In some respects, the battle for control of the 113th Congress begins today. And it includes a distinctive Northern California hue. That's because the 75-member Progressive Democratic Caucus has released its budget proposal for the 2013 fiscal year under the leadership of budget task force chair Mike Honda of Silicon Valley.
Entitled "Budget for All," the document calls for more taxes from the wealthy, a massive jobs program for the unemployed, downsizing of America's commitments abroad, and protection of Medicare.
Predictably, the Democratic proposal is the antithesis of the "Path to Prosperity," the plan that has been widely circulated under the articulate leadership of House Republican Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan.
For months, Ryan has commanded control of the public debate by discussing controversial elements of the GOP package with virtually no response from the Democrats other than various versions of "it can't be done," which frankly, get old after a while.
Now the Democrats have their own budget platform, which should help the voters more clearly understand the stark and fundamental differences between the two parties and their political philosophies in this critical election year.
In fact, Democrats from Northern California are ground zero for liberal persuasions and causes.
Recently, The National Journal, a nonpartisan publication in Washington, D.C., released its rankings of the most liberal and conservative members of the House of Representatives. Honda was tied for first as the most liberal along with three other northern Californians -- Barbara Lee, Pete Stark and Lynn Woolsey.
Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, traditionally the Republican target for all things irresponsibly "liberal," came in 79th. So much for credibility of the liberal spear carrier attacks.
On the conservative side of the ideological divide, California Republicans were not nearly as prominent.
Bakersfield's Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Whip, scored 25th, with the 18 other California members falling much farther down the line.
Whether the Democrats' "Budget for All" plan resonates with the voters over the coming months remains to be seen. But the take-away here is clear: for the moment, the House Democratic alternative to the Ryan proposal is cradled in Northern California with a distinctly liberal tint.