Jerry Brown Blasts ‘Rural Areas’ for Not Liking Gas Tax That Disproportionately Harms Them

The California governor also compared fighting climate change to WWII

December 30, 2018

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D.) on Sunday blamed rural Californians for not wanting higher taxes to help fight climate change.

Chuck Todd, host of MSNBC’s "Meet the Press," asked about how California’s new gas tax hurts rural residents who need cars because they don’t have access to public transportation. He cited an article from CityLab, which said the gas tax "punishes people for not having access to transit options," but Brown bowled right over Todd’s research and blamed rural Californians for not being on board with his agenda.

"You won your gas tax fight, but rural Californians didn’t like it," Todd said.

"No, they don’t. They don’t like a lot of things. They voted against housing bonds, they voted for the Republican Cox who didn't even make 40 percent," Brown said, referring to his reelection's vote margin.

He then went on to divide residents of his own state into the categories of "red" and "blue," siding with the wealthier, more Democratic residents on the coast, who have a majority and want to raise taxes on rural Californians.

"There is the same divide in California as in America. The red is different than the blue, and it is associated definitely with rural areas," he said.

Todd also asked about the yellow vest movement roiling France, in which many rural French people are protesting their own fuel tax and President Emmanuel Macron’s response to their concerns. Brown, however, said the problem is that France doesn’t tax rich people enough.

"In terms of what happened in France, I believe the president cut back on taxes for the very wealthy and at the same time he imposed what is essentially a sales tax and on working and poor people. So that is very different from our own tax," he said.

He credited Californians with understanding that the high taxes and spending are "helping their community." He admitted that they need more public transportation, however.

"We need more rapid transit. We need trains and we need more efficient cars and we need all of that, and that's why this climate change is not just adapting, it's inventing new technology," he said.

He said Americans have the wrong idea about how to respond to Chinese technology, and then compared fighting climate change to World War II.

"I would point to the fact that it took [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt many, many years to get America willing to go into World War II and fight the Nazis," Brown said. "We have an enemy and perhaps very much devastating in a similar way and we have to fight climate change and the president has got to lead on that."