Tag Archives: California

Governor Brown’s Most Important Legacy

Gov Brown

 


dog_withboneDuring Governor Brown’s time in office, those in the Capitol community trying to assess his support or opposition of legislation have often factored one big question into the mix:
How will he view his decision in terms of his legacy?

 This was on full view in his State of the State address, which confirmed the long-held conventional wisdom that Brown wants to leave a lasting legacy for the Golden State on par with his father, Governor Pat Brown, whose contributions to the state’s infrastructure are legendary. This helps explain the Governor’s fixation on building the Delta tunnels, high-speed rail and zipping off to Europe for climate change summits.

Whether he is able to have success with those lofty global ideals is hard to say, which is a polite way of saying he may fall far short. Time will tell.

But Brown’s legacy has been astonishing and praiseworthy for something far more mundane: He simply has been the adult in the room more often than not.

His concern about the fragile nature of the California economy, his attention to the ticking time bomb of public pension obligations and his disciplined focus on building a rainy-day fund for the state is a major accomplishment – especially when he has had to deal with a liberal Legislature that thinks it prints money and seemingly believes every problem – real and imagined – requires new laws, bans or an expensive government program.

Governor Brown has not been perfect. He has signed some serious anti-business measures into law that could very well come back to haunt the state. Many of his agencies are rogue fiefdoms wildly running amok without checks and balances. But the fact at one time or another he has upset those along the entire political spectrum suggests he has been entirely beholden to few, if any, special interests save Californians and California.

The state’s moderates and independents should be grateful for his fiscal restraint and ability to balance the books. Hopefully, the next governor has been taking copious notes on this vital yet hardly sexy topic.

Governor Brown should be proud of his legacy and contributions to California no matter what happens to his massive pet projects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under California Legislature, Politics

Achtung: A Consensus Crisis

dog_snarlingAs gridlock once again descends on Capitol Hill in the form of a government shutdown, a recent Washington Post piece by E.J. Dionne, Jr. provides a thoughtful perspective on how the United States is falling behind in much more than education and the global economy. Our history as a government of and by the people is also at stake. We are no longer leaders in the art of compromise and consensus building.

Germany, our post-WWII progeny, has something to teach us on that front.

“The Germans don’t buy the zero-sum thinking that government and markets — or liberty and equality — can’t be pursued jointly,”  Jackson Janes, president of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies told Dionne. “They argue about the same issues we face — how much social, how much market and how much government do we want? — but their starting point is that all three should be working together: capitalism with a strong welfare dimension steered by a government which is an ally, not the enemy.”

Berlin Wall

California leads the nation in many ways – some good, some bad. Our state’s recent history suggests that Washington is following Sacramento’s inability to develop consensus in legislation, regulation and public policy issues.  The extremists on both ends of the spectrum too often hold the state, and now the nation, hostage. Ironically, when government shuts down, our elected officials still collect their paychecks and are frequently immune from the impacts of the laws and red tape they impose.

California and the U.S. have built their own version of the Berlin Wall with ideology, not concrete. Instead of dividing people, they are severing the ability to hammer out bipartisan agreements that constructively benefit the citizenry. A mantra of this blog is bipartisanship. But that appears to simply be vapor, a naive dream.

Sometimes I think what we need, if not a forceful third party of moderates from both sides of the aisle, is a parliamentary system. Multiple parties would force coalitions. And gridlock could be broken up at anytime by calling for a vote of confidence at any time irrespective of the eternal election cycle.

When it comes to learning from Germany, Dionne sums it up nicely:

“Germans applied to their own best traditions some useful pointers about reaching workable compromises in a democracy fromus — from the America of FDR, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Why do Germans remember ideas from our history that the shutdowners dearly want us to forget?”

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Filed under California Legislature, Media, partisanship