'Last Call' For Republicans

March 7, 2011 - By Katy Grimes

MARCH 7

Throughout history, strong political leaders have had the ability to discipline wayward party members. But currently, California Republicans aren’t exactly in a strong enough position to offer up the usual disciplinary threats: removal from cushy or prestigious committee assignments, generous budgets for staff, and even supporting a recall against any member who veers from the herd.

What is about to happen is no different than what happens as the end of the high school dance approaches, or when “last call” is announced at a bar: a few desperate folks scramble around looking for someone to go home with — or hook up with, as the case may be.

With the governor pushing legislators for a vote on his budget this week, many are wondering if this will be the last chance dance at the Capitol, or a hook-up moment, before the last call.

Speculation is running rampant about which four Republican legislators will get picked for the last chance dance, and vote to put Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase extensions on the June ballot, without any strong opposing ballot initiatives to counter it.

Pension reform, the suspension of AB 32, spending caps and small business regulatory reform are viable alternatives to Brown’s tax-increase measure, and are being discussed by Republicans as additional ballot initiatives, or leverage for a deal.

Republican legislators have one more chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of the voters in the state, or forever go down as self-serving, big-government opportunists. Now is the moment for Republican leadership to expose the party phonies, and back the sincere, budget-cutting fiscal conservatives.

It’s that simple.

Many Californians are fed up with business as usual in this state — by both parties. But Republican voters are particularly frustrated with the split inside the party, evident even at the state Capitol.

Apparently Republicans are not alone. Even Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner just called freshmen congressional Republicans, “wild-eyed, bomb-throwing freshmen,” referring to the reform conservatives elected in November by frustrated voters.

Business-as-usual will either end now, or the tarnish already on the golden state will turn to rust.

Somehow, Republicans need to get across to Democrats that creating jobs does not work when done by the government. The “jobs, jobs, jobs” mantra needs to be “private sector jobs, jobs, jobs,” and “public sector cuts, cuts, cuts.”

And that will be done only with tax cuts and regulatory reform for businesses in this state.

While we’re talking cuts, legislators should push to cut all state agencies that compete with private sector businesses or services.

Cut prison spending and send inmates to privately operated prisons, like the Corrections Corporation of America. It’s a private-sector provider of correctional services to federal, state and local governments, that houses inmates for less than one-half of the cost that California spends to incarcerate convicted criminals.

Cut education spending. It’s as wasteful as any other state entity and is not sacred or untouchable.

Historically, the state’s Democratic Party has continued to impose more and more regulations on the state’s businesses. Democrats have raised taxes and fees, and increased state spending to the point of horrific deficit spending that is now costing the state unsustainable interest charges. And they have done it with complicit Republican support.

As many fiscally conservative Republicans say, and Republican Senate Leader Bob Dutton recently told FlashReport’s Jon Fleishman, “The situation in which state government finds itself in today was not only totally predictable, but also was completely avoidable.”

Big government Republicans need to get out of the way and stop the doublespeak and rhetoric. It’s become so painfully obvious when a Republican has sold out; they look as desperate as the guys hanging around the bar after the last-call bell.

When no longer able to do the reform work needed at the Capitol, last chance dance Republicans need to step aside and let the reformers fight … or wear the dunce cap for selling out the state, the party, colleagues and voters.

Katy Grimes

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