“When the special interests become too powerful,” warns Ben Cayetano, “the voter only has the collective conscience of the people who are in public office.”
Cayetano was a popular two-term Democratic governor of the state of Hawaii who held office from 1994 to 2002. In 2012, Cayetano became alarmed by what he saw as out-of-control spending and special interests run amok. He came out of retirement and made a failed bid to become the mayor of Honolulu, Hawaii’s largest city.
Cayetano opposed the city’s $5.26 billion rail project, which he says costs too much and will not address Honolulu’s traffic problems. The massive system and inevitable cost overruns, he fears, simply piles more debt on a government already straining under unfunded liabilities for public-sector pensions and benefits. “They are going to end up raising taxes,” Cayetano told Reason TV. “Or the city will go bankrupt.”
In a wide-ranging conversation, the 73-year-old Filipino American discusses the Aloha State’s fiscal mess, the trouble with Hawaii’s one-party government, and why he believes social issues are distracting voters from more pressing economic problems.