I’ve received several emails today asking me to call Republican legislators and beg them to vote for the currently proposed California budget.
But since the proposed budget is bad (too many cuts in the wrong places, plus regressive tax increases), why should I or other Democrats support it?
Why isn’t the state Democratic Party telling the voters that this disaster has been caused by the Republicans?
Why are the Democrats not seizing the ideological moment by calling this budget disaster a Republican disaster?
We Democrats have done a terrible job of fashioning the debate on the budget crisis.
Now we’re fighting for a budget that cuts jobs, cuts services to the poor and the vulnerable, undermines unions, trashes environmental safeguards, relies on increases in the most regressive kind of taxes (sales, gasoline and income), and gives billions in tax cuts to the wealthy.
If we win on this budget, we lose, both ideologically and in regard to the future of California. As it is, the current proposed budget rewards Republicans, the wealthy, and the tax-cut lobby for their intransigence.
They have played us as fools, and we’ve allowed them to get away with it.
When I suggested that we shouldn’t fight for this terrible budget, a friend said, “It’s so easy for us to sit here and say ‘let California fail’ because it won’t really affect us that much. We have jobs that aren’t dependent of State government. We don’t collect disability, we’re not on welfare, we don’t depend on vouchers to get us another night in an SRO. But there are millions of Californians who do, and I’m not willing to insist on anything at the moment except to get this flawed budget passed. Then [we will] fix what is wrong with this system so that we do get budgets that are fair.”
I am sympathetic to her concerns, but I am not convinced.
My friend’s plea for support for this budget reminds me of the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers.”
But we’re not beggars. We are the majority of California’s citizens and voters.
We ought to insist now on a budget that is fair — and if that fails, we ought to go to the voters and tell them that the Republicans have caused their state government to fail.
Only then will we have the chance to get real change in California.