July 10, 2005

HOPEFULLY HARRY REID IS LISTENING:

Election Strategy Drove Budget Accord: Taking the governor by surprise, Democrats surrendered on the state spending plan to better position themselves for fall ballot initiatives. (Evan Halper, July 10, 2005, LA Times)

It was early June, and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez was rallying his Democratic troops for a budget war with the Republican governor when he heard a rumor:

Before the battle was even fully engaged, the governor was shooting television ads depicting spending-addicted Democrats holding up things in an effort to feed their habit.

This posed a problem. The Democrats had spent months accusing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of breaking a promise to give money to schools, and polls showed the attacks were working, with voters losing faith in the governor's education plans. And with the deadline for passing a budget only days away, the Democrats were planning a fight to get back $3 billion for education with a new tax on the rich.

They knew GOP lawmakers would never go for the tax but figured that every time the Republicans blocked the proposal, a blizzard of headlines would paint them as unfriendly to education.

Now that calculation didn't look so smart. Nuñez, of Los Angeles, and his counterpart in the Senate, Don Perata of Oakland, had already been concerned that delaying the budget for a tax increase would play into Schwarzenegger's hands. Now it certainly would.

"The governor was using us as a blocking dummy," Perata said.

Their strategy upended, the two leaders had to scramble.

What they did next surprised everyone in the Capitol, including Schwarzenegger, who now finds himself preparing to sign the earliest budget in five years: Rather than charge into the fray that is normally the highlight of a contentious lawmaking year, Democrats surrendered


Which does at least establish the fact that you can have an expedient legislative process if Democrats are beaten into surrender.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 10, 2005 6:46 AM
Comments

Everyone keeps talking about how Arnold is a political neophyte, how he's falling in the polls, how stupid he is, yet, from what I can see, he's repeatedly given the Democrats atomic wedgies, taken their lunch money, and stuffed them all into the gym lockers.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at July 10, 2005 11:01 AM

HD - Wasn't that what he was elected to do?

Posted by: erp at July 10, 2005 1:11 PM

Which does at least establish the fact that you can have an expedient legislative process if Democrats are beaten into surrender.

In this instance, more like beaten to a stalemate.

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 10, 2005 1:14 PM

"In this instance, more like beaten to a stalemate."

Which is still an improvement over the usual Get-Along Go-Along Stupid Party strategy of immediately surrendering at the first sign of a disappoving editioral.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 10, 2005 2:23 PM

Raoul, I'll grant you that.

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 10, 2005 3:25 PM
« JUST A MOUTHPIECE: | Main | CLOSING THE CAFETERIA: »