Today is the anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and if some of the misguided “Teapublicans” in Congress had their way, we would be experiencing a financial debt ceiling quake today. However, the good or bad news, depending on where you sit, is that the United States could be on the verge of becoming California.
Remember when California suffered the same stagnation that we see in Washington? Remember going without budgets with workers furloughed and IOUs being handed out instead of paychecks because Sacramento Republicans wouldn’t agree to tax increases and Democrats refused to stomach serious budget cuts?
Such intransigence made voters choose to be a one party state, with Democrats occupying every statewide office and supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature.
Without the legislative constipation on the budget, a mix of tax hikes and budget cuts, along with surprisingly strong tax revenues left us with a budget surplus.
But if you’re a Republican, obviously one-party rule has been dismaying. Because elections matter, a host of progressive legislation has come out of Sacramento in recent weeks.
Just last month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 60 granting undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain driver’s licenses. Ten years ago the issue sealed Gov. Gray Davis’ recall but this year there was little public outcry.
The governor also signed the Trust Act, which prohibits law enforcement from detaining illegal immigrants for deportation if they’re arrested for minor crimes and would otherwise be released. With this law, California has become a sanctuary state.
He didn’t stop there. Illegal immigrants can also be licensed to practice law in the state of California. And employers cannot retaliate against workers on the basis of citizenship. Welcome to the new, even bluer, California.
On abortion, Gov. Brown signed a law allowing midwives, nurse practitioners and physician assistants the ability to perform a certain type of first-trimester abortion. California is becoming even more progressive on choice while red states are busy turning back the clock.
On guns, Gov. Brown signed a ban on lead ammunition, a law requiring purchasers of rifles and shotguns to pass a written firearm safety test, and he extended the time a person who threatens violence can be prohibited from purchasing a gun to five years. Licensed psychotherapists must disclose to local law enforcement the identity of anyone who threatens an identifiable person.
I can’t imagine these laws sit well with many conservatives.
Many polls show the public blaming the GOP more than Democrats for our government woes. A recent Public Policy Polling survey shows the GOP is in danger of losing the House of Representatives in 2014.
What if the Democrats retake the House and hold the Senate in 2014? Imagine a scenario where the Democrats invoke the nuclear option removing the filibuster as a weapon of obstruction. Fifty votes (plus the vice president) will be a lot easier to come by than 60. The GOP could see nationally what California Republicans are watching here: a Republican party with no voice at all.
I like divided government when the parties compromise. All sides should be heard. But through brinksmanship and belligerence, Teapublicans may be pushing voters into turning the U.S. government into California. Peace.
Kelvin Wade is the author of “Morsels” Vols. I and II and lives in Fairfield. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.