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Bass And Steinberg Statement Considered Harmful

by: David Dayen

Wed May 20, 2009 at 09:30:00 AM PDT


George Lakoff writes today that this could be a moment of freedom for California Democrats.  Their compromised ballot measured having gone down in flames, they can now focus on the only solution to what ails the state: democracy.  They can include in every public utterance until the moment the 2/3 rule is repealed the theme that California's democracy is broken, and that we must restore it with a majority vote for budget and revenue matters.  The time for half-steps and non-fixes must be over.

Up to now, Democrats have been acting like sheep being herded by the Republican minority. They need to show courage and stand up for what they believe. That's what the voters are waiting for [...]

Get rid of the 55% proposals. People understand that majority rule means democracy. 55% means nothing.

Even if you don't address taxes and just address the budget process, the Republicans will still say you're going to raise taxes. You may as well go for real democracy.

And finally, get a unified message that can be supported by the grassroots. Do grassroots organizing for 2010, starting now. Organize spokespeople to get that message out. Organize bookers to book your spokespeople in the media. You Democrats are a majority. Act like it. The public will respect you for it.

Unfortunately, Darrell Steinberg and Karen Bass failed the first test, stuck in a mindset that will bring the state to ruin.  First, Steinberg.

"The voters have spoken and they are telling us that government should do the best it can with the money it has. We will immediately and responsibly get to work to balance the budget and head off a cash crisis in July. Delay is not an option. The necessary decisions we must make will only get harder with time."

That is not what voters are telling you. As I said yesterday, you cannot reconcile the supposed anti-tax fervor with the passage of a transient occupancy tax in conservative Palmdale with 64% of the vote.  California is a big state and no one message from a statewide election can predominate, but the mass boycott of the polls certainly suggests that we don't want to do your job anymore.  I know it's been so long since Democrats exercised their Democratic muscles and principles in Sacramento, but this election called out the political leadership for failed governance.  And everyone who has studied this for half a second understands that the failure will continue until the structural barriers are removed.  And so making this absurd and vindictive statement about voter intentions both misses an opportunity to refocus the discussion and angers the grassroots further.  

Here's Bass:

"There are many difficult choices and a lot of hard work ahead of us.  We now have to responsibly fill the budget hole that has been caused by the national recession and deepened by the failure of today's ballot propositions.  I hope the bipartisan cooperation between the Legislature and the Governor that went into this effort will continue as we move forward - the people of California clearly expect us to work together to get the job done.  And we will.

The people of California could give a rat's ass who works together with who.  They don't want to see this level of dysfunction anymore.  Bipartisan cooperation was clearly rejected last night, because inevitably that gives leverage to the minority and provides unworkable non-solutions.

Where is the argument for DEMOCRACY in these statements?  Since 1978 that democracy has crumbled and needs to be completely rebuilt.  Everyone knows this but refuses to say it out loud.  This is why the legislature and the Governor have historically low approval ratings.  People are starved for actual leadership and see none.  Only democracy will save us.  This failed experiment with conservative Two Santa Claus Theories has now become deeply destructive.  Because the democrats have provided no leadership and ceded the rhetorical ground, California public opinion holds the contradictory beliefs that the state should not raise taxes and also not cut spending.  And if it persists without leadership and advocacy to the contrary, nothing will change.

David Dayen :: Bass And Steinberg Statement Considered Harmful
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it is Bass and Steinberg who should resign (0.00 / 0)
Sure Arnold is bad, that is what Republicans do. It is Democrats job to stand up for the people against the Republicans.

This is just disgusting, the "leadership" only cowers while nothing happens to actually fix the fucking problem. And this isn't anything new, Nunez could have put this on the all three ballots last year and yesterdays ballot with the money he plundered from the Democratic Party.

Twitter: @BobBrigham


You have ZERO credibility on any issue, let alone the issue of these Props (8.00 / 1)
Some of Bob Brigham's punditry. Really makes you think perhaps another line of work would be better for Bob.  You know, since he is so clearly bad at this one:

"Sounds like a giant waste of time with nobody spending any money. Especially not after the benchmark polls come back on asking people if they want to stabilize the budget, reform the process, limit spending, and increase a "rainy day" fund."

Bob Brigham = Wrong.  There was money that was going to be spent, you just didn't have the sources or stroke to find out.  Also, the benchmark poll you refer to?  Flawed in that it failed to mention the revenue portion of the spending cap.  Seemingly everyone, save you, understood that.

"The time to fight this, like the initiative itself, long ago passed."

Bob Brigham = Wrong again.  66% voted against the spending cap.  You are not good at this.

"And I don't see a way to lose well in May. It won't be a good coalition building exercise as most of the progressive coalition won't be fighting."

Bob Brigham = Wrong again.  Again, 66% voted against the spending cap.  Oh and progressive organizations like the Nurses, SEIU, California Faculty, Health Access, California Immigrant Policy Center, Congress of California Seniors, Courage Campaign, AFSCME, ACORN, countless Dem clubs all were part of the coalition that defeated 1A.

"SEIU didn't come out against the spending cap, they came out against the process. They didn't say to fight the spending cap, they vowed to fight for fundamental reform."

Bob Brigham = Wrong again.  Again, simply because you don't have the contacts or the stroke to have useful information, doesn't mean it isn't out there.  SEIU State Council OPPOSED 1A.  They put significant money into defeating it.  Two things can be equally true.  Opposing the spending cap AND fighting for fundamental reform.

"Getting on offense for a Constitutional Convention makes way more sense than playing defense against an initiative that has all but passed."

Bob Brigham = laughably wrong.  Seriously, you can't think you have a shred of credibility left and can continue to sanctimoniously lecture everyone.

"the fight is already lost.  The fight was lost the moment Dem legislators were dumb enough to put it on the ballot. The unions aren't going to waste tens of millions to see it pass by less of a margin. Who is going to waste any time/money?  This isn't ducking a fight, this is realizing the fight has already been settled.

Bob Brigham = Wrong again.  66% voted against the spending cap.  AFSCME, SEIU, CFA spend $5 million to defeat this.  So, yes, unions didn't spend tens of millions, because they didn't have to.  As for wasting time?  CFA and SEIU both donated staff full time to the No on 1A campaign.  Was that a waste?  I really don't care what your answer is, because we've established that you have no idea what you're talking about.

"you asked who will fight the spending cap.  The answer is nobody willing to spend money. The time to fight it was at the legislature.
Yes, it is bad. But absent you finding a genie we aren't going to see a coalition come together doing what is necessary to defeat it."

Bob Brigham = Stupendously wrong.  I guess a genie appeared somewhere.  CFA, SEIU, AFSCME, CFT, the Nurses, health care groups, immigrant rights groups all came together to fight 1A.  They spent money, time, resources and defeated 1A.  If your view had won out, well, never mind, it's moot since no one was stupid enough to listen to you.

"Wasting time fighting by yourself against an initiative that has already passed makes far less sense that getting on offense for structural reform."

Bob Brigham = there-is-no-descriptor-strong-enough wrong.  66% voted against 1A.  How you still have the chutzpah to post your opinions anywhere is beyond rational description.

"Don't believe me, look at the fact there is no coalition against this. People will come out against it, sure, but nobody is going to spend enough money to beat it. Which is good, the fact that progressive organizations aren't going to piss money away on this is actually great news."

"The entire premise of the 50 State Strategy was to stop making foolhardy mistakes in vain attempts to win the next election. Money flushed on this isn't going to build a progressive coalition, it isn't going to move the ball down field, it isn't even going to be successful."

"Time and money fighting this is a waste. "

Bob Brigham = Wrong.  Do I even need to elaborate?

Bob, you have some serious soul searching to do.  You were so clearly wrong on this, yet that you feel the need to continue to pontificate like Bill Krystal, Bill O'Reilly, David Brooks is sad and desperate.

Arrogance and incompetence is a lethal combination.  This site is better than that.  David, Brian, Robert and most others on this site all had this pegged correctly from minute one.  I suspect you were simply and immaturely picking a fight for the attention, but since you put words to your thoughts you have to own them.


[ Parent ]
and here I didn't want to embarrass him (0.00 / 0)
Actually, I forced Brigham into publicly admitting how wrong he was about a month and a half ago, so we're all square.  But this is good reference material!

[ Parent ]
fighting on this was a giant waste (0.00 / 0)
Pass/fail, it didn't matter. It was stupid to even waste time on it. Either way nothing was fixed.

Stupid was the people who spend money for or against this instead of fighting to fix the problem. Stupid was the people who put this on the ballot without putting an actual solution on the ballot.


Twitter: @BobBrigham


[ Parent ]
Nice backpedal. My comments stand. (0.00 / 0)
No amount of Maviglio/South like spin is getting you out from under from your incompetence.  Own your failure.

It's also curious that you ran your mouth right up until the point that your rants about no coalition/money were proved false.  Then you STFU for the duration of the campaign as actual progressives fought against a spending cap.  Now that the campaign is over, you jump back in with both feet commenting on everything.  Did you think time would erase your massive failures?


[ Parent ]
I've been focused on actual reform (1.00 / 1)
Focusing on the special as anything more than a pivot for reform was a mistake. It didn't matter.

I am however quite disappointed in progressives who spent any more than token money on either side as it made no sense.

The only thing of consequence yesterday was the congressional special where voters weren't dumb enough to support a legislator and make 2/3 worse.

Now that the distraction of the election is over it is finally time to do what should have been done long ago.  

Twitter: @BobBrigham


[ Parent ]
Resigning is the weak option (0.00 / 0)
It's not the people sitting on the deck chairs per se.  It's the chairs themselves on the boat itself.  Having new people performing the same roles is like leading lambs to the slaughter.  (Sorry, my vegan friends...)

New Constitution.  Same offices, but new roles and functions, majority rule like Lakoff argues, with members of the Assembly and Senate taking real votes of leadership.  



new people doing the same is not the answer (0.00 / 0)
But the disastrous approach of Bass/Steinberg has proven to be a total failure and their signal that they want to double down on stupid is all anyone needs to see to realize that their needs to immediately be new elections and actual leadership elected who are willing to do what is necessary.

It is really sad they haven't already stepped down in shame.

Twitter: @BobBrigham


[ Parent ]
I think there is a clear message: (0.00 / 0)
and it is not the message Steinberg and Bass appear to be hearing.  

The people of California want real leadership in Sacramento, leaders who are willing to take a stand on important issues and stick to their guns the entire way.  Unfortunately the only elected officials willing to do that are the Republicans who stick to their anti-tax pledges like passengers gripping the floating odds and ends of the sinking Titanic.

Meanwhile the Democrats rearrange the deck chairs.

I like both Senator Steinberg and Assemblywoman Bass, but it's time to show some real leadership and not just more rearranging of the deck chairs.  If we don't show real leadership as Democrats, we risk a repeat of 1994 and the tremendous losses we suffered then.  I for one don't want to see another Republican-dominated legislature.


we have a Republican-dominated legislature (0.00 / 0)
as long as the rejected Bass/Steinberg approach remains.

They are even making things worse already, tomorrow's budget committee took the unprecedented step of elevating Republicans from 30% to 33% of membership.

I agree it is long passed due for "leadership" that actually leads. There are things that need to be done and the so-called "leadership" seem intent on making things worse every year by avoiding the problem.

Worst of all, as Lakoff points out, the messaging to do what is necessary is incidentally the best messaging possible for Democrats to pick up more seats and actually progress on other issues once the underlying problem is fixed.

The incompetence of Bass/Steinberg is beyond the pale but it is even worse that they refuse to realize their failure and resign in shame.

Twitter: @BobBrigham


[ Parent ]
Amen Brother! (0.00 / 0)
The 2/3 rules are the target and the debate needs to be re-framed. The State Democrats need to stop with the battered wife syndrome and place the blame where it belongs. The Republican economic theories and Norquist Ideology is to blame here and the 2/3 rules are the primary tools that have driven us to this nadir. Some targeted recall efforts against vulnerable Republican State Senators would go a long way toward re-framing the debate away from the canard of too much spending and taxes toward the obstructionist, recalcitrant minority party. The Republicans always threaten they are going to drive the state off the cliff, well I feel weightless. They have behaved in a reckless, negligent fashion and it is time to restore democracy in this state. Repeal the 2/3 rules!  

Constitutional Convention (0.00 / 0)
Forget the ankle biters. It is time to convene a Constitutional Convention to rewrite the state Constitution. That's the only way we'll get real democracy.

Who gets to go to the CC though (0.00 / 0)
I don't really care how we get rid of the 2/3 rules, but they have to go--before 2010. The only thing I worry about with a constitutional convention is that the corporate interests that have destroyed this country will take over the whole process. What kind of a constitution should we expect to see if only corporate interests are allowed to attend or bribe the attendees?

Other than a CC, what are our other options and what's the time table?  


[ Parent ]
Initiatives on the 2010 ballot to raise select taxes (0.00 / 0)
Alcohol tax to provide funding for health care & Domestic violence shelters

Oil severance tax to pay for higher education (Torrico)

Internet sales tax to help local governments

Also repeal 2/3s vote to pass budget


[ Parent ]
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