Heard this very interesting commentary by Sacramento Bee editorial page editor Stuart Leavenworth this morning on Capital Public Radio. Hooked to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent (and bizarre) statement that “the worst is over” as far as the state’s economic troubles are concerned, Leavenworth’s commentary strikes just the right note of skepticism.
Well, at first. After pointing out that “It could take a long time for California to pull out of this recession,” Leavenworth folds up whatever credibility he’d built in the previous three paragraphs by making the vanilla assertion that “We need state leaders who will make tough decisions.”
Duh. That’s like saying we need teachers who will instruct our children. The question is what sort of “tough decisions” we need our elected officials to be making. On this, Leavenworth offers nothing: no opinion on passing reduced pension benefits for new public employees, cutting more social programs, repealing Proposition 13 (or the legislature’s two-thirds majority vote requirement for raising taxes) or any increased tax whatsoever.
These are all very tough decisions. They’re politically dangerous, even in non-election years. But they also require open and honest public debate, which people like Leavenworth — who commands significant influence in Sacramento — can spark by providing listeners and readers with thoughtful and specific commentaries saying exactly what he thinks.
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“A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money,” Sen Everett Dirksen, R-Ill., supposedly said, although