July 16, 2003
POLITICS: The Gray Davis Recession
One thing that's worried me for some time about Bush's ability to get the economy moving again -- both long-term for the national good and short-term for the 2004 election -- is the fact that something like 1/6 of the economy is California, which remains under the hammerlock of the Democratic Party more than any state in the nation (Dem governor, Dems control both houses of the state legislature, Dem state AG, two Dem Senators, Dems dominate the Congressional delegation, etc.). And what a party it is: a governor who's unprincipled and almost universally unpopular riding herd over a state party dominated by the hard cultural Left and the rent-seeking special interest groups (government employee unions, the plaintiffs' bar, etc. -- government by the people who make a living off of government). The result is a $38.6 billion budget deficit, a spiral of downgrading of California's bonds, and a basket case of a state economy. (While the California GOP isn't innocent of all this, they've been too powerless too long to bear much of the responsibility. But if you want to blame Pete Wilson -- the man who did more for the Democratic party in the last 15 years than anyone else -- go ahead).
Part of the problem, and one that reaches outside of California, is litigation and regulation run amok. For example, even Steven Breyer recently recognized that California has gone too far in handing over regulatory powers to the plaintiffs' bar and that "[a]s far as I can tell, California’s delegation of the government’s enforcement authority to private individuals is not traditional, and may be unique . . . "
Mark Steyn recently noted that the May employment figures showed a net gain of 4,500 jobs for the other 49 states -- but a 21,500 job loss in California. I'd be fascinated to see a deeper analysis to show exactly how much of the nation's lingering economic hangover is concentrated in the one place where the writ of conservative economic policies barely runs.
If this keeps up, look for the Democrats to blame Bush's national policies for their own local problems. Maybe that's why Bush wants Davis to stay on -- so he can point to the source of the problem and say that things aren't so bad anywhere else. But to my view, this is reason enough to support a recall: the rest of the nation can't afford Gray Davis anymore.
I hate Davis as much as any Republican, and the Democrats bear a large amount of responsibility for the budget defecit. BUT, the fact that it requires a 2/3rds vote of the legislature to aprove a budget means that the Republicans can (and do) exert a large amount of power. Also, energy deregulation was a bipartisan effort (passed the legislature unanimously) which is responsible for a fair chunk of the defecit over the last couple of years.
And despite, my hate for Davis, I think it sets a horrible precedent to have a recall election for an official who hasn't committed misconduct (aside from being a horrible Govornor).
Then why in the heck are prominent conservatives like Goldberg and Safire speaking out against the recall? "Yeah, allow what would be the world's fifth largest economy to go in to the crapper just so we can point and laugh." I find it shocking that conservatives wouldn't want to try and help us save California. You just can't write us off, no matter how much you'd like to.
Ivan, Governor Davis' misconduct is that he has squandered an enormous surplus and lead us in to the largest state deficit in California's history. A CEO of a Fortune 500 company would have their heads on a platter right now so why can't we -- the shareholders -- kick him out? What Davis has done is endanger our state financially for years to come.
The man needs to go and so do the tax and spend liberals in the state legislature. What you're seeing here is an electorate that is fed up with the status quo in Sacto and I for one love it.
I totally agree that recalls should be difficult and rare. Goldberg and Safire are against recalls on principle. But here we've got the classic case of a guy who was part of the problem, has no hope of fixing it, and has really only ever won elections by massing a huge warchest and trashing his opponents.
Also, I don't think we should be hearing objections to recalls from Democrats who argued that they ought to be able to pull their own candidate off a ballot at the last minute after the statutory deadline just because he's a crook and they came up with a better guy. If a party can change its mind -- nullifying the votes of its own primary voters -- even when the law says it can't, then why can't the voters change their mind when they've had a law on the books for years saying they can?
Molly- Every state has gone from large surpluses to large defecits, should all the Governors? You had a chance to get rid of him 9 months ago. Riordan would have wiped the floors with Davis, but the republicans nominated Simon. The problem with recalls is that they can cause us to have an election every year.
Crank- I assume you are talking about the Torch? I seem to recall that he withdrew from the race. Only then did the dems try to change the ballot. It didn't seem like the primary voters were upset. Back in Minnesota, where I grew up, the Republicans pulled out all the stops to get Arne Carlson on the Governors ballot after Grunseth pulled out of the race under the cloud of adultery and (alleged) sexual abuse. I didn't mind it, I would rather have the ballot reflect the voters real options.