If California Is in Civil War, Why Don't Brown's Plans Match Moment?

Watching Gov. Jerry Brown bang his head against the brick wall that is California's broken governance system is enough to make a person bang their own head against the wall.

Brown keeps trying the same budget strategy -- convincing Republicans to give him voters to put temporary tax extensions on the ballot -- even though it's not working because...

1. few Republicans would even contemplate voting for anything that feels like taxes,

2. the potential price of getting even a handful of GOP legislators to vote for a tax vote involves changes that would add billions to the deficit.

3. the tax extensions Brown wants won't fix the budget problem -- they'll partially paper it over for a few more years as the budget system, all by itself, continues to make the hole deeper.

The only logical way out is for Brown to build a coalition for a redesign of the budget process and the governing system itself. But Brown won't go there.

Instead, his public statements have been bipolar. In one breath, he talks about California facing a crisis of democratic governance -- and compares it to the Civil War. In the next, he suggests that there's no other way to deal with the budget than his narrow plan, which can't work politically or fiscally. It's as though he has stopped listening to himself -- or has stopped thinking about what he's saying.

The governor recently told the CBS affiliate in LA, that “We are at a point of civil discord, and I would not minimize the risk to our country and to our state. It is not trivial. I’ve been around a long time, I’m a student of history, I’m a student of contemporary politics. We are facing what I would call a ‘regime crisis.’ The legitimacy of our very democratic institutions are in question.” If he really believes that, how do temporary tax extensions solve that problem?

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