Matthew N. Klink - Contributor
N. Klink is a writer and political consultant who works
for Republican candidates at the federal, state
and local level. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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N. Klink] 1/15/04
It's safe to say that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's popularity
will never be what it was the day he was elected to replace Gray
Davis. And -- though it may sound nonsensical coming from a political
consultant -- our state's new Governor shouldn't worry in the
short-term about declining favorability numbers.
must remain strong, focused and committed to changing the paradigm
in Sacramento - the focal point of which
is the state's budget. He must adhere to his promise to sidestep
the Legislature and not hesitate to make his case for spending
restraint and short-term borrowing for long-term benefit directly
to the California electorate, if and when Democrats in Sacramento
bog down in the "politics of the status quo."
If the governor's
October election accomplished anything, it was to shine a focused
beam of light on the unsavory and largely
unseen budgeting practices of the Democrat-controlled state legislature
in Sacramento. For too long, strong majorities of liberal Democrats
spent as drunken sailors -- a comment not meant to demean sailors
but to emphasize the carefree, undisciplined spending approach
undertaken by our legislative "leaders."
economic times, these "investments" as
the Dems so lovingly call them, were extreme. In bad economic
times, these expenditures indicate gross fiscal mismanagement
and, were the state not so politically gerrymandered, would likely
cost most members of the State Senate and Assembly their jobs.
As soon as
Gov. Schwarzenegger released specifics on his latest $99 billion
which groups and programs would
receive budget cuts, Schwarzenegger opponents (i.e., Democrats
and their liberal special interest groups) and supporters of
tax increases (again, mostly Democrats and their liberal special
interest groups) began yammering about the "impact" of
these cuts. Their solution, as if it's any surprise at all, is
tax increases, especially those that involve "soaking the
rich," a term loosely used by Democrats to include anyone
making a middle class income or higher.
This frequently repeated refrain of tax increases should come
as no surprise to any Californian. The California Democratic
Party and the Legislature's Democratic majorities have an insatiable
addiction to higher taxes and more government spending. Yet,
they can't understand why businesses are fleeing our state or
why places like Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Texas have an burgeoning
entrepreneurial spirit that was, in the past, associated with
the Golden State.
In the coming weeks and months, Gov. Schwarzenegger will come
under intense fire from politicians, municipal governments and
liberal special interest groups up and down California arguing
that he must raise taxes. Many tears will be shed, much harsh
rhetoric will be spoken and many left-leaning California newspapers
will argue that tax hikes are critical for our state to move
should go off in the upper echelons of the Schwarzenegger administration
immediately and his economic advisors should remain
keenly attune to "political pressure" from the left
for higher taxes until the state's budget is ultimately passed.
Gov. Schwarzenegger appears to "get it" when it comes
to California's budget and to change Sacramento for the better.
He must never forget that he was elected largely because candidate-Schwarzenegger
promised to change Sacramento's failed political culture. As
governor, he is trying mightily to enact this change; however,
the tax-and-spend culture of Sacramento Democrats refuses to
go down without a fight.
It's for this reason that Phil Angelides, California's current
state treasurer and likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate
in 2006, is so vociferously campaigning against Schwarzenegger's
$15 billion short-term borrowing. He and other Democrats would
like nothing better than to force a Republican governor to choose
between bankrupting California and raising taxes to make-up a
multi billion-dollar budget shortfall.
Equally troubling, a March ballot measure is circulating that
would allow the Democrats to spend at will. Prop. 56 would allow
the Legislature to approve the annual budget and any tax increases
with a 55% vote instead of a two-thirds majority. Think about
it. If this initiative were to pass, liberals in Sacramento could
tax and spend at will. Hold on to your pocketbooks! Perhaps it's
for this reason that public employee unions, who benefit financially
from bloated government and increased spending, quickly signed
on to this myopic measure.
In the State
Legislature, as in life, old habits die hard. Gov. Schwarzenegger
into the line of fire in his bold
attempt to change Sacramento's culture. His success or failure
to do so will largely be determined by actions in the coming
months on the state budget. Gov. Schwarzenegger must also realize
that liberal Democrats may talk of "bipartisanship" and "compromise," but
these "leaders" are incapable of following through,
because to do so would threaten their tenuous hold on power.
Gov. Schwarzenegger will ignore public opinion polls for the
next six months. If
he does what he needs to do now,
his long-term popularity will receive a boost from strong leadership.
The California electorate voted for change…not for the
status quo. Schwarzenegger must not forget this. The alternative, "compromise
for the sake of compromise" would irreparably harm him,
likely cost him re-election in 2006 and, ultimately, continue
California's precipitous downward slide.
2004 Matthew N. Klink