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Guest Contributor
Joe Armendariz

Joe Armendariz is Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Industrial Association and the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association.

The House Always Wins!
Sacramento Democrats control the game...

[Joe Armendariz] 7/13/04

I disagree with the premise of a recent Dan Walters column (Schwarzenegger's Failure Makes New Taxes Inevitable). It isn't Schwarzenegger's failure that makes new taxes inevitable; it's Schwarzenegger's successes that make new taxes inevitable.

Indeed, his first major policy success: convincing state taxpayers to borrow $15 billion to get out of debt, is a de-facto increase in the state's future tax burden, in that, it allows the Democrats, who remain in complete control of the Legislature, to avoid any kind of fiscal accountability by ignoring the state's fiscal reality.

What is the fiscal reality? The same as it always was; too much government spending, too much waste in the budget, too much fraud in state programs and too much abuse of taxpayers, business and industry. Sound familiar? It should, because the more things change, in Sacramento, the more they stay the same.

Schwarzenegger, in an honest, albeit misguided, attempt to fix California's fiscal problems, fell for the oldest trick in the book; he made deals with the same politicians that created the fiscal mess in the first place.

By dropping his request for meaningful cuts in the Democrats' stable of sacred-cows and by dropping his idea to ask the voters to force the legislature to limit the annual rate of growth in state spending, the Democrats gave him "permission" to ask those same voters for a $15 billion dollar line of credit (Prop-57), and to amend the state constitution by requiring a balanced budget (Prop-58).

Regarding Prop-57 and 58, some of us, indeed, very few of us, said it wouldn't work and we were right. With respect to Prop-57, we reminded those who would listen that you can't borrow your way out of debt. As for Prop-58, we suggested that by requiring a balanced budget without a requirement that there also be a spending cap, we are making a tax, well, inevitable.

What has been the result? The $15 billion is already being used to pay for more government cheese and the so-called balanced budget act is proving to be about as effective in controlling spending as an onramp meter is in preventing traffic on an LA freeway.

Fast forward to today and wouldn't you now it? Those clever Democrats, in giving Arnold all that he asked for, are once again in an enviable position of calling most, if not all, of the shots on the budget. They remain in the pocket of the state's powerful public safety unions; the state's left-wing teachers union and the state's greedy public-employee unions. This iron-triangle of anti-taxpayer organizations is rested, ready and prepared for battle against a chaotic, frustrated and fractured Republican party.

The Republicans are like Charlie Brown. No matter how many times they try to kick that football through the goal post, the Democrats, like the crafty Lucy herself, succeed in yanking it away at the last moment. And the result is always the same, the legs go up, the head goes down and the victim is lying there flat on their back stunned, seeing stars and utterly defeated. It would be funny if it weren't so tragic.

The fact of the matter is, Democrats are better at this game. The Republicans are burdened by a conviction to tell voters the truth and to try and play by the rules. Somewhere along the line, the Democrats were liberated from this moral tyranny. For them, after all, it isn't how you play the game that matters, it's who wins. And just like in Vegas, where the house always wins, in California, the Democrats are the house and the odds are that they will remain so for many years to come. CRO

copyright 2004 Joe Armendariz



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