The deal is terrible. Pass it now.

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

The tax increases don’t make sense. (Sales tax hikes in a bad recession—not smart. And where’s that severance tax?). The spending cuts are huge. And another $11 billion in borrowing. Who’s going to loan us the money? And where’s the economic stimulus the governor talked about.

It’s a terrible deal, one that will hurt the state and its economy.

And the legislature needs to pass it immediately. (Don’t bother reading it, lawmakers. It’ll only upset you).

Why? Because the costs of a horrible deal are lesser than the costs of no deal. The state is simply out of time, short on the cash to pay its bills. Even with this deal, the state will still be short of cash for the foreseeable future. But a deal, any deal that has tax increases and spending cuts, allows California to step away from the abyss and begin to dig out of its hole and restore its credit rating.

The costs of waiting – millions were being lost simply because of delay, as the credit rating sunk and bills went unpaid – were unacceptable. The state was losing money simply because there was no deal. And a state that’s out of cash can’t afford to throw away money.

There should be a commitment from Democratic and Republican leadership that the deal will be revisited, changed, tweaked and improved. But for those on the left or the right who want to initiate recalls and mount heads on sticks, the only appropriate target would be any elected officials who engage in any more brinksmanship and attempt to hold this thing up.

The Governor, in particular, needs to show some political leadership and make clear that the penalty of blocking this thing will be eternal hellfire, rendition to Syria, certain death. There’s nothing good about this deal, except for the fact that there is a deal. And for now, that’s enough.

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