Much has been made of the fact that today, July 30th is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 60th birthday and wouldn’t it be a great present if the Reps. would come together, sing Happy Birthday and Kumbaya and give the state a budget and move on with the other important business at hand.
Such thinking is sweet, but as far from reality as one can get in Sacramento, where reality is usually cast by political consultants and clever media-spinners. No, the Gov. can’t rely on his flock for support—or likely even a birthday card. So much for the much ballyhooed smoking tent, late night schnaps and heavily testosteroned bantering in the beautiful outdoors of the “horseshoe” in the Capitol. Must be pretty quiet these days as former Senate Democratic leader and first-buddy to the Gov.John Burton is long gone and any sense of Republican comraderie with the Gov. has taken a similar route.
Nope, there’s no fun today in Mudville for this Governor. Of course, he doesn’t much mind. After all, he’s had his mug all over national and international newspapers and magazines, been meeting with the heads of state, the UN leadership and NYC’s own number one honcho, possible presidential candidate Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He’s also been seen at the Capitol gym while budget negotiations have been taking place, photographed down in Miami raising over $1.5 Million last week on a jaunt to that city a couple thousand miles away from our shores. This and several other long-distance photo-ops have demonstrated a less than a total commitment to getting a budget passed here in the place Schwarzenegger is actually authorized to oversee and govern.
A budget will happen, of course, as it always does. But we shouldn’t fool ourselves that the Governor will be key in the process. For all of Gray Davis’ faults (and there are many), he stuck around and spent hours trying to cajole and strong-arm both parties into submission so that a budget would finally be signed, vendors and workers paid and the state back on track to keep itself functioning and maintaining some legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens.
There are the predictable long-term casualties in this process besides programs and individuals who need to be paid in a timely fashion. There are the elderly, the poor and the disabled. There are healthcare providers (not the insurance companies, but the real deals….those who actually do something for the dollars they receive) and the service agencies that provide respite or hope or opportunity for those who haven’t been lucky enough to be born into wealth or able, for whatever reasons, to find success in their lives. Among those are the majority of foster children who try to manuever through a flawed and convoluted system full of red-tape and antiquated rules. There are victims of criminal conduct who see justice move slowly and often capriciously due to lack of funding to incarcerated violent perpetrators while filling up the dangerously limited numbers of prison cells instead with those whose crime is substance abuse and mental illness.
There are also the faceless victims of the political machinations of a party that simply doesn’t like government and wants to transfer all its functions to the “private sector”. The problem there is that the private sector’s only motivation is money with not a wit of concern for doing what is in the public’s interest. Our public transportation system is one of the most obvious victims of this short-sighted mentality this year. Not only did the Assembly pull over $1 Billion of public transit funds from their budget (in order to get Rep. votes) but now the Senate Reps. want to pull even more from that ever-diminishing funding source. So much for the right-wings protestations about ending our dependence on foreign oil, so much for working to reduce green house gas emissions and thus reducing the global warming threat that this Governor has been using as a vehicle for promoting his greater glory.
But today is the Governor’s birthday and we should focus on the positive side of all this– the cuts that were made in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” And since it’s his birthday, we shouldn’t mention the fiscally irresponsible tax GIVEAWAYS to the wealthiest corporations that were offered by the Republicans to their corporate sponsors.
But then, again, maybe the budget games have been the Republicans birthday gift to the Governor. The big, out-of-state and multi-national corporations who were to get these tax breaks are the very same folks who have filled Ahnold’s campaign coffers for years.
I guess we’ve misjudged the Reps. Maybe they are on the same page with the Governor, and we’ve all just missed the signals….Maybe it’s time for the Gov. to call them all “downstairs” for some shnaps and they’ll hug and give us the budget that we should have seen a month ago. After all, they’re all on the same team, now aren’t they? Maybe in our haste to get the Republican leader of our state to lead his flock of 15 disgruntled underlings, we ignored the obvious….that they are indeed on the same page–giving tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations while taking away from the rest of us. Perhaps this is the birthday gift the governor was looking for after all!
Oh, and by the way, Happy BIrthday Gov……wherever you are today.