Friday, June 10, 2011

Jerry Brown’s Bad Budget Deal

It looks very possible that Governor Brown will get enough Republican votes next week to pass a state budget and put tax extensions on a special election ballot for September. The remaining stumbling block is the extension of the current taxes, which are set to expire July 1, and Brown wants them to continue until the special election. Here is why I think the whole budget deal is very bad:

1. Brown has basically endorsed the conservative argument that our state and national fiscal problems are due to governmental over-spending. While he is calling for a vote on the tax extensions, his budget relies on deep cuts to needed social programs coupled with a scaling back of pensions and an elimination of several state offices. In other words, he is endorsing the conservative push for austerity during a time when we need increased support for jobs and benefits.

2. It is possible that the voters will reject the tax extensions, and then we move to an all-cuts budget, which only an extreme right-wing proponent of government and taxes could support. Once again, it has taken a Democrat to fulfill Republican promises.

3. In order to push for the tax extensions, which place most of the burden on struggling middle-class and lower-class workers, unions and Democratic politicians will have to spend huge sums of money fighting for a very bad deal.

4. Even if the tax extensions do pass, they serve as a temporary fix, and they do not address the fundamental revenue problem of the state. Moreover, if the budget comes with a spending cap, the horrible cuts to social programs will be locked in.

The only solution is for the Democrats to simply refuse to sign onto any budget deal and to turn their attention to a special election to support real progressive solutions like the end of the rule requiring a super majority vote on taxes in the legislature.


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