by John Seiler | November 20, 2013 1:05 am
Funding your own Institute entitles you to distort your record. Except with me.
Last Friday ex-Gov. and USC Downey Prof. Dr. Arnold Schwarzenegger (USC actually made him both a professor and a doctor) presided over a symposium at his USC Schwarzenegger Institute (actual motto: “Advancing Policy, Not Politics”). The main theme, according to the report by Joel Fox, was Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger’s political reforms:
“For his part, Schwarzenegger said neither major political party supported the reforms. However, he believes they have already proven successful. He said redistricting and the open primary have changed things in California. He pointed to Republicans who voted for immigration reform and some Democrats who were trying to undo environmental regulations that hurt business.”
Well, we’ll see. The reforms might turn out right. But so far we have the experience only of one campaign, that of 2012, behind us. Usually such large reforms take a decade to assess. And as I noted in an earlier post, the 2014 campaign will be dominated by Republican assaults on Obamacare.
As to Republicans voting for immigration reform, the legislation will be postponed at least to 2015 or after, as Adam O’Neal reported on our site. And neither Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger, nor the GOP congressmen, nor almost anybody, has read the the entire bill, S. 744, which is 867 pages of governmentese.
Here’s an example from Page 65:
17 (ii) EXCEPTIONS.—The discretionary
18 authority under clause (i) may not be used
19 to waive—
20 ‘‘(I) subparagraph (B), (C),
21 (D)(ii), (E), (G), (H), or (I) of section
23 ‘‘(II) section 212(a)(3);
24 ‘‘(III) subparagraph (A), (C),
25 (D), or (E) of section 212(a)(10); or 66
Is that the compromise Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger is talking about?
As to Democrats undoing environmental regulations, that likely has nothing to do with Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger’s reforms. More likely, it’s the typical fissures that develop within a party when it obtains a supermajority. With no real enemy, they fight among themselves. Democrats, including Gov. Jerry Brown, also are realizing that a lot of tax money will flow in if fracking is allowed, albeit heavily regulated. Wayne Lusvardi has reported on that here.
Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger’s best movie and his autobiography both are titled “Total Recall” But Fox reports:
“Schwarzenegger said his goal was to get things done and he never considered ideology or partisan politics. He claimed never to have asked a potential political appointee about his or her party registration and he told of crossing from the capitol to a nearby hotel to defend his hiring of Democrat Susan Kennedy as his chief of staff to some Republican leaders who wanted her fired.
“ ‘I looked around and said, “Did somebody rewrite the rules?” Because last I checked the governor made appointments, not the party,’Schwarzenegger said.”
That’s funny! Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger, as usual, completely distorts what happened. Few would have objected if he had made his chief-of-staff a competent moderate Democrat such as Bob Hertzberg, the former Assembly speaker.
The problem with Kennedy was that she was the former cabinet secretary of Gov. Gray Davis, whom voters recalled just two years before for because, among other things, he ran up a $40 billion deficit. Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger was put in power in the recall election precisely to reverse Davis’ polices and clean house of Davis appointees. Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger treated the voters, to use a line of his at the end of “Commando” as “juszt bodiez.”
Of course, those voters then went on to re-elect him in 2006, so perhaps they deserved him.
This also is ridiculous:
“However, he admitted he failed to find common ground on budget issues because his political opponents did not support ‘my philosophy’.”
That’s not what happened.
What happened was that he missed a chance to fix the budget permanently by putting a restoration of the Gann Limit on the March 2004 primary ballot. That action was urged on him by then-state Sen. Tom McClintock, and by yours truly in numerous editorials in the Orange County Register.
The Gann Limit allowed the budget to increase only at the rate of inflation plus population growth. It worked great in the 1980s, preventing budget deficits. Then voters were tricked into repealing it in 1990. And the rollercoaster of budget follies began. In good times, like today, the budget is flush with cash from high income and capital gains taxes. In bad times, such as the recent Great Recession, revenues plunge and the deficits mount, leading to calls for tax increases.
The March 2004 primary was a prime time to bring back the Gann Limit. Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger was at the height of his popularity as governor. Voters were following him. But instead of a real reform that would have fixed the state’s budget problem, meaning he would not have had to deal with budget deficits for his seven years in office, he punted. He put on the ballot Proposition 57, mislabeled the “Economic Recovery Bond Act.” It borrowed $15 billion for 30 years.
In the “Argument in Favor” in the election pamphlet, Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger promised:
“The California Economic Recovery Bond Act will consolidate the deficit and ALLOW CALIFORNIA TO GET ITS FINANCIAL HOUSE IN ORDER — WITHOUT RAISING TAXES.” [Capitalization in original.]
McClintock warned in the rebuttal:
“Proponents say this won’t raise taxes. Where do they think the money is going to come from to pay back $15 billion in loans plus billions more in interest?”
Now almost 10 years after hoodwinked voters passed Prop. 57 by 63-47, McClintock was right and Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger wrong. The phony real estate boom of the mid-2000s made it look like prosperity was here, especially in California and other “sand states.” Then the boom went bust in 2007-08, crushing real estate values and state finances. The massive deficits returned. In 2009, Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger signed into law a record $13 billion tax increase.
As I have warned for 26 years, bonds are future tax increases.
And the Prop 57 debt still is out there, part of what Brown calls the “wall of debt” the state owes. Tom Dresslar, the communications director for Treasurer Bill Lockyer, told me the state still owes $4.6 billion from Prop. 57. Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger is long gone, but taxpayers still are paying for his folly.
As to Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger and his “philosophy” on the budget, I remember the year the budget first leaped above $100 billion, for fiscal year 2006-07. When Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger complained to the Legislature that the number was too high, they cut a little from it and sent it back to him. He complained that they still spent too much — then added $1 billion more!
Here are the general-fund budget numbers for the key middle years of his governorship:
2004-05 $79.8 billion
2005-06 $91.6 billion, up 15 percent
2006-07 $101.4 billion, up 11 percent.
Did your paycheck increase that much during those years? Basically, his budget “philosophy” was the same as the Democrats’: spend, spend, spend.
No wonder, when the crash came in 2007-08, the deficits again rolled up to $40 billion and Prof. Dr. Schwarzenegger had to cut spending; and because he didn’t cut spending enough, he raised taxes. All because he didn’t bring back the Gann Limit when he could have.
The next time they have one of these symposiums, they should invite McClintock, now a U.S. representative, and yours truly to totally recall for them what really happened.
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