Skip to comments.CA: Like him or not, governor knows change our only hope
Posted on 07/01/2005 10:45:34 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
SACRAMENTO -- It may be that moderate Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger offers the last hope to save California's state government from the ideologues in the Legislature who are running it into a ditch.
If so, that hope appears to be slipping away. As his approval ratings tumble in the polls, Schwarzenegger backs away from one reform after another that he has proposed to solve the state's dire fiscal problems.
Three of them have survived to appear on the Nov. 8 special election ballot.
But the two that might do the most repair work -- reform of the budget process and redrawing of legislative district boundaries -- are already trailing in the polls. Schwarzenegger's sinking popularity makes it doubtful he can pull them to victory.
That's too bad.
This is not an endorsement of those specific ballot measures or others the governor has proposed. I don't know for sure whether they will fix any of the state's problems or not.
But I do know that when things are going badly, you can't just stand there. You've go to do something.
And things are going about as badly now as they were two years ago when voters fired Gray Davis as governor.
Things should be looking up. Unlike Davis' doomed last year, the economy is healthier. Interest rates are low. The housing market is booming.
The state is still borrowing billions to balance its budget -- living on credit cards, if you will. So are many cities and counties. Too many of the public schools are miserable failures. Freeways, streets and roads are falling apart. Air pollution is the worst in the nation.
No wonder 59 percent of Californians in a Field Poll last week said the state is on the wrong track. That's not as bad as the 71 percent who felt the same way in the Davis recall year of 2003. But it's still an ominous sign for those who hoped Schwarzenegger was someone who could make a difference.
Schwarzenegger came into office with enormous potential to improve things. He was popular from his days as a body builder and actor, but also admired as an astute businessman. He was an outsider beholden to none of the special interests on the left and right that long ago battled to a policy gridlock in Sacramento.
But after a year and a half in office, Schwarzenegger has been unable to break up that gridlock, or even crack the surface much.
Here's the problem he -- and the voters -- face.
The Democrats who control the Legislature are ideological liberals who spend much of the time charging around on crusades for the poor, gay rights, the environment and bigger damage awards in lawsuits.
Not that those aren't worthy causes, but the bottom line is the entities that put most of those Democrats in office and keep them there are public employee unions -- state workers, teachers, prison guards, police, firefighters.
In any legislative battle where their interests are threatened, the unions almost always win. But the unions' interests are not those of the taxpayers. Unions exist to fight for better pay and benefits for their members. If that conflicts with the need for a balanced budget or higher educational standards, the unions pursue their own interests first.
That's why Schwarzenegger got his fingers burned badly when he called for reform of California's public employee pension system. It has become the most generous retirement system in the world and threatens to strangle the budgets of state and local governments.
Unions funded a blistering advertising attack on the theme that the governor's plan would eliminate death benefits for widows and orphans of police officers and firefighters who died on duty. That was a claim that was open to argument, and the problem could easily have been fixed, in any case.
But for the unions, the real issue was not death benefits; it was the attempt to tamper with their monthly pension checks.
Schwarzenegger was too slow to respond with his own TV ads and he has never been able to regain his earlier momentum -- probably a major reason for his personal decline in the polls.
The minority Republicans in the Legislature aren't much help to the Republican governor.
They have no real power, and they keep making choices that all but guarantee they won't ever have any.
Many of the Republicans there today are the ones who agreed to the 1991 redrawing of district lines that ensured incumbents would be re-elected -- but also ensured the GOP would remain in the minority for the rest of the decade. The GOP's rationale was that it was the best deal they could get with Democrats drawing the lines and Davis in the governor's office.
But they could have sued or taken their case to the voters.
The result is that any Republican who doesn't want to work very hard can enjoy a long, well-paid vacation as long as he or she votes correctly on the GOP's litmus-test issues of tax increases, abortion and gay rights. There is little pressure to do the heavy lifting it takes to figure a way out of the current quagmire and follow it.
To be fair, the same is true for Democrats, as long as they don't upset the unions.
There are a few lawmakers in both parties who take their jobs seriously, who are willing to buck the Democratic unions and the Republican right wing and offer realistic solutions to real problems.
They include moderate Republican Assemblyman Keith Richman of Northridge and Democratic Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburgh, who teamed up to offer a sensible budget compromise last year.
Sen. Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno, slaved over the workers' compensation mess for years until something got done.
Kern County's Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, belongs in that category, although he tends to focus primarily on local and regional issues.
But those who are willing to take risks have been marginalized by their own parties, which are comfortable with the status quo.
That's why it will be unfortunate if Schwarzenegger is unable to use his unique political potential to get the state back on track.
Whether he runs for re-election or not, none of his potential replacements will arrive with nearly as much political capital as he had.
Which will mean more status quo as far as the eye can see.
Vic doesn't go nearly far enough in assessing Republicanism and its flaws and limited here in California, both leadership and vision-wise., but imo, he does a decent enough job of nailing the status quo on its own pittard on greed and excesses, all for the children, of course..
Uh, the "Republican right wing" IS the solution to California's problems. RINOs offer no substantive difference than the Socialist 'Rats.
Is the Field Poll credible?
Anyone have links to the actual questions that were asked?
LOL.. you caught that too.
Witout Right wingers and motivated grassroots folks and their efforts, the Recall would have never happened.
Which as one reflects, maybe was not such a good thing.
Better to have just allowed the lefties to just outright kill the Golden Goose and let the survivors start over, rather than to pretend to want to fix the system that no one owns but everyone milks for all its worth.
There was a salvo of polls released the last 10 days or so, lots of interesting data. I haven't gone thru all of them.
This article hits it on the head; thanks once again to Norm's Revenge.
Look at Minn., CA and see your future: A bankrupt state that tossed out its reformist governor for "not getting along with the legislature". We are headed for a train wreck.
Al Gore , another alpha male, was at the new LA Mayor's inauguration today along with the GUb today.
I hope that enough folks will tune out the endless procession of protesters we see daily and nightly on the boob tube.
But even, the Gub may not be able to overcome the unwitting and witting support the media will provide to the left, whether they admit or even realize they are doing it or not.
Voters have short memories in California, it's all the air pollution, yaknow. ;-)
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Hispanic immigration will change the state. They are socially conservative but fiscally socialists (interesting combination). When the middle class flees California and only the wealthy liberals, the unions, and the poor are left. It would be interesting to see how political power redivides itself when someone has to pay for the entitlement programs for illegal immigrants and the increasing benefits for the government workers and teachers. The state will implode. First crack in the liberal coalition, hispanics fighting with blacks over who shall control power in the inner cities.
Je$$e is making sure he has chips on all the colors on the Roulette table, in any case. Maybe he isn't as dumb as he seems. A true visionary. always looking for ways to fleece the bleating flock and then get the flock out of there before they realize it. ;-)
That is the danger, they are chasing out the middle class. Another problem I understand for California is aren't the cities in a lot of debt? Especially when you factor in pensions they are going to owe?
OOPs, worng thread, but I'm just trying to tie in the move by Je$$e to create a hispanic black alliance, much as V has tried to tout his support from many ethnic groups in his recent election.
The news just showed the GUb and a bunch of folks including al Gore swaying back and forth as part of the celebration and in a sign ofunity.
Enough to make a fella puke, it was. :)
San Diego and Orange County proper are two that come to mind, pension-wise.
Some localities are actually benefiting in the runup in real estate sales and such, but much as the internet boom went bust, this too shall pass.
Public officials should learn from past mistakes, should, but..
I thinks that is a strong word for the situation in MN.
Of course it was the "reformist" Governor who spent out surplus and then some for the "light rail" debacle.
Pawlenty is standing up the crazy spending of the DFL!
Thus the government shutdown!
If you are going to disagree with what Pawlenty is doing, then get your facts strait first my FRiend.
Unfortunately Arnold is the best chance for real reform. Any political hack who replaces him will be kissing the butts of the hogs feeding at the public trough.
For California on so many points and levels, it is "Adapt or Die". We may be witnessing a Darwinian event at a state level if their government can't ween itself off punitive taxation and glutinous public subsidization for nar-do-wells and criminal invaders.
BULL! They can't get elected; how do you suppose they're going to solve anything?
What we need is a SPINE among the CA GOP to back Arnold up. Instead the fools are allowing him to be gored by the health care and teacher unions via millions and millions in political advertising.
Here we have a man trying to do the RIGHT THING, the BEST THING for the state and he's being left to twist in the wind. The Right Wing in CA is bitter their man Tom "Wild-Eyed" McClintock didn't get in. Or Bill "The Next Reagan--HA!" Simon. Or blah, blah, blah... always the same thing. They don't get their way at the ballot box and don't WORK because it's not their sainted man in the office. Give me a break.
They're always eating their own! And it comes from out of state as well. The Republicans nationally won't support Arnold when he's doing the *right thing* because of his social views. Ridiculous! Forget the messenger, it's the MESSEGE that matters!
Arnold *needs* our support where he deserves it: on these reforms. We need the paycheck protection act to keep the unions from stealing money from their members for multi-million dollar liberal campaigns. The teacher's unions are enacting a special fee on their members specifically to stop Arnold's reforms. It's insane!
We need redistricting. We need it badly. We need to move teachers out of the socialist paradise of mush and into a competitive work situation if we hope to educate Californians. The one reform that Arnold cut had a major flaw (perception) in it that made it a lightning rod for the Dems. The GOP legislator who wrote it ought to be pilloried for not seeing the obvious. It's these kinds of blunders and sabotages that make it very difficult for Arnold to succeed.
We need him because he's "larger than life" and thus is more difficult to entirely box in the usual political blitzkrieg and slanderous ways. It's sickening that he hasn't gotten more strategic assistance from the party.
It's as if they've truly written off California, land of Nixon, Reagan, and Rice. I don't understand why they seem to want Arnold to fail. It made some sense to want Davis to fail since he was the opposition party but a weak California is a weak United States.
We need these reforms. Badly.