Gloves Off, Republicans Debate

Katy Grimes: With California Republican legislators currently at odds over whether or not to support putting Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax extensions on the ballot, it was Republican versus Republican yesterday at a lunchtime debate, over party philosophy and strategy. And it was an accurate presentation of the differences within the party.

Political blogger and creator of The Flash Report Jon Fleischman, and Eric Hogue, talk radio host at 1380 KTKZ and author of the Hogue News blog, met yesterday to face off in a debate over Brown’s budget proposals, and whether Republicans should actively work to put Brown’s tax extensions on the June ballot.

Sponsored by the Sacramento Press Club at the Capitol Plaza Halls, Fleischman said “the real question is should the Republican party be participating in a process to put taxes on the ballot.” “It’s a bad idea to raise taxes in California, and not responsible, without assuming they will pass,” Fleischman said. “Public employee unions will spend millions demagoguing – its very possible taxes will pass.”

Fleischman said that with Democratic party control of the Legislature, every time a Republican has a good policy bill, the more substantial the idea is, it gets killed in the first committee hearing. However, that doesn’t mean that Republicans should not continue to put forth good policy. Fleischman was critical of using taxes as a negotiating tool for reforms that the state needs. “We shouldn’t have to raise taxes to get pension reform,” added Fleischman. “It’s just bad policy to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.”

And Fleischman was critical of the tactics Democrats are using currently. “Instead of cutting purple shirt jobs, they cut benefits,” referring to the budget bills that have passed, cutting services to the needy in the state, instead of cutting bloated agency administration and duplicity.

Hogue took a different tactic. “I am here because I am a Republican – not to get ratings.” Hogue was critical of Republicans putting other Republicans’ heads on sticks. “It’s about success. Sometimes however, control is more about success. Some like controlling a minority instead of growing to a majority.”

Hogue said that the status quo is not working, and said “The GOP 5 are correct.” The GOP 5 are a splinter group of GOP lawmakers negotiating with Brown. “Now is the time we’ve got leverage,” said Hogue.

An associate of former Republican Assemblyman Roger Niello asked Fleischman if what he was saying is that Republicans can’t trust voters because of the union money that will be thrown at Brown’s ballot initiatives.

About the union push, he said, “I don’t believe it’s going to be a fair fight.”

Fleischman said first and foremost that Republicans don’t have a history of being conservative in the state. “To comeback as a party, we need to reconnect with our team — with limited government, lower taxes.”

“Republicans run on ideas – the party of solutions,” said Hogue. “Prudence is the purpose of good governance, but in this state, that doesn’t apply.”

However, Hogue said that Republicans can be the majority party again in California.

Fleischman said that in 2012, the issues on the ballot will be paycheck protection, a spending cap and pension reform, and why standing firm right on the no-tax issue now is so important.  “We cannot be the majority party in California is we continue to lose constituency.”

MAR. 18, 2011

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