As usual, Robert Cruickshank at Calitics has it exactly right: The governor's budget isn't just bloody and brutal, it's a direct attack on poor people -- and an effort to divide the interests of the poor and the middle class. If the new round of budget cuts had continued to hit public schools, higher education, state parks and other things that benefit the middle class and the people who are slightly better off, there might be a huge public backlash. Instead, almost everything that he's hacking away is a program that helps the most needy:
Arnold is implicitly telling the middle-class "either you screw these poor families or we're cutting something you want" and counting on the middle-class to react the same way they did in the '80s and '90s - by saying "go ahead, we won't stop you."
In a sick way, it's brilliant; it worked so well for Ronald Reagan, and Schwarzenegger figures it might work for him, too.
So this budget battle will not just be a test of whether the Democrats have the spine to stand up to the guv and the political skill to outflank the Republicans; it will be a test of whether they -- and the better-off among the voters -- are willing to go beyond narrow self-interest and stand up for the people at the bottom.
If not, what the governor is proposing will be the creation of a permanent underclass in California.
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