Byline: Jeffrey T. Kuhner, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
California is on the verge of economic collapse. The Golden State was once the envy of America. Its prosperity and coastline beauty was a magnet for millions. Now, its government is broken; its major cities are infested with drugs, crime and massive illegal immigration; its economy is sclerotic; and businesses and middle-class households flee in record numbers.
The crisis is an indictment of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Governator, as he is known, promised to revive economic growth and job creation, slash taxes and regulations, and curb government spending and the power of the public-employee unions. The very opposite has happened. California's budget has expanded 40 percent since his predecessor, former Gov. Gray Davis, held office. Income, car and sales taxes have risen.
Unemployment has sky-rocketed to 9.3 percent - the fourth-highest in the nation. Spending on public schools has soared, eating up half of the state's budget (and doing very little to improve the dismal quality of education). The state faces record deficits. It no longer has the money to pay for tax refund checks. The crippling debt threatens to bankrupt the state.
Not too long ago, Mr. Schwarzenegger was being hailed as the future of the Republican Party. After his speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention, he was anointed by the mainstream media as the standard-bearer of the GOP's liberal wing. He held the key to a new winning political formula: fiscal conservatism combined with social liberalism.
For years, Beltway pundits have urged Republicans to jettison Christian conservatives in favor of courting independents and suburban professionals. The Governator was their man: He is a pro-abortion, pro-environment, open-borders Republican. Yet, his failed leadership reveals the political and moral bankruptcy of Rockefeller Republicanism.
Mr. Schwarzenegger joins a long list of liberal Republicans feted by the media - Christine Todd Whitman, William Weld, George Pataki, Jim Jeffords. Today, it is Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. They all have one thing in common: the inability to forge an enduring movement. This is because liberal Republicanism is an oxymoron; it is philosophically incoherent. Liberalism is a form of watered-down socialism, constantly expanding the state at the expense of the private sector. In theory, the GOP is the party of equality of opportunity, self-improvement and unfettered capitalism. …