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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« September 1, 2003 | | September 3, 2003 »
September 2, 2003

More big Indian money for Cruz

The Indian money for Cruz keeps piling up. He's collected or has pledges for $2.8 million so far, according to this blurb from the Bee, a figure that includes a $1.5 million contribution and pledge for a $500,000 get-out-the-vote drive from the Viejas Band. This is a high-risk move. In one sense Cruz has little choice because he won't get this much money anywhere else. But if Arnold is successful in painting the Indians and their gaming operations as evil special interests, they could become a very large weight around Cruz's neck. I haven't seen polling on the Indians' image. I am thinking that on the surface Californians favor them -- hey, let them do what they can to get on their economic feet. But I also think a well crafted campaign about traffic, water use, and values, with a Las Vegas connection thrown in, could persuade voters that the Indian gaming operations are not the same as the Native Americans who still have a warm spot in our hearts.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:30 PM

'Game over'

Arnold is putting out new ad, a quick 15-second spot focused on special interest politics. It features a nifty line he used Monday in Sacramento and is sure to catch the viewers' attention:

"Here's how it works: money comes in, favors go out. The people lose. We need to send a message: game over."

Can't get much clearer than that. Maybe he will buy some time to air it during Wednesday's debate.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:11 PM

Gray and Sharon on NBC

Tom Brokaw interviews Gray and Sharon Davis on NBC News tonight. Long interview, not a whole lot of substance, but some more attempts by Gray to make amends. He says he is trying to "connect" with the voters, show his feelings and be more in touch. Sharon says she was shocked that voters could try to recall a governor for nothing more serious than having "gray hair."

Here is the transcript.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:07 PM

Feinstein ad on recall: 'Just say no'

The anti-recall ads taped by Sen. Dianne Feinstein are set to begin airing Wednesday, the campaign says. There are two ads, and both play to the voters’ fears about the uncertain effects of the recall. In one, Feinstein notes that Davis was just elected last year and says that “the recall is creating uncertainty and instability. It’s bad for our economy, it’s bad for jobs and it’s bad for California.”

In the second ad, Feinstein mentions the 135 candidates and says that one could win with “15 percent of the vote” – a prospect that looks increasingly unlikely at this point. “Will they be qualified?” she asks. “Where will they stand on the issues? What will the uncertainty do to our economy?” She then puts in a pitch for Gray: “The governor deserves the chance to keep working on issues we care about: like education, health care and important new privacy legislation.” And she closes with a line Cruz won’t like: “On the recall,” she says, “just say no.”

Feinstein is easily the most popular politician in California. If anybody can turn around the momentum for Gray, it’s her. A campaign spokesman says the first buy will be about $1 million, enough to penetrate the viewership in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Monterey. The ads’ message hits all the buttons the pollsters have said might move voters. It will be interesting to see if it does.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the ads.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:18 PM

The health care mandate

Here's an issue that every candidate for governor should be asked to address: Senate Bill 2, John Burton’s measure to require employers of more than 20 workers to provide health insurance to their employees. Burton wants this measure as the cornerstone of his legacy as he moves toward the end of his long legislative career. He’s linked it to workers compensation reform, telling businesses that if they want savings in the injured workers program they are going to have to support his bill to move the state toward universal health care. If it passes and is signed by Gov. Gray Davis, SB 2 would be a landmark expansion of government’s role in health care, turning over to an appointed board major decisions about the cost and shape of health benefits enjoyed by most California workers. It would mandate that affected companies pay a fee to the state or exempt themselves by paying at least 80 percent of the premium to provide state-approved insurance benefits to their workers. Here are at least three concerns people should have about this bill:

--The assumption: Why should this burden be borne by employers, with what is essentially a tax on hiring? If society decides that everyone should have health insurance, shouldn’t everyone pay for it? It's dangerous to saddle small employers with this cost at a time when the state is desperately trying to create a climate conducive to job creation.

--The threshold: The bill as currently drafted kicks in for employers with 20 or more workers. That means a company with 19 employees that wants to hire one more will have to figure in the cost of providing insurance to all 20 employees, at an estimated total cost of $20,000 or more per year. This seems likely to discourage small firms from expanding beyond that point. It also might serve as an incentive for firms with 20 to 25 employees to trim their payrolls to avoid the mandate.

--The cost: Other health programs under government control, such as Medi-Cal and workers compensation, have had trouble containing costs. What will happen if health insurance companies, guaranteed a steady flow of customers, continue to increase their premiums as they have in recent years? Will employers be asked to shoulder a larger and larger cost for this care?

This is a huge change in California law and its economic policy. It would be unwise to push it through without a very thorough review of the assumptions and details behind the change, and a worst-case-scenario examination of the possible consequences of the bill.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:49 AM

Peter's gentle nudge

Peter Ueberroth has promised to run a positive campaign and never attack any of his opponents. So how does he handle the issue of Arnold possibly ducking the first debate? By calling on him, gently but directly, to join in so that more people will watch and the Yes on Recall message will get out to more voters. Here is an excerpt from the statement put out by his campaign (including a few typos):

I’m here today to urge Arnold Schwarzenegger to join the other candidates for the campaign’s first debate. The voters deserve to hear all of us discuss our plans to put California back on track. Being part of these debates shows respect for the voters and the process. So I hope he’ll reconsider and be there on Wednesday night.

The debate shouldn’t be about the candidates criticizing each other. I’ve promised not to criticize other candidates. This debate should be about saving jobs, balancing the budget, and fixing education. It doesn’t need to be about mudslinging and name-calling. It can be and should be an educational experience.

Here’s the point: ratings will double or triple if Arnold is there. Many more voters will hear why this recall has become a mandate. So he’d be doing a great service for the voters and for the recall campaign. One debate later in the campaign is good. But we need to get started right now.

Giving voters a chance to hear him several times before Election Day is good for him. It’s good for the voters. And it’s good for the democratic process.

Arnold, you’re a great communicator. Come tell the voters why you should be governor. Come talk to voters about putting California back on track. All the candidates want the recall to succeed – it’s become a mandate for change. There are only five weeks to go in the campaign, it’s important that the recall succeed. You can help make that happen. By waiting to debate, Schwarzenegger will keep many absentee voters from making a fully informed decision. Last year, two million Californians voted absentee. Many of those absentee voters won’t hear him debate before they vote. Many are military personnel stationed elsewhere.

We have created an online petition to urge him to join the debate on my website, Voters can sign petition encouraging him to join us.

I’ll be there Wednesday night. I’ll attend several other debates as well. So will other major candidates.

But everyone benefits by full participation, so I hope Arnold Schwarzenegger will change his mind and be there as well.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:40 AM



At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub


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