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The Chutzpah of Yes on 30

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The Yes on Prop 30 campaign is now channeling Karl Rove.

The Republican operative is famous for tactics that include attacks on an opponent's greatest strength and accusations of whatever the accuser is guilty of.

The campaign for Prop 30, the temporary tax measure backed by Gov. Brown and the Democrats, just did both.

In a public letter to Molly Munger, the wealthy civil rights lawyer backing the rival temporary tax measure Prop 38, members of the Yes on 30 coalition accused Munger of engaging in a "destructive course of action... which could cause irreparable harm to our students and schools."

The attack was occasioned by Munger's interview with NBC 4's Conan Nolan, in which she said the Prop 38 campaign would take on Prop 30 in response to Prop 30 ads that were widely seen as deceptive. Some response was inevitable.

But when Yes on Prop 30 accused Munger "of a destructive course of action" that would hurt schools, that is pure pot calling the kettle black.

The Yes on 30 campaign is built around its own "destructive course of action," the $6 billion in cuts to schools, higher education and other programs that would be triggered if Prop 30 fails.

That very threat of destruction is the basis for the sales pitch on Prop 30.

So to accuse Munger of somehow threatening schools is to blame Munger for the destructive course the Yes on 30 side has taken. That's pretty darn rich -- richer than Munger herself.

This is starting to get ugly.

And it's an ugly battle with little point.

Neither Prop 30 nor Prop 38 would make all that much of a difference to the budget or to the schools in the long-term.

California's problems are far bigger than these measures, or this nasty debate.

Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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