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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« The buck stops here, sort of | | Federal court decision in ACLU case »
August 20, 2003

Move over, I'll drive...

Having elbowed my way past the crew from Entertainment Tonight, the writer from Muscle and Fitness Magazine and more than 100 other journalists, I managed to get a seat at Arnold’s coming out party, I mean first formal press conference. It was quite a show. The candidate was in command, well prepared, at times serious and funny, and he sketched out a substantive vision for how he would approach the job of governor. He declared that he would not raise taxes (except perhaps after a natural disaster), that he would focus on workers compensation, reducing regulation, and fixing the state’s faltering unemployment insurance fund. He proposed a new constitutional spending limit. He said if Warren Buffett ever mentions Proposition 13 again he is going to make him drop and do 500 sit-ups. He said he was open to reexamining some of the recent labor protections that business groups are complaining about, including family leave and the eight-hour-day overtime standard. He said he was leaning against Proposition 54, Ward Connerly’s racial privacy initiative, but reserves the right to change his mind before the election. What he did not offer was a specific budget plan or any details on how he would close a multi-billion-dollar budget gap. He said people do not care about the numbers and figures, and besides, his experts have told him that nobody really knows how much money the state is spending, and how the state is spending it (and I think there is some truth to that). I asked him which programs he would cut, which I think people do care about, and he brushed off the question, saying that perhaps as the campaign moves on he will offer some details. But don’t count on it. In the end, it was clear to me that Californians, if they want Arnold to be their governor, are going to have to take a leap of faith, to buy into his leadership abilities, his charisma, his communication skills, all of which are considerable, and accept his vision that the budget can be balanced without new taxes or cuts in education even as he repeals the recent increase in the car tax. That’s not a reasonable proposition. But given the rest of his package, it might not matter.


 
 

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