Friday, February 20, 2009

Has "moderate Republican" Governor Schwarzenegger failed?

Rich Lowry today marshals a lot of evidence that suggests the answer is yes:

"His new role is as a supporting actor in the Golden State’s fiscal destruction. If the future happens in California, we all should tremble at its ever-expanding debt, falling credit ratings, crushing pension obligations, suffocating regulation, and rising taxes — with environmentally preening, ill-considered restrictions on carbon emissions thrown on top. California Democrats are only slightly ahead of national Democrats, so the country’s fiscal future may be in preview in Sacramento. Schwarzenegger presided over the creation of a budget deficit worse than the one that led to his ousting of Democratic governor Gray Davis in 2003. The state has a $42-billion deficit that state legislators have been holding all-night sessions to try to patch over and that sent Schwarzenegger begging to Washington for a bailout. The state has been buffeted by the housing crisis, but the ultimate cause of the mess is relentless, heedless overspending. California has roughly doubled its budget during the past ten years — like the recently passed stimulus bill, except spread out over a decade. Over five years, Gray Davis boosted spending from $75 billion to more than $100 billion, and his “fiscally conservative” vanquisher got it north of $140 billion. Davis managed to keep spending even during the devastating dot-com bust, and Schwarzenegger’s election brought only the briefest respite on the inexorable upward climb."

And therein always lies the problem with "moderate" Republicanism--promising to spend a bit less than the Democrats, or somehow to manage the spending more effectively, never seems to work.