Rise of the recall

California has never been afraid to recall its political leaders.  The latest effort to recall GOP assemblyman, Anthony Adams, failed, but disgruntled citizens are targeting state senator, Bob Huff, next.  In an editorial, the LA Times scolds California Republicans for pursuing a counterproductive strategy that will hurt both the party and the state in upcoming budget talks.

Fiscally conservative Republicans were angry with Adams because he voted in the affirmative for a series of temporary tax increases to plug a $26 billion budget deficit and to send voters a package of special election measures that would prolong the increases and limit spending.  Adams claims that he put his duty to California ahead of his no-tax pledge.  The LA Times praises Adams and appeals to him as a prime example, for both parties, of a lawmaker who focuses on the public good instead of abiding by blind partisanship.  The Times also makes a valid point when it reveals that a special recall election would have cost a whopping $1 million to execute, a price tag that perhaps should have caused a few fiscal conservatives to reconsider the entire effort.

Although the Adams recall attempt didn’t gain sufficient traction, fiscal conservatives are now targeting GOP state senator, Bob Huff. Unlike Adams, Huff actually voted against the tax increases in the budget, but then supported the measures when sent directly to the voters.  The editorial then goes on to mention several other GOP lawmakers that will likely face a stiff backlash in upcoming elections, and warns that partisan anger will likely fuel even more rancor and gridlock at the next budget deficit negotiations.

The editorial certainly draws attention to the ill-effects of strident partisanship, while extolling the virtue of independent-minded bipartisanship.  However, it ignores the root cause of the golden state’s economic problems.  California is mired in back-breaking debt because it borrows and spends too much taxpayer money.  And despite the chronic overspending, the most common antidote proposed by the state legislature is some form of tax increase.  Yet, as we have seen, several tax increases have failed to stem the tide of crippling deficits. Even despite a number of partial cuts, out of control spending still rules the day in Sacramento.  

Another harsh reality is the fact that Democrats retain a significant majority in the legislature, yet have proved incapable of balancing the budget or restoring fiscal discipline.  Perhaps if more Democrats displayed greater bipartisanship and sided with the more fiscally conservative element of the GOP, then spending cuts, not tax increases, would be the more productive option in restoring fiscal sanity to a profligate state.  

So, while bipartisanship is a commendable endeavor on many levels, two issues must be considered.  First, bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship is a superficial exercise, for it is the quality and content of a policy that matters most.  Second, bipartisanship works both ways.  One party cannot condemn the other for a lack of bipartisanship, when it itself rarely adopts a bipartisan stance on core issues.    

Finally, grassroots anger is brewing not only in the GOP, but across the entire political spectrum.  Fiscally conservative Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and Third Party groups are growingly increasingly frustrated with the spendthrift ways of Sacramento.  They recognize that unless the someone (regardless of political affiliation) makes the tough decisions to reign in out of control spending, then a decade of massive deficits and punishing recession awaits.