Nationally first, THEN California for a change.
I had to take a break. I was pissed at getting backstabbed twice.
I sat down and watched stupid but funny YouTube videos after the marathon California senate session where RINO "Republican" Abel Maldonado cast the deciding vote in the Democrat party's favor and passed the biggest single state tax increase in our nation's history, and now finds himself the New Media Darling here in the Land of Fruits and Nuts.
One George Skelton of the LA Times, who constantly reports from Sacramento about the need to raise revenue (Cal-Speak for taxes), has his own "tingly-feelings" over Maldo running up and down his leg;
The brashness, the audacity, the tenacity of this Republican lawmaker from Santa Maria in ramming such a landmark measure through a Legislature that ordinarily wouldn't have touched it in a blue moon made him the single biggest winner of the budget-tax brawl that finally ended in the Capitol at dawn Thursday.
Already Maldonado finds himself on the wrong end of the horn as websites dedicated to his recall pop up everywhere. The blog list is hammered with Anti-Maldonado posts, and adding one more couldn't be helpful at this point.
But after already being gored by the Triplets in the US Senate it was pretty hard to take a second shot by a different herd. But yet, there it was again.
Then local radio stations that at one time supported Arnold in his election both during and after the Gray Davis recall started screaming for the removal of all Republicans from office, on the premise that with Democrats at least you get honesty because they said up front they were going to raise taxes while the Republicans said they wouldn't and flipped on the promise.
So let me understand this, a blank check for one party to pass as many tax increases, jack up spending to whatever level they can dream up, and sacrifice businesses to the altar to Mother Gaia to teach Republicans a lesson about honesty?
Interestingly, two GOP candidates were trying to out-do each other to capture the Conservative outrage over the RINO cave-in. Meg Whitman (former President and Chief Executive Officer of eBay) and Steve Poizner (current California State Insurance Commissioner) both dashed for cameras to denounce the idiocy. Poizner said;
"When politicians who were elected to oppose more taxes end up supporting them, this is not a hard choice — it's a broken promise," said Poizner, the state's insurance commissioner and former Silicon Valley entrepreneur, in prepared remarks. "Raising taxes was not the courageous thing to do. It was the easy and predictable way out. As citizens of this state, you and I have the right — and the duty — to make sure that it never happens again."
And Meg Whitman;
"…accountability for the budget lies at the leaders' feet," when asked whether Schwarzenegger had failed in his job as a Republican governor.
Californians are "taxed out," Whitman said in her luncheon speech. "The trough is empty. And it was empty even before we started talking about raising taxes this past week."
No governor should accept tax increases without "first slashing payroll and putting the state's fiscal house in order," she said.
She later said she would have eliminated 10 percent of the state's work force and doubled the furloughs, which initially required state employees to take two days off a month. After the budget was finished, the order was halved.
"You have to look at head count," she said. "And trust me, it can be done without degrading services."
They'll both have to excuse us voters for being skeptical. Not like we've never heard any of this before.
And the list of RINOs is longer than just three. Possibly longer than 6 even. But the thing isn't over, by a long shot. July is just around the corner, and the Democrats will be saying "Oops, tax hike wasn't enough, still short, need more. Sorry."
Had the California Republicans gone on ahead and held firm against an increasingly unfriendly media and Democrat PR blitz, what capitol would they have left for the July battle? Is it possible as some suggest that they carried it as far as they could, then had to "short-straw" someone to flip and take the fall later?
Or more likely they held as long as they could, until Democrat deal-makers like Steinberg appealed to Senators like Maldonado with higher aspirations (Maldonado is seeking the State Controller's job) who may need to look like heroes to moderates on both sides for votes?
From a joint statement by Republican lawmakers Mike Villines and Dave Cogdill, who both voted for the budget deal:
By passing a spending limit and $15 billion in real cuts, we are making significant progress to reduce the size of government and prioritize your tax dollars.
I'm used to Democrats pretending that a reduction in a projected future spending increase is a real-world, hard-dollar cut, and the oblivious media going along with the absurd assertion.
But not Republicans; I've whined to many, many GOP lawmakers about this semantic scam (including Villines), and they all agreed with me.
So, no, there aren't $15 billion in "real cuts." $8 billion of the $15 billion is a reduction in the state bureaucracy's fantasy 2009-10 budget, under which spending was supposed to have gone from $103 billion to $111 billion.
If you make $80,000 a year and think that on Jan. 1 you're likely to get/deserve a $5,000 raise, and it doesn't happen, that does not mean you had a $5,000 pay cut. But it does using Villines' and Cogdill's logic.
No, that $8 billion increase is not all mandatory "autopilot" spending. It's mostly from the established "practice," to use the LAO term, of state agencies' submitting wish-list budget plans. It is not spending mandated by any law.
This only-in-California dishonest framing of government spending is a central reason we have perpetual budget headaches.
As Chris said, Arnold gets to laugh last.