California commits suicide. (Not so much)

The goose that lays the golden eggs has given California politicians a closer look at the business end of its egg production facilities. I am not na├»ve enough to believe that we are seeing an overwhelming ideological shift in California’s liberal base, but more of a pragmatic understanding that liberal policies inevitably destroy the source of their income.

It took Pearl Harbor to wake Americans up to fascists during WWII; it took Timothy McVeigh to wake Americans up to domestic terrorist; it took 9/11 to wake Americans up to Islamic terrorists and maybe, just maybe the economic slide we are in will be the slap in the face Americans need to wake them up to the flaws of liberalism.

I was once again bated into writing as the result of a MSNBC article. The entire article can be found at: any excerpts from the article reproduced herein are in bold.

The article began with this headline:

California faces its day of fiscal reckoning
Voters' rejection of higher taxes leaves most populous state in bind

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The day of reckoning that California has been warned about for years has arrived.

The longest recession in generations and the defeat this week of a package of budget-balancing ballot measures are expected to lead to state spending cuts so deep and so painful that they could rewrite the social contract between California and its citizens. They could also force a fundamental rethinking of the proper role of government in the Golden State.

I was most encouraged by the last sentence. There is hope if California can shed the bonds of liberalism it may become a beacon for other liberally controlled states to follow. California has taken the government from the role of “protector of rights” to the role of “nanny” with more fervor than any other state. To see its voters reject that premise is encouraging.

Known for its hyper-liberal polices on immigration and social issues California has one of the largest budgets, and by proxy tax burdens, in the US. The citizens have begun to realize that to continue on such a path would lead to an even larger tax burden, a path they rejected when they voted down the proposed budget initiatives.

"The voters are getting what they asked for, but I'm not sure at the end of the day they're going to like what they asked for," said Jim Earp, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs, which represents the hard-hit construction industry. "I think we've crossed a threshold in many ways."

And it is a glorious awakening. It is true that for the short term this may prove to be a bitter pill to swallow. The citizens of California will be forced to pay for the arrogance and indifference of its elected officials. For that I am sorry but it is a matter of hurt a little now or hurt a lot latter as there will be no “fix” in the works as long as politicians are not made to face their “reckoning”.

California is looking at a budget deficit projected at more than $24 billion when the new fiscal year starts in July. That is more than one-quarter of the state's general fund.
This week, voters said they no longer want the Legislature to balance budgets with higher taxes, complicated transfer schemes or borrowing that pushes California's financial problems off into the distant future. In light of that, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has made it clear he intends to close the gap almost entirely through drastic spending cuts.

As painful as those cuts may be it is the only way to fix the problem. Just as a morbidly obese person must shed weight to avoid the inevitable heart attack, so must government shed excess programs to avoid crushing its constituency under suffocating taxes.

The governor's cutbacks could include ending the state's main welfare program for the poor, eliminating health coverage for about 1.5 million poor children, halting cash grants for about 77,000 college students, shortening the school year by seven days, laying off thousands of state workers and teachers, slashing money for state parks and releasing thousands of prisoners before their sentences are finished.

Up to that last paragraph I was for the most part in the same camp as the author, where we part company is in the obvious invocation and shameless exploitation of the poor as well as a healthy dose of felony fear mongering. The author portrays the losses as being born solely by the poor with no regard for the middle class who were fleeced to pay for these social programs in the first place. He then sees fit to scare us over the loss of teachers and the release of prisoners. He shoots he scores; the liberal trifecta.

It is unreasonable to allow millions of illegal immigrants to knowingly break the laws of this country and then benefit at the expense of hardworking citizens. I am not bashing immigrants, just pointing out the overt use of class warfare to promulgate the liberal agenda. I for one am sick of being labeled as a racist xenophobe for stating what should already be obvious. Enough said on that.

"I understand that these cuts are very painful and they affect real lives," Schwarzenegger said. "This is the harsh reality and the reality that we face. Sacramento is not Washington — we cannot print our own money. We can only spend what we have."

That is the most intelligent thing I have heard Arnold say in a long while. Maybe this will be the death blow that removes the liberal virus from an otherwise great state. The saying has always been “as goes California…” I hope that is true and other liberal bastions shed the failed policies of liberalism.

Huge budget gap
The Democrats who control the Legislature do not want major spending cuts, but so far they don't have a plan for closing the deficit. And if their solution is higher taxes and more borrowing, they will probably not have enough Republican votes to get the two-thirds approval needed for passage.

We all know that their solution is higher taxes and more borrowing. The liberal playbook is well established and a fairly short read consisting of one page and three words “tax and spend”.

The crisis is a sort of political comeuppance for Schwarzenegger, who took over a state with a projected $16 billion gap in 2003 and promised to end California's "crazy deficit spending."

In Arnold’s defense (a place I do not like being) he had an uphill battle with the liberal legislature in California. Any serious spending cuts would have been gutted once in the legislature for approval; having said that, Arnold was hardly conservative in either fiscal or social policies, at least not in any substantive way.

The gap has two primary causes: The state has been living beyond its means for years by spending generously on all sorts of programs that the voters, the politicians and the special interests wanted. And the recession has hammered California's economy.

Personal income declined this year for the first time since 1938 and unemployment is 11 percent, one of the highest rates in the nation. Nearly $13 billion in tax increases and $15 billion in cuts enacted earlier this year, as well as billions in federal stimulus money, have not been enough to make up for the drop-off in revenue.

"This is the year everything has fallen apart," said outgoing Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines, a Republican from the Central Valley. "We don't have an alternative. We're literally at the day of reckoning and have to cut it all out."

Hallelujah I say; it is about time. If the tax and spend liberals could not be counted on to show some self discipline and restraint then they needed a good dose of reality to sober them a bit. It is truly a shame that but for the economic downturn they would have never been held accountable for their malfeasance.

Constitutional convention?The drastic cuts that appear to lie ahead will, by accident, accomplish the stark reduction in state government that many Republicans have long advocated.

"We should have been limiting the growth of government for years," Villines said.
The crisis also has prompted talk of a complete overhaul of the way California government operates.

A group of business leaders and good-government groups has begun the process of calling for a convention to rewrite the California Constitution.

A separate commission is expected to release a proposal to rework the state's tax structure, which is vulnerable to booms and busts in California's economy because it relies heavily on high-income earners. The state also has few limits on what state government can spend and a small rainy day fund that can easily be raided by the politicians.

It sounds like they need to overhaul the system. Let’s hope they do so with an eye on the 2010 and 2012 elections. With what seems to be a resurgence of conservative fiscal values around the nation California politicians would do well to show some common sense and make a good faith effort at fiscal responsibility.

Playing 'financial jeopardy'Former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, a Democrat who has joined a group seeking to change the state's budget system, said too many services that used to be performed by local governments have been taken over by the state because of a landmark 1978 ballot measure that drastically limited property tax revenue. Hertzberg said the programs, and the money, need to be sent back to counties and cities.

"The real problem of California is that we need to bring government closer to the people, so that the role of the state is much narrower. We need to focus on big-picture stuff," he said.

Not exactly, they need to put to rest the government's “cradle to grave” social policies, not mandate the social programs and then shove the burden of paying for them to the local level.

In the near term, the huge cuts that are about to hit will probably affect nearly every one of the state's 38 million residents. Schwarzenegger's latest budget proposal, for example, would eliminate health care coverage for more than 2 million people, about 1.5 million of them children, said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California.

"It would place their families in financial jeopardy for any ailment, injury," he said. "A child won't be able to see a dentist if they have a toothache or see a doctor if they don't have the ability to see the blackboard at school."

This is just plain fear mongering there are programs in place for the poor such as Medicaid. But who cares about inconvenient facts like that when you are trying to make a point.

The state also faces a related problem: Every year, California borrows money on the bond market to cover its day-to-day expenses and pays it back when tax receipts flow in. But the tight credit market and questions about California's ability to repay its obligations could make borrowing difficult or extremely expensive this fall.

Schwarzenegger and some Democratic lawmakers have asked the Obama administration for a federal loan guarantee — or what some are calling a bailout. The move would be virtually unprecedented and would require the approval of a reluctant Congress.

I am not oblivious to the real people that will be affected by this. We are all suffering hard times during this recession but to bailout a state that has spent beyond its means would set the precedent to bailout every other state. The problem is this, why should Florida or Texas taxpayers be forced to bailout California.

We are about to shift wealth redistribution into high gear. The worst part is California is home to some of the most affluent in our society. Seems a bit “conservative” to bailout even more fat cats doesn’t it?

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