The California budget and scare tactics

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on July 1, 2003

By the time this entry is posted, California will enter the next fiscal year without a budget -- for the third straight year.

With Gov. Gray Davis facing a likely recall -- the first of a statewide official in California history -- he is in a poor position to force a compromise between Democrats loath to cut spending and Republicans loath to raise taxes.

The current budget deficit is about $38 billion. A hole dug due to a variety of causes, including: excessive spending, the bursting of the dot-com bubble and the contracts with the power industry.

This budgetary trifecta has some of the usual suspects attacking -- guess who -- the GOP.

A quick reality check: Republicans hold not one statewide office. Republicans hold just over one-third of the seats in the state Senate and Assembly.

The Union-Tribune's James Goldsborough uses this particular nexus of events to claim that Davis is merely a victim of circumstance.

His budget makes everyone angry, but what to do? It's our state, our deficit, our problem. Davis didn't cause the recession that cut state tax receipts by himself. He didn't cause the electricity crisis that cost us $10 billion by himself.

Well, yes, it is our problem because too many have voted for tax-and-spend Democrats over the past couple of decades. Of course Davis didn't cause the recession (neither did President Bush, neither did Bill Clinton), but the profligate spending of Davis and the Democrat-controlled legislature is to blame.

[Note that Colorado, which only allows spending to increase at the rate of inflation coupled with the rate of immigration, is one of the few states not facing a budget crisis.]

So, Davis isn't to blame for the budget crisis, but, according to Goldsborough, Republicans want to kill poor people.

For example, Davis proposes a 15 percent ($400 million) cut to Medi-Cal providers, who offer health care for the poor. If this goes through, the only Californians eligible for Medicaid (Medi-Cal) will be minimum-wage earners. Earn more than $14,040 per year ($6.75 an hour) and you are without even minimum health care. What kind of state would do such a thing?

The federal government normally provides half the funds for Medicaid, but the Bush administration turned down the request from the National Governors' Association earlier this year for more Medicaid help.

In order to pay for Bush's war and tax cuts, thousands of America's poorest people are going to lose their minimum health care and die.

Frankly, this offensive. One can imagine Goldsborough during the Vietnam War yelling "baby killers" at returning G.I.s. There are serious liberals, who argue their point-of-view in good faith. Goldsborough isn't one of them.

I'm also curious if there are any liberals who own Hummer H2s. If there are, then this argument falls apart too:

Consider this: The hottest SUV these days is the Hummer H2, a 3.5-ton former tank transformed into a plaything for the rich and dumb. The H2 gets 11 miles to the gallon, and contributes far more than its fair share to noise and air pollution. It helps keep America's oil imports at record highs, and I would imagine that most Hummer people supported the Iraq war so we could get Saddam's oil.

If you own a Hummer, obviously you're unpatriotic and complicit in the deaths of Iraqi civilians, according to Goldsborough.

There's going to have to be some compromise -- a combination of loans, spending cuts and raised taxes, but the state GOP's desire to keep the tax increases to a minimum isn't the evil that Goldsborough portrays.


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July 2003



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