Arnold Schwarzenegger’s conservative fans have been waiting for Arnold the candidate to sound like Arnold the private citizen. Much of what he has been saying has no doubt been lost in the hubbub over the recall process, but he has not really emerged as the powerful spokesman for free enterprise and unlimited opportunity that we expected to hear.
Until now. In this morning’s Wall Street Journal, Arnold knocks it out of the park with a ringing endorsement of Friedmanesque economics as applied to California governance:
“I have often said that the two people who have most profoundly impacted my thinking on economics are Milton Friedman and Adam Smith….What I learned from Messrs. Friedman and Smith is a lesson that every political leader should never forget: that when the heavy fist of government becomes too overbearing and intrusive, it stifles the unlimited wealth creation process of a free people operating under a free enterprise system.
“Over the past five years our state budget has grown nearly three times the pace of inflation. Our debt burden has risen by more than the other 49 states combined. The matrix of onerous regulations we impose on property owners and businesses has made the cost of doing business in California almost twice as high as in neighboring states. Our tax rates have become among the highest in the nation.
“It is self-evident to most taxpaying Californians that Gray Davis is not up to the task at hand. Gov. Davis is too beholden to moneyed special interest groups to pull us out of this ditch. The Cato Institute recently gave Mr. Davis a grade of “F” for his fiscal mismanagement and ranked him the second worst governor in America. The folks at the Small Business Survival Committee recently declared that thanks to Mr. Davis’s anti-business rules, regulations, taxes, and litigation policies, California now ranks second to last among the 50 states in its receptivity to small businesses.
“Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Bustamante, Gov. Davis’s aspiring successor, is promising Californians: ‘Gray Davis–the Sequel.’…My plan to rescue the economy in California is based on the opposite set of values: I want to slash the cost of doing business in California; I want to unburden businesses from regulations that strangle economic growth; I want to bring taxes down to levels competitive with our neighboring states. Within three years, I want business groups to trumpet the fact that California is once again one of the best places in the country to do business.”
The policy prescriptions that follow seem to me to be at just the right level of specificity for a campaign: lower taxes, cap spending growth–Arnold says he has asked the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to lead a task force to formulate spending-cap proposals–reform worker’s compensation and education.
These are the right themes and the right issues. If Arnold sticks to them relentlessly–and he is nothing if not relentless–he will win.
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