Have You No Sense of Decency?

When Army special counsel Joseph Welch asked during the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings “Have you left no sense of decency?” he could just as easily have been addressing Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg Assembly Speaker John Perez and Governor Jerry Brown the political muscle behind the Proposition 30 tax increase.

These politicians would have voters believe if Sacramento does not get more money funding for schools must be cut. “Yes trigger cuts will go into effect and they’re part of the budget and it’s automatic” Brown told students at UCLA last week.

What’s wrong with this picture? First Brown and his allies increased spending by 6% this year over last — a remarkable feat in this sour economy but more easily understood when it is revealed that they are spending money they do not have which is why the Sacramento politicians are so desperate to raise taxes.

Second nothing about Proposition 30 requires cuts to schools in the event that it does not pass. The proposition makes no reference to trigger cuts. Trigger cuts are purely a creation of the politicians a way of threatening voters to get them to vote yes for higher taxes — pass 30 or we take it out on schools! It is just another budget gimmick from Sacramento.

When Proposition 30 fails the governor and the Legislature can immediately go back in and fully fund education. They simply need to have the will power to do it and to make the tough decisions that we are paying them to make instead of bucking it to voters with calls for higher taxes.

However there can be no doubt the Sacramento politicians continue to use threats to schools to advance their tax increase agenda because they know that above all other government programs Californians value education. They know that if they were to seek a tax increase to upgrade lawn care at government buildings to cover the raises they have just given to Capitol staffers or to build the bullet train to which they are committing $70 billion the peels of laughter emanating from voting booths would be deafening.

So the politicians are taking the gangster approach of intimidation and coercion to get the money they want from taxpayers. Senator Steinberg is an old hand at this technique. While campaigning for Proposition 1A Sacramento’s major tax increase on the 2009 Special Election ballot he suggested withholding basic state services to those areas whose representatives opposed the tax increase. Darrell “The Enforcer” Steinberg along with the governor and the speaker is again using thuggish threats — this time holding schools hostage — to get what he wants: More money so the Sacramento politicians can carry on with their irresponsible spending.

Gentlemen have you no sense of decency? How can you expect anyone to trust you when you threaten to hurt students and education as part of your desperate campaign to extort more from already overburdened taxpayers?

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.