Rescue California, the Issa-backed committee that was formed to fund the recall of Gray Davis, has now turned its sights on Bustamante. The committee's press releases describe Cruz as part of the "Davis-Bustamante" team and today the committee attacked Bustamante's budget proposal as a fraud. Dave Gilliard, the committee's political consultant, told me his lawyers have opined that Rescue California is free to advocate for the recall and against any candidate as long as it doesn't campaign on behalf of anyone....
Posted by dweintraub at 8:09 PM
I attended Gray's speech at UCLA tonight and will be staying over to hear Arnold on Wednesday...The governor spoke before about 300 supporters, including a large number of union members, even some public employees wearing shirts demanding raises. Press reports in advance of the speech suggested that it would be a mea culpa, but it was more of a they-a culpa. He blamed the feds for the energy crisis and he blamed the economy for the budget crisis. The recall, he said, is not an expression of popular will but a right-wing coup with parallels to the Clinton impeachment. His speech will probably succeed in rallying the Democratic base to his side. But I didn't hear much that would convince independents or Republicans to support him. I'll have more in a special bonus column in the Bee on Wednesday.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:27 PM
Cruz Bustamante has produced a bold but politically risky proposal that he says would close the state’s budget gap while increasing spending on the schools and reducing the car tax for people whose vehicles are worth less than $20,000. The plan would raise taxes by $8 billion on the wealthy, business owners, commercial property, and on the users of cigarettes and alcohol. Bustamante said his proposal would cut $4.5 billion in spending, but $2 billion of that represents a shift in health care costs for the working poor from the general taxpayers to employers. His plan also projects savings of $500 million by fighting Medi-Cal fraud and $2 billion in unspecified cuts. If elected governor, Bustamante said, he would call a special session of the Legislature and introduce his plan. If it was rejected, he would gather signatures for a ballot measure and call a special election to put it to a vote of the people.
This is how strange the recall has become. The movement began with a small band of anti-tax conservatives. Now Bustamante is trying to harness the energy they unleashed to win support for what would be the biggest tax increase in state history.
Standing outside his suburban Sacramento home, Bustamante said his proposal represented the “tough love” needed to pull California out of its fiscal tailspin.
“The simple truth is that we all got into this mess together,” Bustamante said. “And we’re all going to have to get out the same way – together.”
But his plan’s details didn’t really call for togetherness so much as class warfare wrapped in a cloak of shared sacrifice. He wants to raise taxes on the wealthy, on business owners, on employers, while rolling back community college fees and car taxes on the owners of low-priced and modest vehicles.
And while Bustamante sought to downplay the difficulty of obtaining $2 billion in additional budget cuts from a Democratic Legislature, lawmakers this summer were deadlocked for weeks over spending cuts that totaled half that much. His savings in Medi-Cal and the $2 billion he says the state would save by shifting health care costs to employers are also problematic. So chances are his plan, even if approved, would still leave a significant gap in the budget.
On the other hand, you have to give Cruz points for guts. His proposal is far-reaching and seeks to consolidate and advance the agenda of the Democratic left at a time when most in that camp feel as if they are under a partisan assault that threatens everything in which they believe. Yet he managed to offer this agenda in a tone that was not combative. He’s offering his plan with rhetoric of inclusiveness and “working together.” If you didn’t know about the holes in it or realize its true scope, it might even leave you feeling warm and fuzzy.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:23 PM
Arnold's first ads will begin running Wednesday, the same day he plans to meet privately with his team of economic advisers and then face the political press in an open-ended Q and A for the first time. Here is the story in the Bee. The candidate also plans to appear soon on Oprah, which spokesman Sean Walsh describes as part of a concerted effort to reach beyond the wonks who watch "Meet the Press" on Sunday morning.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:16 AM
Here is the first comprehensive look at Arnold's foundation that runs afterschool programs for kids across the country, and at what his experience there tells us about the actor's executive style and abilities. The LA Times reports that the programs have evolved from a loosely run network of locally controlled foundations to a more centrally driven program as Arnold has tried to make them more accountable for results. The piece includes a few quotes from the elusive candidate, in which he pretty much says the program has not lived up to his expectations but is confident that, now that he has retooled it, it will.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:08 AM
Davis plans his mea culpa (sort of) speech this afternoon at UCLA, in which he will acknowledge some failings but make the case that the recall is part of a pattern of Republican refusal to accept the results of regular elections, The L.A. Times reports. The address will seek to link the recall to the attempt to impeach Clinton and the recent move by Texas Republicans to redraw district boundaries in mid-decade. The speech comes at a time when longtime Davis supporters are starting to hedge their bets by also backing Bustamante in the race to replace the governor should he be recalled.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:58 AM