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Occupy Trigger Cuts

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Occupy Trigger Cuts

AP

An Occupy Wall Street protestor rests Sunday in Zucotti park the morning after police arrested over 700 marchers on the Brooklyn bridge for blocking traffic and disorderly conduct, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, in New York. Protestors have occupied the financial district park for three weeks in opposition of corporate greed. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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How could the Occupy movement address the billions in budget cuts that could be triggered next month?

It's not a nutty question.

The cuts, after all, would hurt Californians who rely on public schools and public universities -- the 99 percent.

The cuts are necessary because revenues have run short -- even though California has more than its share of very rich people -- the 1 percent.

But how to protest the triggers? It's not an easy question to answer.

Because the triggers are a formula -- not an elected official or institution. (If revenues are projected to run short by $1 billion or more, one round of cuts will be triggered; if the revenues are considerably worse, the cuts are bigger). Where does one go to protest math?

This problem illustrates how California's budget system is fundamentally anti-democratic.

There are no decisionmakers to throw out of office; all the budget decisions are made by formula.

The best that the Occupiers could do would be to protest the folks who make the projections about revenues.

Those are employees of the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office and the state Department of Finance. In other words, they have to protest the number crunchers.

And what the Occupiers would be asking for is strange: over-optimistic assumptions.

The cuts would not be triggered if the number crunchers were to produce revenue estimates that are too high. Over-optimism, of course, doesn't fit a movement that is dominated by end-is-nigh rhetoric.

So there's the rub. Wall Street tycoons may not easy to attack politically. But triggers are even tougher.

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