Wednesday, March 26, 2008

And Here's Another Plan

Well, I think we know what one of the major issues in the November elections is going to be, at least in California. The mother of a state assemblyman (how's that for a surrogate?) let drop one of the early bombs, according to this article in the Sacramento Bee.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, responding to the mother of a Republican state legislator, said Wednesday it would be a "big mistake" to blame illegal immigrants for the state's looming $8 billion budget problem.

The Republican governor was in San Luis Obispo to pitch his budget proposal to local officials and business leaders when he was asked by Diane Blakeslee, mother of Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, how the state should handle fiscal burdens created by illegal immigrants.

"There is, you know, always a time like this where you start pointing the finger at various different elements of what creates the budget mess, and, you know, some may point the finger at illegal immigrants," Schwarzenegger said. "I can guarantee you, I have been now four years in office in Sacramento, I don't think that illegal immigration has created the mess that we are in."

The governor's comments came a day after Assembly Republicans announced a package of 20 bills they said would help California reduce the "negative impact" that illegal immigrants have on the state budget. Included are proposals to repeal a law enabling undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition and to demand more money from the federal government for housing illegal immigrants in state prisons.
[Emphasis added]

It was nice to see Gov. Schwarzenegger respond appropriately for a change, even if his answer might have been tempered by the fact that he himself is an immigrant. In a very real sense, his answer was also correct: the budget mess is a creature of a state government committed to not raising taxes and a Constitutional Amendment passed by the electorate who got sold a bill of goods. That proposition requires a two-thirds super majority in the legislature for any new or raised taxes.

Still, it would have been nice if he had pointed to the fact that the "illegals" pay sales and gasoline taxes, and many pay, via payroll deductions, into Social Security and State Unemployment/Disability accounts they will never be able to access. It also would have been nice if he had shot down some of the other myths about the "illegals". There certainly is enough out there to fill an entire set of speeches. But, to be fair, he might have been caught off guard by the question by the nice lady.

And that brings me back to the fact that the mother of a sitting assemblyman asked the question the day after the Republicans in the legislature introduced some 20 bills to hate on the brown people (well, c'mon: Al Qaeda, El Qaeda...same thing). I think that's telling, but certainly not surprising.

Tom "Nuke Mecca" Tancredo built an entire presidential campaign around promising to make immigration a major issue (if not the major issue) of the November elections. He's gone, but his issue lingers. Sen. McCain had to be treated for whiplash for the change in his position on the issue primarily as the result of Tancredo's vile rhetoric.

It was to be expected. What else can the GOP run on? The economy? The War? National security? A stronger and more vibrant military? The Ownership Society? Climate change? The environment? Gas prices?

The question now is whether the Democratic candidates are ready to retire their soiled diapers and to replace them with a solid campaign to show what is still possible in this country.

We'll see.

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