Pete Tax Increaser Wilson backs Whitman

I knew a Schwarzenegger governorship would be a disaster in the summer of 2003, when his campaign during the recall was endorsed by ex-Gov. Pete “Tax Increaser” Wilson, and Arnold brought on board many Wilson cronies. Back then I dubbed Arnold “The Wilsonator.”

In 1991, Wilson imposed a staggering tax hike of $7 billion, which only worsened a budget deficit by killing jobs, delaying a recovery until the taxes expired.

Arnold, not surprisingly, did the same thing last year, imposing a new record of $13 billion in tax hikes to “close” the budget deficit — yet a $20 billion budget gap remains this year. Arnold learned well his tax-increasing lessons well from Pete “Tax Increaser” Wilson.

Now Wilson has backed the Republican candidacy of Meg Whitman for governor, and is her campaign chairman. (Shouldn’t that be “chairperson,” Meg?) He writes on her site:

Governors are chief executives.  They must be team builders and, above all, team leaders able to make difficult decisions, requiring real strength and resolve.

That’s unlike Wilson himself who avoided the “difficult decisions” on the state budget, instead caving in to Democrats and raising taxes. He also wasted the one year — 1996 — in the last 40 that Republicans controlled the governorship and both houses of the Legislature, and could have made lasting structural changes to the state government, especially the budget, but didn’t.

And when the California economy finally recovered in the late 1990s, during the dot-com boom, Wilson set the stage for the last decade’s budget debacles by boosting spending more than the increases in population growth and inflation.

For fiscal year 1994-95, he spent $42,710 billion. Here are the numbers for general-fund spending in Wilson’s second term, by fiscal year:

1995-96…..$46,296 billion, 8% increase
1996-97…..$49,220 billion, 6% increase
1997-98…..$54,973 billion, 12% increase (incredible! 12%!)
1998-99…..$58,615 billion, 7% increase

The cumulative increases during those four years: $15.9 billion, or 37%. Wild. Extravagant. Crazy. He made no provision to avoid a budget crunch of the type he presided over in his first term, and of which we’ve had two since, including the horrible one the state is suffering through now.

So not only was Wilson a tax increaser, but a fiscal profligate. His wasteful budgets set the stage for the even more wasteful budgets of his successor, Gray Davis, who boosted spending a wild 15% a year for each of his first two years. Then the dot-com bubble burst, budget revenues collapsed, record deficits piled up, and Davis was recalled by the Wilson-backed Arnold, who was supposed to save us, but only made matters worse

If Whitman primary opponent Steve Poizner knows what he’s doing, he’ll wrap the unpopular tax-increaser Wilson around Whitman’s neck. But Poizner probably won’t.

Can’t anybody campaign around here?

–John Seiler

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  1. rich mckone
    rich mckone 22 February, 2010, 06:31

    The article ignores two basic laws of politics: The first is that a politican must be electable. The second is that no other laws count in politics. Wilson was electable – his opponents were not. The same applies to Schwarzenegger. Whitman is also electable and Poizner probably would lose. “Republicans” like the writer are simply indirectly supporting the Democrats. He probably would have oppossed Regan also because he raised taxes to balance the budget. I really wish more Republicans would get real and stop playing into the hands of the Dems. If they did, maybe Republicans would be a political force in California again.

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