Shortly after Schwarzenegger announced as the candidate for change, following the mythic pattern of Ronald Reagan as citizen politician, the Los Angeles Times referred to a discussion at a California Department of Employment office in Indio, a Southern California dessert town just east of Palm Springs.
A discussion had developed in a line concerning the upcoming recall election involving Governor Gray Davis. A truck driver chortled that he could hardly wait to see the Terminator as governor "kick ass" the first time the California Legislature gave him trouble.
The subject of great concern at the time to so many citizens, and what drove such high octane rage against Governor Davis, was a car tax for which he was being blamed. In reality, Davis had not been responsible for the car tax legislation's passage.
Budget crises were locked into the system with the overwhelming passage of Proposition 13 in 1978. While the state was running a large surplus under then Governor Jerry Brown, and many Californians were losing or stood to lose their homes due to rising property taxes, Proposition 13 proved to be a tragic remedy in two important respects.
As critics pointed out, not only were certain properties assessed unrealistically by mandating assessment figures of a much earlier period; a two-thirds vote was necessary to change any state tax rates or amounts of revenue collected, including income tax rates. Additionally, a two-thirds majority was required in local elections for local governments wishing to raise special taxes.
This period culminated with the national Ronald Reagan Revolution carried out under the former two term California governor's mantra of "Get the government off of people's backs!"
While it was California's Democratic Treasurer Jesse Unruh's designation of the burgeoning surplus in the wake of homeowner need for property tax relief as an "obscene surplus," Proposition 13 involved using a shot gun when a rifle would have been far more helpful.
Warren Buffet, someone with far more economic expertise than Arnold Schwarzenegger, offered voluntary assistance to the bodybuilding champion turned actor. He noted that the tax rate at his Omaha, Nebraska, home exceeded that of his residence in the considerably more super affluent Malibu Beach in Southern California.
Buffet's involvement with Schwarzenegger proved short-lived. After conferring with his advisers, Schwarzenegger sought to rebuff Buffet's turning the Terminator's "people's reform campaign" in the realistic direction of Proposition 13, using humor to deflate any talk about that type of reformism.
A smiling Arnold exclaimed that Buffet would receive a punishment assignment of "extra push ups," after the which the nation's leading investment genius disappeared from the scene.
If there was one thing that the Schwarzenegger team did not want, it was straight talk about the economy, Proposition 13, and the property tax shortfall that led to the car tax and the effort to recall Gray Davis.
The strategy was to seek to pin goat horns on Gray Davis and make them stick. Meanwhile the special interests sparked by the same revered team fronted by Pete Wilson sought to keep secret the hidden agenda, the real reason why Davis had to go.
Kenneth Lay's Houston energy giant Enron had brought the California economy to its knees by selling its product to the Golden State under the most usurious conditions. Enron sellers were heard in taped conversations joking about the economic destruction of an elderly widow.