The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

April 27, 2009
A game of fiscal chicken

The Democratic Party's refusal to endorse (by the required supermajority) the budget package on the May 19 ballot, following the Republican Party's decision to oppose the measures, means more of the same from the state's grass-roots political activists. The Democrats balked mostly because of the spending cap in Prop. 1A, although they also were not wild about shifting money from special funds for mental health and children's programs to other priorities, as proposed in Props 1D and 1E. Earlier, the Republicans opposed the measures because they didn't like the idea of extending the temporary taxes in the package from two years to four years, as proposed in Prop. 1A.

Although the combination of the two parties' positions might help tank the package, both sides cannot ultimately prevail. They are playing a game of fiscal chicken. Eventually, there will be either more cuts, as the Republicans desire, more revenue, as the Democrats want, or a combination of both, as this package proposes.

The Democrats seem to think that a bigger crisis will lead voters to repeal the two-thirds requirement for raising taxes, and with a new Democratic governor in 2010, they will get their revenue without a spending limit. The Republicans think just the opposite will happen: a crisis will prompt the voters to slap a strict spending limit on the Legislature, forcing a solution that relies only on spending cuts.

While that might be the thinking of the parties' hard-core activists, it doesn't appear to reflect the beliefs of the broader electorate. Polls continue to show that most folks accept that any real solution is going to have to include more revenue and more cuts. But that's not necessarily who will be voting on May 19. So the props could very well fail.

And then we will get to see which side wins this all-or-nothing fight to the death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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