Tag Archives: progressive movement

The August District-Level Battle For Health Care Reform

Tomorrow is August 1, and the ball basically gets tipped for what could be a wild month of local events throughout the nation, as both sides of the political divide do battle over the health care bill.  One side is funded by lobbyists and special interests, and will be out in force in August, creating mini-Brooks Brothers riots all over the country, harassing members of Congress, doing whatever they can to be the squeakiest wheel in the hopes of drowning out support for health care reform.  So how will Democrats respond?

With polls suggesting that public support is sagging for President Obama’s push to overhaul health care, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the party will use the August break to make a strong sales pitch to middle-class voters.

“We’re going to be on the air. We’re going to be in the neighborhoods,” said Hoyer, D-Md. “Our members are going to now have the opportunity to go home … and say to their constituents, ‘Look, this is what we’re doing. This is why it’s good for you and your family.’ ” […]

A House Democratic memo obtained by USA TODAY shows the steps the party is taking to coordinate its message over the break. Lawmakers are encouraged to hold town-hall-style meetings, post videos on the Internet and find small-business owners “whose testimony can provide a powerful narrative,” the memo states.

There’s an opportunity here for California activists in both swing and heavily Democratic districts to impact the debate.  House progressives actually moved the ball to the left, after Henry Waxman sealed a deal with Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee, forcing leadership back to the table after 57 members signed a letter saying they would never vote for such a compromise.  14 of those members come from California, and so a key activist mission over the recess would be to get more House Democrats to sign on to these principles, to pass a health care bill that provides affordable options for everyone and as robust a public insurance option as possible, open to as many people as possible, to compete with the private market.  The Center For American Progress has created state-by-state fact sheets about how the current system harms regular people, and Waxman’s Energy and Commerce Committee has put out detailed district-level fact sheets for how HR 3200, the current bill in the House, would impact people.

In addition, this activist movement to find enough progressives willing to block negative compromises can provide a teachable moment for how to do this at the state level.  On certain votes, we can change incentives and move them in the right direction, even in our political system, which is currently wired for conservatives.

If events are happening in your district, let us know.  If your representative corresponded with you about health care, let us know that too.  This is really a pretty consequential month for health care reform in America.

Gary Kamiya On The Crisis

I’m sure many political observers will laud this New York Times magazine article on California’s crisis and the men and women who seek to solve it, but I found it oddly pedestrian.  The profiles of the candidates reveal little of substance, and aside from displaying the salient fact that Arnold has no interest in the well-being of his constituents, I didn’t see the point.

“Someone else might walk out of here every day depressed, but I don’t walk out of here depressed,” Schwarzenegger said. Whatever happens, “I will sit down in my Jacuzzi tonight,” he said. “I’m going to lay back with a stogie.”

Overall, I saw too much focus on personality in dealing with what is essentially a problem of process.

Actually, while I didn’t agree with all of it, I thought Gary Kamiya had a much smarter take, and it didn’t mention Arnold Schwarzenegger or the names of any of his potential replacements more than once.  The headline, “Californians are sinking themselves,” doesn’t seem to match the bulk of the article, which focuses on the dysfunctional governing process.

The immediate source of California’s financial problems is a lethal combination of ideology and rules. It is deeply politically divided, and its governmental mechanisms are completely broken. Bay Area leftists stare at Orange County conservatives across an unbridgeable abyss; a large and potent group of anti-government libertarians faces off against an equally powerful group of pro-tax, proactive government liberals. If California, like most states, required only a simple majority to pass its budget, the disagreements between these camps could be worked out; after all, the Democrats control the Legislature. But California requires a two-thirds majority, which gives the GOP, now dominated by anti-government, anti-tax ideologues, veto power over the process. The result is deadlock.

Compounding this problem is California’s notorious initiative process, which allows voters to bypass the Legislature and place initiatives directly on the ballot simply by gathering enough signatures. The initiative process was originally passed by voters in 1911 to circumvent the power of the oligarchic railroad trusts by restoring direct democracy. And it still offers citizens a chance to take control of important issues. But it has gone out of control, abused by powerful interests who hire people to collect signatures and ram through bills that no ordinary citizen can be expected to comprehend. By sidelining elected officials, it achieves the worst of both worlds: It gives ordinary citizens, who lack requisite expertise, institutional memory and accountability, too much power, and then forces legislators to clean up their mess — except that because of ideological gridlock and the supermajority requirement, they can’t.

Kamiya looks at the three strikes law and in particular Prop. 13, which he views as the ultimate manifestation of the Two Santa Claus theory, that California can have endlessly lower taxes with endlessly more social services.

This was, in effect, a mass outbreak of cognitive dissonance, an up-yours delivered to government with the public’s left hand, while its right hand reached out for Sacramento’s largesse. Now, 31 years later, the bill has finally come due. There is no free lunch. If you want good roads, parks, decent schools (California’s schools, once the best in the nation, are now among the worst) and adequate social services, you have to pay for them.

Out of this, Kamiya points his finger at the people who voted in Prop. 13 and failed to modify it over the ensuing 31 years, who are “self-centered” and have “not decided what it thinks about the New Deal, or government itself.”  They need to “grow up,” Kamiya says.

I think this ignores the fact that Californians have traditionally been offered precious few choices to rectify the broken system.  The Democratic Party essentially has made a pact with themselves to nibble around the edges for three decades instead of confronting the great unmentionable crisis of governance.  People see the dysfunctional politics play out year after year and become rightfully disaffected with the system.  And they are never told anything from anyone in a position of power to counteract the Two Santa Claus theory, and so they necessarily believe it.  I don’t blame citizens for responding to their leaders.  The problem lies with the leadership itself, or more to the point the lack thereof.

I was 5 years old and on the other coast of the country when Prop. 13 was passed, and I’m not about to bear the brunt of the blame for that decision.  I would blame myself if I continued to live with the failure of the political leadership to confront the root causes.  But Californians are starting to use movement politics to go around the leadership and force the necessary solutions.  The sheer enormity of the problem and the size of the state makes this a difficult option.  But the alternative, to acquiesce and wait patiently for the leadership to figure things out, is unthinkable.

Dianne Feinstein Would Like You To Respect Her Authoritah

California’s senior Senator has heard the talk, has heard the voices of her constituents, and basically doesn’t care.

“We are getting to the point if people aren’t going to respond to the patience and openness of Senator Baucus, we should begin to make a different plan,” said Andrew Stern, president of the 2 million-member SEIU.

Stern said his organization issued a release chastising Feinstein last week, because she should “put her foot on the gas, not the brake” on health reform.

“The gas pedal to go where?” Feinstein replied, explaining she has questions about how a broad expansion of health coverage will be paid for.

“I do not think this is helpful. It doesn’t move me one whit,” she said. “They are spending a lot of money on something that is not productive.”

What we have here is a difference of opinion over the nature of representative democracy.  Are politicians elected to reflect the will of their constituents, or are they elected to provide their own enlightened opinion on public affairs and public policy?  Sen. Feinstein has already given her perspective before.  She acknowledged that public opinion in California was sharply against authorizing the war in Iraq, but she voted for it anyway, arguing that she knew things her constituents didn’t know (namely, hundreds of lies told by the Bush Administration).  On health care, she has the same perspective; we, the citizens of California, had an “accountability moment” in 2006, Feinstein was elected, and now we can all STFU as she applies her own reasoning and belief on health care and other topics.

Needless to say, I don’t agree with her perspective.  It sounds to me like something that a member of the House of Lords would say rather than a politician in this country.  Not to mention the fact that it cuts completely against the trend of participatory democracy that has energized the Democratic side of the aisle since Howard Dean’s campaign in 2003-04.  Dianne Feinstein thinks your role as a citizen is to vote for her and then keep quiet for six years and she bequeaths her wisdom.

If you don’t agree with her, contact her office.  I’m sure her staff will file that away somewhere.

Multiple Progressive Assaults On DiFi’s Health Care Wavering

The past couple days on Calitics, we’ve had Jason Rosenbaum detail grassroots efforts over Dianne Feinstein’s confusing comments about and reticence to sign on to comprehensive health care reform.  First he highlighted Health Care for America Now’s petition urging Feinstein to get on board with health care reform.  Then he deconstructed Feinstein’s official statement on health care, which was unsatisfactory.

Feinstein is an important part of this debate.  She doesn’t sit on any of the relevant committees, but she has cachet in Washington, and with real health care reform coming down to just a handful of votes, her views will be crucial to the debate going forward.  At a time when 85 percent of respondents to a Field Poll support a public health insurance option to compete with private industry, Feinstein must not be allowed to ignore the will of her constituents, as she did in her vote to authorize the war in Iraq.

Fortunately, practically every progressive organization in the state and even the country is hammering Feinstein for her naysaying, and demanding that she stay true to the principles she laid out, including controlling costs, expanding coverage and stopping the bad practices of the insurance industry, by endorsing a public health insurance option as part of any reform package.  In addition to Health Care For America Now, MoveOn created an ad and drove phone calls to Feinstein’s office.  Today CREDO Mobile joined the fray with a petition asking her to support the public plan, and the return receipt after you sign offers a one-click retweet of a Twitter message to spread the word, which is innovative.  The Courage Campaign also has a letter calling on DiFi to stand with the President and support a public option.  Courage Campaign also offers one-click forwarding of the message to Twitter, Facebook and MySpace (MySpace still exists?).

Health care reform is the make-or-break issue of this year, and Dianne Feinstein needs to hear from every one of her constituents about it.

(In addition, Firedoglake is whipping the public option in the House, with the goal of finding 40 Democrats who will commit to opposing any bill that DOESN’T have a strong public option contained in it.  Presuming that all Republicans will vote against any health care reform, this would have the effect of changing the incentives in Congress, currently tilted toward what the most conservative elements of the Democratic coalition would accept, and move them instead toward what the liberal base of the coalition will demand in exchange for their vote.  There are lots of California Democratic House members on their list, so head over and get to the phones!)

Real Grassroots Progressive Action On Repairing California

It’s taken the proposed destruction of practically the entire social safety net in California for progressives both inside and outside the political system to fight back.  I’m actually more heartened by the work done outside it.  I expect Lenny Goldberg to come up with a great alternative budget calling for tax fairness, and end to corporate welfare and a government for all the people instead of the rich.  I expect Jean Ross to do the same, as well as AFSCME.  They’re all good proposals, but this is what they are paid to do.  What I don’t expect, and what I haven’t seen, is a citizen’s movement to rival the institutional  and advocacy machinery.  The Fix the California Budget Facebook page is really one of the first such grassroots pushes I’ve seen in recent memory.

Californians deserve real solutions to the budget deficit. Responding to our economic crisis with an all-cuts budget will only make the state’s problems worse. Deep cuts to vital programs undermine our economic recovery and President Obama’s investment in economic stimulus, disproportionately harm the most vulnerable Californians, and go against our core values.

More than 70 percent of voters sat out the May 19 special election because it is the Governor and Legislature’s job to fix the budget. Polls show the defeat of the initiatives was neither an endorsement of an all-cuts approach nor a rejection of raising revenues.

Under Governor Schwarzenegger, we have suffered $23 billion in spending cuts in the current budget year alone. Additional drastic cuts will irrevocably change the state we love. Californians support and deserve a state that provides for the common good and the needs of our residents, and we need to pursue realistic revenue solutions that will protect our shared priorities. Cuts are not the only option!

Our state needs courageous leadership. We will support those who stand against an all-cuts budget, speak out for fair ways of raising revenue, and work to deliver a budget that invests in our future and protects all the people of our state. True leaders get their strength from the people they represent. We pledge to be that strength, and mobilize to support a sensible budget solution.

The specific action items are to call your lawmaker and provide that counter-weight to the internal pressure to support the all-cuts approach.  They reference the majority-vote fee increase as a legitimate option that must be put before the Governor in place of the worst cuts.  County Democratic Chairs and local activists are actually driving the pressure from below, rather than having solutions imposed upon them.

This represents an opportunity.  It doesn’t mean we win this fight – we’re going to lose more than we win at first.  And in a way, this is the corporate “reform” community’s worst nightmare – the Bay Area Council and California Forward would rather drive the reform process themselves and keep it within their own particular boundaries.  But we can build a movement of a newly-roused core group of activists committed to setting California on the right path by restoring democracy, eliminating the conservative veto and reforming the broken system.  This is a first step.

CA-36: Winograd Announces By The Beach


Yesterday at the Venice Pier, Marcy Winograd announced her campaign for Congress in front of about 75-80 supporters and friends, and many leaders of the progressive activist community in Los Angeles.  The campaign showed their thrift and commitment to recycling by using the old Winograd ’06 campaign posters and skillfully pasting a “’10” sticker in the appropriate place.  It’s going to be that kind of campaign.

After a few speakers (I particularly enjoyed Julian Barger from the Harbor area of the district calling Jane Harman “Congresswoman Helmsley” for her double standard on civil liberties for her vs. civil liberties for all Americans), Marcy gave a short speech where she emphasized her no-holds-barred progressive values and offered a true contrast to her incumbent opponent.  She called for a “new New Deal” to put America back to work, announced support for John Conyers’ HR 676, questioned the continued bailout of the banks and the use of Predator drone strikes in Pakistan, argued for rapid transit and renewable energy in the Los Angeles area, and said of her primary challenge, “this will reverberate throughout the country.”


Winograd spoke to various concerns of families in the district, noting that areas of Torrance are experiencing skyrocketing foreclosure rates, and that business has declined over 20% in the port at San Pedro.  This is an area where, with a longer campaign time frame than her quick run in 2006, Winograd can make headway in all areas of the district and throughout the South Bay, speaking to the economic concerns of the area and drawing contrast with Jane Harman’s more conservative approach.  Obviously, the greater concern about Harman more recently has been her defense of the Bush Administration’s the warrantless wiretapping and her generally hawkish stance abroad.  But there is an opening for a core economic argument, still the major preoccupation of voters, to be made.

Winograd’s announcement got covered in LA Weekly and the CoCo Times.  Mainstream news pieces about this primary challenge never fail to emphasize that the 36th is a “moderate” district and that Winograd will have to “broaden her appeal” to win over those voters.  This assumes that Democratic primary voters, or virtually anyone, makes election choices based on firm ideological footing.  Poll after poll has shown that on the issues, Americans portray a far more progressive belief system than their typical electoral choices.  Maybe consultants and Democratic strategists need to “broaden their appeal” to potential candidates that can articulate a progressive agenda.

The Rise Of Van Jones – California Loses Another Leader

It’s great news that Van Jones has been tapped for a high-level job in the Obama Administration, as a special adviser for green jobs.  Having his voice at the Presidential level is bound to be valuable, and great for at-risk communities who will not be forgotten with Jones as their defender.  At the same time, I have to agree with the first comment in this Grist story.

If it is more than a rumor, then Van faces some decisions that would keep me awake at night. Would he be more effective where he is, or on the insde of the administration??? How much power would he really have?? Could he go along with the administration the next time it starts talking about “clean coal?”

Indeed, he might have to make that determination almost immediately.  Because the FutureGen project, a “clean coal” research facility in Illinois, is likely to be funded with stimulus money in the short term.  This is just research, of course, and even Energy Secretary Steven Chu supports it “with modifications.”  But the fact is that clean coal technology hasn’t worked and offers a false sense of hope that we can just keep burning dirty fuels and not get dirty ourselves.  It would be nice to have Van Jones’ perspective on this, but he’s embedded inside the Administration now.

Leadership is self-generating, but leadership like Van Jones’ comes around only once in a long while.  We have a lot of battles in California over green jobs and alternative energy that could have used a strident voice like Jones’.  There’s an effort to triple our commitment to clean energy through a renewable portfolio standard.  The Senate leader’s top priority is career tech education with an eye to green jobs and the new economy.  Perhaps Jones’ departure means that new leaders will take hold of these issues and push them forward.  But perhaps not.  It leaves a big hole.

I congratulate him as I’ve congratulated other Californians who have moved to Washington.  But it’s interesting, from my perspective, that the two individuals most likely to be able to drive a movement politics in the Golden State – Hilda Solis and Van Jones – have packed up and joined the Obama Administration.  I can’t say I blame them, this state is a basket case.  And their talents will be used well.

Top-Down Grassroots Leaders Decide Unilaterally To Make Budget Reform More Impossible

Since it’s Don’t Curse Week here in LA County, I will be forced to be brief.  Last night a group of grassroots activists, including remnants of the Obama organizers in California, various progressive advocacy groups, and Democratic Club leaders, discussed a potential citizen-led ballot initiative to reform the California budget process.  Nobody disputes that something drastic must be done to permanently end the conservative veto and restore democracy to the process.  If you ask 100 activists what needs to be done you will get 105 answers.  Arriving at the conclusion that offers the best opportunity for success, both in being adopted as a reform by the voters and as a practical matter for the legislature, ought to be opened to a vigorous debate and a deliberative process.

That is the direct opposite of what happened yesterday, when a group of self-appointed leaders tried to dictate the form in which the reform will take, and sought to invite the remainder of the group to join their already-decided-upon course of action.  So the fight to restore democracy has begun with an undemocratic edict, from the grassroots no less, that is based in the same kind of mushy, don’t-make-waves approach that has devastated the state for decades upon decades.  If it sounds topsy-turvy, you’re not alone.

In short, the self-appointed leadership has decided to put up a website to “eliminate the two-thirds rule” and “restore majority rule” to the budget process.  This is a very tightly controlled statement based on, essentially, the fiction that eliminating the two-thirds rule is what these folks are seeking to do.  They are not.  As you may know, there is a 2/3 rule for passing a budget, and a 2/3 rule for any changes in the tax code that involve increasing revenue.  To the layman, this might seem like two discrete parts, but that’s really not true.  A budget includes taxes, spending, and a few other priorities.  Changing one without the other does actually nothing to overcome the conservative veto.  And yet this is what the self-appointed grassroots leadership’s proposal would do, only covering the repeal of 2/3 for passing a budget and not for taxation.

This is really the final blow in what was a long slide away from progressive leadership at the grassroots level.  I’ve heard a lot of justifications and rationales for not including fully half of the equation of settling a budget in the process of reforming the budget, most of them so twisted with pretzel logic as to be indecipherable.  Some say that there’s no way tax changes could pass in the current environment, so we should strive to make whatever progress we can.  That’s the kind of tissue-soft, gutless, out-of-touch-with-where-America-is-right-now statement that has made California a political basket case.  Those who bow down to the keepers of the tax revolt are usually the same people that are saying a spending cap that includes tax increases is destined to pass, or the same people saying a constitutional convention will take care of the tax problem even though it, too, is subject to a vote of the people.  It doesn’t make any sense.  There’s an argument that the polling shows any tax issues are a loser.  That’s just not true.  The latest PPIC poll shows very little difference between repealing two-thirds for the budget and for taxes – within the margin of error.

The other argument is that California lawmakers, given a majority vote on the budget, will have powerful leverage to bend the Yacht Party to their will on tax issues, or go directly to the people with tax solutions.  These are the same people who spend every day of their lives lamenting the terrible negotiating skills of Democrats in the legislature, and laughing at those who claim the Yacht Party is surely just a little bit more pressure away from folding.

I’ve made my position on this well-known, and I’ll repeat it here.

Changing the (repeal of 2/3 for the) budget but not taxes is TOM MCCLINTOCK’S view of things.  It makes Democrats own a budget that can only be modified with expenditure cuts.  In the event of a deficit, Democrats would have to either cave and cut services or hold out with the exact same dynamic that we saw this year.  And it will not allow the legislature to tackle the structural revenue gap that comes from a tax system too closely tied to boom-and-bust budget cycles.  This is perverse consultant-class thinking that is dangerously outdated, constantly compromising, and believes in political reality as static rather than lifting a finger to change that reality.  Thinking that March 2004 and June 2010 are the same is just ridiculous, and thinking that no argument can be made to the public, after the longest and most self-evidently absurd budget process in decades, that the system is fundamentally broken and has to be changed to allow the majority to do their job, is in many ways why we’re in this position to begin with.

And this is where the self-appointed grassroots leadership will take us.  This was carried out through perhaps a deliberative internal process (“Several hours!” we were told), but with no input from the broader grassroots.  The website set up has no ability for public comment, no discussion of why the position was taken, and, most crucially, no explanation that “restoring majority rule” as conceived by the proposed ballot initiative does not restore majority rule.  You can call that a lot of things, but the most accurate would be “a lie.”  It is a lie to suggest that this proposal would repeal 2/3.  It does not.  And it is being carried out in a top-down process that reminds one of the worst aspects of the Sacramento consultocracy rather than progressive leadership in the grassroots.

The working theory is that everything is on the table and this effort is initially to gauge support in the process.  That it is being done through misleading means really doesn’t inspire confidence in how open the process will be.  They can go down that road, and I actually support signing on to the site as a show of support.  But caveat emptor.  And if you do sign, maybe contact the leaders and ask them why they aren’t being truthful about their intentions or transparent about the decision-making process.

Eric Garcetti Stomps On Budget Deal, Lights It On Fire

Before last night’s blogger conference call with LA City Council President Eric Garcetti, my opinions of the budget deal from Sacramento weren’t very well-formed.  I think I have become so inured to craptastic solutions from Sacramento that this one looked no worse than others.  Of course, I don’t have a responsibility to constituents and a need to implement the outlines of the plan, so Garcetti’s very forceful words against the package kind of snapped me out of my slumber.  Here’s a paraphrase.

“I think it’s a reflection of a broken system.  It’s like shooting a little morphine into a sick patient.  I think depending on federal dollars to balance the budget is irresponsible, and will blunt the impact of the stimulus.  It means that the county and school districts will see a lot of projects rolled back.  The health care cuts are going to be devastating.  You’re going to see a lot more homeless people this year, a lot more people who need critical care and can’t get it.  So there is no joy in this resolution other than that it is a resolution.”

Very strong stuff.  And he’s not wrong.  My one quibble would be that it’s not the reliance on federal stimulus dollars to balance the budget, which is necessary and will save jobs throughout the system, that gets me, but the continued reliance on borrowing and the raid of voter-approved funds for mental health and early childhood programs, which is illegal and will require the unlikelihood of passing new initiatives.  

There isn’t any margin for error if, say, one of the FIVE measures that will now be on the ballot in order to secure the budget fail, or if the giant corporate tax cut fails to satiate business, or if nobody wants to buy our debt or buy the state lottery, which is losing revenue.  It’s another seat-of-our-pants craptastic budget which makes no long-term solutions and essentially keeps intact a broken structure.  Garcetti is right that the problem is systemic, and so that’s the goal for progressives in the state for this point forward – systemic change.

Single-Issue Silos Deeply Harmful To Fundamental Change In Sacramento

This certainly made for a great picture – thousands of teachers in Pershing Square in downtown LA rallying against budget cuts to education.  You can put it next to state employees rallying against state employee cuts.  And nurses rallying against health care cuts.  And, I don’t know, park rangers rallying against park closures.  But social movements don’t happen in a vacuum.  History shows us that coalitions built across platforms succeed in galvanizing public opinion and forcing through progress.  Teachers angry about education cuts is something I endorse.  They’re well within their sphere of expertise to complain about that area of the budget.  I don’t know that it’s helpful at all in the midst of this crisis.  Especially when it’s so narrowcast and specific.

The California Teachers Association released a TV ad Friday that says “some Sacramento politicians are going too far” in considering changes to the schools budget.

Specifically, the teachers union attacks a proposal floating around the Capitol to give school administrators more flexibility in how to use so-called categorical money that is currently earmarked for class-size reduction.

“Tell your lawmakers: Ending the class size reduction program won’t save California one dime. It only hurts our kids,” the voice in the ad says.

Now, nobody wants class sizes to inflate.  But when each single-issue silo zealously guards their small piece of power and tries to call to action only for that specific piece, several things happen.  First of all, the counterpoint is easily cast as “special interests clinging to power.”  Second, there is absolutely no continuity of message across the groups, and in fact their messages can conflict with one another.  As I’ve said many times, unity is the great need of the hour.  And there seems to be no comprehension on the part of CTA or frankly any other progressive or labor group that budget money is fungible and everything that the state does affects their single issue in one form or another.

By way of example, how great would it be if CTA put up an ad saying, “Times are tough, and yet the state spends billions of dollars warehousing low-level drug offenders who need treatment and not jail.  We need education and not incarceration.  Tell the governor and your legislator to end 30 years of failure in our prisons and return to sensible sentencing policy to save us billions and help fund our schools.”  It’s really not that hard.  Even Dan Walters can do it.

The fastest growing segment of the state’s deficit-ridden budget, by far, has been its prison system, reflecting severe overcrowding, generous labor contracts and federal court pressure to reform inmate health care.

“Corrections,” an ironic misnomer, has jumped from less than $5 billion a year to more than $10 billion in the last decade, over twice as fast as school spending, the biggest budget item. It now costs about $45,000 a year to feed, clothe and medicate each of the state’s 170,000-plus inmates, or roughly five times what taxpayers spend on a typical public school student. And that doesn’t count what it costs to supervise tens of thousands of parolees.

One element of any plan to close the state’s immense deficit, as well as relieve the overcrowding that invites federal intervention, must be to get a handle on prison costs by shedding some low-intensity inmates.

We could see the state employees union demand to restore the car tax.  The firefighters could call for full funding of education.  Etc.

If each group goes after their piece of the pie, ultimately we’re all going to lose.  History teaches us that only with a movement united together can we create prosperity and security for all Californians.