The veto message…

In his perplexing letter announcing his vetoes of the Democratically-passed mid-year $18 billion budget package, Governor Schwarzenegger writes:

The measures you sent me punish people with increased taxes, but do not make the serious cuts in spending necessary to balance our budget; do nothing to help keep California families working during this recession; and do nothing to help Californians facing foreclosure in this mortgage crisis. It is unfair and unacceptable to place an even greater burden on hard-working taxpayers without doing all we can to cut spending, create jobs and keep people in their homes.

I would say this letter is surprisingly tone-deaf, but this is admittedly after the Governor had his last budget package of severe cuts announced while he was away on an Idaho ski vacation.

The rhetoric of “punishing” people with increased taxes seems wrong for someone who recognizes that they need to be part of any solution, which his own budget suggest. Taxes aren’t a punishment–they are, as the quote says, the price we pay for civilization. They are never loved, but most people recognize we have to pay for the services (education, health, public safety, etc) that we get.

Moreover, the phrasing seems oblivious to the real punishment being felt by those impacted by the cuts he is proposing, especially in health and human services.

Finally, preventing these cuts to health and human services will do more for the economy and “keeping California families working” than anything he has proposed as so-called “economic stimulus.” The funding for these programs goes right into the community and economy, gets spent immediately, and largely goes to either low-income beneficiaries and/or service workers–both of which are likely to immediate spend that money again, providing a multiplier effect. In health care (and some other programs), this multiplier effect is increased further because of federal matching funds.

It seems frustrating that with the awful choices and trade-offs that have to be made this year, we still are seeing this type of rhetoric and distractions in the conversation.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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