Monday, December 28, 2009

Best of 2009 #8: "The Compromise Mystique"

For #8, I had to go back to Cali again. Sorry, but this really should teach us a lesson... And it's a good lesson for Democrats both in Washington and Carson City.

No matter how much President Obama wants us to compromise on health care, Republicans will never allow reform. And no matter how much Bill Raggio promises us that he just wants a nice "compromise", there's really no rational solution halfway in-between what this state really needs and what Jimmy "Luv-Guv" Gibbons wants.

So without further adieu, let me present to you what I wrote for OC Progressive back in June. Again, just replace "Arnold" with "Gibbons" and their legislature with our legislature, and we have a recipe for disaster if Buckley and Horsford fall for another non-sensical budget that's balanced on the backs of the working poor and middle class.


Overall, I thought The LA Times put an interesting editorial in its paper today on the ever-worsening budget crisis. They rightly call out Arnold and his GOP for their frighteningly disgusting cut proposals that would destroy the social safety net that the working poor (and increasingly now, middle class) depend upon for survival. However, there was something about it that just did not make sense.

What perplexed me was how The Times tried, as it so often does, to be "fair and balanced" by equating GOP adherence to their corporate overlords and their Grover Norquist "drown government in the bathtub" ideology with Democrats being "too deep in union pockets" and somehow too progressive. Now don't get me wrong, I've said before that Democratic leaders aren't innocent in creating this mess. However, I don't think the problem is Democrats being too progressive or too union-friendly. Rather, the problem is they're not being progressive enough.

Now I know many in the media are obsessed over "split the middle", "moderate", "sensible solutions" that will supposedly magically bring Democrats and Republicans together, balance the budget, and create a happy centrist middle ground where everyone should be satisfied. But honestly, how is this supposed to work? Democrats in Sacramento have already been compromising with Republicans by avoiding the real tax problems and making budget cuts. We compromised our way to the "center" a long time ago, yet the Republicans keep with this hard-line, "no new taxes", "cuts only" plan to throw the entire state off the financial cliff. How can we possibly compromise this? Only throw the state halfway down the cliff?

OK, so maybe I need to explain myself more clearly again. I don't think we should be a mirror image of the Republicans and refuse to compromise. We just shouldn't force ourselves to make a "compromise" halfway between an already compromised centrist budget and a hard-right Grover Norquist wet dream.

Yes, yes, I've already heard that "the votes aren't there" for progressive tax reform. That's just hogwash. Judging from the recent votes, "the votes aren't there" for Arnold's brutal cuts. But since we obviously can't have no cuts and no tax changes, something's got to give.

Obviously, we'll need to compromise some to get the 2/3 vote necessary for this budget this year. However, Democrats should not adopt the GOP's "penny wise, pound foolish" approach that will endanger people's lives along with federal matching funds. We need a smarter plan, something like the one that The LA Times actually allowed to be published in the business section last month, to get out of this mess. And if Arnold & the GOP legislators doesn't want to budge, we need to make the case to the public why we must change these ridiculous budget rules that allow an entrenched minority to derail the entire state.

Compromise is a means to an end, not a goal we should all desire just for the sake of it. If we can get a reasonable compromise, we should take it. But if "compromise" means another lousy budget that fails to address the problems causing the crisis, Democrats shouldn't feel obligated to take it.

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