Brown, Democrats and Republicans All Need to Stop Blame Game

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The most dispiriting thing about a very dispiriting series of budget talks came at the end -- when the Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for the end of talks.

The Democrats accused the Republicans of serving as shills for corporations, particularly out of state corporations, that are opposed to the rollback of a corporate tax break that Gov. Brown and the Democrats had sought.

The Republicans accused Democrats of being opposed to reforms because they are in the pockets of their public employee union supporters.

What's the problem with this  blame? While there is truth to both charges, the blame game obscures the central problem revealed by these talks: a California system that forces parties with such profound differences on spending and taxation to come to agreement.

In other states, the party that wins elections gets to enact its program. The minority party then argues against it -- but can't block a deal. And if the majority party's program doesn't work when it's enacted, the minority party can punish them in the next election. This is how representative democracy is supposed to work.

But California has so many supermajority requirements and other fiscal rules that the majority party can't take much action without the minority party. This frustrates democracy and accountability (since the voters' decisions in elections don't much matter).

Republicans should stop blaming Democrats for being Democrats, and Democrats should stop blaming Republicans for being Republicans. They both should focus their ire on the system -- and get to work on building new budget and election systems that give the majority the freedom to enact their program -- and give the minority party the ability to hold them accountable in elections.

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