Quantcast

Posts Tagged ‘term limits’



Carly: Pass Reforms, Dump ‘Bitter Partisan’ Babs

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

SAN DIEGO – With a slashing attack on Sen. Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina called Saturday for sweeping reforms to shake up Washington, a bid to steer the race away from issues where she is to the right of mainstream voters and to frame her Republican candidacy as a strike against the status quo.

Portraying Boxer as a left-wing ideologue and prime example of a failed liberal Democratic establishment, Fiorina cast herself as an agent of change who would fight for Congressional term limits and rules changes to make Senate legislation more transparent to citizens.

It’s doubtful that Boxer will rise to the bait by engaging Fiorina on issues like term limits and open government, however. Her campaign would rather keep voters focused on matters where her rival has taken positions more conservative than the more moderate, independent voters who will decide the election — immigration, climate change and abortion , for example  — as well as the Republican’s record as the fired CEO of Hewlett Packard.

In her crisply delivered mid-day speech to state Republican convention delegates, Fiorina repeatedly criticized Boxer as a career politician who long ago overstayed her welcome in Washington.

“They say Washington is a place where people go to do good and stay to do well,” she said, in launching her verbal assault.

“To be blunt, for four decades, (Boxer) has earned her keep not by the sweat of her brow, but by the toil and struggle of hard-working Americans in the private sector. And her left-wing ideology allows her to avoid agonizing over tough decisions,” she said.

Fiorina called for an end to “a system where politicians make backroom deals to ensure their eternal re-election and the re-election of their buddies in Congress.” To that end, she pledged to serve only two terms in the Senate and called for limiting House and Senate terms to 12 years each.

“Ours was intended to be a citizen government and 12 years in each chamber of Congress is enough time to get something done without losing touch with the real world,” she said.

Fiorina also endorsed Proposition 20, an initiative that calls for a citizens commission to draw Congressional district boundaries, instead of leaving the job to the state Legislature. She also called for the defeat of Prop. 27, a measure sponsored by legislative leaders to reverse earlier, voter-approved state redistricting reforms, and for posting federal legislation online for public comment for at least two weeks before voting begins, including complete cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

Fiorina repeated the charge that the Obama administration’s economic stimulus bill– which Boxer supported — has been an utter failure, noting that California’s unemployment rate , now 12.3%, was 10.2% when the stimulus was passed.

She cast Boxer as a “bitter partisan” who has achieved little in her 34 years in public office, 28 as a U.S. Senator and House member.  “Barbara Boxer,” she said, “the only job you are fighting for is your own.”

Carly and the little people: Hurricane Carly blew past a crowd of about 100 cheering volunteers her campaign had assembled to greet her at the entrance of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, barely pausing to acknowledge them, let alone offer personal thank yous,  handshakes or hugs.

Fiorina was nearly 45 minutes late when she swept in at 11:25 a.m., stopping for just a few seconds to wave at her supporters, who had assembled early and lined up to practice chanting her name (weirdest sign: “Carly – Rep Our Hood,” held by a woman with a baseball cap on sideways). Then the candidate quickly made a sharp right turn, briskly walking through the crowd, up the escalator and out of sight.

A trio of elderly folks from central California, all clad in bright red “Carly” caps and t-shirts, told  Calbuzz as they walked away through the hotel lobby that they’d waited an hour to see their party’s nominee and were disappointed that she hadn’t spent some time meeting and greeting her grassroots backers.

Another reason why we call her Hurricane Carly.

Dems come to town: While Fiorina was inside getting ready for her big speech, we found our old friend Kam Kuwata outside the Hyatt, overseeing a rag-tag picket line of Boxer supporters who carried handwritten signs (“Fiorina = Massive Job Losses”) and chanted (“Bad for California – Bad for H-P”) as they marched on the sidewalk to protest the Republicans’ position on tax cuts for the rich and her record as CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

Kuwata is coordinating a new truth squad operation called “CEO Watch,” financed by the L.A. County Democratic Party, to “educate the voters about the Republican candidates for office.” He had a pink flyer, headlined “Carly Fiorina’s ‘Pink Slip’ for California,” affixed to his lapel with the biggest safety pin in California.

There were no injuries.

LATE BREAKING UPDATE: For those of you who were dying to know what happened to the California Republican Assembly’s resolution putting the state GOP on record supporting Arizona’s “papers please you immigrant suspect” law, here’s the poop: It died in the Resolutions Committee for a lack of a second (and opposition from Meg Whitman’s loyalists). Bee Person, Torey “Don’t Call Me Dutch” Van Oot (who,btw, is NOT Dutch, thereby embarrassing Calbuzz who called her “The Tulip”) has all the intel here.

9/11 Fishwrap: iCarly, Prince Gavin, Happy Goo-Goos

Friday, September 11th, 2009

carlyfistCarly of Arabia: Here at Calbuzz, our Department of Erudition’s Division of Bibliographic Resources and Recreational Imbibing maintains one of the world’s most extensive databases of news and information sources.

So it was that we happened to peruse some archival reports of AME Info, the widely-known and widely-respected provider of business information in and about the Middle East. Wherein we once again were beset by questions about what former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina knew, and when she knew it, about HP conducting business with Iran, despite a U.S. ban on trade with that, um, controversial nation.

Loyal readers will recall our kudos to Mike Zapler of the San Jose Mercury News, who recently reported on how H-P used a Middle East distributor called Redington Gulf to sell “hundreds of millions of dollars worth of printers and other products” to Iran during the leadership tenure of Fiorina, who has launched a bid to capture the Republican nomination for Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat. In his piece, a spokeswoman stated that Fiorina was “unaware of any sales to Iran during her time at the company.”

Yet smack in the middle of Hurricane Carly’s 1999-2005 stint as CEO, on Oct. 5, 2003, AME Info reported that Redington Gulf had become H-P’s first Mideast distributor to surpass $100 million in transactions through its offices in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, “Iran and Egypt.”

“The seeds of the Redington/Hewlett-Packard relationship in the Middle East were sowed six years ago for one market – Iran – and one product group,” the story says (itals ours). “Today it boasts of covering the entire region and across multiple product groups and support services.”

redingtonThe piece even includes a happy photo of five smiling fellas – identified as “the management of Redington Gulf FZE and seniors from HP” – joining hands to cut a cake in celebration of “this milestone achievement.” And some milestone it was: HP in 2003 named Redington their “Wholesaler of the Year,” according to the distributor’s web site.

But Beth Miller, speaking for Fiorina’s nascent campaign, insisted that HP was “not doing business in Iran at all” while the wannabe Senator was CEO.

“To her knowledge, during her tenure, HP never did business in Iran, and fully complied with all U.S. sanctions and laws,” Miller told Calbuzz. She also cited recent comments by Redington CEO Raj Shankar, also reported by AME Info (take that CB!), stating that his company sells HP printers and supplies to “approved Iranian customers” – who aren’t in Iran.

“Redington Gulf does not engage in any commercial activity in Iran,” Shankar said. “The company does not conduct sales, stocking or import activities inside Iran, nor does it transact payments from any customer or bank in Iran. The business model is such that Redington does not take the product physically to Iran. Redington fulfills those products (in United Arab Emirates), and it is then for the customer to take the product into Iran and engage in local commerce.”

Bottom line: When Fiorina formally enters the race later this year, we foresee rampant curiosity about HP’s 2003 “Wholesaler of the Year.”

[After-the-fact credit note: Although it was suggested to us by someone else before he used it, David Dayen over at Calitics was the first writer we know of to deploy the label  “iCarly”.]

Two faces of reform: Good-government reformers will take one look at the new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California and squeal with delight about the finding that 58% of likely voters say it would be a good idea to have a split roll property tax system – in which commercial properties gets taxed at current market value, instead of  being limited in the same way as residential property, which has been the case since the passage of Proposition 13.

And the goo-goos will likely also get a thrill up their legs about the 54% who like the idea of replacing the two-thirds vote requirement with a 55-percent majority rule for the legislature to pass a state budget.

They may even get goose bumps about the 48% of voters who’d support replacing the two-thirds vote requirement with a 55-percent majority standard to pass local special taxes.

But before falling into a total swoon, these good folks should duly note that the same statewide survey found: 58% of likely voters say Proposition 13 is still a good thing; 64% still favor term limits; 65% would limit annual state spending increases; and 55% say laws passed by initiative are probably better than those passed by the legislature and governor.

In other words, California voters like the idea of major changes, but when it comes to actually making changes – don’t bet the house.

gavindash

Two faces of Gavin: SF Mayor Gavin Newsom was sharp as a tack in an interview about his campaign for governor on KCRA’s “Which Way LA” Thursday.

With host Warren Olney flinging tough questions, Prince Gavin showed he can handle serious subjects in crisp sound bites – laying out the key constitutional revisions he’d like to see, his top priorities as governor, where he’d look for new revenue (tobacco tax, oil severance tax and vehicle license fees) and why he believes he was right to lead the way in standing up for gay marriage.

It’s clear that by routinely taking questions from the public and reporters  (as opposed to, oh say, Meg Whitman, just to pick a name out of the air) Newsom has honed his campaign skills. As Calbuzz told Olney on his post-interview segment, Newsom’s political problem is not one  of presentation; rather, he needs to convince enough donors that he’s a smart investment to put together the resources to run a serious campaign. And that’s a tough sell because Attorney General Jerry Brown – who’s about 20 points ahead of Newsom in serious polling — is especially popular with older voters. And about 68% of the June 2010 primary electorate is expected to be 50 and older.

But we gotta say – he gives good interview.

gavinpensiveOn the other hand: SF Weekly presents a decidedly unflattering portrait of Newsom in the Calbuzz Must-Read of the Week. Pulling more than its share of the local media’s load of responsibility for enlightening the rest of us about Prince Gavin, the paper published a terrific 4,622-word profile by Ashley Harrell, who interviewed boatloads of former advisers, consultants and supporters:

“Seek out the political operatives who once worked closely with Newsom, and you’ll find that a number have soured on the mayor. Ask them why, and you’ll be bombarded with his alleged character flaws. Among them: ‘thin-skinned,’ ‘disloyal,’ ‘friendless,’ ‘joyless,’ ‘Machiavellian,’ ‘craven,’ and ’empty.’ One will tell you that Eric Jaye was ‘the best-paid babysitter in California.’ Several will diagnose Newsom with an acute case of narcissism.

“‘He’s probably the worst mayor in modern history,’ said Jack Davis, a strategist who has worked on the mayoral campaigns of Newsom, Willie Brown, and Frank Jordan. ‘I pity this poor state if lightning should strike and this cad becomes governor amidst the problems that the state has. He’d have a nervous breakdown. There’s no there there.'”

Must read II: The indefatigable Mark Z. Barabak offered up a considerably brisker profile of Newsom that, in a series of deft strokes, also cut to the core of what bothers lots of folks in San Francisco about their mayor – and explains why Brown runs ahead of Prince Gavin in SF.

“Still, to a striking degree, some of Newsom’s biggest backers — in civic groups and policy circles, among political activists and campaign donors — have in the last few years become some of the mayor’s sharpest critics. In a series of interviews, they expressed disappointment and accused Newsom, in words oft-repeated, of focusing more on self-aggrandizement and personal publicity than solving the city’s problems.

‘Once he’s said it and it’s printed in the newspapers, it’s done in his mind,’ said Jim Ross, a political consultant who ran Newsom’s 2003 campaign for mayor. ‘Then it’s on to the next big announcement.'”

This just in – U.S. land mass growing exponentially: A headline on the Huffpost home page last week read thusly: “Hundreds of states shut down to save money.”

Jerry Retreats, Wally Fumbles, Bruce Cashes In

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

jerryseminaryHoly Cow! We cried, when we read in the Times of London that Jerry Brown “said that he will retreat to a monastery over the next few weeks to ‘consider my options and what it would mean for me, my family and the state of California.’”

While we knew, of course, that Jerry took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience while he was at the Sacred Heart Novitiate from 1956-1960, it was news to us that he was still hanging with the monks.

As it turns out, however, Brown spends a day or two every now and then at the Abbey of New Clairveaux, a Trappist-Cistercian Monastery in Vina which offers accommodations for visitors.  The Abby’s website explains:

retreat_r4_c1“A guest, whether he or she remains but for a few hours or makes a private retreat of several days, can expect to experience a degree of silence and solitude, separation from the world’s busyness [sic] and distractions, and the daily monastic rhythm between communal and personal prayer, and work. This often makes possible a more effective movement into the interior of one’s heart.”

Hmmm. You don’t imagine a British paper, wanting to make Brown sound quirky and odd, oversold the whole “retreat” deal, do you? So we asked Crusty about it ourselves.

“It’s a place I’ve been to many times,” Brown said, noting that he’ll likely go for a day or two. “I’m not ready to make a decision (about running for governor) until I’ve thought this through and all the consequences that flow from it.”

Calbuzz is outraged –- outraged we say! – that a political figure would spend time “thinking” about whether he wants to run for office. What next? Reading the bills? Active listening? The mind boggles.

Retreat Update: We are informed by the SF Chronicle’s Carla “Whirling Dervish” Marinucci that it was she, not the Sunday Times, which first reported Jerry Brown’s planned foray to a monastery.


wally-herger

Wally Herger

A not-so-great American: Since his long-ago days in the Assembly, Rep. Wally Herger has been a genial, no-account cipher who represents more cows than people and whose greatest political value is as an argument for term limits. So it’s hard to imagine a less likely figure to ignite a national controversy over terrorism and the limits of the First Amendment.

But as the whole world now knows, Herger did exactly that during one of those annoyingly titled “town hall meetings” about health care in his district. In his 15 minutes of You Tube fame, Herger responded “Amen, God bless you, there’s a great American,” after a constituent named Bert Stead had delivered an anti-government screed including the statement that he – Stead – is a “proud right-wing terrorist.” (On Monday, he said he meant to say “extremist,” not “terrorist.”)

At which point the hysterical left, led by the increasingly over-bearing Keith Olbermann, went nuts, accusing Herger and the Republican party of aiding and abetting enemies of America while also managing to turn the whole thing into a political fundraising bonanza.

As all erudite Calbuzzers know, Webster defines “unctuous” as “characterized by affected, exaggerated or insincere earnestness,” and the D’s reaction to the Herger video must be judged as a case of extreme unction.

They knew, or should have known, that Stead’s comment — intended or not — was a vamp on a recent statement by Indiana congressman Baron Hill – a Democrat – who was the first to throw around the T word, when he told the Post’s Peter Slevin why he wouldn’t hold a public meeting about health care: “What I don’t want to do is create an opportunity for the people who are political terrorists to blow up the meeting and not try to answer thoughtful questions.”

But when has context ever mattered in the politics of unctuousness?

That said, the Dems do have a legitimate beef in complaining about the massive double standard with which the O’Reilly-Limbaugh-Hannity right-wing sleaze machine deals with such matters: One can only imagine the phony outrage with which they would greet such a comment by a liberal Democrat – let alone what they would have done with footage of guys carrying guns, fercrineoutloud, to an event featuring President W.

malkenhorst-1977

Bruce Malkenhorst

Remember this name: With the latest projections of state deficits far, far into the future it seems clear that regardless of the issue du jour in Sacramento – Early release of felons! Water! Offshore oil! – the core issue of the 2010 campaign for governor must surely be the sorry-ass state of the state’s finances.

Woe to the political consultants working on the race, who make more money than Calbuzz, if you can imagine that. Where in the world are they to find vivid symbols and sound bites to package into powerful emotional messages that sum up the demagoguery of their candidates in such a complicated, confusing and boring policy issue?

No worries – that’s why God made Bruce Malkenhorst.

Malkenhorst is the former administrator of Vernon, Ca, the smallest city in Southern California, who has a pension of $499,674.84, ranking him number one on the list of nearly 5,000 CalPERS retirees who get more than $100,000 a year. (He’s also been indicted for embezzling city funds, but that’s a story for another day).

With reporters and anti-tax groups around the state filing blizzards of public records requests to divulge the names of those cashing in on the pension Big Casino – look here, here and here for a few examples – the issue of sweetheart retirement packages represents pure gold for campaign message mongers trying to harness free-floating voter outrage at government.

Dr. H predicts: 2010’s most popular drinking game – man up every time you hear the name “Malkenhorst.”

mark twain

Mark Twain

Oh, never mind: It was just a few weeks ago that parched Central Valley denizens and wildfire weary Southern Californians were cheered by predictions that meteorologists were projecting a drenching El Nino fall and winter. Now comes weather egghead Bill Patzert to call the whole thing off.

Never ones to pass up un cliché juste, Calbuzz at this point in the item was prepared to chuckle warmly and recall that Mark Twain said, “Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.” Unfortunately, as with many famous things Mark Twain said, he didn’t say it. So we’re calling that off too.

What Sacramento’s Wimpy Democrats Aren’t Doing

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

donkeyWhen Calbuzz bashed the Democrats’ legislative leaders for getting rolled by Arnold and the Reeps in the budget fight, we heard some cries of “foul” from defenders of Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and Senate President Darrell Steinberg.

Steinberg spokesman Jim Evans and blogger/analyst Bill Bradley were among those who dropped by Calbuzz to comment on the post, arguing essentially that Bass and Steinberg had cut the best deal possible.

“The budget sucks, of course,” wrote Mr. Crankypants Bradley, “And your real world alternative would be … What?”

A fair enough question, and one we answer with three words of advice for the Democrats: Go on offense.

As a political matter, the plain fact is that the Republicans in Sacramento out-thought, out-maneuvered and out-led the Democrats throughout the budget fight. Despite huge majorities in both houses, the D’s remained in a defensive crouch, constantly reacting to whatever the Republican governor and his allies decided to do, consistently wilting while constantly whining that the two-thirds vote budget requirement made it impossible for them to do more.

No one’s saying that the two-thirds vote doesn’t make life difficult. We’ve argued repeatedly that dumping it is the single most important reform needed to attack dysfunction in Sacramento. But Democrats by now have managed to work themselves into a complete state of psychological paralysis about it.

Instead of aggreselephant-donkey-boxing-thumbsively fighting against the tyranny of the minority, Democrats act like the two-thirds is some unspeakable force of nature, an all-powerful totem before which all must bow down and worship in fear.

Underlying this passive posture are two crippling, if unspoken, assumptions: 1) that policy is somehow separate from politics and 2) that the only reality that matters is that unfolding in the hothouse halls, meeting rooms, chambers, restaurants and saloons of the cul de sac that is Sacramento.

Steinberg, in particular, appears so intent on playing the policy statesman that he seems to have forgotten he’s also a leader of a political party, with plenty of untapped resources available to make recalcitrant Republicans pay a price in their own districts for their stubbornness.

Bass, with her adoring gazes at Schwarzenegger, looks and acts like she’s fallen down the rabbit hole of Sacramento; having lost the perspective that there’s a whole big world outside, she fails to wield the fierce and formidable campaign style weapons at her disposal — money, research, troops and technology — in members’ districts around the state.

The bottom line for Democrats is that, unless and until the two-thirds rule gets rolled back, their last, best hope of prevailing is to start treating their political fights with Republicans as a kind of permanent campaign. Here are five tactics the Dems could use for starters:

1. Bury the petty feuds between the Assembly and Senate and among members. These are a key reason why Democrats never get their act together when they’ve got a Republican governor — at least since the Speaker of the Assembly has become a rotating position. Even when John Burton was President Pro Tem, the Assembly and Senate were constant rivals — a foolish and vain conflict that saps strength from what should be a vital majority party. Sure, term limits have made members crazy, so that everyone’s angling for the next position and looking over their shoulder. But unless the party functions as a power center, majorities in the Legislature aren’t worth a bucket of warm spit.

2. Craft a message. If the Democrats had a clear, consistent and collaborative message in the budget fight, they did a terrific job of keeping it secret. Someone in a position of authority – or a collaborative group — needs to step up and start convening conference calls that include key players – top legislative leadership, John Burton and state party operatives, key Sacramento consultants like Gale Kaufman and Jason Kinney, and maybe even representatives of the gubernatorial candidates – to discuss the news and hash out a simple and coherent message in anticipation or response, to be sounded by every player from every platform so that they start framing the debate and defining the issues.

3. Identify and exploit the weaknesses of individual Republican members. Take a lesson from the way Obama’s White House operates in going after political enemies, like Senator Jim DeMint, or the way the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee attacks vulnerable GOP members in their districts.  Take a hint from Pete Stark, whose interactive map of stimulus spending could be used throughout California Assembly and Senate districts.

Democratic leaders need to put their forces on a war room footing that quickly and constantly spins off web and cable ads, robo calls, earned media opportunities and direct mail ads pointing out exactly what a GOP member’s “just say no” stance means for his district. Flood the zone with truth squads, protests and demonstrations at member’s offices, focusing tightly on the real world impacts to real people – teachers, cops, nurses, service employees, the sick and elderly – of the ideological recalcitrance of GOP assemblymen and senators.

4. Agree on a progressive tax strategy and stick with it. From day to day, the Democrats bounce around about the need for government spending in a recession, embracing a tobacco or liquor tax one day, sales tax reform the next, ending corporate loopholes on yet another. The net effect is to make them look craven and desperate to get their hands on any public money anyway they can, instead of having a coherent strategy of governance that is both progressive and practical, and that speaks to real people.

For starters, develop in depth and detail for the public the arguments for an oil severance tax – it truly is a scandal that California is the only oil-producing state without one – and stick with it instead of folding the first time anti-tax Republicans jump up and go “boo.”’ The tax cut, trickle down theory of government was soundly rejected by Americans in the last election, and Democrats need to stop living in fear that it’s still 1978.

5. Build stronger alliances with the netroots. The most consistent and smartest thinking and writing about progressive politics isn’t happening in Sacramento, but being churned out day after day on sites and by organizations like Calitics, Orange County Progressive, and the California Budget Project. Many Democratic members, just like Calbuzz, may find some of their stuff too lefty, but their reach into communities of interest of political activists makes them invaluable allies in spreading the message about progressive values and reaching critical mass in the battle to shape the political narrative that shapes public opinion.

Surely, professional political operatives in Sacramento can come up with a better list than ours. We’re just a couple of old hacks who’ve watched politics for 60 years or so, and advising partisans isn’t our job. But the next time we take a shot at the Democrats for their feckless and impotent behavior, don’t say we haven’t laid out some alternatives.

Why Arnold’s “Legacy” Claim is a Fraud

Monday, July 27th, 2009

arnoldcigarThe day before the Legislature passed the third patchwork version of California’s budget in 10 months, Gov. Schwarzenegger took to “Flashreport,” the state’s leading conservative web site, to claim “a huge win.”

“(T)he biggest winner to emerge from our negotiations is California,” the governor bragged, “our state’s legacy, its priorities, and its budget stability.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong!!

Schwarzenegger’s triumphalist braying was little more than a one-step-ahead-of-the-posse exercise in spin control, a pathetically transparent bid to establish a positive narrative for the budget disaster over which he’s presided, in hopes that voters and his suck-up pals in the national media will buy his story without bothering to check it out.

(NOTE TO NATIONAL POLITICAL WRITERS: Schwarzenegger did NOT solve or stabilize California’s budget. Despite his assertion to the contrary, his budget – passed in February and now revised twice – actually RAISED TAXES by $12.5 BILLION. With the latest revision, he threw off enough ballast to keep his hot air balloon afloat but in no particular direction.)

As Fred Keeley, the elected treasurer of Santa Cruz County, put it:

“The governor set the standard when he said, at the start of the process, that this needs to be a complete solution. And then he violated his own standard by signing a budget which doesn’t solve the problem this year or next year and in fact, according to the Legislative Analyst and the Department of Finance, is going to create a multi-billion-dollar deficit next year.”

Keeley knows wherearnoldbuckof he speaks. He served on the Assembly Budget Committee for six years, was asked by former Gov. Gray Davis to be Finance Director and is a Senate appointee to the Governor’s 21st Century Commission on the Economy.

In truth, Arnold’s entire tenure has been one continuous failure of leadership. This is just the latest chapter.

From his first days in office (when he sowed the seeds of today’s never-ending fiscal crisis by his irresponsible cut in the vehicle license fee) to his ill-considered $15 billion borrowing bond (which helped make interest payments the fastest growing item in the budget) and his current shameful spending plan (which gives the University of California a major push into mediocrity while continuing the slow death of K-12 education and punishing the aged, blind and disabled), he has been little more than a narcissistic, tone-deaf poseur, surrounded by sycophants and devoid of principle or conviction.

At a time when the state’s economy is hemorrhaging, its schools failing and roads crumbling, Schwarzenegger has been utterly ineffective in explaining to Californians the reasons behind the problems we face, and even less so in proposing innovative solutions to any of them. His little touchdown dance about the current budget belies the painful truth that this is nothing but a stop-gap maneuver designed to escape the embarrassment of issuing IOUs and con the credit markets into a few months of cash to ease the state’s borrowing jones.

Schwarzenegger’s soaring claims about the wonders worked by his budget fail on three grounds:

1. It’s a short term fix. Amid all the high-fives and chest bumps in the governor’s circle, it’s important to recall that the latest budget plan comes just five months after the last one, which came only five months before the previous. In other words, California has had three budgets in less than a year and, given current revenue trends, it’s all but certain that Arnold and the gang will be back in the fall for yet another round of all-nighters. Filled with gimmicks, borrowing and Grand Theft from schools and local government, the “huge win” for California being trumpeted by Schwarzenegger is nothing but more of the same old same old.

2. It does nothing to address the state’s dysfunction. As Calbuzz has reported the ongoing budget mess is a symptom of a far more fundamental disorder – a state of permanent ideological gridlock shaped by term limits, gerrymandering and three decades worth of wrong-headed initiatives. The latest “drama” over the budget is just another re-run of Groundhog Day, and it will keep re-playing and replaying until the pols in the Capitol acknowledge and accept the need for fundamental reforms, and find the cojones and the political skill to sell them to their constituents across the state.

3. It will probably make things worse. While it is true that the state for years has had a structural deficit, caused by the governor and the Legislature’s effort to defy the laws of arithmetic, it is also true that the huge magnitude of the current deficit is overwhelmingly caused by the current recession, which slashed state revenues by nearly one-third in one year, reducing tax collections to the level of a decade ago. The bursting of the real estate bubble, and the structural decline of the economy that has followed it has put the entire state economy into treacherous territory that may yet turn into a full-blown depression.

Under these conditions, there’s a strong argument to be made that wholesale cuts that the budget delivers will make the recession more punishing: as layoffs of public employee push the unemployment rate higher, furloughed state workers spend less, as all the programs set up to help with those who fall on hard economic times are cut back at the very moment they’re needed most.

As Calbuzz reported about the latest forecast by California economist Bill Watkins: “California’s budget issues are likely to be made worse by continuing economic decline. Perversely, the budget then negatively feeds back into the economy. The problem is not likely to see relief, at least in terms of increased revenues, before late 2011.”