Schwarzenegger defends tax hikes, applauds stimulus

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, appearing on “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” in Washington, D.C., defended his decision to raise taxes as part of California's $130-billion budget. “It’s very simple. Listen to the people,” Schwarzenegger said.
(Lauren Victoria Burke / ABC NEWS)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday defended his decision to raise taxes as a necessary step to stem California’s staggering economic crisis.

During appearances on morning news shows in Washington, D.C., Schwarzenegger said he would gladly accept money from the federal stimulus package approved by Congress last week even though some fellow Republican governors had balked at the program. And he predicted that although California’s economy would begin rebounding next year, it would take “years from now to get back to where we were.”

“I don’t think that we have turned a corner yet,” Schwarzenegger said on CNN’s “State of the Union With John King.”

The $130-billion state budget signed Friday by Schwarzenegger has earned the second-term governor jeers from state Republicans, some of whom argued for more spending cuts over tax hikes, which include across-the-board sales- and income-tax increases for the first time in 17 years. Schwarzenegger said that he drastically slashed spending in the new budget and that elected officials who disagree with his approach are “not in touch” with the public.

“It’s very simple. Listen to the people,” Schwarzenegger said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”

The governor called the federal stimulus plan a “terrific package” and said Republican leaders throughout the nation needed to shelve party ideologies in the face of the ongoing economic crisis. He cited, for example, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who has said he may refuse federal stimulus money for his state.

“Gov. Sanford says that he does not want to take the money . . . and I want to say to him: I’ll take it. I’m more than happy to take his money or any other governor in this country that doesn’t want to take this money,” Schwarzenegger said on Stephanopoulos’ program.

At the National Governors Assn. meeting in Washington over the weekend, Sanford and a group of Republicans, including Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, said they would reject portions of the stimulus package aid.

Talking to King, Schwarzenegger also addressed the issue of steroids in sports and said that athletes are models for young people and that those who have acted improperly should “come out, be clean and say, ‘Look, I used that. I made a mistake.’ ”

He also talked about movies, addressing rumors that he might appear in an upcoming Sylvester Stallone film.

“As you know, since I’ve become governor, I’ve done three cameos when friends asked me,” the governor told Stephanopoulos. “And Sly asked me if I would do a cameo. I said, ‘Of course I’ll help you and do a cameo. There’s no two ways about that.’ ”