George Skelton, still stenographer for Dems’ talking points

Fresh off all the kudos he won for his 50-year anniversary as a reporter, the L.A. Times’ George Skelton continues in the only role I’ve ever known him: as a columnist who both shapes and parrots the conventional wisdom of the Sacramento establishment, even when it is an utter crock. Here’s an example in his new column:

Brown’s No. 1 priority upon returning to the governor’s office after a 28-year absence was to pull together a bipartisan legislative coalition that would authorize a special election asking voters to extend temporary tax increases. Simply put, he failed. Republicans balked. There’s no need to rehash it further here.

There’s no need to rehash it, huh? As the L.A. Times itself reported on June 24, there are two sides to the story.

“The reason that there is no budget deal is that the governor and the Democratic majority in the Legislature and their allies refuse to allow the voters the opportunity to reform pensions and control state overspending,” said Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga).

The AP story from the same day fleshed this out:

The public employee unions and labor groups that backed [Brown's] election last year, fund the campaigns of the Democratic lawmakers who are essential to his success and would be needed to finance a ballot measure campaign have been cool to his push for a special election.

Unions support the higher taxes but are wary of the spending limits and pension reforms Republican lawmakers want as part of any deal they might strike with Brown. They are even more nervous about a special election that could see voters shoot down the taxes and approve the other changes.

And as it happens, I talk to some of the same smart people in Sacramento that Skelton does. And they say that Brown was privately as exasperated at Dem lawmakers’ and unions’ refusal to compromise on pensions as he was publicly exasperated with GOP lawmakers’ similar intransigence on tax hikes.

George Skelton knows this is true. Why doesn’t he write it? Why does he revise history?

Because on policy grounds, he agrees with Democrats. And so his copy reflects his politics. And so his column today contains a whopper. Yet another of many impressive achievements.

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