Tuesday, August 12, 2008



frankrusso-small.jpg By Frank D. Russo - California Progress Report

The image that is coming into focus on the California budget is unmistakable. California Republican legislators are behaving like a pack of wounded cornered animals—and they are always dangerous. They have little to lose and no responsibility for governing. And the two-thirds rule requiring a supermajority to pass a budget and their irrelevancy on most other matters as a shrinking minority party provides the mechanism for what is being acted on out the state of our legislature’s floor.

Remember when Congressional Republicans overplayed their hand in the 90’s and tried to shut the federal government down? That cost the Republicans votes and public support. You can see the parallels with today’s news about what is happening in our own state.

First, a comment to an article on these pages from a conservative who writes in from time to time:

“The GOP has nothing to lose in shuting [sic] the CA government down. You can't demonize a party already boxed in.

“All the more reason for the budget issue to get settled sooner over later. The GOP is not going to raise taxes. The sooner the Dems recognize this, the sooner they can begin to cut, slash, and burn to get the budget balanced.”

And from today’s Chronicle, comes an editorial: "Self-inflicted budget wounds," with this analysis:

“But the biggest losers of all - at least from a political sense - may be the Republican legislators who have barricaded themselves behind a no-tax pledge that has made it impossible to emerge from this mess with their credibility intact.

“They clearly do not have the stomach to make the cuts that would allow a balanced budget without new revenues. As it is, they are complaining about the ruling Democrats' reductions to health-care reimbursements and certain law-enforcement programs. The Republicans' trial balloons about borrowing from funds that are supposed to be set aside for local government would shred any remaining illusion about being a party of fiscal responsibility. …

“The Republican governor has laid out a template for a compromise. The biggest obstructionists are in his own party -and they appear to be their own worst enemies.”

This is similar to what Noreen Evans, Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus is saying as we approach day 43 of stalled budget negotiations:

“The countdown continues. The Republicans’ failure to produce a budget proposal shows contempt for the people of California. We have gone 42 days with nothing but 'bait and switch' tactics.
“Instead, Republicans introduced a constitutional amendment - ACA 19 - that completely fails to address California’s immediate budget crisis. It makes our budget beholden to Grover Norquist's neo-conservative agenda. It encourages continuous budget crises that would force massive cuts to key California priorities, such as education, health care, and safety nets for the poor. Just as President Bush's war on terror has no end in sight, neither would this amendment’s war on our state’s finances.
“By refusing to pencil out an alternative budget proposal of their own, Republicans are delaying the compromises that lead to a bipartisan budget agreement. This is leading California to the brink of shutting down. Their commitment to this approach presents Californians with a simple choice: shut down now or shut down later."

Think this is pablum from a newspaper in left leaning San Francisco and a Democrat in the leadership of the Assembly? Take a look at what usually Republican sources are saying.

Mike Madrid is the former political director for the California Republican Party and press secretary for the Assembly Republicans. He has an interesting article from former Assembly leader Bill Leonard on his blog, California City News, which is devoted to local government. Check out: “Former Assembly GOP Leader Speaks Out About Republican Attempts To Borrow Local Government Money:”
“Last week I commended the Senate Republicans for offering solid solutions to our state budget problem and pointed my readers to a website featuring those ideas. Then I learned that Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill had been talking about the idea of borrowing local government funds to help bail out the state. This is a bad idea. The state has a poor record of using local government money, including funds set aside for transportation and policing, for state purposes, leaving local governments holding the bag. Voters grew tired of the theft and passed ballot measures requiring the state to keep its hands out of the local cookie jar except in emergencies. …

“So, the idea is to borrow money that voters appropriately intend for use by their cities, then borrow more money to pay that back and then hope that enough people gamble in the future to pay that back. It is crazy talk, but if my friends in the Senate Republican Caucus honestly believe if it is a viable budget option, then their web page touting their budget ideas should at least mention it.”

Still not convinced? From the very conservative and Republican site, Fox and Hounds, Founded by Joel Fox of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association fame, an article today by Michael Shires, an associate professor of public policy at Pepperdine University: “3D Failure -- How the GOP Is Losing California.” Here’s a teaser:

“California’s Republican Party is losing ground dramatically across the state. In the Fresno Bee, John Ellis describes how it is even failing in one of its last bastions of power-—the Central Valley. There are three dimensions to the collapse of the party of Ronald Reagan in the Golden State, and all three reflect a collapse of leadership at the highest levels.

“First, there is an abject failure to reach out to the youngest voters in the state. …There is a near-total absence of youth and energy in the party’s outreach plans.

“Last week I was at the Ventura County Fair and the Republican Party and Democratic Party booths were across from each other. The contrast was harsh. The GOP had three life-sized cutouts of Reagan, Bush and McCain and was manned by two white elderly volunteers sitting behind their desk. It was very quiet and bland. The Democratic booth had banners, color, flashy give-aways, campaign posters, buttons, bumper stickers and a young, ethnically-diverse staff aggressively stepping out and speaking to passersby. Which of these is more likely to tap into the energy of our youth?

“Then there is the outreach to the Latino community. …In a state (and eventually a nation) where the population is increasingly Latino, a party characterized by such attitudes will eventually become extinct. …

“Finally, there is the consequence of a crumbling, disorganized state GOP infrastructure and leadership—the exodus of conservatives, both fiscal and conservative. Almost anywhere you turn in conservative communities, people who hold the conservative values of the Republican Party are fleeing the state to other parts of the country where being a Republican is still “politically correct….”

“California is becoming younger, more Latino and more secular. The GOP has completely missed these three trends and is now reaping the consequences of a leadership structure that, for 20 years has struggled to keep the status quo. Now is the time for the Party to completely rethink all three of these dimensions and step forward to rightfully claim the legacy of Lincoln and Reagan. But something has to change and soon, or else it won’t matter—there won’t be much of a Republican Party left.”

Republican voter registration in California is decreasing at the same time Democratic registration if increasing. While they still have more than a third of the votes in both houses of the California legislature, they are not going to be in the majority and may well lose seats in the November election as the young and others flock to vote for Obama for President. All they can do is obstruct, throw stones from the sidelines, refuse to come up with a responsible plan of their own, and threaten to shut the government down.

Need I say more?

The Difficulties of Dealing With Cornered Wounded Party Animals on the California Budget - California Progress Report

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