Heckuva job, Termy: Californians balk at budget compromise

posted at 5:15 pm on April 29, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Hugh Hewitt highlights this Sacramento Bee poll showing that even Californians can get fed up with government spending and taxes.  The legislature sent parts of its budget-crisis compromise to the voters in several ballot initiatives, and it appears California voters are prepared to send a message back to Sacramento.  And it’s not, “You’ll be back”:

Voters strongly oppose five special election measures being sold as a budget-reform elixir for California’s burgeoning $40 billion deficit.

But voters in a new Field Poll overwhelmingly support a measure to bar legislators and state officers from getting a pay raise when there is a budget deficit.

And with heightened surliness, they’re telling Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature that they’re fed up with more government spending and higher taxes.

How badly have the Governator and the state legislature miscalculated public anger?  Not one of these initiatives gets more than 40% — except the one that freezes wages in Sacramento:

Hugh says we can forget about Arlen Specter, because the new political message will be coming out of California — and both Schwarzenegger and Barack Obama had better pay attention:

The important lesson in the California melt-down and the voters reaction top it and rejection of a tax-hike solution set is that President Obama and the Congressional Democrats are following strategies very similar to those adopted by Sacramento.  People like the president just as they liked Arnold when he was elected and then re-elected.

But they hate high taxes and lousy services, complicated government schemes to regulate their businesses and their lives, and especially deceitful, self-serving posturing by elected officials. Arnold is now about as highly esteemed as Gray Davis before him.  Like Arnold, President Obama has started his time in office with high popularity, but that popularity won’t protect his electability when the public absorbs the fact that the taxes he is planning are even more staggering than those imposed in the Golden State, and the government growth he is engineering even more vast than that which has occured on the west coast.

Forget Arlen Specter.  The most important political message of this season is going to come out of California in three weeks.

Proposition 13 set the stage for a national revival of tax-limitation politics and helped elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, two years later.  If California mobilized to reject these measures by wide margins, it would put paid to the notion that the political center is in tax-and-spend policies, especially in the middle of an economic crisis.  Hugh may well be right that a California revolt over decades of Democratic Party economic and tax policies could undermine their message nationwide — and not a moment too soon for the Golden State, which spent its way into bankruptcy years ago, even if Californians didn’t recognize it at the time.

Keep a close eye on these referendums.  They may signal that the American voter has had enough of profligacy, waste, and irresponsibility in government, and that won’t be good news for Democrats in California or nationwide.


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