Dear Big Daddy,
So the Guv’s latest plan to balance the state budget is to play chicken with the feds? Does he, or anyone else, actually think that’s going to work?
–Worried in Walong
Say what you will about this governor (and I know you will), he’s got gumption. Audacity. Chutzpah. Hell, that and some pecs are the only reason you and I even know the guy’s name.
Of course, one knock on the big fella has been that he thinks more with his cojones than his cerebellum. But back to his political career. Normally I might admire the kind of guy with the guts to pull the fiscal equivalent of trying to rob a bank with a spork (that is, if we could still afford a spork).
But when the bank is already tipped off that you’re coming, and when ya write the holdup note on the back of a deposit slip with your own name and address on it, you may have crossed that not-so-fine line between assertiveness and asininity.
Our 55 folks in Washington haven’t got much of a reason to help him. Witness the quick response of many of our Dems in Congress, who could hardly help but notice that the gov’s panhandling request came wrapped up in a big bouquet of flip-flop on the healthcare bill. And Reeps in Congress known they’re likely to get blown out of office if they go anywhere near a suspicious package labeled with the words “Schwarzenegger” and “federal bailout.” You’d think a man who used to boast a quarter-ton bench press would know a little more about leverage.
Not that Schatzi’s got a bushel of other options. He can threaten and cajole legislature all day long and still have nothing to show for it but some Gerber’s on the floor. Poking Dems with a veto pen won’t work quite so well when they’ve got images of a Governor Brown redux dancing in their heads—not that it’s a sure bet, but it’s probably a better one than trusting a guy with fewer reasons than ever to keep his promises. And the Reeps aren’t exactly hungry for a solution to the “problem” of a bankrupt bureaucracy.
Yep, there’s enough fear, mistrust and blame brewing under the dome to fuel a 50th anniversary party. So where does that leave the guv and his pig and pony show?
Ironically, the feds just may be the solution. Arnold’s just going about it the wrong way. He’s telling them to charge us less and give us more. Even if you take away a VLF cut and a McCain endorsement, I’d rate his chances at somewhere between nothing and nonexistent.
But don’t forget—not only do the feds not need to balance they’re budget, they also don’t need a two-thirds vote to pass a tax. So how about this: a federal tax on rich Californians.
Bleed Silicon Valley and Hollywood til they bleat. Make it a one-time thing. Call it a “rainy day fund” if you have to. Turn around and give all $20 billion or so right back to the state (and please don’t run it through the Office of Historical Preservation!).
Viola! Problem solved! Sure, be this kind of move might not too good for Schwarzenegger’s political career. But I’d be willing to bet a few billion that his career is already over.