Democrats Give Republicans a Reason Not to Deal

Darrell Steinberg

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Republicans, with their ridiculous NO! NO! NO! new taxes mantra (even if contained in a larger tax cut), make themselves an easy target.

Yes, they can be unreasonable. Yes, they should compromise. Yes, they deserve criticism.

But it’s too much to blame the failure to reach deals purely on the Republicans.

At least until you’ve put yourself in their shoes. For one thing, ask yourself this question: if you were a legislative Republican, would you make a deal with California’s Democrats?

If I were a Republican, I’d be wary. That would be the case even if I had determined that I needed to compromise on ideological positions and that I could stand the political heat of making a deal with the Democrats.

My concern instead would be whether the Democrats would live up to their end of the bargain.

I’d be right to worry. Consider SB 202, the bill just signed by Gov. Brown. Most of the controversy over the bill focused, rightly, on how it would move all citizens’ initiatives from the June primary ballot to the November ballot.

But from the perspective of a Republican considering a deal with Democrats, the legislation – approved by Democrats with no significant debate or consideration in a last-minute maneuver – had a more problematic provision. It essentially broke the terms of the deal that Republicans agreed to when they closed the 2010 budget.

That deal included a rainy-day fund measure that would go on the ballot in 2012.

But SB 202 moved that rainy-day fund measure back to 2014. Gov. Brown made a decent argument for the policy wisdom of doing that – should California be setting aside money for a rainy day in bad economic times like these – but that didn’t change the fact that the 2010 deal was broken.

GOP legislators watching this got a clear message. Don’t bother making a deal with the Democrats. Even if you get something you like in the deal, it can be quickly taken away.

The episode is a reminder that Republicans aren’t the only unreasonable people in Sacramento.

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