Crazed California Republicans worsening the state budget crisis

A new column in today’s Sacramento Bee takes the California Republican Party to the woodshed, particularly for demanding that the Democrats in the State Legislature and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger acquiese to a list of demands before the Reeps do anything to resolve our budget crisis.  Here are a few excerpts from Peter Schrag’s column:

It’s no secret that in the past 30 years, Californians have become more tolerant of gay rights, as have millions of other Americans. But in California, according to data reported last Friday at a conference of pollsters by Mark DiCamillo of the Field Poll, the change of attitude was almost entirely among Democrats and independents.

Republicans are almost exactly where they were in 1977.

So does that just make the GOP a party of genetically slow learners, a claque so rigid, insular and detached from changes in the real world that they either don’t know or don’t care? Their extortionate demands in the face of what the governor, once their hero, called the looming “financial Armageddon,” in the current budget crisis make that a credible theory.

Today’s GOP is a very different party, a hard-line group of self-insulated ideologues, more like a political cult than like an inclusive party that stretches its core principles to be inviting to people at or beyond that core.

The self-marginalization has been far greater among Republicans, who exclude independent voters from their primaries, who have made no effort to reach out to California’s fast-growing minorities, Latinos especially, or for that matter to women. Many voters who would once have been Republicans, and a lot who probably were, are now independents and even Democrats. As Casey Stengel said, you can look it up.

Given all that, it’s easier to understand Assembly Republican leader Mike Villines’ extortionate demand last week that before they’ll talk about tax increases, which every reasonable analyst knows are urgent if the state isn’t to go over a financial cliff, the governor and Democrats have to meet a list of conditions most of which would do nothing to resolve the crisis.

The list: Loosen worker protections on overtime pay and meal breaks; impose permanent budget caps that would create a new cliff for the state’s schools and universities; allow more pollution (defined as “business-friendly environmental regulations”) and more.

The state desperately needs a responsible, engaged, conservative party. Such a party would also make the majority Democrats more moderate and responsible. At the moment, it doesn’t have one.

I personally don’t think we need to raise taxes.  I have already made my pitch for legalizing gambling, decriminalizing marijuana, enforcing Prop. 215, making our State Legislature part-time, and revising Three Strikes. We can resolve the budget crisis without raising taxes – but what Villines and his party are doing is completely counterproductive and irresponsible.   Rome is burning and they are taking fiddling lessons…

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.