Who knew there were so many poverty fighters among Democrats in the legislature? Heck, who knew that there were Republican poverty fighters too? And why are so many coming out of the woodwork now, in the wake of yet another austerity budget from Gov. Jerry Brown?

I share many of the concerns about the need to restore – and, more broadly, make smarter and more stable – health and human service programs that were decimated in the recession. But the Democratic interest in the subject – after nearly a decade of Democrats cutting such programs without remorse – is curious. In fact, here’s a more than fair question.

Where the heck were you poverty fighters last fall?

More specifically, where were you when Prop 2 was sailing through to victory without debate?

The question is pointed because Prop 2 is gobbling up billions for debt repayment and rainy day fund that otherwise would be available to do smart things with programs that could benefit the poor. And the answer is that virtually all of these Democratic fighters went along with Prop 2. Some campaigned for it, and all backed a governor who not only hates debt (even at a time when debt is historically cheap) and is profoundly skeptical about social services.

For that matter, where were all the champions of higher education that we hear from now – so worried about tuition cost – when Prop 2 was sailing through and thus locking up money that could have gone to the university systems?

I’m not second-guessing. I was first-guessing back in the fall, a very lonely voice against Prop 2. But now it’s part of the constitution. And when you put its complicated formulas on top of the state’s existing maze of complicated budget and spending formulas, and combine it with our tax limitations, it’s clear that the Brown budget is exactly the kind of budget we’re going to see for the next 15 years (the duration of Prop 2’s main provisions). Because this is the only kidn of budget that’s necessary.

The reality is that those crying about the need to spend more on universities and poverty fighting are themselves responsible for making it harder to find the money to spend.

So what’s their excuse for backing Prop 2? Did they not realize its impact? If so, then shame on them for not reading Fox & Hounds, which laid out the pros and cons. I also recommend looking up a back and forth I had with Phil Ung on Twitter, where he made plain that Prop 2 was about putting the state’s creditors first (and about tying the hands of legislators).

But I don’t think ignorance is the more likely explanation. A cynical view is more accurate here. The Democratic Prop 2 supporters now raising questions about spending and poverty and higher education access are, for the most part, crying crocodile tears.