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Terminating the Budget Crisis

by Mytheos Holt, published

In a move that smells strongly of the old strength and decisiveness that brought him into office, Governor Schwarzenegger has rejected the most recent Democratic budget plan as being insufficiently concerned with cutting the right programs and with raising the right taxes, according to the Los Angeles Times.This rejection comes on the heels of a bit of truly dirty political maneuvering, in which the Democrats managed to squeeze $9.3 million in taxes out of California's wallets without so much as consulting a single GOP assemblyman or senator.

Schwarzenegger, having just taken a truly principled stand against one bit of Democratic cynicism, ought to now take the required steps to bring this flatly anti-representative bit of tax-and-spend zealotry to heel.

Ironically enough, one Democratic senator characterized his party's attempt to duck the debate as the reign of "democracy." According to the Times, Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) said, "Today, we end the tyranny of the minority. No longer will we be captured by ideologues who don't respond to their responsibility." Funny how that works, since it is precisely the Democratic ideology (and Schwarzenegger's up-to-this-point nonstop record of appeasement) that has put California in budget shortfall. Moreover, considering that the proposed Democratic budget is essentially one giant mishmash of hypocrisy, Cedillo ought to be advised to look into the mirror before he cuts himself with Occam's razor again. He has all the wrong actors in mind for his rant against "ideologues." Considering that according to Schwarzenegger, Cedillo's pet issue, drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, would cost the state "millions of dollars," Cedillo really ought to be more careful before ranting about the "responsibility" of cutting the budget.

But setting aside the intemperances of a few over-enthusiastic tax hikers, Schwarzenegger's veto of the Democratic budget constitutes a very important rejection - the rejection of a confused and often contradictory argument for a budget in which priorities and incentive structures could have been stitched together by Victor Frankenstein. In the proposed budget, the Democrats propose to get the necessary process of cutting the budget out of the way through "cuts to schools and healthcare." Yet, when Schwarzenegger refused to sign the budget on the grounds that it didn't go far enough in cutting welfare programs, the Democrats responded that Schwarzenegger's proposed budget (which is admittedly harsher on schools) would "ruin the basic functions of California's government and intensify the state's economic troubles." Very well, but if schools are such a "basic function," one wonders why the Democrats would include them in their budget rather than cutting programs like the "state workforce and welfare programs" at all. Moreover, considering that the Democratic plan would cut school budgets by $7.3 billion, as opposed to the Republican one that would cut $11 billion, at the point where the difference between the two budgets isn't even half, the Democrats need to make a more cogent argument for why those additional $3.7 billion are taking things too far.

None of this should be seen to minimize the impacts of the budget deficit, which is projected to reach the ghastly sum of $41.8 million by 2010. Indeed, something must be done to stop this problem. As such, Democratic strategist James Kinney was essentially correct when he stated that when a bus is about to go off a cliff, one should " keep pumping until the bus stops." However, this is not what the Democrats are doing. Rather, they are slamming their metaphorical feet at anything they can reach, whereas Schwarzenegger rightly wants to be sure that he has his foot on the brakes, rather than the gas.

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