There's a lot of justified celebration among progressive California watchers today. Arnold's invulnerability has finally cracked, and now he's scuttling away from pension reform as quick as his musclebound legs can take him. As a victory, it's more important than we might expect -- CALPERS has been an enormous force for corporate responsibility, throwing their cash behind companies with good practices and using their shareholder pull to spur reform in those that failed.
But I wouldn't jump too high. Arnold's back-off is pure calculation. He's got a herd of semi-popular, hyper-controversial ballot initiatives up for vote. Unlike his bond measure, which posed the no-brainer of whether or not Californians would like to bury their children in debt so they didn't have to add a cent to the sales tax (YES!), it's going to be an uphill climb for the governator come the next ballot. Stepping out of the gate with every public sector employee, every family member of a public sector employee, every friend of a public sector employee, and everyone dating a public sector employee leaving their houses specifically to vote against Arnold's proposals pretty much would doom all his initiatives to failure. A backlash that heavy would be deadly before the election. He's smart to pull the pension reform from the ballot, but that doesn't mean he won't put it back.
Arnold's backing down so he doesn't mass all imaginable opposition at the same time. This is divide and conquer, if he passes his ballot initiatives this year, he'll go back for pension reform. And California's public sector shouldn't forget it.