George Will

When funding stem cell research was the indicator of advanced thinking -- nothing ages faster than intellectual fads -- he helped burden the state with $6 billion more in bond costs (including $200 million a year in interest for 30 years) to fund it. In 2003, Gov. Gray Davis signed a law requiring employers with 20 or more workers to provide them with health insurance or pay into a state fund that would. Citizen Schwarzenegger called it a "job-killing health-care tax" and supported the referendum that repealed it. But Gov. Schwarzenegger, scrambling aboard the "universal coverage" bandwagon, proposed a pay-or-play mandate on employers with 10 or more workers: Provide insurance or pay a 4 percent payroll tax. Because imposition of new taxes requires a two-thirds legislative majority, Schwarzenegger called his proposed $12 billion in new taxes (including those on the gross revenues of doctors and hospitals) "levies" or "fees."

"It's not a tax" because "you take it for health care," not general revenues. Those from whom it would have been taken did not appreciate the distinction. Real Republicans helped kill the plan.

Today, politicians attempt to prove their gravitas and virtue by trying to fine-tune the planet's thermostat, so Schwarzenegger favors loading the state's sputtering economy (its 7.3 percent unemployment rate is 28 percent above the national rate) with taxes, fees and regulations. Nevada and Arizona thank him for the businesses he drives their way. California Republicans have lost seven consecutive U.S. senate races, hold only 19 of 53 congressional seats, have not controlled the state Senate since 1970, have controlled the assembly for just one year (1996) since 1970 and have bleaker prospects today than when they plighted their troth to the action hero who says: "Look, I cut to the chase. I know what the Democrats like, and I know what the Republicans like. So, I say let's meet somewhere in the middle." But Gov. Weather Vane, as the Orange County Register calls him, usually finds the middle in the middle of the Democrats' legislative caucus.

The other seven-eighths of the American population should understand that what Californians are enduring has a name: "post-partisanship." Somewhere, Gray Davis is smiling.

George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
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