When Carly Fiorina sat down to speak with me recently, I was briefly taken aback. The former CEO of Hewlett Packard and current candidate for U.S. Senate from California was sporting a close-cropped, salt-and-pepper hairdo. Having completed six months of treatment for breast cancer, the 55-year-old Ms. Fiorina has dispensed with the auburn wig she'd been wearing as her hair grows back.
She says her health is now fine, and that "after chemotherapy Barbara Boxer isn't that scary anymore," referring to the three-term Democratic incumbent she wants to unseat in 2010. She laughs when I suggest her new 'do may get her a hearing in precincts like Berkeley and San Francisco. On a more serious note, she says that "in these hard times, a lot of people across the spectrum will listen to my message—that California can only recover if we encourage economic growth and restrain spending and job-killing regulation."
With a 12.5% unemployment rate, the Golden State is certainly in trouble. In 2007 alone, 260,000 Californians moved to states with more opportunity. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation says only New York and New Jersey have worse business tax climates. And a new Los Angeles Times poll found that more than half of California residents think the state's major problems won't fade as the economy recovers.
Ms. Fiorina is not shy in pointing out what's to blame. "The high tax, big government, regulatory regime we see in California is the current course and speed for where the nation is headed," she warns. "California is a great test case, a factual demonstration that those programs don't work." She notes that while state spending has significantly outstripped inflation in recent years, every year government services perform more poorly and it becomes harder to open a business. "I very much doubt Hewlett Packard could be founded today as a manufacturing company in California," she adds soberly.
There are signs California voters have had enough. After the legislature passed a huge $12.5 billion tax increase last February to plug the state's budget gap, it put a measure on the ballot to extend the tax hikes for two years. The tax failed by an almost 2-to-1 margin... (more)...