| Over at FireDogLake, former Calitics blogger and current slayer of falacies David Dayen, takes on the California budget. Specifically, he calls out Brown's budget for a lack of bravery, in the face of a growing chorus of "responsible" voices in the news praising Brown's actions. Sure, he's making cuts that Democrats wouldn't ordinarily make, but that's just buying the Republican frame. Is he getting to the deeper points?
But Brown has ducked many more fundamental governance issues in the state. He hasn't gone near a tax structure where people making $47,500 a year pay the same in income taxes as those making $999,999. He won't approach the third rail of California politics, the artificially low property taxes resulting from Prop 13. He won't expand the sales tax to cover services, which would allow the rate to be lowered while still gaining more revenue (and becoming more progressive, as higher-end services get used by wealthier people). He's basically doing the bare minimum possible on revenue generation, and even then he won't commit to raising them himself, preferring to put them up for a vote of the people.
As for the spending cuts, they will be utterly devastating; California already cut the less necessary stuff in prior years of the crisis. And by and large, Democrats in the legislature are going along with it. In the Schwarzenegger years, you'd have a lot of resistance to very similar cuts, both from the outside and the inside. These days, state Democrats don't want to cross their own governor, and so they're basically carrying out his wishes. They tell everyone they don't feel good about it, but that's of little solace. (FDL)
Redevelopment has been getting much of the attention, but the heart of the cuts is to the social safety net that the Democrats have been working to protect from Governor Schwarzenegger's raids. Yet now we are making many of these same cuts. Meanwhile a full 20% of California families are struggling to even afford enough food:
One in five Californians struggled to afford enough food for themselves and their families last year, according to a new report by the Food Research and Action Center.
The rate in California was slightly higher than the national average of 18%.
Jim Weill, president of the Washington-based nonprofit, said the figures underscore the need for a strong nutrition safety net - including food stamps and school meals - for families that continue to struggle as the economy begins to recover.
"While the nation's Great Recession may have technically ended in mid-2009, it has not yet ended for many of the nation's households," Weill said in a statement Thursday. "For them, 2010 was the third year of a terrible recession that is widely damaging the ability to meet basic needs."(LAT)
At a time when Californians need more help than ever, we're closing down our doors and spending a smaller percentage of the state's personal income for over 40 years. Yeah, that's right, Brown's proposed budget would spend just $5.05 per $100 earned, the lowest such figure since Reagan's 1972-73 budget. Put simply, we don't have an out of control tax system, we don't have a spending problem, we have an obstinate minority that insists on a selfishness of spirit that California hasn't known before.
I give Brown credit for doing what he thinks he must, perhaps in the only way he thinks possible. But we're losing part of what made us great. There was once a feeling that anything could happen in California, that whatever we worked together toward would be accomplished. We built an outstanding K-12 education system and the greatest public university system in the world. We built the information based economy. We built a network of infrastructure that made tomorrow look better than yesterday.
Today, we are just trying to survive for ourselves. Some of us can't feed ourselves, while others are grabbing crass and obscene wealth. Is this really the best we can do?