Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Jerry Brown, California’s 73-year-old governor, has been showing signs lately of becoming a grumpy old man.

In comments to reporters, in speeches and in bill veto messages, Brown has complained about the quantity (too much) and quality (too little) of legislation reaching his desk, about the intransigence of Republicans on taxes and about the influence that anti-tax groups wield on those Republicans.

The responses are obvious, to wit:

• The Legislature generated less than half as many bills this year as it routinely did during Brown’s first governorship three-plus decades ago.

• While many of today’s bills are merely half-baked notions, symbols and trivia, so were many of those during his first stint, including some he sponsored.

• Yes, Republicans are generally more conservative today than they were in the 1970s and thus more opposed to raising taxes, but the Democrats are also markedly more liberal and less willing to make permanent spending cuts or reduce the “wall of debt.”

• While those anti-tax zealots to whom Brown refers do have heavy influence on Republicans, their clout is no more paralytic than what public employee unions wield on Democrats, as Brown discovered when he tried to fashion a bipartisan budget deal.

• Brown would have known all of this if he had been paying attention to the Capitol’s evolution during his 28-year absence from the Governor’s Office, but apparently he wasn’t – too preoccupied with his Quixotic campaigns for president and being a left wing radio talk show host, one presumes.

• Finally, no one twisted his arm to run for governor again.

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