California’s voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a series of tax increases that Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democratic-controlled state legislature claimed were necessary to save the State from bankruptcy. The voters have it right, as do the conservative Republicans in the legislature. State Senate Republicans were so determined to oppose the tax increases that they kicked out their leader when he caved to pressure from the Governor and elected stalwart conservative Dennis Hollingsworth as their new leader.
California is in economic freefall largely as a result of spendthrift government spending, crushing taxes, and heavy-handed regulations that have raised the cost of energy and of doing business in California. The whole sorry story is explained clearly and analyzed acutely in an op-ed in today’s Washington Times by Tom McClintock, a freshman Republican Member of the House of Representatives and a long-time Member of the California state legislature. Rep. McClintock said in January that in his judgment it was inevitable that California would default on its debt. Unless the state legislature suddenly reverses course, McClintock will soon be proved right. California is facing bankruptcy.
There is an alternative: Governor Schwarzenegger comes to Washington and appears at a congressional hearing. On one side of the Republican Governor will be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and on the other side Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Schwarzenegger testifies that California is too important to fail and therefore must be bailed out. After all, California is the model for the nation, especially in its energy and global warming policies (see a CEI paper by Tom Tanton on this subject). That’s what Schwarzenegger, Pelosi, President Obama, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), and Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) have been telling the country. As McClintock writes, “Congress is well under way toward imposing the same policies on the rest of the nation. California is just a little further down that road.” Actually it’s not a road, it’s a cliff, and California has already jumped.