’s most beautiful counties.

This is just the latest in a series of extraordinary efforts by the Trump administration to slap down California, the front line of states’ resistance to Trumpism, and to use federal powers to dilute the state’s environmental protections, arguably its proudest political achievement of recent decades.

Donald Trump has been stewing about the Golden State ever since it voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016, helping ensure that he lost the popular vote nationwide by more than 3 million votes. And he has sought payback against its political representatives and its population centers ever since the leader of the state Senate and the speaker of the state Assembly issued an extraordinary joint announcement the day after that election condemning Trumpism. As the Los Angeles Times recently documented, Trump has, on a near-daily basis, tweeted insults about the state’s politics, its culture, its politicians, even its misfortune with forest fires.

Early in his presidency, Trump and his congressional allies fashioned a tax “reform” that went out of its way to financially penalize middle-class Californians by limiting the extent to which property and state taxes could be deducted on federal tax returns. The result was that while most Americans, especially those in red states, saw some short-term financial benefits—skewed heavily toward the well-off—home-owning Californians in expensive parts of the state saw their federal tax burden significantly increase. The state’s Franchise Tax Board has estimated that 1 million California households ended up paying an additional $12 billion as a result.

Since then, as California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed one lawsuit after another against Trump’s administration—the state has sued it more than 60 times—the president has locked in a strategy of financially punitive responses and has weaponized the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies in an effort to undermine signature California policies.

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