December 4, 2005
There's this thing that happens when politicians lose an election:
They don't become introspective and try to figure out where they
went wrong. Instead, they blame their staff, and heads roll.
what's going on with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger? The four initiatives
he supported in the November election tanked. Last week, the Republican
governor announced that Chief of Staff Pat Clarey, who worked
for former GOP Gov. Pete Wilson before signing on with Arnold,
is leaving and will be replaced by Susan Kennedy, who worked for
recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.
says the change does not represent a shift to the left. Clarey
had been planning on leaving for months, the governor said. Susan
Kennedy is as smart as a laptop and a Hummer-weight heavy in politics.
This is about competence.
that point, Wilson called to tell me what a swell hire Kennedy
is. Kennedy delivered "the best speech I've ever heard"
on business deregulation, said the former gov. And, I'll add,
Kennedy is so pro-business that many Democrats don't trust her.
sense, Kennedy represents a pattern: She worked for a Democrat
who wouldn't do the tough stuff to fix the state budget. Now she'll
work for a Republican who won't do the tough stuff to fix the
for Schwarzenegger -- I want to him to succeed. I appreciate that
he has pushed through workers' compensation reform. I also understand
that his poll numbers began to fall when he started doing the
hard part of his job.
when Schwarzenegger (rightly) called for a big shift in pensions
for state and municipal employees, because local governments simply
can't afford to pay out what they've promised? Public-employee
unions turned on him.
that a reform measure he supported left out death-and-disability
benefits -- something easily corrected with new legislation. Even
though Schwarzenegger's remedy would have saved the state from
fiscal anguish, his popularity suffered.
walked away from the issue. The state and municipalities will
have to pay out increasing percentages of their general funds
to people who no longer work for them. Fat pension benefits will
force cities and counties to cut compensation for the people who
do the work. Because the governor failed to lead and didn't bother
to sell his position, he fell down on the job.
of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association credits Schwarzenegger
for his record on taxes: "What he's done up to this point
has not been bad. He has pledged fidelity to Proposition 13. He
has not raised taxes. He has cut the car tax." Besides, it's
not easy for a Republican to cut spending when the Legislature
tilts to the left.
no one said the job would be easy. Now that state tax revenues
are rebounding, it will be even harder to cut spending -- despite
the $4 billion structural deficit. In fact, Schwarzenegger is
touting a mega-bond to rebuild the state's infrastructure -- a
fine idea, if he also could cut unnecessary programs.
the end of the day," Coupal noted, "our concern is this:
There's tons of revenue coming into the state now. It has the
potential of being Gray Davis redux, and that we learned nothing
from the dot-com boom-and-bust."
voters for this: They don't want tax hikes. They don't want shortfalls.
Even though spending increases created the budget deficit, they
don't want program cuts.
Democrats say voters can get more government services by making
the rich pay for them -- which isn't true -- while Republicans
insist on no tax increases but won't curb spending. I think Schwarzenegger
should not have rescinded the entire vehicle license fee raised
by Davis. One reason voters believe they can get something for
nothing is that they keep electing big spenders, who inflate spending
but not taxes.
if Kennedy signals a shift to the left? These days, it doesn't
matter which party is in power -- neither one will do the heavy
2005 Creators Syndicate