June 19, 2009
An Immodest Disposal
The state of California -- the most populous by far at 36.8 million -- is staring down the barrel of a $24 billion deficit; there is a very strong likelihood that barring any unforseen windfall, California will have to declare bankruptcy within the next few months.
Now mind, $24 billion is chickenfeed by federal standards -- even the federal standards preceding the One Who Will Spend Us Into Oblivion. However, despite pleas from all factions in the factious state government (some sincere, others perhaps not so), the feds flatly refuse to bail California out.
Now I happen to agree with this position; states should not be "bailed out" when their financial messes are entirely self-generated... which describes California to a tea party. During the boom times, the state -- well, the Democratic legislature, which has run the state more or less continuously, in despite of Republican governors, for decades -- the Democrats enacted enough new "entitlement" programs and other new and frivolous spending to fill the Yosemite Valley. Now times aren't so flushed; and my libertarian response is, "You buttered your bread, now sleep in it."
But you have to admit, refusing to bail out one of the most liberal, pro-Obama, leftist-socialist states in the United States is awfully out of character for the Barack H. Obama administration and the Congress of Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) and Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%).
Great leaping horny toads, Obama has already pledged more than twice as much to bail out a single company: GM. GM employed 243,000 people in 2008, probably less now; California employs 242,939 total people as of May, 2009 -- not to mention having the largest economy, again by far, of any state: $1.812 trillion gross state product. One would think it a no-brainer for the Democrat president and Democrat Congress to offer "fiscal amnesty" to the Democratic state with the largest number of electoral votes, the largest economy, and the largest population.
So why aren't they?
I really don't think it's because the Oogo-istas running the federal government, who are throwing money at every problem the pops up and nationalizing one major industry after another, have got a sudden attack of fiscal restraint. Rather, I think there are two other major reasons for the denial:
- California has a (nominally) Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is term-limited and cannot run for re-election in 2010.
It will be an open contest; but if Schwarzenegger has actually solved the state's long-running fiscal crisis, Republican candidates for the legislature and the governorship will receive a major electoral boost... which they sorely need; on its own merits, the California Republican Party is possibly the most inept and dimwitted in the Union.
But if Schwarzenegger is seen to fail -- even if it's due to the Democratic legislature's refusal to enact any meaningful spending cuts -- Republicans will nevetheless get the blame; and the Democratic nominee (probably Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) will be elected by a landslide.
Simply put, the Democrats see a fantastic chance to grab the governor's mansion to go along with the state legislature, thus enjoying a limitless free pass to enact any socialist measure, no matter how unpopular, no matter how insane. Democrats may be calling for a federal bailout of California in public, but I strongly suspect they're privately sending a very different message to the Obamacle and his bestial virgins... one that says, "Hold off on any bailout until Antonio, not Arnold, demands it."
Certainly Democrats are not acting like they want to solve the crisis (at least not until 2011); with a state budget of $131 billion, they would only need to cut 18% across the board to have a balanced budget again. From 1998 to 2008, the budget grew from $73 billion (in 2008 dollars) to $131 billion, an 80% spending increase -- what a spree! Reducing the budget by $24 billion would only mean returning to 2006's budget. Yet the legislature "cannot find" even 5% in cuts!
I don't think any serious person could argue that the legislature is honestly or sincerely trying to solve the crisis. And I don't believe they will try -- until a Democrat is in place to take all the credit.
- I suspect the second main reason for no Obamic bailout of California is lingering anger and resentment over the citizen's constitutional amendment that overturned California's State Supreme Court on the issue of same-sex marriage (SSM).
Proposition 8 was passed by a strong majority; it amended the state constitution to declare marriage to be only between one man and one woman; no other form of union would be legal or recognized in the state as a "marriage." (The 18,000 same-sex couples who married during the brief interval in which it was legal are "grandfathered" in.) I suspect that a great many Democrats in Congress -- and the One Himself -- still seethe that the people of the state took back their own government from the elites... and still fear that such resistance might set an example to citizens in many other states, on many other issues. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people has never been very popular in "people's republics."
Yes, I know; President Obama says that he agrees with the voters of California that marriage should be restricted to mixed-sex couples. Color me skeptical; I find it much more likely that, like many other Democrats, he sincerely wants to revolutionize marriage, along with every other bedrock principle upon which Western Civilization is built. I believe he would not only be fine with same-sex marriage but polygamy as well -- that strokes two special-interest groups at once!
But he doesn't want his fingerprints on such a radical, drastic change in social culture. The president would much prefer others to do the dirty work (preferably federal judges, who are more reliably liberal and don't have to worry about re-election), while he stands above the fray and votes "present." He thought he had nabbed the biggest prize of them all when the California Supreme Court issued its ruling last year; the state is home to the largest population of gays, of Hollywood celebrities, and of liberals (with, of course, a gigantic overlap), and it routinely gives Democratic candidates the largest amount of campaign cash.
But then along came the traditional-marriage amendment, chopping the legs out from under the court's ruling. Injury became insult when that selfsame court -- ignoring the blatant "hints" from the Left -- actually held that Proposition 8 was valid and legitimate, and would be enforced.
And then immediately afterwards, along comes Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, cap in hand, begging for money from the federal coffers. Hah!
Sure, Schwarzenegger himself pretty much supports SSM, and he's hardly what anyone would call a conservative. Ne'ertheless, he still has that scarlet R stitched onto his 52-inch chest; and that was sufficient to evoke all the rage, hatred, and fury: You don't expect the Democratic Congress to give money to a state full of homophobes, do you? (Especially not a state whose citizens had also voted in recent years to end state subsidies to illegal aliens and to terminate all racial-preference programs statewide. Good heavens, they must be Nazis!)
So take my thoughts for what they're worth; I'm glad we weren't bailed out, no matter how disreputable the reason why not. But I'm apprehensive how this will all play out in next year's gubernatorial and legislative elections. It's hard to imagine that the liberal monopoly here could get any worse; but no matter how deep you already are, you can always dig another sub-basement.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 19, 2009, at the time of 6:57 PM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/3702
The following hissed in response by: snochasr
What's the problem? $24 Billion split 36 million ways is only $666 apiece. Apart from the ominous religious overtones, why not just a special "one-time gift" from every citizen, to bail themselves out of trouble? What's the worst that could happen if they don't?
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
Because California has somehow rigged its state income tax to be wa-a-a-ay topheavy, roughly just as "progressive" as the federal income tax. I believe I have read that the top ten percent of California taxpayers pay 70% to 75% of the state income tax, and the top one percent pay about 40% to 50%. Thus we wouldn't divide that $24 billion shortfall up among all 36 million residents... a tiny number of people would be forced to bear nearly the entire burden.
Democrats will never permit us to make the income tax less progressive (flatter); liberalism is a ratchet that only allows movement in one direction.
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at June 20, 2009 11:48 PM
The following hissed in response by: Ken Hahn
As a resident of California, I hope that there is no bailout. I can assure you that it will take more time to type the figure than it will take the legislature to spend it. The US could sent a trillion dollars to Sacramento and we'd be broke by sundown.
The following hissed in response by: wtanksleyjr
Regarding Prop8 and Obama -- there were many web ads run that claimed he opposed prop 8. I was puzzled at this (because I clearly remember him speaking otherwise in the debates), so I looked it up -- this story explains it all. Or it would, if it made ANY SENSE AT ALL, which it doesn't -- Obama says that states should decide, says that he personally opposes same-sex unions, and yet for some reason says "I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states."
The following hissed in response by: Neo
This all comes down to "equal time" at the trough.
California with roughly 10% of US population would have to take 10% of any new "bailout" bill, which translates into a $240 billion "bailout" spread across
57 50 states.
The following hissed in response by: Ken Hahn
Actually Neo, California has about 13% of the US population. Adding 3% of the bailout funds would add about 15 minutes to the time the Democrats would take to spend it.
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