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 email@example.com 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