By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
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By David Futch
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By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
In an interview this week, Angelides was clearly sharpening his spears on Schwarzenegger’s $15 billion bond measure, on his repeal of the car-tax increase, and the ongoing crisis with next year’s budget.
“From the day he came into office, he’s widened the deficit with the car-tax reduction,” said Angelides. “This bond is just more borrowing for a longer term than was authorized last year.” Angelides also noted, as have others, that the budget deal does nothing about a potential $14 billion deficit looming in 2004: “This borrowing and spending cap he proposed did nothing to balance the budget — period.”
Angelides also took on Schwarzenegger’s $1.9 billion in proposed midyear budget cuts. “I do not believe the right way to go in building California’s economic future is to give a car-tax break even to the owners of Hummers as you cut back on higher education and you take away assistance for people with disabilities who are working hard to be full productive taxpaying citizens of our society.” Angelides invoked past Republican Governors Reagan and Wilson as leaders who combined budget cuts with higher taxes during tough times.
And Angelides already wants to associate Schwarzenegger with President Bush, never a
California favorite: “I really do believe that, like Bush, this governor seems to have perfected the art of squeezing down government — backing into it with more borrowing and with measures like a spending cap, so there’s never an up-front, clear debate about what services we need and about what investments we need to make to make California strong.”
Of course, it may prove an uphill slog for Angelides to outpoll a popular movie star by offering to raise taxes. And he knows it. But
he’s hoping to establish Schwarzenegger’s responsibility for the painful program cuts to come — whereas Schwarzenegger will do his best to blame the Legislature and former Governor Davis.‰ 22
And what of those long faces on the Republican side? One of them belonged to state Senator Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), who hated the bonds and wasn’t even impressed with the original spending cap. “The sentiment of this spending cap is all well and good,” he said of the Republican version, “but I certainly would not have any illusions that it would restrain government spending one bit.” Nor was McClintock sanguine about compromising with Democrats when interviewed before the compromise pact: “I have not believed that California’s salvation would rest with the Legislature that is responsible for getting us in this condition. California’s salvation rests with the people of California. The governor should take these issues to them as rapidly as possible.”
Instead, Schwarzenegger returned to the Legislature. And he acquiesced to a surprisingly Democrat-like approach. Or was it acquiescence?
McClintock implied that a real Republican, or at least one like McClintock, wouldn’t need a law to keep him from bouncing checks. “A spending cap is unnecessary,” he said, “if the governor is committed to controlling spending. The reason you need a spending cap is if the governor is not committed to controlling spending.”
Where McClintock sees Schwarzenegger going astray, state Senator Kuehl sees nascent consciousness-raising. “This is all speculation,” said Kuehl, “but I believe the governor came to understand there was a difference between the original spending cap and what he promised during the campaign, which was that, in any given year, we won’t spend more than we take in. What he really wanted was the concept that we all will get out of this mess, and then we’re going to have a balanced checkbook. And that’s what he got.”
Schwarzenegger also scored another huge political victory — regardless of the philosophical affiliation of the solution. So all’s well apparently — at least until Schwarzenegger presents his hard-times budget. That day of reckoning is January 10, when there will be more long faces on both sides of the aisle — and long knives as well.