As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Schwarzenegger - The Ultimate Girly-Man

(This is a little technique called "using your opponent's words against them," not an signal that I think "girly-man" is some kind of devastating or even viable slur, for the record)

Key stakeholders are weighing in on the Governor's revised budget. The Education Coalition notes that public education is still shortchanged, primarily through suspending COLA adjustments. Health Access California sees major cuts to health care, through denying certain Medi-Cal benefits to adults, eliminating coverage for some low-income working parents, and forcing others through loads of paperwork in the hopes that they'll trip up and forget to check a box so they can be purged from the rolls. Shane Goldmacher has a pretty comprehensive list of several other reactions.

But my favorite take - probably because it most mirrors my own - is from Dan Weintraub, whose main point is basically what a coward this Governor is.

The governor's revised budget would give more to schools and less to health and welfare than he proposed in January, but the real story is his proposal to use lottery revenues to bridge the stubborn gap between spending and tax collections. Schwarzenegger's press staff is furiously trying to portray the lottery deal as something other than borrowing, but borrowing it is. The state would change the game's rules in ways designed to attract more business, then lean on private investors for $15 billion in up-front payments. That advance on lottery revenues would be repaid over 30 years from the new proceeds generated by the changes. But the up-front money runs out after three years, and guess what happens then: Yup: the budget deficit reappears, unless there's an economic miracle between now and then. Ironically, if there were an economic surge and the governor's revenue-averaging proposal were in place, the state couldn't spend the new money and would still be left with a shortfall to cover. That persistent shortfall, at least according to the governor's numbers, is in the range of about $5 billion to $6 billion a year. Fixing that would be the next governor's problem.

Schwarzenegger started off saying he was going to "blow up the boxes" in Sacramento. He barely tried. He said he would be the "Collectinator" and end the state's donor status with respect to the federal government. Didn't happen. This year he said the time had come for budget reform. He offered the same answer as he has in previous years. He's even trying to shake down the state into accepting his borrow-and-spend proposal with the lottery, by raising the spectre of a regressive across-the-board sales tax if the voters knock it down in November.

He's a coward. He doesn't want to be responsible for fixing the budget permanently, so he wants to pass off the problem to his successor. He doesn't want his legacy besmirched, so he pulled back on the proposal to close parks or suspend Prop. 98. He just wants to tour the world and appear on magazine covers, without having to do any of that nasty business of governing. Nobody could be worse for this state at this time of crisis.

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