Schwarzenegger's New Action Role: Beggar

Obama, can you spare $8 billion?

By Owen Thomas
|  Tuesday, Dec 29, 2009  |  Updated 4:18 PM PDT
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“Imma Let You Finish”: A Decade in Quotes

Schwarzenegger, so not to the rescue.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger swept into office promising action -- you know, like in his movies.

As he faces his last year as governor of California, the main action he's engaging in is getting out the begging bowl.

The state faces a $20.7 billion budget. But so far, Schwarzenegger's best idea for filling that gap is to beg the federal government for money. $8 billion, to be precise.

That's about as plausible as the plot of your typical Arnie shoot-'em-up. For one thing, Schwarzenegger tried begging Obama for money in May, at the peak of the state's fiscal crisis, and met with denial. For another, the federal government has its own budget crisis to deal with.

The White House said it would "take a look at" the Governator's latest spare-a-dime proposal. That's what they said last time around. Translation: Don't count on any help from Washington.

California needs to solve its problems at home. Schwarzenegger's grab bag of budget fixes -- offshore oil drilling, slashing welfare and in-home healthcare, and cutting public-transit funding from the state gas tax -- wouldn't come close to closing the budget hole.

The state budget requires a major restructuring, with a wholesale jettisoning of decades of voter mandates and unfunded requirements at the state and federal level. It's true that California pays more than its fair share of federal taxes -- but that's been the case for years, and it's not something that will be solved in Sacramento.

The state needs a political action hero, someone who can go into the statehouse and blow up foolish laws. Too bad Arnold wasn't cut out for the role.

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