I am thinking that maturity was checked at the door when Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Senate Republican Leader Darrell Steinberg came into the office this week. I “get it” that they are very unhappy, as liberals, that state revenues are down to such an extreme that without tax increases it means that there will be a significant reduction in state services. To rabid lefties like Lockyer and Steinberg, this must be almost heretical given their almost religious adoration of the modern welfare state. The idea of any kind of stalling, let alone a reversing of course of progressive programs that redistribute wealth from some Californians to provide it to others must make them ill in the pits of their stomachs (the beneficiaries of this government-funded generosity are chosen, of course, by liberal politicians who love to spend OPM – other people’s money). I get that, and I sympathize. As a conservative ideologue, I get the same feeling when the size and scope of state government grows.
It is a fair and legitimate position for conservatives in the legislature, who were not elected as liberals, to not want to participate in increasing taxes in order to stop the shrinking of a bloated, over-regulated nanny state government. If they don’t like it, Lockyer and Steinberg can go burn copies of their state constitution, and lament it’s two-thirds vote requirement to raise taxes or to place measures before the voters.
That having been said, first Lockyer and now Steinberg have kicked around the idea that if Republican legislators are not willing to increase taxes, well then the necessary cuts in state spending to match state revenues should be made in a surgical manner so as to maximize their impact on GOP-held seats. How immature. Cuts are going to need to be made and they should not be looked at as some sort of punitive tool. The absurdity of this proposal hits home when you put the matter “in reverse” — what if Republicans were trying to pass through tax cuts, and a group of Democrat legislators were blocking that effort. Does that mean that Republicans should sit around and in the absence of broad tax relief figure out how to spend excess dollars on projects and programs that are exclusively in the districts of GOP legislators? Of course not.
That having been said, if the goal of Lockyer and Steinberg is to make martyrs out of the Republican legislators in the Capitol, this is certainly a good way to do it. I think that their popularity, and resolve, will only increase when they let it be known that because they are standing tall for taxpayers, the local community is being punished.