First Lady Maria Shriver: The Aftermath of the Golden State’s Power Couple
The outgoing California First Lady has always been considered a great beauty. In 2009, Glamour magazine named her a “Woman of the Year,” and a few months ago she was described as a trend setter when she had a front row seat during Fashion Week in Paris. If she has an ounce of fat it certainly is not apparent, but now Maria Shriver hates looking at photos of herself.
She feels old at 55, and says attention is now focused on the couple’s daughter, a student at her alma mater, Georgetown University:
I’ve struggled with weight my whole life. . . Food is a huge vice in our society. People tend to overeat because they don’t feel loved. They feel misunderstood. Someone who feels love, often has a lot less issues with food.
In her book “Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Went Out Into The Real World,” Shriver says she “did not like growing up in a political family.” She describes herself as a “drama queen” and a “whiner.” She hates being described as “the daughter of, the wife of, or the niece of,” and wants to be “considered for my work alone.” The most recent book of the former TV journalist is devoted to woman’s rights.
She claims her gender is being educationally shortchanged. The First Lady ignores the fact that women today receive 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, 60 percent of master’s degrees, half of professional degrees in law and medicine, and half of all PhDs. She advocates massive new government spending for child care, education and what she calls “social insurance.”
She also wants to burden businesses with new requirements for paid family leave. Her book never acknowledges the massive fiscal problems confronting California and the nation. She disapproved when her husband recently used his line-item veto authority to eliminate a child care program, but she didn’t have to worry. The Governor’s decision was quickly overturned by the courts.
The First Lady never agreed with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) politically. She endorsed Barack Obama in early 2008 “because he believes in us,” while at the same time her husband was backing Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Of more importance, the First Lady privately opposed the Governor’s ballot initiatives to stop the growth of public employee unions. She won and he lost.
The ballot initiatives were rejected after labor spent over $160 million to stop them. The First Lady is also credited with pushing the Governor to the left on issues such as global warming and the environment. His third annual Global Climate Summit will be held next week, and the keynote speaker is the British Prime Minister.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Schwarzenegger’s administration encountered numerous failures over the past seven years, and a huge problem was the Democratic majorities in both houses of the state legislature. Many of his efforts to cut employees and reduce pensions were stopped, and he had the three highest veto ratios of any California governor.
Schwarzenegger set the record for vetoes in 2008 by rejecting 35.17 percent of bills passed by the Legislature. His best achievement was cutting spending by almost $40 billion in the last two years.
There is plenty of blame to go around, but the Schwarzenegger era will be remembered for the financial free-fall. It left the state with a $19 billion budget deficit this year and the gap next year could be $15 billion. There have been deficits in seven of the last nine years, and last year the state was forced to pay bills with IOUs and froze tax refunds.
It is a state where 1% of the people pay 50% of the taxes. The state spends up to $10 billion annually on services for illegal immigrants, but candidates who expressed concern about that situation have gone to defeat.
Defeated GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman said despite the vetoes, Schwarzenegger approved too many new spending initiatives. She called his climate change bill “a job killer.” Defeated GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina said the effort to impose tougher environmental regulations was “massively destructive” and could cost 3 million jobs.
Schwarzenegger’s overall fiscal efforts failed, and he is leaving office with a 70% disapproval rating. In July his approval rating hit 22%. Four years ago many expected the Governor to run for the U.S. Senate this year. Now he no longer has any desire to serve in public office.
He says the message of this week’s election is that voters “are fed up with gridlock, fed up with the partisan bickering and fed up with leaders lacking the courage to stand up to the special interests.” A major reason for gridlock was that budgets had to approved by a two-thirds vote rather than a simple majority. A ballot measure on Tuesday changed that, so incoming Gov. Jerry Brown (D) will have an easier time than the incumbent.
The special interest that always defeated Schwarzenegger was public employee unions. A statistic the Governor often cited about Calpers (the California Public Employees’ Retirement System) should not be forgotten: “Calpers cost the state $150 million 10 years ago. Now it cost $3.9 billion a year, that’s an increase of 2,500 percent.” Little is happening to stop the continued upward spiral.
The Schwarzenegger era was glamorous, but the state is on an unsustainable path. It has a weak and faltering economy, massive job losses and an exploding budget deficit. It has nearly $70 billion in general obligation debt plus $500 billion unfunded pension liability. The current deficit projection over the next four years is $80 billion.
California will now have a Democratic governor who started many of these problems three decades ago when he gave public employees collective bargain rights. The state will continue to have a Democratically controlled legislature, and not one of its members was defeated for re-election. The gridlock and vetoes may be coming to an end, but few are predicting the end of the state’s fiscal problems.