Thursday, February 19, 2009

California Budget and Debt Is All Republicans' Fault

Despite having elected a few Republican governors, California is a Democrat state. Both houses of the legislature have been controlled by Democrats for as long as I can remember.

Still, though, all of California's problems are caused by Republicans, at least according to the major Sacramento newspaper. It's because Republicans don't want even higher taxes on Californians that we have such a crushing state debt and no budget (at least, not one before a few hours ago). No way is it the fault of Democrats, who continue to spend and spend and spend.

If you don't see a bias in these two editorials, you're definitely a liberal. Here's the first:

State Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Senate Republican leader Dave Cogdill, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Assembly Republican leader Mike Villines and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have all made concessions on a deal to bridge most of the $40 billion gap...

The deal would have become law days ago if California, like other states, permitted a majority vote to pass a budget or raise taxes. Sadly, that is not the case. Because of the state's two-thirds vote requirement, a handful of Republican senators have blocked passage, even with polls showing that Californians are willing to support tax increases.

This page is no fan of the secretive "Big Five" process that produced this compromise, so we understand why some GOP senators have criticized it. But let's be real: Republican senators are not trying to kill this deal – details of which have been public for several days – because of its closed-door origins. Most are opposing it because far-right bloggers and radio hosts are threatening to recall Republicans who vote for a tax increase.

Get that? We're in deep doo-doo because of Republicans, who take their marching orders from "far-right bloggers and radio hosts". Of course, to the libs, there's no such thing as a "moderate-right blogger or radio host". These editors would certainly never refer to "far-left bloggers" or to NPR or the former Air America as "far-left radio". It's no wonder lefties support the so-called Fairness Doctrine.

Here's the second, excoriating Republicans for replacing their squishy leader in the state senate:

The circular firing squad of the Senate Republican caucus claimed another victim Wednesday – Sen. Dave Cogdill of Modesto.

GOP senators ousted Cogdill as leader because he dared put the state's interests above his caucus's no-tax pledges, and negotiated the best compromise he could craft to close the state's $40 billion budget shortfall.

A handful of senators shamefully replaced Cogdill with Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta, who immediately signaled that taxes were a no-go. That provided the red meat that anti-tax activists demanded, which was the whole point of Cogdill's ouster.

You'd almost think that higher taxes were a good thing, and damn the Republicans for not wanting to raise them.

What was that Boston Tea Party thing all about, anyway?


Ellen K said...

So the Dems in California have the idea of demand down, they just don't quite get the idea of supply. Haven't they read their own press? Due to various laws many businesses have been leaving California for the last few years. On top of that, and this was national news, the housing market dropped a big one and those million dollar homes that raked in big bucks in property taxes, aren't bringing in as much. This is what is called a "money crunch". Maybe they can get some of the bright folks at Berkley to explain it to them.

mmazenko said...

Well, to answer the question, the Boston Tea Party was about a tax break for the British East India Tea Company. Taxation wasn't the problem, per se, but "taxation without representation" and, more specifically in that case, a tax cut for a large corporation with undue influence.

Yet, I'm still fascinated by California's problems. From what I've been reading, the problems seem to stem from two issues: Proposition 13 and the two-thirds requirement for a budget. Clearly, the spending is a problem, though, from what I can discern, much of the spending is voter-led through proposition and referendum, which voters find necessary because of the difficulties of the two-thirds budget requirement.

What are your thoughts?

Darren said...

I *like* the 2/3 requirement. As Instapundit would say, "That's not a bug, it's a feature!"

The initiative process *is* a problem. I don't know how to fix that one.

Prop 13 isn't the problem. Spending is the problem. Always has been.

mmazenko said...

I somewhat agree.

However, spending is only the problem, if there are restrictions on the revenue stream. That's what is happening in Colorado.

Going back to Reagan's days, there is a theory propagated very well by Grover Norquist and Citizens for Tax Reform that believes called "Starve the beast." The idea is that if you restrict revenue, the state will have to restrict spending. But it has never happened.

Thus, we end up with deficits, because voters will support lowering their taxes at the same time they increase spending. Assuming anything else will simply lead to the problems in California and, to a lesser degree, in Colorado.

I'm conflicted on the whole idea. I know what I like to believe, and I also know what is pragmatic.

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

California is what COULD happen to the rest of the country if the liberal agenda continues to be pushed through. Sanctuary cities, a wide open border, high corporate tax ratesm and almost no personal responsibility. I guess it's worked well in California....or has it?

Darren said...

I think the public really should be educated. Not sound bite commercials, but genuine education--this is how much this will cost, this is how much we're taking in, this is what it will do to the budget, etc.

I would think that would be the press' baby--but they're too busy being the cheerleaders for more liberal spending to do what they should. The press is supposed to be one of the people's checks on governmental power. How are they doing?

Anonymous said...

> However, spending is only the problem, if there are restrictions on the revenue stream. That's what is happening in Colorado.

Well, I guess you're right about that although some restrictions are more restrictive then others and less amenable to politicking.

The revenue restrictions were put in place to try to reign in the propensity of politicians to give away what isn't personally theirs for their personal benefit.

The logic, so charmingly naive in retrospect, was that if politicians had less money to waste they'd waste less money.

I'm sure the supporters of Prop 13 never considered the possibility that California's elected representatives would spend the state into bankruptcy even with the Prop 13 restrictions in place. But who would've credited a legislative house that more resembles a petulant, spoiled, self-involved rich kid like Paris Hilton, then a grown-up?

Darren said...

If there were no Prop 13, we'd still be in this mess. They'd have spent more.

Ellen K said...

I don't think it's at all a coincidence that as California fails, the fed-with Pelosi in charge-is told to step in. I also don't think it's a coincidence that the feds are castigating states that are seeking to refuse federal involvement in their states because of the fear that ultimately the feds will lack their own funds to create all these lovely social/envioronmental/welfare schemes and start raiding state treasuries to make up the difference. That's why twenty states are backing off. We have no balance of power. Instead we have a crazy lady calling the shots while Obama and Reid look on. The Californication of America can only bankrupt us. It is going to take people in every state agitating and taking a page out of the nutroots playbooks to start the campaign to get things changed. This change, for lack of a better term, is bunk.

Darren said...

Sometimes I wonder about how smart the direct election of senators is.