Thursday, April 14, 2005

Conan the Civilized Governor

Debra Saunders had an interesting interview with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Link.
Schwarzenegger keeps his "Conan the Barbarian" sword in a lined box near the head of a long conference table. (...)

In his second year in office, this governor is more Sacramento-savvy than the rookie governor who said he didn't want to shuffle the boxes of bureaucracy because "I want to blow them up." (...)

"Nothing we want to do is drastic," the Austrian Oak explained. The guv doesn't want to roll back health care for needy families, as "it's too brutal." An aide brings a chart into the room, and Schwarzenegger shows how he plans to use gradual spending cuts to close the gap between what the state takes in and what it spends.

You're not blowing up the boxes, I say. "We will," Schwarzenegger says. (...)

So the big, bold move Schwarzenegger now cites is something that many critics see as a gimmick. He has proposed ballot measures to reform the pension system (not now, but later), improve education, redraw legislative districts and reform the state budget process. The latter two areas are most important to him.

Schwarzenegger noted that it is wrong that Sacramento can raid transportation money instead of cutting spending elsewhere to balance the budget. Yes, he raided those funds, too, but only because past practices forced him to. Now, if he has his way, there will be a ceiling beyond which Sacramento cannot raise spending, and future governors and legislators won't be able to dip into school and transportation coffers. (...)

The Dems deride the gov's gimmicks, even though their only trick is to raise taxes. Or should I say raise taxes, then still spend more than they have?

Don't root against Schwarzenegger: If he loses, then the whole state loses.

So far, Arnold has done a better job with the tough hand he was dealt than I can see any professional politician having done. It wasn't perfect, but I cannot imagine any human being doing better. It took a long time for the state to get into this bad of a situation, and it will take a long time with the right things being done for it to get back to its former greatness. The Governor, like the President, knows that small steps in the right direction are far better than no steps at all.


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