Monday, June 22, 2009

California Nightmaring

Update: Caltics uses--gasp!--facts to show that "the May 19 special [election] was not a tax revolt and that people will actually vote to raise revenues for services." The evidence is several recent ballot measures in which SOUTHERN CALIFORNIANS (the supposedly most rabid anti-tax place) voted for tax increases to fund services such as education.

The Nightmare continues. Voters rejected the recent ballot propositions purporting to fix the California state budget for all kinds of reasons--some of them specific (universities would be locked in to inadequate spending levels long after the current crisis) and some general (agreeing on a sensible budget and running the state is the least of what we elected the gov and the legislature to do--why don't they do their jobs?) But Governor Terminator sees only one message: no tax increases, and so he rejects a budget compromise that includes some new revenue instead of just draconian cuts that hit the poor the hardest.

Meanwhile, the macro arguments go on. Sacramento Bee commentator Dan Walters insists all the economic arguments are flawed: "The entire deficit on which they are working, $24.3 billion including Schwarzenegger's desired reserve, is well under 2 percent of the state's economy. The lesser cuts and taxes they are debating would merely shift relatively small amounts of money from one form of spending to another, all within the state's economy, so the macro economic impact would probably be nil, no matter what they do.
The greater threat to our economic future would be a prolonged political stalemate, followed by enactment of another dysfunctional, gimmick-laden budget, thus providing more proof of our chronic inability to govern ourselves."

But others see more impact. Describing the findings of a new report: “These health and human service cuts are the worst of both worlds: they not only directly deny people the services that California families need, the cuts cripple our ability to get out of this economic downturn,” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “The Governor’s cuts make no sense, since in order to save a few state dollars, California gives up a lot of federal dollars, for our health system, and our economy.”

The impact on education, and then on the California economy, and then on the U.S. economy, could be equally profound, both now and getting worse in the future. That is, these relatively few dollars can cause losses in both financial and human terms of much greater proportions, and much harder to fix when they become apparent.

But the most frustrating aspect of this crisis is the lack of balance. Those already suffering because of low income will suffer more. Those with higher income will not even be inconvenienced in the short term, although they and their children will be hurt by all of this in the future.

That's partly because the Terminator is insisting on only cuts and no new revenue, to the extent that he has promised to veto any tax increases proposed by the legislature. That's the way to come to agreements to deal with this crisis? Much of the problem is because the state's politicians are polarized and can't come together for the good of the state. You'd think that after at least a year of political posturing, and up against the wall of a very serious crisis, these bozos could come up with a package of cuts and revenue increases to deal with the budget in a more balanced and sane way. But apparently not. The Terminator is going to continue the insanity, and make it worse. And unfortunately, at present, the Democrats don't have a leader to stand up to him.

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