Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory…

Governor Schwarzenegger has now announced he is not signing the Democratically-passed budget solution, as reported by Dan Smith in the Sacramento Bee, Jordan Rau and Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times, and Judy Lin at the AP.

For months if not years, the blame for this growing crisis has been shared among all, with special mention for the Republicans who seemed more wedded to their “no new taxes” pledge than to actually engaging in serious negotiation. Their position, to want significant cuts and major rollbacks of worker and environmental protections before even talking about the possibility of tax increases to prevent further cuts, was seen by even the Governor’s staff as a hostage negotiation. As George Skelton wrote today, it wasn’t even that, since hostage takers at least know

The legislative leadership had no choice but to find a way around the legislative Republicans.

The Governor got deserved credit for recognizing the severity of the crisis, and supporting taxes as part of a solution–a position that could not have been easy for him. But now with his threatened veto, the Governor totally owns the fiscal crisis: the stalled infrastructure projects, the threat that California will run out of cash, the additional cuts that will be forced in the future.

For what? Policy changes that will do nothing to stimulate the economy? When the result is stalled infrastructure and additional cuts that will certainly have a much worse economic impact?

This reminds me of the Governor’s poor handling of health reform: He delayed any real negotiations for the entire year waiting for the legislative Republicans to come to the table. When he belatedly realizes they never will, he calls a special legislative session, with the focus to work with Democratic leadership on another way to a policy win (in the case of AB x1 1, through a ballot measure to finance the measure). But then he forces some small but specific requirements on the deal, which causes it to lose support with key constituencies and within the legislature, causing the whole deal to fall apart.

But there were lots of overlapping causes for health reform’s demise, not just the Governor’s stubborness. But at this moment, it seems that’s the main cause for the continuation of the budget crisis.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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