By way of Dan Walters (who, no matter how much I can't stand the guy, does have his moments), we get this. Unsurprisingly, 2010 GOP Gubernatorial candidates Steve Poizner (Insurance Commissioner) and Meg Whitman (Fmr. eBay CEO) have come out against one of Arnold's Special Favors: Proposition 1A. Proposition 1A would couple a spending cap with a tax increase. Guess why they oppose it? (Hint: they're not exactly fans of government spending.)
That's right, they oppose Prop 1A because it would institute a tax increase. Whitman, for her part, takes it even further and comes out in opposition to Propositions 1B and 1C, as well. In her argument against 1A, Whitman trots out boilerplate rhetoric that doesn't amount to much more than "taxes are bad!"
As we all know, California is in crisis. Half a million people have lost their jobs over the last year. Others have taken pay cuts. Many have lost their homes.
Yet, in Sacramento, it is business as usual. Remarkably, as California slashes services and enacts $16 billion in new taxes, the state bureaucracy is protected and actually getting bigger. Since 1998, government spending in California has grown by 80 percent and the bureaucracy has increased by 28 percent.
Is California 80 percent better? Of course not, and taxpayers have had it.
I oppose Proposition 1A (and its working partner, Proposition 1B). Proposition 1A is being sold as spending reform, but it is not. Proposition 1A is actually a sustained tax increase masquerading as reform, and it is terrible for California. For starters, Proposition 1A extends $16 billion in tax increases for two years and makes us among the highest-taxed people in America. The last thing we need right now is two more years of higher taxes on sales, income and cars.
One has to give Whitman credit for trying to make a coherent argument as to just why we don't need any taxes, but like I said earlier, this is all standard-fare on the GOP side. She trots out the fallacy that residents of California suffer from the nation's highest taxes (dirty little secret: we're not). In addition, Whitman conveniently ignores the fact that Proposition 1A--in addition to extending the Budget's tax increases--would actually allow Governor Schwarzenegger (and any future governor) to make spending cuts at their own discretion. Per a report by the California Budget Project:
Proposition 1A would modify the maximum size of, and the annual contribution into, the state’s budget reserve; impose new conditions on the use of the reserve; allocate a portion of the reserve for certain purposes; and restrict the use of “unanticipated revenues” for specified purposes. If Proposition 1A is approved by the voters, the temporary tax increases included in the 2009 budget agreement would be extended and governors would gain the unilateral authority to make mid-year reductions in state spending.
Whitman also points out that "[e]ven if Proposition 1A passes, California will still be deeply in debt – according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, $8 billion in debt to be exact." This much is true. Mac Taylor also said that the shortfall would be worse if all of Arnold's Special Favors were rejected. Nowhere does Whitman bring this up. (NOTE: I am not advocating Taylor's argument; I am merely pointing out that this part of Taylor's argument was overlooked.)
What Whitman fails to take into account is that one of the first things Governor Schwarzenegger did after assuming office was to repeal the increase in the Vehicle License Fee, one of the primary mechanisms for County and Municipal governments to gain revenue.
Whitman, though, does come out in favor of Propositions 1D, 1E and 1F:
I support Propositions 1D and 1E, which reallocate money from special funds (for children's services and mental health programs) that have a surplus to protect similar general fund programs. And I support Proposition 1F, which prohibits state politicians from getting raises whenever there is a deficit.
Poizner's piece--accurately described by Dan Walters as a "screed"--starts out by retelling his fight against last year's Proposition 93, which was a flawed attempt at overhauling term limits (the only way to overhaul term limits, in my view, is to eradicate them entirely, or have them only at the executive level of state government). His piece, on the whole, rails against "the politicians" and "Sacramento lobbyists" who are trying to craft "a backroom deal" to fool the voters. It's a faux-populist diatribe which laments the conditions of middle-income homeowners who are suddenly unable to pay their mortgages. Now, one need not remind anyone that middle- and low-income people in this state are hurting. However, many of those same people will enroll in community college to gain new skills. Many of them will seek unemployment compensation. Many of them, if given the chance, would readily go to work on a public works project. How do we pay for all this stuff? Oh, yeah, that's right--TAXES.
Poizner, for his part, is at least more specific in his arguments:
. . . if the measure passes, it will also extend the huge tax increases recently approved by the legislature. Passage of Proposition 1A means that the near-doubling of the car tax, the 1 cent statewide sales tax increase, the income tax hike and the reduction in the dependent tax credit would continue for an additional two years. That adds up to an estimated $16 billion in higher taxes. It’s no surprise these taxes are not supported by the majority of Californians.
You know, come to think of it, maybe there is some good that could come from Proposition 1A. That's not to say I'm in favor of it.
Again, though unsurprisingly, Poizner trots out the "high tax" fallacy as a way of saying that all taxes are inherently evil. Poizner mentions that a majority of the state's voters are in favor of a spending cap, but does not mention the source of his numbers. Poizner's piece ends with an appeal to "not pay another dime in taxes" until state government is made more "fiscally accountable" (Poizner, though, does not mention just what constitutes fiscal accountability). "We need to do more with less," says Poizner.
We may need to do more with less, but cutting vital public services is not the way to do it.