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Paul Strickland: Political ‘hit mail’ misses its targets

SCV Voices

Posted: July 3, 2009 4:26 p.m.
Updated: July 4, 2009 4:55 a.m.
When I looked at my mail Friday, June 26, I was shocked to find a piece of political "hit mail."

How could this be? Is there an upcoming national or state election? Is my mailbox going to be getting crammed with political ads? Help!

Sure enough, upon closer examination, an outfit called the "Fair Budget Coalition" was slamming Assemblyman Cameron Smyth.

They were demanding that my neighbors and I call Smyth immediately and tell him to raise our taxes so that California budget cuts could be avoided.

Holy cow. I hardly had time to digest the passage of the Cap and Trade Bill by the U.S. House of Representatives - you know, the newly titled "Climate Bill," which is essentially a tax on the very air we breathe.

Let's see, the taxpaying public has just been hit with paying for the bailouts of AIG, General Motors, Chrysler and multiple banks, not to mention new taxes on gasoline and tobacco, and a 9.75 percent county sales tax.

Now we're being told to call our assemblyman and beg him to tax us more. Yeah right!

Get a reality check, Fair Budget Coalition. The hue and cry today is, "No more taxes."

In fact, the very reason most voters reelected Smyth is that he campaigned against increased taxes. Thankfully, he has practiced what he preached.

It was only late last February when the Democrat-led California Legislature passed a $12.5 billion tax increase, the largest increase in the state's history.

Assemblyman Cameron Smyth opposed that tax.

Gov. Schwarzenegger called for a special election on May 19 to allow taxpayers to voluntarily increase taxes to pay for government spending programs.

Proposition 1A was an estimated $16 billion tax increase that voters overwhelmingly rejected. Smyth agreed with the voters by opposing 1A as well.

Currently, Democrats in the Assembly and Senate are looking for ways to bypass the electorate's anti-tax fervor.

It's just too hard for them to get their Republican colleagues to support spending programs. Legislative Democrats want to lower the two-thirds majority it takes to pass budgets to a simple majority.

That way they can freely tax and spend with no strings.

There is much political talk about a ballot proposition to accomplish that very objective.

It's been tried and failed before, but the Dems believe the political climate is right to try again.

Several other Republican officials have been recently targeted with similar mail sent to their constituents.

Could it be that the hit-mail against elected Republican lawmakers is part of a "Plan B" in case the voters reject a simple majority proposition?

As it turns out, the Fair Budget Coalition consists of public employees unions including the AFSCME, the California School Employee Association (CSEA) and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT).

Elected California Dems have a long history of not being able to keep spending in the same ballpark with revenue.

Their unquenchable thirst for more and more costly mandate-laden programs has depleted that never-ending treasure trove of taxpayers' dollars.

And still, the Democrats call for more taxes, even after the governor has promised to veto any budget with increased taxes.

Gov. Schwarzenegger chastised the Democrats for "wasting time" on mere fixes.

He told them from the outset that he will hold firm on getting the entire $24 billion deficit corrected with long-overdue reforms that include the elimination of patronage boards, overcoming fraud in social services, and the reorganization of the state bureaucracy.

On Sunday, June 28, the state Legislature was called back into session, and the Democrats, undeterred by the governor's promised veto, once more proposed increasing taxes.

They pushed through a package that includes a $15 vehicle license fee surcharge designated to fund state parks, a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax, a new 9.9 percent extraction tax on oil companies, and a tax on homeowner insurance plans that funds emergency response systems.

To further complicate matters and in an effort to beat the June 30 deadline, the Dems attempted a last-ditch effort at creative budget making by trying to cut $3.3 billion mainly from last year's education budget.

Alas, that deadline came and went with no approval, and the 2008-2009 budget can therefore no longer be "adjusted."

The expected $10 billion federal stimulus is threatened, and the state began issuing IOUs on Thursday for some of its bills.

So, it seems that the efforts of the Fair Budget Coalition's district-wide hit mailers failed, just as badly as the seemingly coordinated, yet small, protest organized by the Democrats' former Assembly candidate Carole Lutness.

She and other local Democrats have demonstrated how out of touch they are with most California citizens by calling for a $19 billion tax increase.

They clearly were unsuccessful at trying to intimidate Assemblyman Smyth into supporting higher taxes.

In 2006, Smyth pledged to the people of the 38th Assembly District that he would not raise taxes. He has held to his word. After talking with him, I know that Smyth will continue his opposition to new and higher taxes.

What I want and expect in my elected officials is the ability to stand their ground and choose the right, regardless of political pressures.

Assemblyman Cameron Smyth continues to do those very things.

Paul B. Strickland is a resident of Santa Clarita. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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