By The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board
June 10, 2010
Thanks to a special election made necessary by Sen. Pete Wilson’s resignation following his successful 1990 run for governor, two Bay-area Democrats – Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein – were both elected to represent California in the U.S. Senate in 1992.
The two have been compared ever since, with Boxer usually found wanting. Feinstein has won kudos as a tough-minded centrist capable of building diverse coalitions. Boxer is seen as hyperpartisan and, in some quarters, a lightweight.
Now, Boxer seems to be getting a solid Republican challenger after facing humdrum GOP hopefuls in 1998 and 2004. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who seems more of a political natural than most corporate big shots turned candidates, vows to push Boxer over Congress’ inability to get the U.S. economy out of its deep doldrums.
This is a proper focus. More than a year after the passage of a $787 billion “economic stimulus” package, job-creation news remains so grim that the Obama White House is reduced to hyping the federal government’s hiring of hundreds of thousands of temporary census workers. Claims last fall that the “stimulus” prompted big hiring gains have given way to assertions the massive spending measure “saved or created” vast numbers of jobs. This is a creative way of acknowledging that the prime beneficiaries of the measure were local and state employees who weren’t laid off – because Washington gave states hundreds of billions of dollars and just put the tab on the intergenerational credit card for our children and grandchildren to pay.
Meanwhile, Boxer has never stopped defending the stimulus bill , even as California’s unemployment has shot up far higher than the U.S. jobless rate. She’s adopted a “bring home the bacon” stump speech that stresses the construction jobs being created with the billions of dollars allocated for state infrastructure projects.
These jobs are great for those who get them, but you can’t revive the economy solely with taxpayer-funded projects paid for with borrowed money. Fiorina understands this. Boxer? We’re honestly not sure.
We hope to find out in the coming campaign. Reviving the economy – the private-sector economy – needs to be the priority of whomever represents California in the Senate. If the best under present conditions that the state can hope for is a “jobless recovery” – as some economists believe – then we must change present conditions.
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