New York

And He Won’t Be Back


The celebrity governor terminates the financial lives of future Californians

A lot of people in California get all gaga about their latest actor-governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, on whose coattails George W. Bush hopes to ride this November. But Schwarzenegger’s “I’ll be back” is likely to be recalled only with bitter humor 50 years from now.

Being a celebrity, he wants to be adored by regular citizens. And being a Republican, he wants to be adored by corporate citizens. Being the chief executive of the nation’s largest state, he’s trying to keep them all happy—the ones who are currently living, that is. Nothing but a bulgin’ waffler, he took the easy way out and refused to raise taxes to help solve a huge budget deficit. Even Virginia is raising cigarette taxes—by 10 times, notes the Los Angeles Times.

Reporter Evan Halper will look like the good guy to mid-21st-century Californians for predicting the dire financial straits they’re likely to be in. Halper pointed out earlier this week that New Jersey is even forcing some of its millionaires “to share more of their wealth” with that state.

“Virtually every state facing a major budget shortfall this year,” he writes, “has made painful policy choices. Except California.”

And what’s California doing? It’s borrowing money like no other state, pushing the mounting debt into the far future. In other words, California’s leaders are eating their young. They’re essentially putting nearly $16 billion on plastic—just for the coming year.

The Times quotes one economist as saying, “Other states are going to be laughing at us for the way we have handled things.”

In New York, Halper notes, Republicans even defied Governor George Pataki to help override his veto of $2.5 billion in taxes.

Of course, the federal government is in large part responsible for this, having passed the burden for so many programs to the states. After all, we have to build a better Iraq.

So, in 50 years, George W. Bush will probably be serving the last stretch of his National Guard duty, but Ah-nold definitely won’t be back anywhere you can find him. Meanwhile, the kids and grandkids of you current Californians will be back—against the wall.

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