The idea was that Mr. Schwarzenegger would set a national precedent, leading to a groundswell for reform in Washington. Not to mention that the Schwarzenegger plan was a near-copy of the one Mitt Romney pioneered in Massachusetts, and the one Hillary Clinton now favors. A leading author of the California plan was Laurie Rubiner, who directed health policy at the New America Foundation before becoming Senator Clinton's legislative director in 2005.
So much for that. The California legislature is probably the most liberal this side of Vermont, and even Democrats refused to become shock troops for this latest liberal experiment. Mr. Schwarzenegger and Democrats in the State Assembly did agree on a compromise plan in December. But on Monday, only a single member of the Senate Health Committee voted to report the bill to the full chamber -- and thus it joined a graveyard full of state "universal" health-care failures.
Like collapses in Illinois, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, this one crumpled because of the costs, which are always much higher than anticipated. The truth teller was state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who thought to ask about the price tag of a major new entitlement amid what's already a $14.5 billion budget shortfall.
An independent analysis confirmed the plan would be far more expensive than proponents admitted. Even under the most favorable assumptions, spending would outpace revenue by $354 million after two years, and likely $3.9 billion or more. "A situation that I thought was bad," Mr. Perata noted, "in fact was worse."