The minoritarian tyrants holding hostage a deal on California’s budget seem keenly intent on squandering their best chance in a generation of exercising some actual power over state fiscal policy.
At a time when Gov. Jerry Brown is aggressively courting GOP support for his budget plan, most of the Capitol’s Republicans have decided that it’s a better play to hold their breath ‘til they turn blue than it is to extract substantive policy concessions from Brown, in exchange for a couple of votes on a process issue.
The GOP’s cuckoo caucus keeps pushing away the governor, proclaiming to the heavens their absolute, no joke, thoroughly unlimited and utterly unconditional opposition to new taxes.
Yeah, well, except…nobody’s asking them to support more taxes.
All Brown wants is backing for a procedural move to put before voters the question of whether or not to extend some temporary tax and fee hikes approved in 2009. For that, the trading window is open for the very kinds of conservative policy changes – Fix pensions! Cap spending! Ease regulations! All the surf and turf you can eat for $9.99! – that Party of Lincoln types have been wetting the bed over for years.
Once again, slowly: no one is asking any Republican to be for higher taxes.
Nothing (nada, nichts, rien) whatsoever stands in the way of GOP warriors barnstorming the state from San Ysidro to Yreka, Coachella to Pt. Concepcion, preaching hellfire and brimstone about the unspeakable, godforsaken horrors that surely will rain down on California if the Vehicle License Fee does not revert from 1.15 to 0.65 percent come July 1.
What we keep failing to understand is, given their oft-expressed certainty that they speak for “the people of California” on tax matters, why are Republicans so fearful of making their case to voters?
As a political matter, the head-in-the-sand crowd has not exactly attracted a tidal wave of support for their stance, as the clock keeps ticking towards the March 10 deadline for a deal. There’s grumbling among responsible business types about the kiddy korps tactics of the GOP leadership, much eye-rolling by some senior party strategists and even a stray warning flag hoisted by our favorite, reliably righty pundit.
Chronicle carrot top conservative columnist Debra J. Saunders, who’s the closest thing to a right-winger permitted to cross the San Francisco city and county line, on Tuesday issued a caveat-conditioned call for her brethren and sistren to put the sucker on the ballot:
The truly conservative move is to negotiate concessions — preferably pension reform or a spending cap — because it’s time to settle the tax-versus-cuts argument once and for all…
Brown has told Californians that if they want this level of government, then they have to pay for it: “I think we have to meet the moment of truth now.”
Truth is: (a) He needs to give Republicans something in exchange for having their heads put on sticks. (b) Voters aren’t likely to vote for his tax package without real reforms. And without real reform, failure is more than an option.
But, hey, if the Reps won’t even listen to their own, we say the hell with sweet reason: As a gang of unscrupulous political polemicists, we’re thinking we’ll drop all this rational argument stuff in favor of propounding some seriously jaundiced and dogmatic rhetorical parallels between a) the inexorable budget absolutists in Sacramento and b) the despotic kleptocrats being serially deposed across the Arab world.
On second thought, nah. As Richard Nixon famously said, it would be wrong, that’s for sure.
We’ll let Meyer do it instead.
Score one for Paul Revere: Much chuckling and good cheer among the hard-bitten political types over at Third Lantern, the Democratic hack community’s guerrilla oppo research unit assembled to throw brickbats at California Representative Darrell Issa, the Grand Inquisitor of Congress.
The Ice Man just suffered a major embarrassment when he was forced to can his supposedly brilliant 27-year old press secretary for inexplicably piping e-mails from other reporters to our old friend Mark Leibovich, who’s on leave from the New York Times while researching a book on the incestuous culture of Washington.
If you’re not sure why it was a bad idea for the now-departed, Icarus-wannabe Kurt Bardella to do such a thing, just imagine the ump tipping off hitters on the dog-ass Dodgers about what pitch Timmy Lincecum was going to throw next. If that doesn’t work for you, check out everything you’d ever want to know about the story over at Politico, which started flogging this yarn about seven seconds after they apparently learned that at least one of the reporters with compromised email worked for them.
Let’s be clear about one thing, however: Leibo did absolutely nothing wrong in this matter. He’s a principled and top-rank journalist whose job entails gathering as much useful information as possible from his sources. If one of them turns out to be a major knucklehead, that would not be his problem. (Oh, and BTW, turns out Politico itself filed a Freedom of Information request in 2009 seeking correspondence between government officials in numerous federal agencies and a huge number of other news organizations. How do you spell “hypocrisy?”)
That said, here are a few, extremely sympathetic words for Bardella and Issa from Dan Newman of the aforementioned Third Lantern hit team:
“The fish rots from the head, and clearly Darrell Issa has put together a team that shares his ethically challenged approach to business and politics. BTW – did the Congressman put a box with a gun on Kurt’s desk?” Newman emailed us, with a link to a 1998 L.A. Times story:
One of Issa’s first tasks as the new boss was to remove an executive named Jack Frantz.
According to Frantz, Issa came into his office, placed a small box on the desk and opened it. Inside, he said, was a gun.
“He just showed it to me and said ‘You know what this is?’ ” Frantz said.
Issa invited Frantz to hold the gun at one point and told him he had learned about guns and explosives during his military days, Frantz said. Because he was about to be fired, Frantz said he saw it as “pure intimidation.”
The bookkeeper, Brasdovich, also recalled Issa having a gun at the company that day. “It was pretty terrifying,” she said.
Issa confirmed that he wanted to remove Frantz–who years later was convicted in a telemarketing scheme–because he failed to collect outstanding bills.
But, as for having a gun, Issa said, “Shots were never fired. If I asked Jack to leave, then I think I had every right to ask Jack to leave. . . . I don’t recall [having a gun]. I really don’t. I don’t think I ever pulled a gun on anyone in my life.”
Shots were never fired! God, we love this business.
ICYMI: We have doughboy bodies, too, so how come we can’t get hot Hollywood babes like Jimmy Kimmel?