Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SacBee Walters Praises Moderate Democrats, Underpraises Republicans

Political commentator Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee suggests that pro-business Democrats are flexing their own muscle. Those stubborn moderate Democrats should shake the hand of every Republican, who stood strong against tax and fee increases. If Republicans had remained a non-essential minority in the state legislature, Democrats standing on their own against more government intrusion would have faced badgering and harassment from liberal lobbyists and union groups intent on helping themselves at the expense of everyone else.

Dan Walters

Walters sets the scene of the emergency legislative session:

As the final fortnight of the 2015 legislative session began, Capitol handicappers were predicting a concluding cascade of landmark legislation.

The Legislature did take significant steps on medical marijuana regulation and the right of terminally ill patients to end their lives.

Initially, the assisted-suicide bill was shelved for another session. I still cannot understand why any set of interests would want to make it easier for people to kill themselves, even if they face terminal illness.  On a policy note, California never committed suicide, but was murdered by Jerry Brown's Big Government policies, including expansion of collective bargaining rights to public sector employees. The California Teachers Association owns the Democratic Party in Sacramento, and dictates what many of them support or reject.

Or  is that really the case after all? 

However, as the biggest measures stalled one-by-one, the session ended early Saturday with a whimper, not a bang.

The most evident casualties were ambitious new standards for reducing carbon dioxide emissions that Gov. Jerry Brown hoped would make a global splash – blocked by a stubborn band of moderate Democrats in the Assembly.

This "stubborn band" would probably face serious backlashes in their own districts 

Meanwhile, Republicans’ equally stubborn opposition to tax increases stalled several other issues, including new levies for transportation and health care that Brown sought.

Yes! Thank you, California GOP!

Brown was furious that he had to remove the core feature of Senate Bill 350, reducing petroleum in automobile and truck fuel by 50 percent by 2030, to salvage other, relatively mild carbon reduction goals.

During an unusually lengthy news conference with legislative leaders, Brown excoriated the oil industry for its multi-million-dollar campaign to block the fuel cuts.

Governor Brown is biting that hand that feeds many Americans, and permits them to feed their families instead of their cars. Gas prices are thankfully going down, and the last thing struggling California consumers need is higher energy prices at the pump. Many of us not only remember the low gas prices at the beginning of the year, but even a decade ago. How about $0.98 a gallon in late 2001?

How else have moderate Democrats managed more strength to push back Governor Brown's more aggressive Big Green agenda? Walters points to the redistricting reforms:

One aspect is the moderate Democratic bloc which emerged from independent redistricting, the top-two primary system, adroit maneuvering by business groups and the state’s east-west political divide.

Many, if not most, of the bloc’s dozen-plus members represent relatively low-income inland districts whose residents live paycheck-to-paycheck, depend on cars for transportation and are leery about costs of “decarbonization” that affluent environmentalists such as billionaire Tom Steyer espouse.

Imagine the political upheaval from low-income residents who do not have the time or resources to move to another state. Instead of voting with their feet, they would have stormed the polls and kicked Democratic incumbents out of office in 2016.

Unfortunately, this pro-business bloc helped kill some good bills, like Assemblyman David Hadley's reform to end unjust civil asset forfeiture:

They included several measures that business groups had targeted and a bill to reform asset seizure that law enforcement groups opposed.

Final Reflection

California Conservatives have more reasons to celebrate the redistricting reforms, which have forced legislators to pay attention to their constituents rather than pressure groups lined up along  state house walls. I still believe that Walters underplayed the power of the solid Republican legislators, who held hands and balked at raising costs on middle and low income families. Yes, moderate Democrats pushed back against "Big Green" Jerry Brown, but they would have possessed less spirit or willingness of relying on a still non-essential Republican minority.

Republican Party leaders should focus on those pro-business "moderate" Democrats in future races and look to pick up more seats in the next two election cycles.

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