Tue, 16 Jun 2009 13:38:58 +0000 – Should the federal government bail out the state of California? You know, the federal government that owes trillions--should it give borrowed money to a state that owes billions? The Washington Post sure seems to think so. Here's the way itsfront-page storythis morning begins: "The Obama administration has turned back pleas for emergency aid from one of the biggest remaining threats to the economy -- the state of California." Wow. One's first reaction is that if even the Obama administration opposes a bailout, then it must be a pretty bad bailout.
Even the Obama administration recognizes that California doesn't have a 'budget crisis' -- it has a spending crisis.
But the word-choices in The Post piece are instructive--instructive about the knee-jerk bailout mentality of the MSM: those meanies in the Obama White House have "turned back pleas" from the Golden State. And then this is rich: The Post describes California's budget crisis as "one of the biggest remaining threats to the economy."
Oh yes, the prospect that Sacramento might have to make deep cuts in state government spending is as big a threat to America as unemployment, inflation, de-industrialization--not to mention the ominous prospect of "cap and tax" legislation aimed at saving us from the dire threat of carbon dioxide (legislation championed, by the way, by House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman, Democrat of... California). We are supposed to believe, according to The Post's logic, that the "Termination" of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's political stardom is a reason for the rest of us to pay out money we don't have, so that California politicos can come to Washington and continue the work of shutting down American manufacturing.
And yet even The Post has to admit, buried down deep in the piece, that the source of the problem is the reluctance of California voters to pay for the government they are stuck with.
Of course, that's not how The Post puts it. Instead, the paper writes, "The state entered the downturn burdened with an inflexible budgeting apparatus, constrained by a state ballot initiative approved by voters in 1978 that severely limited property taxes in California." Again note the loaded word choices: "burdened" ... "inflexible." Facts of life that you like are "sturdy principles." Facts of life that you don't like are "inflexible burdens." And so now we know what The Post thinks of tax-limitations--although, of course, we already knew that.
That California ballot initiative, Proposition 13, passed by a 2:1 margin 31 years ago--there's been plenty of opportunity, since then, for the voters to repeal their own tax-limiting handiwork. And yet they have chosen not to do so. Now what does that tell you? But The Post derides that choice--affirmed and reaffirmed over three decades--as "ballot box budgeting," and then glosses over the fact that this past May, the people of California voted down a huge tax increase, Proposition 1A, that was pushed by Governor Schwarzenegger and the state's Democratic political establishment. And so what does that tell you?
It tells us that the voters are simply waiting for the politicians to get the message: cut spending.
California doesn't have a budget crisis. California has an overspending crisis. But don't take my word for it--take the word of the people of California, who keep voting "yea" on tax cuts, and "nay" on tax increases.
One of these days, the governor and the legislature will get that message. But don't hold out much hope for The Post. In Washington, things are different--but you knew that.
James P. Pinkerton is a Fox News contributor. He is a former White House domestic policy adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.