Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Two Great Op-Eds Today

One of the goals of Proposition 89 is to reform our political system so that policy is decided based on the quality of the arguments, not by the quantity of cash raised to sell an idea. Along those lines, there has been a lively debate on the editorial pages of California's newspapers where the pros and cons of Proposition 89 are being debated daily. Today there are columns on Prop 89 in the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Modesto Bee.

The Proposition 89 column at Sign on San Diego is written by Ned Wigglesworth of Common Cause California:

The result of the measure would be incredibly positive for all but a handful of the biggest political spenders in California. Regular people would have a bigger voice in the decisions and priorities of state government. Candidates would be judged on the strength of their ideas, not the size of their campaign accounts. Elected officials could be held accountable for placing the demands of their wealthy donors over the needs of their constituents. The Legislature, whose normal dysfunctional gridlock is caused in no small part by the conflicting demands of well-financed competing special interests, could legislate.

In short, government in California could actually work again.

The list of Proposition 89 opponents reads like a who's who of special interests in California. Insurance companies, developers, lobbyists and the biggest labor union in the state have ganged up to defeat the measure. They will likely spend millions in their effort to derail reform.

Already, they are ramping up their self-serving propaganda machine, focusing on the financing mechanism for the clean money portion of the initiative (a 0.2 percent tax increase on banks and corporations) or its constitutionality (the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly recommended clean money as a constitutional campaign reform). Unsurprisingly, the alternative they offer to Proposition 89 sounds suspiciously like the status quo. They trumpet disclosure, even though California's current disclosure laws – some of the very best in the country – have done nothing to check the dominance of special interest money in Sacramento.

The price tag on Proposition 89 – $200 million overall, predominantly from the wealthiest corporations in the state – is a drop in the bucket compared to what special interests make in tax loopholes, sweetheart contracts and favorable legislation. This is why they are willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year in lobbying and other political spending. From the cost-benefit perspective of the average voter, this one's a no-brainer: Bringing an end to the corrupt status quo will save taxpayers money.

And Deborah Burger in at ModBee:

Political corruption is everywhere in California. Special interests have too much power in Sacramento and the rest of us pay the price.

Proposition 89 is the antidote, the means for California voters to take back our government. [...]

As you can guess, those who enjoy their present stranglehold in Sacramento will say anything and spend whatever they think it takes to protect their privileged status. That's why the opposition to Proposition 89 is being bankrolled by big insurance firms, oil companies, utility and drug giants, and other big corporations.

What they most fear is a new system that Proposition 89 would create -- a level playing field in our elections in which a broader array of candidates could run for office and win, even if they are not wealthy and in the pocket of the big donors; and legislators who no longer have to spend most of their time dialing for dollars and will now be accountable to the people, not the big special interests.

If you're fed up with the present system and you'd like to see it change, here's your chance. Join the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and AARP and vote "yes" on Proposition 89.

You can join the discussion taking place on the opinion page of your paper by writing a letter to the editor.