by Harley Schlanger and Paul Gallagher
Look to Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger's California for a sign of the coming, fascist austerity against Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, if George W. Bush's "foot-in-the-door for fascism" is not stopped.
Muscle-actor Schwarzenegger's softness for gay marriage and other "cultural leftism" does not hide his fascist economic policies. He is the new political protégé of the same George Shultz of Bechtel who promoted the "Chile model" in the Reagan Administration, and put together George W. Bush's White House team, known as "the Vulcans." Arnie's family and personal background involves admitted admiration for Adolf Hitler as a "charismatic dictator." He's being "pumped" for an attempt to change the U.S. Constitution and go for the Presidency.
And on being elected Governor, Schwarzenegger used the same debt-balloon method on California's budget crisis (created by electricity deregulation) that Bush wants to use on Social Security: He borrowed huge amounts of money while repealing taxes on the wealthy. Arnie flexed his thuggish celebrity in rabble-rousing rallies and threats of referenda, to coerce the Democratic legislature to go along. His government immediately borrowed $15 billion—a huge state sum even for California—on Wall Street at high interest rates.
It didn't take long for the wheels to fall off Arnie's souped-up fascist Hummer. Budget reports released Dec. 20 show the state is overwhelmed by debt service and careening toward bankruptcy. Arnie is now preparing massive program cuts.
California's nonpartisan legislative financial office reported that in Schwarzenegger's one year as Governor, the state's total debt has ballooned from $33 billion to $51 billion; debt payments have shot up from 3.4% of the budget, to a ruinous 6.4%, and are projected to continue rising fast. In the last few months, the estimated budget deficit for next fiscal year has jumped from $6.7 billion to at least $8.1 billion.
Who is going to pay?
On Dec. 17, Schwarzenegger's Director of Finance Tom Campbell said health care and human services will be cut the most, to "close" this deficit. Those cuts will hit the poor, elderly, and disabled the hardest. The axe will also fall on school construction, road, water projects, and other economic infrastructure. Arnie will slash Medi-Cal, which provides health care to approximately 6.5 million low-income Californians. This will exacerbate an already dangerous shortage of hospitals, especially emergency rooms and trauma care; cuts imposed so far have already created a health-care crisis in Los Angeles County. Over $4 billion in state gas tax funds earmarked for transportation projects has been diverted to close the budget deficit.
As for education, the number of students enrolled in the state university system has declined, while tuition has been increasing at a rate of more than 6% per year. Those unable to afford the prestigious state schools have seen massive cuts in community colleges, and a drying-up of financial aid. It appears that Schwarzenegger will renege on an agreement he made with teachers, who accepted a $2-billion cut this year, in return for a pledge for more funds next year.
The Enron-led looting of California by electricity deregulation, which drained more than $70 billion from the state, was just Phase I.
Schwarzenegger's callous disregard for those his policies are harming was on display earlier this month, when he taunted protesting nurses at his Governor's Conference on Women and Families. "Pay no attention to the voices over there," Arnie growled. "They are the special interests.... The special interests don't like me in Sacramento because I am always kicking their butts."
The conference Schwarzenegger was speaking at was funded by British Petroleum, Allstate, Citigroup and Bank of America. But nurses—not large banks and insurance companies—are the hated "special interests" to a fascist like Arnie.
So it will be with employees protesting their Wall Street retirement account losses, if Bush's "Chile model" Social Security privatization is not stopped.