If I Am Not Me, Den Who Da Hell Am I?


John Fund takes to the pages of the Wall Street Journal—the east coast paper that's been unusually hopeful for the future of a west coast politician—and bemoans the end of Arnold Schwarzenegger's libertarianism.

Last year, he savaged Phil Angelides, his Democratic opponent, for proposing what he called a "job-killing health-care tax." In a memorable debate moment, the governor taunted Mr. Angelides: "I can tell by the joy in your eyes when you talk about taxes, you just love to increase taxes. Look out there right now and just say, 'I love increasing your taxes.' "

Yet whereas Mr. Angelides's plan would have spent $7 billion to require employers with more than 200 workers to provide health benefits, Gov. Schwarzenegger's new plan calls on employers with 10 or more workers to provide coverage or pay into a state fund, and would represent the second largest tax increase in California 's history. "The governor ended up dreaming up more taxes than ever popped in my head," a bemused Mr. Angelides told reporters this month.

The theory for why Arnold decided to raise taxes? It's, uh, odd.

One Sacramento wag notes that the free-market economist Milton Friedman, whom the governor described in a 2004 interview with Daniel Weintraub as "my mentor, and the king," died just three days after the Mercury-News article. "The coincidence is just that, but it's worth noting things really changed after that," says a friend of the governor's. Even former congressman Tom Campbell, a moderate Republican who served as Mr. Schwarzenegger's finance director for a year, is nonplussed. "God rest his soul, but would Milton Friedman have been putting forward mandates for health care?" he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

I don't think we need to consult the bones or the ouija board to figure this out. Yes, Schwarzenegger had a lot of libertarian ideas before he entered politics. Once he finally made the plunge, he decided that… he wanted to stay in politics. In a liberal state with an unmovable Democratic legislature, that meant acting like a Democrat. This is exactly the behavior that liberals bemoaned in Bill Clinton in 2000, when a couple million of them were fixin' to ditch the party and vote for Nader.