Friday, April 17, 2009

Hundreds protest tax increases at Calif. Capitol

From the

Thousands of sign-waving protesters turned out Wednesday for a tax day rally that included attacks on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California lawmakers by a congressman and a son of former President Ronald Reagan.

"I knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was not only a friend, but he was my father. And Arnold, you are no Ronald Reagan," talk show host Michael Reagan said to cheers from a crowd that spilled out from the front of the Capitol.

Reagan and other speakers urged the crowd to reject Proposition 1A. The measure on the May 19 special election ballot would create a state spending cap and strengthen a rainy day fund while extending sales and income tax increases the Legislature passed earlier this year to help close a $42 billion budget deficit.

The budget package also included $15 billion in cuts to state programs and hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate tax breaks.

"My father would say to you, 'On May 19, go out and please win one again for the Gipper,'" Reagan said.

Reagan's speech relied on a selective reading of history. Before he became president, Ronald Reagan served two terms as California governor in the 1960s and 1970s. One of his first acts upon taking office was to increase taxes.

Two Republican state lawmakers who voted for this year's tax increases even invoked the image of Ronald Reagan to defend their decision, saying he campaigned against higher taxes but then raised them when confronted with political reality.

On the Senate floor in February, Republican state Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria displayed a 1972 photograph showing Reagan signing a bill to increase California taxes.

A spokesman for Schwarzenegger, Aaron McLear, defended Proposition 1A, saying it was part of the Republican governor's attempt to fix "broken government."

Rep. Tom McClintock, a Republican congressman whose district runs from Sacramento's northeastern suburbs to the Nevada and Oregon borders, also criticized Proposition 1A and urged the crowd to support an attempt to recall Assemblyman Anthony Adams, R-Hesperia.

Adams was among the handful of Republican legislators who supported the February tax increases.

"We are going to actively and methodically go after those politicians" who backed the $14 billion in tax hikes, McClintock said.

A spokeswoman for Adams did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

McClintock, 52, has held taxpayer-funded jobs for most of his adult life. He was an aide to a state senator from 1980 to 1982, when he won his first race for the state Assembly. He lost campaigns for Congress in 1992 and state controller in 1994 but was re-elected to the Assembly in 1996. He moved to the state Senate in 2000 and was elected to Congress in 2008.

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