Commentary: California's political parties and the fat cats they serve

The Fresno BeeMay 17, 2010 

"In California, special interests have very deep pockets. ... By spending huge amounts of money, they send an unmistakable message to political opponents and elected officials alike: 'We're ready, willing, and able to spend millions — you don't want to fight us.' What is good for the people of California matters less than what hurts or helps the individual interests of these groups." — California Fair Political Practices Commission

On Friday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger laid out his budget for the coming fiscal year. It's a typical Republican plan that puts our state's $20 billion shortfall squarely on the backs of single moms, the disabled, poor kids and seniors.

The same day, the state Democratic party — which claims to be the voice of the poor and the working man and woman — held its biggest fund-raiser of the year at a luxurious Pebble Beach golf resort.

For $20,000 to $60,000 each, contributors rubbed shoulders with Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles.

The only difference between Democrats and Republicans in California is that they answer to a different set of special interests. Regardless of their talking points, neither party cares about the people they feature in photo opportunities. Republicans don't answer to small business. Democrats don't stick up for foster kids and college students.

Both parties exist for the big guys, whether it's corporate America, public employee unions or Indian gaming casinos raking in Las Vegas-sized profits.

Reacting to Schwarzenegger's budget, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, claimed otherwise: "We will not be party to devastating children and families. Period. It's not why we came here, it's not what we believe in."

But devastating children and families is exactly what the Democrats did last year when they teamed with Schwarzenegger and a handful of Republican lawmakers to pass a budget that both eviscerated the public safety net and raised taxes. Any Democratic huffing and puffing in defense of the poor this year is just posturing.

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