Is the state of California next in line for a federal bailout?
The resounding defeat by California taxpayers of 4 measures that would have raised taxes and saddled the state with additional spending obligations - mostly to public unions - means that Governor Arne must find a way to close a $21 billion deficit.
And the only logical place the governator can go is Washington, says George Will in his Washington Post column today:
For the sake of federalism, let's hope this doesn't happen. But Schwarzenegger and his Democratic allies refuse to make the hard choices in these hard times to cut the budget and shrink government. They would rather have the feds move in and force changes on them that would short circuit the taxpayer and grant unprecedented power to the unions.
Now California's mostly Democratic political class will petition Washington for a bailout to nourish the public sector that is suffocating the state's dwindling -- and departing -- private sector. The Obama administration, which rewarded the United Auto Workers by giving it considerable control over two companies it helped reduce to commercial rubble, will serve the interests of California's unionized public employees and others largely responsible for reducing the state to mendicancy.
These factions will flourish if the state becomes a federal poodle on a short leash held by the president. He might make aid conditional on the state doing things that California Democrats and their union allies would love to be "compelled" to do: eliminate the requirements of two-thirds majorities of both houses of the legislature to raise taxes and pass budgets, and repeal Proposition 13, which voters passed in 1978 to limit property taxes. These changes would enable the legislature (job approval rating: 14 percent) to siphon away an ever-larger share of taxpayers' wealth and transfer it to public employees. Such as prison guards, whose potent union is one reason California's cost-per-inmate (about $49,000) is twice the national average.
California's voters are complicit in their state's collapse. They elect and reelect the legislators off whom public employees unions batten. Also, voters have promiscuously used their state's plebiscitary devices to control and fatten the budget. In November, as the dark fiscal clouds lowered, they authorized $9.95 billion more in debt as a down payment on a perhaps $75 billion high-speed-rail project linking San Francisco and Los Angeles -- a delight California cannot afford.
I am getting tired of asking "What is this country coming to," for the simple reason that with Obama, anything is possible. That makes the question moot. It is coming to Obama and his unprecedented power grabs.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky