When You Voted For Jerry Brown, Were You Under The Impression You Were Voting For A Democrat?
I mean, seriously, what the hell is Jerry Brown doing?
Let's set the stage. California is screwed, budget-wise. The governor just proposed yet another budget with a deficit the size of the Grand Canyon. UC tuition has gone up 300% in the last 10 years. Teachers, firefighters, county workers, police officers laid off, proposals to close our beloved parks. Foreclosure rate 2nd-highest in the nation. On and on.
But, dang! We're in the middle of the biggest movement opportunity to increase taxes on the 1% and generate more revenue than arguably ever before in California history. The Millionaires Tax of 2012, a ballot measure sponsored by Courage Campaign, California Federation of Teachers, California Nurses Assocation and ACCE that is currently circulating for signatures, polls at freaking 70% among likely voters for November-- the highest I've ever seen a tax-raising measure polled. What does the measure do? It does what it sounds like-- raises taxes by 3% on every dollar a millionaire earns over $1 million and by 5% on every dollar over $2 million. That's it. No one making less than $1 million pays a penny more. How many people does that affect? 13,000 millionaires living in California-- 0.4% of Californians. That's right, it's not even taxing the 1%, it's taxing the frigging 0.4%, not to mention all those Facebook folks about to become millionaires by virtue of the IPO. Oh, and it would also do something about people like this who don't pay enough:
How much would it generate? $6 billion a year (up to $9.5 billion in the first year alone, almost enough to close the entire goddamn budget deficit). It's permanent, and sends the money straight to counties (does not pass Go, does not let Sacramento get its hands on it) to re-hire all those laid off teachers, firefighters, police officers, staff at senior center, and fix the potholes. Oh, and it also re-funds the UCs and CSU. Easy to understand, simple, popular, good public policy, the right measure at the right time. And just in case you missed it, polls at 70% among likely voters.
So how does our experienced problem-solving governor in his third term and umpteenth elected office overall, and his merry band of establishment Sacramento Democrats, screw it up? Let us count the ways he does:
• Proposes their own idiotic tax ballot measure that sucks in the following ways: (1) It raises sales taxes. Regressive and wildly unpopular. (2) It raises taxes on those making over $250,000 instead of just those making over $1 million. Unpopular (a lot of Californians think they might make that much one day). (3) Sends all the new revenue straight to the General Fund in Sacramento instead of counties so they can spend it on refunding prisons or who knows what. Politically stupid and unpopular (the legislature has a lower approval rating than Congress, if you can believe it). (4) Lasts only 5 years, so we have to do this all over again when, because of Prop 13, we have no property tax revenue coming in and income/sales tax revenue drops off a cliff when we enter another recession, so more cuts on the way. Plain stupid public policy.
• Raises money to pay for signature-gathering and the campaign from the following entities all of whom, by the way, have business before the governor: Occidental Petroleum ($250,000), Blue Shield ($100,000), Kaiser ($250,000), American Beverage Association ($250,000) CA Hospital Association ($500,000), various casinos ($375,000), PG&E ($25,000), California Beer and Beverage Distributors ($75,000). Corrupt, scummy and not exactly good press.
• Gets all his buddies in the Legislature, namely Speaker Perez and Senate President Steinberg, to kow-tow to his line and decree no Legislature Democrat shall endorse the Millionaires Tax of 2012, they shall only endorse raising taxes on their own constituents by way of his stupid measure. Right, because in this Occupy/99% environment, I really want my caucus members explaining to reporters why they oppose raising taxes on greedy millionaires and want to raise them on all the poor people in my district. Politically suicidal and immoral.
• Has his loyal sidekick, political adviser Steve Glazer (the one with the odd homoerotic twitter handle @steve4jerry) to tweet various nasty things about the folks working to pass the Millionaires Tax of 2012, such as that they are in political denial and a circular firing squad. Divisive and obnoxious not to mention the fact that his boss is backing the less-popular measure that's more likely to fail and screw a lot of people over if it passes. If you are concerned about a firing squad, Steve, maybe you should, uh... stop firing?
• Goes to the CA Dem Party Convention two weekends ago in San Diego to tell a ballroom full of activists and delegates that he hasn't quite figured out all this tax measure stuff yet, but don't worry: "you'll get your marching orders soon enough." Haughty and just plain stupid. Thanks Jerry, I was waiting for you to tell me what to do.
• And just this week, releases a made-up poll of just 500 people that tell him what he wants to hear: multiple measures on one ballot will lead to all of them failing. Although funny enough, the same poll shows that the Millionaires Tax of 2012 is actually more popular than his, the 4th straight poll to do so. Transparent tactic.
• And the icing on the cake: rumors fly yesterday that he's proposing a 24% fees hike (over 4 years) for the UC system. So that's right, if you're planning on going to college this fall, you can expect to pay a quarter more than the number you're staring at today. But don't blame Jerry, he's only the one proposing a ballot measure that doesn't fund the UC to help keep fees down while attacking the one frigging ballot measure that does.
Here's one thing I know: if someone has to drop their measure, it should be Jerry dropping his regressive, 99%-taxing, Sacramento-funding, insider establishment politically stupid bullshit measure, not the coalition trying to capture the energy behind the Occupy movement and make millionaires pay their fair share.
Here's another thing I know-- if someone outside your grocery store asks you to sign to put the Millionaires Tax of 2012 on the ballot, sign. Then download a signature petition and ask all the friends who live in your county to sign, and mail it in.
I don't know what the hell Jerry Brown is doing, or what kind of political genius Jerry Brown thinks he is, but I ain't waiting around for his marching orders, and neither should you.