At the root of the Republican-induced budget crisis is, of course, taxes. Dave Cox claimed the taxes would “drag down the economy” and Maldonado is trying to save face by claiming Obama is against new taxes. And Tony Strickland had perhaps the most absurd line of the day:
“If we pass this budget,” he said, “Los Angeles and San Francisco will become the Detroit(s) of the West.”
Don’t look now Tony, California’s unemployment rate isn’t that far behind Michigan’s. The destruction of public services you insist upon – gutting food stamps, Medi-Cal, and schools – would drag California into the abyss.
The Yacht Party’s opposition to new taxes flies in the face of history. Their sainted leader, Ronald Reagan, pushed through a $1 billion tax increase in 1967 to preserve the California Dream – still the largest tax increase, by percentage, in state history. It did not ruin the economy.
In 1991 Pete Wilson, another Republican governor, pushed through a $7.3 billion tax increase. California didn’t collapse – instead we embarked upon ten years of sustained economic growth.
By saving the public services that businesses and workers depend upon to function in a modern society, Reagan and Wilson enabled California to survive temporary crises.
They have been replaced by a very different Republican Party. Today’s Republican Party, in both Washington DC and Sacramento, answers only to their far-right base – Rush Limbaugh, John & Ken, Grover Norquist. They have been thoroughly rejected by the voters, reduced to small minorities and excluded from the executive branch leadership positions (the governor’s office being an exception).
The Republican Party now exhibits the logic of a terrorist organization – willing to sacrifice anyone and everyone to their ideological purity. And it’s worth noting that they themselves embrace that description, with one Republican Congressman equating their party to the Taliban. Rush Limbaugh says he wants Obama – and thus America – to fail; John and Ken and the California Republican Party are essentially saying the same thing about California.
Let the state fail, they say. Let all the schools close, all the health care workers be fired, all the buses and trains shut down, all the construction workers laid off. Let the economy collapse, because god forbid they step down from their ideological pedestals.
Republicans have become the party of no – no to economic recovery, no to fiscal stability, no to the very government they have sworn to uphold. Because of the 2/3 rule, we are all their hostages. The fate of California now rides on one of the most thin-skinned and petulant members of the Senate.
Democrats have bent over backwards – perhaps too much so – to try and produce a deal and stop the state from “going over a cliff”. But they’re negotiating with madmen. Unfortunately, thanks to the 2/3 rule, we have no other choice.
Or do we? Along with being an open thread on the budget, let’s use this thread to debate what the strategy ought to be going forward to deal with the Kamikaze Party and their desire to destroy our future to satisfy their small band of followers.
Robert Cruickshank is a historian, activist, and teacher living in Monterey. He is a contributing editor at Calitics.com and works for the Courage Campaign, in addition to teaching political science at Monterey Peninsula College. Currently he is completing his Ph.D. dissertation in US history, on progressive politics in San Francisco in the 1960s and 1970s. A native Californian, he was raised in Orange County and educated at UC Berkeley.