Republicans Refusing To… Cut?

In the upside-down world of the California budget mess, the Senate President Pro Tem is now criticizing Republicans for their refusal to vote for cuts.

Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg wants to put Republicans on record today on two political questions: whether they can accept $11.4 billion in cuts that Democrats are proposing, and whether they will vote on $2 billion in new taxes.

On taxes, Steinberg conceded he is unlikely to win a single Republican vote when the Senate takes up the Democrats’ $23.3 billion deficit reduction plan. But that, he said, shouldn’t stop them from supporting his package of cuts, which will be voted on separately.

“If they’re going to stand on the argument that cuts are not deep enough and thereby not vote for $11 billion in cuts, then we have some issues,” Steinberg said at a news briefing next to his Capitol office. “It’s interesting. I’m getting a sense that Republicans are getting shy about voting for cuts. That would be an odd headline: Democrats urging Republicans to vote for cuts.”

Actually, it’s not an odd headline.  It’s the inevitable consequence of a broken political system where you need a simple majority to make cuts and a 2/3 majority to raise taxes.  Period.  

In this case, Steinberg can pass the whole budget, save $2 billion in oil and cigarette taxes, by majority vote, because this is not a budget enactment, but a revision.  If he doesn’t muster 2/3 for the cuts, however, the revision will be delayed 90 days, reducing the effectiveness of the cuts by roughly 1/4, and forcing additional solutions to fill the deficit later.  Even when mostly cuts are on the table, Republicans are using the leverage of undemocratic supermajorities to force more cuts.

Here’s Zed Hollingsworth playing dumb that all he wants is a comprehensive solution.

“We’re willing to vote for the cuts that provide for a complete solution,” said Republican leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Temecula. “We’re not willing to vote for a partial solution that has us coming back in the spring having to find more revenues when another calamity hits. We’re not interested in political gamesmanship.”

No, the Yacht Party would NEVER be interested in political gamesmanship, perish the thought.  They’d never want to try to send the state into bankruptcy to make a political point or anything.  By the way, Zed, news flash: you’ll be back in the spring.  The projections from the Legislative Analyst have consistently fallen short of reality, and no matter how big a budget reserve gets baked into this new budget, you can bet dollars to donuts it won’t be enough, especially considering the potentially accelerated Depression that additional cuts to the social services net will force.  The Anderson Forecast estimates 64,000 government jobs lost from this round of budget cuts.  Even in Dan Walters’ world, that’s a significant chunk.

My problem with the Democrats on this is mainly their insistence on working within a broken system.  They miss every opportunity to put the failed governmental structure on trial.  Something as absurd as Republicans voting against program cuts – to ensure MORE program cuts – defies belief without an explanation of how it’s a symbol for a bad process that must be fixed.  The goal of this budget, which was never going to be pretty regardless of the May 19 election, should have been to heighten that reality.  

3 thoughts on “Republicans Refusing To… Cut?”

  1. I added video of Steinberg’s presser on his budget revision talk. It’s pretty long, but you can get the drift from the first minute or 2.

  2. You need to be a subscriber to access their reports, so you can’t really see how the Anderson forecast arrived at their number.

    But 64,000 jobs lost is an absurdly low number for the ultimate effect of the level of cuts being proposed. With the loss of federal matching funds and a multiplier effect, we’re looking at removing 35 billion from the state’s economy, which translates into over 2% of the roughly 1.5 trillion California economy.

    Reduced economic activity means reduced employment somewhere.

    Many government employees at the state and local level will see their pay reduced, through furloughs or wage reductions, elimination of overtime and benefits. But you’ll also see very real cuts at every level, as cities, counties, and school districts blow through every dollar of their reserves, and use up every borrowing and financing trick, defer every capital or maintenance expense, and then come up short.

    But that money comes out of the economy somewhere, whether it’s in restaurants, retail, services, travel, entertainment, or paying for child care. California has already lost 7 of every 100 retail jobs, vs a national average of 4 in 100.

    The forecasters remain wildly over-optimistic because they don’t realize how much of our economy was built on the fraudulent finance bubble, with bogus jobs and bogus income that will never come back. The housing ATM is closed, and the 10% of the California economy that came from pulling money from that bubble is gone forever.

    And let’s not forget that if we lose 35 billion in state gross product, we lose another 3.5 billion in state and local taxes, which will lead to the next round of cuts.

  3. They won’t vote for the budget.  They won’t vote for taxes.  Now, they won’t vote for cuts.  

    We are paying them why exactly??  

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