Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
Dan Walters notes in the Sacramento Bee how Arnold Schwarzenegger has come full circle:
Remember the Arnold Schwarzenegger who, exactly five years ago, denounced state legislators as "girlie men" beholden to unions because they failed to pass a state budget? He's back, sensing that time is running out on his 2003 campaign promise to stop "crazy deficit spending."
"The legislators' failure to act on those proposals sent a message to the California voters and to the taxpayers that says we want you to make the sacrifices but we in Sacramento don't want to make any sacrifices whatsoever," Schwarzenegger said Wednesday as a new fiscal year began. "Protecting the special interests who benefit from our dysfunctional system was more important to the Legislature than protecting the taxpayers and dealing with the entire $24 billion deficit."
If Schwarzenegger's new old crusade is, to quote Yogi Berra, "déjà vu all over again," one should also remember that he deserves much of the onus for failing to close the state's chronic deficits. Repeatedly, especially during his first months in office and later when running for re-election, he took the easy way out - cutting taxes by billions of dollars, backing off a tough spending limit, unilaterally adding spending to placate Democrats and blowing through a one-time surge in revenues.
In six years, Schwarzenegger has gone from a small government conservative (and former Mr. Olympia magazine star) to a big government liberal, back to a small government conservative. You can call that pragmatic -- or schizophrenic.
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