The following commentary by Jamie Court was broadcast on the Marketplace radio program on NPR on Tuesday, November 30, 2004. Click here to listen to the audio clip.
David Brown – Host: Tonight the first President Bush bestows the George Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service – to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Tomorrow, the California Governor hits Dallas for a fundraiser. Bringing in the bucks is a big part of the job for any politician with national aspirations. Commentator and consumer activist Jamie Court argues you can learn a lot about the Governor by comparing his political and fundraising record in California.
Jamie Court – Commentator: Schwarzenegger marketed himself in California as the anti-politician. He told voters he’s so rich and famous he can’t be bought. That label stuck — even though the self-professed Collectinator took in $72,000 per day in campaign cash during his first year.
Drug companies give $367 K to the Guv and he vetoes four bills for cheaper prescription drugs. But hey the public still gives their celebrity the benefit of the doubt.
The Terminator vetoes a car buyers’ bill of rights after the auto industry pays the leading man a million dollars. But surely money can’t be the reason.
In fact, those big bucks buy a lot of TV advertising for the governor and his agenda. Schwarzenegger’s big bet is that big businesses has all the marketing money he needs to get the keys to the oval office — regardless of the job he’s doing.
Take the governor’s first big test. Insurers contributed six figures to market bond measures that gave the Governor his first budget. That ballot victory trumped another Schwarzenegger promise–lowering worker compensation bills for small business. Schwarzenegger refused to make his insurance industry buddies lower theirpremiums. So, they’re still sky high.
This month, the governor claimed victory over special interests on five ballot initiatives. In those battles, he had $86 million from special interests on his side. And those corporate interests won less accountability in the courts and the right NOT to pay for employees’ health coverage.
Big business knows Arnold is their A-bomb — a celebrity promoter who can sell their agenda in Washington better than anyone as long as he’s bankrolled. That’s how you go from action hero retirement on the DVD classics aisle to leader of the free world.
In Los Angeles, this is Jamie Court for Marketplace