September 2009 Archives

One need go no further than Assembly Budget Chair Noreen Evans comments on the Parsky report. She likens this to a Leona Helmsley coup. For those who remember this delightful billionaire, she was America's version of Marie Antoinette who say famously stated that those who couldn't afford to eat bread should simply "eat cake". - HBJ
 
Here are Assemblymember Evans comments:

Tax Reform For Billionaires

The Commission on the 21st Century Economy, tasked with crafting proposals to modernize California's tax policy and ease the volatility of its revenues, released its final report today. Leona Helmsley would be proud.

Helmsley - a billionaire New York City hotel operator and real estate developer sentenced to prison for tax evasion - famously said, "Only the little people pay taxes." With all the tax cuts being proposed by the Commission for big business and the wealthy, her observation will be true in California.

If adopted, the report's recommendations - available here - would dramatically reshape tax policy in California and place the burden squarely on our already over-burdened, underpaid, and under-employed working families. These recommendations include:
• Reducing the number of tax brackets from six to two. The new tax rate would be 2.75 percent for taxable income up to $56,000 for joint filers ($28,000 for single) and 6.5 percent for taxable income above that amount;
• Eliminating the 8.84 percent corporate tax and the $800 minimum franchise tax;
• Eliminating the current 5 percent state sales tax, with the exception of the sales tax on gas and diesel fuels which would continue to be dedicated to transportation;
• Establishing a new tax, not to exceed 4 percent, applied to the net receipts of businesses. Small businesses with less than $500,000 in gross annual receipts would be exempt from this tax;
• Creating an independent tax dispute forum - This forum would provide taxpayers with a forum for resolving disputes with the state; and
• Increasing the state's Rainy Day Reserve Fund from 5 percent of revenues to 12.5 percent and restricting the government's ability to use the reserves.

By flattening our tax policy, these recommendations coddle CEOs and billionaires while kicking California families to the curb. No wonder the Commission shut the public out of the process to complete its work in secret.

It is equally important to note what is not recommended by the report, but would have contributed to increasing and stabilizing the state's tax base: a new carbon tax, an oil severance tax, extending the sales tax to certain services, and requiring corporate-owned real estate to be reassessed at market value on a regular basis.

California families are struggling to make ends meet. This recession has produced record unemployment, fueled massive wage reductions, and resulted in huge sales declines. Increasing the tax burden on hard-working families cannot fairly and reliably fill the huge revenue gap created by reducing income taxes on the wealthy and eliminating corporate taxes.

Tax reform decisions are too important for experimental guesswork. But this is exactly what the Commission's report is urging. While the Commission asserts that its proposals will create a tax structure that will more reliably support state services, that assertion is unsupported by the available evidence. In fact, the Commission has thus far refused to make available to the public studies and information that form the basis of its proposals. Adopting the Commission's proposals would be playing Russian roulette with California's future.

Originally posted at Assemblymember Noreen Evans' Budget Blog

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Dead Before Arrival

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The COTCE report is due today, calling for an end to corporate taxes in the state, as well as a "flat" tax -- cutting taxes on the rich and making up for the lost revenue by ... well you can see where that has to go.

Mr. Parsky has been working in a shroud of secrecy (in violation of the spirit, if not the letter of the group's mandate) so we won't know just exactly what his plan to help the rich calls for until the news conference being called by the Governor for today. We'll have our responses and action-options for you here as soon as we've had a chance to review and analyze just how tainted this belated and flagrantly lop-sided Parsky Report is.

This plan should be and probably is dead before arrival.

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A "study" called Cost of State Regulations on California Small Business Study makes some wild, wild claims!  From the summary,

The study finds that the total cost of [business]regulation to the State of California is $492.994 billion which is almost five times the State's general fund budget, and almost a third of the State's gross product. The cost of regulation results in an employment loss of 3.8 million jobs which is a tenth of the State's population.

Scary.  Wild.  Mostly, though, just unbelievable.  I wonder who paid for the study?

KQED's Capital Notes blog tracked down some of the sources of the wild, wild claims.

The authors previously released a study wildly, wildly claiming that California's AB32 climate change legislation will cost California's small businesses $182 billion a year and cost 1.1 million jobs.  I wonder who paid for that study? 

For this "regulations" report they relied data from on a Forbes Magazine report listing California as a bad state in which to do business.  The Forbes report relies on data from the Pacific Research Institute.

This reminded me that the Pacific Research Institute released a 2007 "study" making the wild, wild claim that allowing people to sue companies that harm them costs $865 billion per year.  I wonder who paid for this study?

David Dayen writes about this at Calitics,

Basically, regulations take your wives, enslave your children, throw your ice cream on the ground, and write "loser" on your chest in sun tan lotion when you fall asleep at the beach.  It's amazing how in line this study is with standard conservative tropes about onerous regulations and big government.  I wonder why that is?
I think I'll do a "study" that makes a claim that conservative "studies" cost us more than $12 trillion a year.  The trouble is, who would pay me to write it?



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From the G20 in Pittsburgh

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I am in Pittsburgh, at the G20 Summit which begins shortly.  The G-20 is a meeting of the Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of "systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy."  This is quickly becoming the main economic forum for world leaders, replacing the G7, G8 etc., and including countries like Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and others that were not part of such meetings previously.

The main issues at this summit are:

  • Economic restructuring to prevent another collapse, including regulation of banks, with banker pay a key component of what other countries are identifying as a problem,
  • Trade imbalances,
  • Climate issues,
  • Jobs.
The city is actually very quiet so far, with most businesses closed, and all roads closed to traffic.  The bridges into the city are also closed to vehicles.  There is a several-block security perimeter around the convention center, consisting of a security fence and literally thousands of police and military.

So far there have been a few demonstrations.  People from Burma and Ethiopia marched.  Later a large demonstration by Tibetans.  There were four or five guys with a big sign about making week legal, and doing some serious shouting...  But the event really kicks off later when the President and First Lady welcome the delegations to Pittsburgh in a special ceremony.  Tomorrow is a day of meetings and demonstrations.

I'll put up a post covering some of the issues next.

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The Governor's tax commission - called COTCE - is proposing a "flat tax."  Peter Schrag begins his LA Times op-ed today, A flat-wrong flatter-tax plan, by writing,

The most obvious thing about the big, complicated tax reform scheme that will go to the Legislature this week is that millionaires would save an average of $109,000 a year.
Exactly.  When you understand your mission as helping the wealthy, as COTCE everything about this commission makes it appear they have done (the plan also eliminates the corporate income tax), what does that say about what is in store for the rest of us?

Hannah-Beth pointed this out the other day, in COTCE Parsky Commission: Even More Tax Breaks for the Wealthy,

Contact the Governor, Senate President Pro tem Darrell Steinberg and Speaker Karen Bass and tell them:

NO MORE GIVEAWAYS TO THOSE WHO HAVE THE MOST AT THE EXPENSE OF THE REST OF US. NO TO THE COTCE COMMISSION REPORT THAT CONTINUES TO PUSH ITS RIGHT-WING AGENDA BY GIVING TAX BREAKS TO THOSE WHO HAVE THE MOST  AND PUTTING THE BURDEN ON THOSE WHO HAVE THE LEAST.

 What we need is a tax system that is fair, places the most responsibility on those who have the most so that all Californians have the opportunity to get the best education possible; be safe in their homes, schools and on the streets; are able to access quality, affordable healthcare and live a life of dignity and respect, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Urge the Legislature to take up a tax reform package that incorporates the ideas and principles recommended to the COTCE Commission (which were thrown aside by Parsky and his wealthy cronies) but which would make the system fairer, promote jobs, protect the environment and reflect a  21st Century economy.

For information on contacting state elected officials click here.
Let's do what she suggested!  For information on contacting state elected officials click here.


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Just when you think you've seen it all, the Governor and his cronies pull another one on the people of California. While the economy created by the Bush "free-marketeers" has sent the country on an economic free-fall; while California sees its unemployment rate hit over 11% and while the number of Californians that have seen their incomes fall below the federal poverty level has increased to over 20% of the population, a report approved by a Governor's commission is recommending that we give a $14 Billion tax break to the wealthiest Californians.

The COTCE Commission (about which we've been blogging for the past few weeks) came up with its report Monday, September 14th. With unmitigated gall and indifference to the plight of California's hard working yet struggling middle-class and minimum-wage earners, multi-millionaire and Chair, Gerald Parsky has pushed through a set of proposals that will result in a boondoggle for the rich and an increase in burden to the rest of us. Added to this insulting charade, Parsky has snuck into the series of recommendations, a last minute play by Commissioner and right-wing think tanker, Michael Boskin, a proposal that calls for opening up the coast for new oil leases. And by the way, Mr. Boskin serves on the Board of Exxon/Mobil, something he has failed to disclose while making this last-minute end-run around the Commissions own rules. (Of course, with Parsky in cahoots, the rules have only applied to the progressive proposals which Parsky and buddies have buried).

For more on this disgraceful waste of taxpayer money, see CalBuzz series on this Commission including the article by Jean Ross' in Monday's Cal Buzz.

It's time to fight back. These "recommendations"  were supposed to be in the form of a consensus report. However, Parsky and company dropped that idea like a lead balloon when they realized that the progressives weren't about to agree to yet another giveaway to the rich while California's education, infra-structure, health care, public safety and human safety-nets have been torn to shreds by more and more tax breaks to the rich and loopholes to multi-national corporations. So when all bets were off, Parsky decided to go for the gold (although he himself is reputed to be worth hundreds of millions himself) and produce a lop-sided set of proposals that would only keep a corpse from laughing at their outlandishness. 

 This report shouldn't see the light-of-day and should be relegated to the trash heap where it belongs. But the Governor is going to try to may hay with it so it's up to us, the people of California, upon whom the burden of giving away yet more to those who have the most already, must rise up. Taxes are supposed to be about fairness and investment in the programs and services that benefit the community.

 Contact the Governor, Senate President Pro tem Darrell Steinberg and Speaker Karen Bass and tell them:

NO MORE GIVEAWAYS TO THOSE WHO HAVE THE MOST AT THE EXPENSE OF THE REST OF US. NO TO THE COTCE COMMISSION REPORT THAT CONTINUES TO PUSH ITS RIGHT-WING AGENDA BY GIVING TAX BREAKS TO THOSE WHO HAVE THE MOST  AND PUTTING THE BURDEN ON THOSE WHO HAVE THE LEAST.

 What we need is a tax system that is fair, places the most responsibility on those who have the most so that all Californians have the opportunity to get the best education possible; be safe in their homes, schools and on the streets; are able to access quality, affordable healthcare and live a life of dignity and respect, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Urge the Legislature to take up a tax reform package that incorporates the ideas and principles recommended to the COTCE Commission (which were thrown aside by Parsky and his wealthy cronies) but which would make the system fairer, promote jobs, protect the environment and reflect a  21st Century economy.

For information on contacting state elected officials click here.

Let's take back our state and create a future that is fair to ALL Californians, not just the wealthy.


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The Commission on the 21st Century Economy, known as the "Parsky Commission" and COTCE is supposed to be figuring out how to reform the state's tax structure.  Back when the commission was announced Brian at Calitics wrote that he was hopeful that the Republican domination of the commission would lead to some solutions that were both sensible and that Republicans could vote for.  In Gerald Parsky, Bush acolyte, to head tax commission he wrote,

For some background, Parsky is the former chair of George W. Bush's California campaigns in 2000 and 2004.

[. . .] As a Republican with a strong background supporting Bush and McCain, Parsky will presumably have a better shot at convincing some of the Republican legislators of the importance of some of these reforms.  . . .  He's raised millions of dollars for Republican candidates, so if money counts, and it does, he should have the ear of the GOP legislators.  In many ways we need a prominent Republican voice on this commission, the Republicans need cover from a big-time money guy who has a track record on the GOP private sector trickle-down mumbo jumbo.
But no, instead the commission has floated one proposal after another designed to shift taxes from the wealthy and corporations to the rest of us.  There is the flat tax, for example, which lowers taxes at the top and pays for it by raising taxes on the rest of us.  There is the idea to get rid of taxes on corporations.  Etc., Etc.  The sensible idea of a pollution tax has been sidelined.

In Trying to Hide More Tax Breaks for the Wealthy, Hannah-Beth Jackson writes,
In that spirit, what is the first thing Parsky recommends? As the first order of business, he proposes a flat tax which will blow another $14 Billion hole in the state's already reeling general fund. But given his decision that one of the criteria of this commission is "revenue neutrality," ... somebody or something must pick up the slack. So in the tradition of the Bush tax cuts, where virtually all the benefits went to the wealthiest 1% of Americans, Mr. Parsky would have the rest of us paying more.
Then, yesterday, out of the blue, a different idea was introduced: expand offshore oil drilling.  This idea came from (surprise of surprises) Michael Boskin, who is on the Board of Exxon!

Calbuzz has been following this.  From Slimy Parsky Oil Play and a Yorba Linda Lecher

The recommendation came as a shock, not only because the offshore issue was only casually discussed during the commission's months of hearings, but also because it deepened the atmosphere of secrecy and sleight-of-hand in which Parsky assembled the agenda for the panel's final, crucial meeting. ...

The proposal for more offshore drilling seems to have worked its way onto the commission's plate at least in part at the request of conservative Hoover Institution economist Michael Boskin, who also sits on the board of Exxon Mobil.

So here we go again.  Another last-minute, shock-doctrine attack, this time on the environment, this time enriching oil companies.  note that the idea does not include asking the oil companies topay for the oil they take from us and sell back to us.  Calbuzz,

The recommendation, sure to draw the ire of environmentalists and coastal legislators, pointedly does not suggest imposing a new severance tax on oil companies. California is the only oil-producing state that does not have such a tax, which is being pushed in the legislature by several members of the Assembly, including Assemblymen Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, and Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont.

BTW: There's no frigging way the agenda and agenda packet was ready early enough for the public to have legal notice. Not that Parsky seems to give a rat's butt.

Brian at Calitics in yesterday's Parsky adds Oil Drilling to His Recommendation, writes,

How oil drilling got into a so-called tax commission shouldn't be a surprise when there was a faux transparency.  The website laid out a slew of emails and written conversations, but apparently Parsky and his cronies were working on something else entirely.

This is not the process that gets to determine whether we will set up oil rigs off of the entirety of our coast line.  That is an entirely seperate conversation, and frankly Mr. Parsky, I don't care one iota what you think about that.  Not that I really much cared about what you thought about our revenue system either at this point, but this was not your assigned task and frankly none of your business.

It's nice to see that ExxonMobil has its dirty hooves in just about political conversation where it can possibly make a buck. But if ever anybody thought that the Parsky Plan had any credibility as any sort of unbiased scheme, well, that can just about be written off right about now.

Even though this is health care week we need people to make some noise about this.  Hannah-Beth writes,
The way Mr. Parsky is running the show, his welfare for the wealthy and questionable corporate giveaways are all he wants to consider. He thinks he is running out the clock with his wealthy cronies way ahead, but we can let him know that feathering the beds of the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and the neediest of us is so not going to happen.

To help let them know this isn't where we want the state to go, please send your comments to the public comment section of the COTCE website at comment@cotce.ca.gov and ask that your comments be posted.


Tell them NO to reducing the personal income tax on the wealthy and NO to their hide-the-ball efforts to push through a proposal without the necessary public debate. These issues are too important to the future of our state to be handled so secretively and so obviously in favor of the rich at the expense of the rest of the people of California.

Also, send a quick email to our legislative leaders Darryl Steinberg at Senator.Steinberg@senate.ca.gov  and Karen Bass at speaker.bass@assembly.ca.gov  will help put pressure on the Commission to back off these outrageous approaches to our state's difficult tax situation and force greater transparency in what they're doing.



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When Assembly Speaker Karen Bass announced she was going to create a special committee to consider reforming the tax structure in California, the Governor decided that he would beat her to the punch and announced, with his typical over-the-top braggadocio, that he was setting up a special commission to do so. In typical hyperbole he named it the Commission on the 21st Century Economy. It currently operates under the acronym COTCE.

The Governor announced the Commission would be comprised of fourteen people. He decided that he would pick seven, including the Chair, and the Legislature would select the other seven.  The Governor selected Gerald Parsky to chair this important work. Parsky is a right-winger who is reputed to be charming, nonetheless. Of course, his idea of open and frank discussions about how to change the "volatile" tax system is to give tax breaks to big corporations and his wealthy buddies, and make the middle and lower classes pick up the difference.

In that spirit, what is the first thing Parsky recommends? As the first order of business, he proposes a flat tax which will blow another $14 Billion hole in the state's already reeling general fund. But given his decision that one of the criteria of this commission is "revenue neutrality," meaning we're not going to do anything to expand very badly needed state revenues when times get better, somebody or something must pick up the slack. So in the tradition of the Bush tax cuts, where virtually all the benefits went to the wealthiest 1% of Americans, Mr. Parsky would have the rest of us paying more. Since such an idea is outrageously unfair, most of the experts assumed Mr. Parsky was proposing this transfer from rich to poor as an opening salvo which he would then graciously remove from the table in lieu of other potentially unreasonable and untested measures. But with the audacity of right-wing politicians today, Mr. Parsky continue to push this idea--- as if the billions and billions of cuts California has just made to its educational system and safety net weren't enough.

To add to the unfairness, this Commission, which came with great fanfare that it would be open, non-partisan and even seek consensus in its decision-making, has yet to post its report. This has been a consistent play by Parsky from the beginning of this Commission's tenure earlier this year.

The materials are rarely been provided in advance even to the Commissioners, let alone the public. Why does this matter? Well, it's supposed to meet tomorrow, Thursday, September 10, 2009, to consider the numerous recommendations (some of which actually have merit but haven't been given any consideration) and vote on a plan to send to the Legislature. Mr. Parsky and the Governor want us to change the tax structure in California without even 24 hours to consider what it is ultimately recommending to the Legislature be done. Meanwhile the right-wing "naysayers" on the health care bill are upset that they've only had several months to consider the various proposals that the U.S. Congress has put forth on that issue!

What we can do now:

It is important to expose this fraud NOW. The Governor is putting lots of pressure on the legislature to consider tax reform. He's called a "special session" of the Legislature to implement the "recommendations" in the next few weeks.--- whatever they may be. While there is a desperate need to reform the way California generates income to assure it can provide the necessary programs and services the public demands, there has been inadequate opportunity to consider the various proposals and options that have come from many different perspectives. The way Mr. Parsky is running the show, his welfare for the wealthy and questionable corporate giveaways are all he wants to consider. He thinks he is running out the clock with his wealthy cronies way ahead, but we can let him know that feathering the beds of the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and the neediest of us is so not going to happen.

To help let them know this isn't where we want the state to go, please send your comments to the public comment section of the COTCE website at comment@cotce.ca.gov and ask that your comments be posted.

Tell them NO to reducing the personal income tax on the wealthy and NO to their hide-the-ball efforts to push through a proposal without the necessary public debate. These issues are too important to the future of our state to be handled so secretively and so obviously in favor of the rich at the expense of the rest of the people of California.

While the Commission has a number of items on-the-table worthy of further reporting, the first thing that must be done to assure our future is to throw out any notion that we should reduce the responsibilities of the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share. That time is now.

For more on this important but terribly under-reported issue, go to:

http://www.cbp.org/pdfs/2009/090902_CBP_Letter_to_Cotce.pdf


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In April we posted A Warning About The Tea Parties here.  The post warned:

They are not what they claim to be.  They are not "spontaneous" or "grassroots."  They are another corporate-funded campaign to trick people into supporting more cut taxes for the rich.

. . . The events have been widely promoted by corporate-funded conservative PR professionals who specialize in "astroturf."  This is a term for the use of money to create an appearance of widespread "grassroots" support.  Currently the corporate-funded conservative lobbying groups Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity, are organizing the events and conservative media including talk radio and FOX News are widely promoting them.  Support appears to be coming from Koch Industries, the largest privately-owned company in the country.
Many blogs and organizations have conducted research into these "tea party" groups, and warned that this corporate-built group was put together by lobbyists, for lobbyists, to further the goals of their corporate clients.  The names of the lobbyist groups organizing these events were posted along with their own documents proving they were behind the groups. Their strategies were exposed.  The entire operation was laid out in advance.

Then we watched the operation unfold.  Over the summer summer the groups were sent to Congressional town hall meetings that discussed health care reform.  They were given specific instructions to disrupt the meetings, while presenting an appearance of being ordinary citizens who are upset and against the health care reform.  Copies of these instructions were posted on the web.  The instructions include:

- Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: "Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington."

- Be Disruptive Early And Often: "You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep's presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep's statements early."

- Try To "Rattle Him," Not Have An Intelligent Debate: "The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions."

These are the actual instructions given to these groups. They were instructed to disrupt the town hall meetings, and not let others speak.  And this is what they did, across the country.  The entire time, blogs and organizations tracked this, showed how the lobbyist organizations were organizing it, showed where their online calendars were sending people to the different meetings, posted photographs of the signs they carried, that were printed by the lobbyist organizations, and showed newsletters printed by these lobbyist organizations taking credit for their work.

Now the summer is over, and we are witnessing phase two of the strategy.  The lobbyists and Republican members of Congress are going on news programs and claiming that "the public" opposes the health care reforms, because of the disruptions and occurred at town hall meetings!  This is utterly transparent to anyone who follows the news.  It was set in stone that they would say this now, even before the first town hall meetings began, because this was the strategy all along.  The script was written before the first town hall meeting:  make it look like people are upset at the health care reform, then try to kill health care reform based on these manufactured corporate astroturf performances.

Legislators: do not fall for it.

The oil and coal corporations have already started organizing these groups to show up and disrupt meetings on climate-change legislation, again creating a false appearance of public opposition to efforts to fight global warming.  Bloggers and organizations are writing about this now.
A leaked memo sent by an oil industry group reveals a plan to create astroturf rallies at which industry employees posing as "citizens" will urge Congress to oppose climate change legislation. 
Do not be fooled when it happens again.  And if you allow this lobbyist strategy to succeed this will become "the new normal" for politics in this country.  If the corporations get away with organizing people to disrupt meetings and intimidate legislators of course they will continue to 


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Republican Infrastructure

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Why are Republicans so successful, even though they only have a tiny minority representation in our state government?  Read on.

An invitation was sent for the upcoming California Republican Party Convention, which will be September 25-27 at the Rennaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, outside of Palm Springs.

Nestled at the base of the majestic Santa Rosa Mountains in the exclusive community of Indian Wells, the luxurious Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa is the desert's finest oasis. Offering unparalleled service and all the amenities of a world-class resort, Esmeralda invites you to indulge your every whim.

[. . .] Spa Esmeralda is designed to nourish your soul. Marble floors, glass corridors and the sounds of a trickling stone fountain greet you. From that moment on, a transformation begins to take place.

Gaze at the alluring desert landscape from the tranquil Spa Garden and soothe away the day's stress under a therapeutic waterfall spa. This is Spa Esmeralda. This is Paradise.
Featuring,

  • Spa with lush garden
  • Golf Club House
  • Lounge with live entertainment
  • Room Service
  • 36-Holes of Championship Golf
  • 3 swimming pools & Pool Bar
  • Fitness Center
  • Tennis
  • Concierge
  • In-room movies
  • Complimentary in-room coffee
  • Complimentary newspaper
  • Restaurants
Nice!  Where do they park their yachts in the desert, though?

I noted on the web page, "Special Thanks to San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for their generous support of the California Republican Party and the fall convention." Sponsorship is solicited on the following terms:

$100,000 Official Convention Title Sponsorship
For organizations seeking maximum exposure and opportunities to network with Republican candidates for Governor, Congress and State Legislature, this Title Sponsorship opportunity is ideal, providing exclusive benefits. Title sponsorship of the California Republican Party's fall Convention is limited to one partner with a speaking opportunity during the convention and a customized sponsorship marketing plan tailored to your needs which will include ... Private meeting with all top state party leaders during convention.
There are also $50,000, $25,000 and $15,000 opportunities.

I especially was interested in The Workshops At The '09 CRP Fall Convention, which are put on by various people including:
  • David Kralik, Silicon Valley Representative for Newt Gingrich's American Solutions 
  • David Avella, Executive Director of GOPAC
  • Philip R Hinderberger: Senior V-P & Govt. Affairs Counsel, NORCAL Mutual Insurance Company
  • Larry Greenfield, The Reagan Legacy Foundation
  • Mackenzie Eaglen, Research Fellow for National Security Studies, Heritage Foundation
Some background on some of the above:
  • If you don't know, a Senior V-P & Govt. Affairs Counsel is a LOBBYIST.
  • The Ronald Reagan Legacy Project was formed in 1997 as a project of Americans for Tax Reform - Grover Norquist's organization.  According to SourceWatch: "Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) is ostensibly a group that pushes for lower taxes. It has close ties to the Republican Party and has frequently allied itself with the tobacco industry."
  • Heritage Foundation is the premier right-wing, anti-government "think tank" located in Washington, DC.
So this is a luxury event, sponsored by corporations, with workshops from elements of the conservative infrastructure.  These are organizations that are supposed to be non-partisan, are often funded with tax-deductible contributions, exist outside of the party structure, but in this case are closely bound with the party itself.

These third-party groups lay the groundwork for elections by bombarding the public with corporate-funded messaging that is almost always anti-government and anti-tax, advocating the corporations replace government in our national and state decisionmaking.  Grover Norquist is famous for saying he wants to make the government "small enough that it can be drowned in a bathtub" and this is why his organization has demanded that office-seekers sign a pledge to oppose taxes in all forms.  They believe in "defunding" government, so that it cannot effectively regulate corporations. 

After enough of this drumbeat of anti-government propaganda, with no response from people who believe in demcoracy and community, the public doesn't have much choice but to believe the only voices they hear, and turn against government and the taxes that support democracy.  

This third-party infrastructure is why conservatives have been so effective at strangling government in California.  It is funded by corporations and every Republican has take "the pledge."  The corporations pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into our elections to put just enough of them over the top to keep the state from functioning. 

What we need is a progressive infrastructure of organizations that reach the public and explain progressive policies, creating acceptance of progressive values and demand for progressive solutions that help everyone, not just a select, wealthy few.

 


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