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My stimulus check right about now

Right Here Right Now

Posted: August 14, 2008 9:02 p.m.
Updated: October 16, 2008 5:01 a.m.

This never happens to me. I got $1,800 from the U.S. Treasury as part of the "Economic Stimulus" program that was recently enacted. But it is still sitting in our checking account. I've been thinking about it, and I'm not sure why it is still there.

I could have easily gone out and placed a down payment on a Toyota Prius Nancy Pelosi Special Edition.

This is the car that Nancy and her Democrat buddies think we all should drive. It even comes with a big picture of her on the dashboard that has the caption "Nancy Knows Best."

Or I could have purchased a new refrigerator with doors on springs that automatically close, since my teenage boys can't seem to remember to close them.

I could take my wife on a short cruise to Ensenada on one of those fun party boats. Unfortunately, I hear Carnival is now issuing paddles to all of its passengers with labels that say "just in case gas is too expensive."

With the rising cost of food, fuel, and about everything else we buy, I've been very hesitant to do anything with this small pile of cash.

I've thought about putting it in savings, but what if we need it for some huge price hike? Spending seems out of the question. There are just too many variables that are in play right now that may result in the wrenching of our boon from my tightly clenched, grimy little fingers.

The state budget crisis is probably my largest fear (outside of Barack "You aren't paying enough" Obama). The crisis, as I understand it, is fairly simple.

The state has committed to many things that it cannot pay for now. The only way to balance the budget and close the $17 billion dollar gap is to cut spending or raise taxes.

Republicans are committed to cutting spending and not raising taxes. Democrats believe that "revenue enhancement" is the only reasonable solution and are unwilling (or unable) to cut anything out of the budget.

In December, Arnold Schwarzenegger recognized the problem and issued a budget that attempted to avert this situation and keep the state working. The Legislature hemmed, hawed, and ultimately failed to produce a workable solution.

Instead of solving the budget problem, legislators felt that parking placards for pregnant women (AB 1940) and taking away kids' Mylar balloons (SB 1499) were more important.

On July 31, this deadlocked situation forced Arnold to issue an executive order that clearly spelled out the problem and what emergency measures had to be taken to keep the state afloat. The Governator exempted all emergency services - cops, firemen, and emergency medical staff. However, all temps and other non-critical staff will be released.

Also, some nonexempt staff members would be paid at the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour as opposed to the California minimum wage of $8 per hour. The howls of outrage have been deafening. The Democrats predictably attacked Arnold for his callousness and insensitivity.

In a remarkable display of political grand-standing, California State Controller John Chiang said he would disregard the executive order, ostensibly because he was "sticking up for the little man."

Some have noted that his altruism may not be completely pure. The reprogramming of his department's computers would be a massive hit to his budget, one that may be cut, ironically, in any budget deal that will eventually come forth.

According to USC Professor John Matsusaka, state revenues are up 40 percent during the last four years, outstripping inflation. This increase is astounding. Sacramento should be awash in dollars with no budget worries.

However, many Democrats want taxes increased to cover the budget shortfall.

What if your salary went up 40 percent in four years, and you went into your boss and told him/her you needed more? What reaction would you get from your boss? Would you have an income problem or a spending problem?

Clearly, if we spend faster than we make it, a financial crisis is inevitable.

The sob stories shown on TV have also been focused at tugging on heart strings. The failure of the Legislature to deliver a budget is serious. If our elected officials cannot come to a compromise on the needed spending cuts (not new taxes), an across-the-board cutting of all budgets would be reasonable.

And they need to keep their hands off my stimulus check.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of the The Signal.


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