Arnold's New Era Begins
In his inaugural address last Friday, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the beginning of a new chapter in California history, the "post-partisan" era, explaining, "The question is not what are the needs of Republicans or Democrats? The real question is what are the needs of our people?… Post-partisanship is Republicans and Democrats actively giving birth to new ideas together."
So, how's that going to work in practice?
One answer can be found in the Los Angeles Times today, the first full working day of the "post-partisan" era:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will propose a major rollback of the state's welfare system this week, including a cutoff of aid to tens of thousands of children whose parents do not meet minimum work requirements or are in the country illegally, administration officials said Sunday.
It was met immediately with resistance from Democrats, who expressed bewilderment that the governor would attempt to cut welfare aid to children in the same week his administration is expected to move forward with a plan to expand health insurance to many of the same children.
The plan alarmed advocates for the poor, who predicted that eliminating the cash payments of several hundred dollars a month would substantially increase the risk of homelessness for those families.
Schwarzenegger's proposal also would eliminate this year's cost-of-living increase for welfare recipients.
The plan is one of several the governor has proposed for rolling back welfare benefits since taking office in 2003. Most of those plans have been blocked by the Democrats who control the Legislature.
The governor's latest blueprint for CalWORKS comes at a time when Democrats, eager to work with him on his plan to expand health coverage to millions of uninsured Californians, may be more willing to bargain.
The suggested cuts also could help repair the governor's relations with his own party.