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Terminating the Terminator - Mike Reagan

Californians said "no" loud and clear; "no" to new taxes, "no" to the Terminator, and "no" to Gen. Colin Powell, who said that Americans simply lust after paying new taxes to finance their pet government programs.

"The hell we do," the majority of tax-weary Californians replied at the ballot box.

Tuesday, Californians who voted blue last November, voted red.

The referendum gave Californians a chance to let lawmakers know what they thought of their performance and to decide a course of action for the state that would have prevailed far into the future. They told them in no uncertain terms.

Recommending a "no" vote, the Visalia Times-Delta noted that "the measures are fundamentally dishonest, fail to address the long-term problems in California's budget structure and ask voters to validate actions taken by the governor and lawmakers in which they shirked their responsibilities."

They added that the state's leaders "refuse to compromise on a realistic budget agreement and take the steps that would create sound financial planning. Instead, they have delayed with a series of false measures and accounting tricks. Now they are asking the state's voters to go along with their con job.

"We refuse to become the dupes of state leaders who abdicate their leadership. We're aware that if the propositions do not pass, widespread hardship will take place in California. Maybe that will finally compel our leaders to action."

The voters heard them.

Not a single county in the entire state voted for the tax-and-spend propositions on yesterday's referendum ballot, not even the peculiar folks who live in Nancy Pelosi's far-left 8th Congressional District. The only measure voters did approve was one to freeze salaries of senior public officials during budget emergencies.

You can't blame everything that's gone wrong on Gov. Schwarzenegger -- much of the blame lies with the state's demented state legislature and also on the shoulders of California voters who approved such dubious programs as the $3 billion effort to enable the state to somehow fight global warming, which appears to have stopped on its own 10 years ago without any help from California taxpayers.

Californians have been electing big-spending ultra-liberals to the state legislature for a long time, and any alert observer could not help being scared to death over the way the folks in Sacramento were spending money as if tomorrow would never come.

Well tomorrow's here and it's time to pay the piper for the siren song of spend-and-elect; he's been playing for a long time.

As for Arnold Schwarzenegger, it must be said that the man Californians elected to terminate the Democratic Party's march toward bankruptcy led by then-Gov. Gray Davis soon began to capitulate to the state's delusion that spending the taxpayer's money with reckless abandon is a dandy way to reach Utopia.

I can't say he didn't try. Faced, however, with a hostile legislature and an electorate that saw the state's government as a never-ending source of benefits, he was fighting a half-hearted battle he couldn't win.

As a result, he turned his attention to his future prospects of becoming Greenhouse Gas Czar of the world, a job currently held by Al Gore.

The significance of the result is that in the first occasion when Americans had to vote since the November elections, Californians voted overwhelmingly on whether we should raise taxes to solve our financial problems in a recession and they decided to go red.

Acknowledging the defeat of the ballot measures, Schwarzenegger told reporters in Washington that he received the voters' message "loud and clear: an overwhelming majority of people told Sacramento, 'Go and do your work yourself, don't come to us with your problems ...'"

He added: "The message was clear from the people, go all out and make those cuts and live within your means."

He should have realized that fact long ago.

Mike Reagan, the elder son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is chairman and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. E-mail comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com.