Yesterday, a Schwarzenegger spokesman used the name-calling du jour to compare the Legislature to the City Council of Bell.
“What happened in Bell is not unlike what Democrats in the Capitol are trying to do: increase taxes to pay for public employee pensions,” said Matt Connelly, a spokesman for the governor. (LAT)
Except, no, it’s really nothing like Bell whatsoever. The Legislature is not working to protect their own salaries or to abscond with money into their own checkbook. Rather, the Legislature is fighting to save the priorities that Californians have traditionally demanded. It is just that now the Republicans are putting up smoke screens to say that we cannot afford these priorities.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. To put it another way: there is no radical out of control spending problem. We are not spending any more than we have in the past. It is just now that Republicans decided to let the free market run amok, and to tell Americans that they shouldn’t have to pay for government.
As wschafer pointed out, spending simply hasn’t risen over the past forty years. Once adjusted for population growth and inflation, the state is spending a smaller proportion of Californian’s take home pay than in the past.
For each $100 Californians earn, the state spends $7.44. That spending number has been this low only four times in the past three decades. The cost of general fund programs (e.g., public schools, health, social services) hasn’t been as low as now ($5.19 for each $100 Californians earn) since 1973.
The difference is the Two Santa Theory of government. The Right has discovered that they can undercut the populist left’s message by offering tax cuts and waiting for the people to demand cuts. And that is where we are doing. As David Dayen said last year:
In the intervening 35 years, we have had no progressive leader in California, no Democratic leader, challenge that ridiculous theory in any meaningful way. Instead, over and over again, Democrats must lead the charge killing off the two Santa Clauses, filling budget deficits by raising taxes or cutting spending, frequently the latter. And while other factors have contributed to Democratic dominance in recent years, the ideological theories of Santa Claus conservatism remain. And Democrats and Republicans alike have ingrained them into their lizard brains, either by believing in them, or believing that everyone else believes in them and there’s no way to change that.
For an example, see none other than Gray Davis. He was convinced to slash the vehicle license fee (VLF) during the “good times” (aka the Internet Bubble). Then when forced to acknowledge that the good times were over and raise the tax back, Arnold beat him over the head with it on his way to the victory in the recall election.
If anything, Arnold is the Mayor of Bell. He wastes money by failing to capture all of the federal dollars that we are entitled to, and he has failed to provide a government that works for the people.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a fundamental failure, with but a few moments of passing rationality (think AB 32). Whitman would be a third term of Arnold…save the fleeting moments. Where Arnold at least attempts to deal with real world facts, Whitman has completely rejected them. She is a threat to the long-term stability of the state; her short term austerity plans to fire 40,000 workers would cast the state into a deeper recession and threaten our economic future.