"Congratulations Mr. Minority Leader, you fooled me," an emotional Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown exclaimed last night just before the final 25-24 vote approving the Republican coup budget. Earlier, a parade of angry Democrats took to the floor to express their shock and disappointment at the Republicans' brazen subterfuge:
"It is a narrow, extremist agenda that is being shoved down our throats tonight."
— Senator Ed Murray (D-Seattle)
"Last year I was proud, this year I am disgusted."
— Senator Kevin Ranker (D-San Juan)
"I am embarrassed and appalled."
— Senator Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way)
"We can't negotiate in good faith when we don't have credibility and trust."
— Senator Karen Keiser (D-Kent)
Throughout this session and the last, Democrats negotiated in good faith with their Republican counterparts on a number of crucial issues, yet in the end, the Republicans failed to return the favor. Having secured many of the compromises and reforms they demanded (four-year budgeting, teacher evaluation, state control of teacher health care benefits, permanent suspension of I-728, etc.) the Republicans then turned around—with the aid of three Democratic turncoats—to, as Senator Murray aptly put it, shove the rest of their extremist agenda down our throats.
Well, I hope the Democratic leadership in both houses fully understands that the time for bipartisan cooperation and compromise is over. The Republicans are playing hardball, and as every major leaguer knows, when their pitcher beans one of your batters, your pitcher has to bean one of theirs. Otherwise, they'll just bean all your batters without fear of retribution, until your entire team is brushed back six feet off the plate.
The proper response to this treachery isn't for the House Democrats to meet the Senate Republicans somewhere in the middle between their two budgets. No, the correct response is to up ante.
"No revenue, no budget!" That is the slogan I suggest Democrats adopt throughout the remainder of these budget wars. Democrats twisted themselves into knots, fucking over their own constituencies, to give Republicans a no-new-tax budget. The Republicans had their chance, but that option should now be irrevocably taken off the table. Without at least the closing of a glaringly nonproductive tax loophole like the mortgage interest profit exemption for out-of-state banks, there is absolutely nothing to talk about.
Honestly, Dems. The Republicans think you're a bunch of pussies. In fact, they're counting on it. They think if they bean you a few times, you'll just back off the plate. And they'll keep on beaning you until you start whipping fastballs at their heads. Because that, alas, is how this game is played.