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

Monday, July 27, 2009

Getting Shrill On Governor Failure

Arnold Schwarzenegger will sign the FY2010 budget revision quietly tomorrow, with up to $1 billion dollars of line-item cuts that could potentially cause more pain for California citizens. He'll claim that he was acting responsibly and in the best interests of the people. As CalBuzz says today in about as shrill a way as imaginable, it's a load of crap.

“(T)he biggest winner to emerge from our negotiations is California,” the governor bragged, “our state’s legacy, its priorities, and its budget stability.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong!!

Schwarzenegger’s triumphalist braying was little more than a one-step-ahead-of-the-posse exercise in spin control, a pathetically transparent bid to establish a positive narrative for the budget disaster over which he’s presided, in hopes that voters and his suck-up pals in the national media will buy his story without bothering to check it out.

(NOTE TO NATIONAL POLITICAL WRITERS: Schwarzenegger did NOT solve or stabilize California’s budget. Despite his assertion to the contrary, his budget – passed in February and now revised twice – actually RAISED TAXES by $12.5 BILLION. With the latest revision, he threw off enough ballast to keep his hot air balloon afloat but in no particular direction.) [...]

In truth, Arnold’s entire tenure has been one continuous failure of leadership. This is just the latest chapter.

From his first days in office (when he sowed the seeds of today’s never-ending fiscal crisis by his irresponsible cut in the vehicle license fee) to his ill-considered $15 billion borrowing bond (which helped make interest payments the fastest growing item in the budget) and his current shameful spending plan (which gives the University of California a major push into mediocrity while continuing the slow death of K-12 education and punishing the aged, blind and disabled), he has been little more than a narcissistic, tone-deaf poseur, surrounded by sycophants and devoid of principle or conviction.

Allow me to sit up and take notice at the shrill-ness.

And their points are completely inarguable. It's not just this budget revision, which makes draconian cuts and multiple faulty assumptions of revenue in order to pretend to fill a partially self-created deficit (we're not getting $1 billion from the federal government for Medi-Cal reimbursement, for example, nor will we sell the State Compensation Insurance Fund for $1 billion). It's that his entire tenure has had the goal of enforcing the tax revolt and eroding the New Deal consensus that Californians still by and large support as an electorate, though they lack the governmental structure to carry it out. And in that respect, he was wildly successful. Except Californians have figured out implicitly that this vision of the future is abhorrent, and while they haven't yet put their finger on who to blame, they could do worse than looking at the Governor. It is no accident that Schwarzenegger is viewed unfavorably by both parties, having driven the state completely into a ditch and hastened the near-depression in which we find ourselves. The structure of government resists workable solutions to our fiscal problems. But Schwarzenegger's reckless management has greased the skids and achieved nothing for the citizenry but future pain and suffering.

In the latest outrage, he enthusiastically endorsed a budget process that will help push the whole country into a deeper recession by canceling out the impact of the federal stimulus package.

Tens of billions of dollars are cascading into California from the federal stimulus package, but the economic oomph is being weakened by massive cutbacks in state spending.

The financial crosscurrents show up in places like downtown Sacramento's old railyard, now undergoing a huge facelift. Stimulus money from Washington, D.C., will help move the train tracks, a key element of the plan. Separately, though, the slashing of redevelopment funding by the Legislature might derail a housing project at the site.

This push-pull effect will play out in education, transportation and other sectors. Economists say the likely result will be prolonged pain and a weaker recovery despite the $85 billion coming to California from the stimulus program over the next two years or so. Unemployment stands at 11.6 percent in Sacramento and statewide, and is forecast to exceed 13 percent next year.

The state budget "absolutely … will blunt the impact of the stimulus," said Chris Thornberg, head of Beacon Economics consulting in Los Angeles.

Remember all this when you see some Twitpic of the Governor brandishing his pen and telling his list of followers tomorrow that he "fixed" the budget. The fix is in, to be sure - and the people will feel the results.

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