In a must-read Wall Street Journal interview with Joel Kotkin, the demographer explains the disastrous economic policies that have caused almost more 4 million people to leave the state than have arrived from other states. He explains:

“The new regime” — his name for progressive apparatchiks who run California’s government — ”wants to destroy the essential reason why people move to California in order to protect their own lifestyles.”

Housing is merely one front of what he calls the “progressive war on the middle class.” Another is the cap-and-trade law AB32, which will raise the cost of energy and drive out manufacturing jobs without making even a dent in global carbon emissions. Then there are the renewable portfolio standards, which mandate that a third of the state’s energy come from renewable sources like wind and the sun by 2020. California’s electricity prices are already 50% higher than the national average.

Oh, and don’t forget the $100 billion bullet train. Mr. Kotkin calls the runaway-cost train “classic California.” “Where [Brown] with the state going bankrupt is even thinking about an expenditure like this is beyond comprehension. When the schools are falling apart, when the roads are falling apart, the bridges are unsafe, the state economy is in free fall. We’re still doing much worse than the rest of the country, we’ve got this growing permanent welfare class, and high-speed rail is going to solve this?”

Sound familiar? This is Obamanomics. Kotkin also points to the hyper-progressive tax code, on top of which the governor wants to add a millionaire’s tax (actually on those making more than $250,000): “It’s really going to hit the small business owners and the young family that’s trying to accumulate enough to raise a family, maybe send their kids to private school. It’ll kick them in the teeth.”

The similarities between the California Kotkin describes and the federal government are is hard to miss. Just like California, the federal government is, as Kotkin put it, “run for the very rich, the very poor, and the public employees.” In the category of the “rich” is the donor-crony capitalist class with access to politicians who can use the taxpayers’ money to push unfeasible projects.

In California, as in the Obama administration, the scam du jour is “green energy.” Kotkin hits the nail on the head when he says that “green energy doesn’t create enough energy! And it drives up the price of energy, which then drives out other things. . . . You see the great tragedy of California is that we have all this oil and gas [but] we won’t use it.”

Kotkin, a Democrat who voted for Gov. Jerry Brown (D), is representative of the target audience around the country for Republicans in November. He understands that from tax to energy to spending policies we are heading down a road in which innovation and upward mobility is stifled, crony capitalism pushes out real entre­pre­neur­ship, and public-employee unions (in schools and throughout the federal bureaucracy) feather their own nests at the expense of taxpayers. These voters understand that the result is a rotten economy, high unemployment and financial stress on the middle class. (Mitt Romney was right: The poor at least have the safety net.)

In essence the question Romney is putting to the country is this: Do you want the country to be more like California (but with worse weather)? If the answer is “no,” President Obama, who favor each and every one of the flawed policies Kotkin rails against, has to go.