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Gov. Wimpy's Forgotten Promises

by: Elaine in Roanoke

Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:11:29 AM EST

I certainly hope that many people who thought they were voting for the guy best able to lead Virginia in this difficult time are rethinking their choice after a few months of seeing Bob McDonnell in action.

Robert McCartney of the Washington Post recently took stock of just how Gov. Bob McDonnell is or is not fulfilling the promises he made to voters, promises that were mainly responsible for his resounding victory over Creigh Deeds. The two promises McCartney looked at were McDonnell's promise to shrink the size of government and cut the budget without having to cut basic services to citizens and to lead from day one in solving our transportation mess, an issue that is so important to much of northern Virginia.  

So, let's see where the little guy stands on those issues - and a few more:

McDonnell's leadership on the massive budget shortfalls Virginia has consisted of recommending nothing to the legislature. Instead, he let them take all the heat for the cuts in basic services that the Republican "we-hate-government-no-new-taxes" philosophy dictates. Plus, his plan for tackling transportation morphed into a "plan" to delay any plan until next year because the legislature was "too busy."

During the campaign McDonnell told voters that Creigh Deeds' idea for a bipartisan commission to redistrict the state was a fine idea that he also embraced. It turns out his embrace meant smothering the idea and letting it die in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates.

Even his response to AG Ken Cuccinelli's terrible leap into gay-bashing at Virginia's colleges and universities was a halfhearted "executive directive" against discrimination that has no standing in the law. If he had followed both Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and issued an executive order against discrimination based on sexual orientation, then people would have had recourse in court. His  "executive directive" is worth absolutely nothing legally. It simply says that the governor doesn't want you to do that.

If this is leadership, then I have a fine, historic bridge in Brooklyn to sell you - cheap.

Let's continue looking at McDonnell's record so far.  

Elaine in Roanoke :: Gov. Wimpy's Forgotten Promises
Remember how McDonnell ridiculed Deeds for proposing a bipartisan commission to study ways to improve transportation in the Commonwealth? Remember how he said he, in contrast, had a plan and would act immediately? I do, but evidently McDonnell doesn't. As long as the Republicans - McDonnell included - refuse to raise revenue for transportation, either through an increase in the gas tax of by some other mechanism, we will never solve that problem.

It is also fiscally impossible for our state to cope with declining revenue because of the "Great Recession" and not cut vital services. Which services get cut and how deeply depends on what the prevailing philosophy in Richmond is. Right now, it is apparent that the legislature has decided to balance the books by taking ever more from those with the least power to fight back: the poor, the children, the elderly, the mentally ill.

I am at a loss to understand why the American people can't get straight a basic fact of economics: If you cut the revenue going to something, whether it be an individual or a governmental entity, there are only two possible outcomes. You can eliminate the things you get for your money, such as government services, or you can go into debt. A corollary to that fact is that if the legislature gives a tax break to some group, it is cutting overall revenue - and its ability to fund government - by a like amount.

Now, we all know that the federal government as a sovereign nation has the flexibility to create money and go into debt. Virginia, on the other hand, must balance its books every year. That's a mandate of our constitution. So, Bob McDonnell was either being naive or completely misleading to say that he could accomplish fiscal hocus-pocus and find "waste" to cover the budget shortfall.  Voters shared in the deception McDonnell pulled off. They let themselves believe that he could actually do the fiscally impossible.

Let's further summarize Gov. Wimpy leadership record to this point:

McDonnell punted the transportation political football down the field even before the General Assembly was gaveled to order. He promised that he had "12 f**king funding mechanisms." They were phony all along. Drilling off the coast is years in the future, if ever. Selling the ABC stores for a one-time revenue infusion was stymied by the obvious complexity involved and the $100-million annual hole the sale would blow in the General Fund. While Wimpy's "plan" to add tolls to certain interstate highways went nowhere, at least you can go to the bathroom at  more places along I81. That's the net result of McDonnell's transportation plan to date.

McDonnell also promised to expand the number of college and university degrees awarded in the state by 100,000 in order to attract business. He evidently plans to accomplish that lofty goal by by cutting public education funding by over $700 million and by continuing to drain away money meant for the higher education system. Perhaps this man believes in educational improvement by magic...

McDonnell promised leadership from day one of his administration. Once in office, his leadership on the $4.2 billion shortfall in the budget consisted of doing nothing, being "a facilitator." The only problem is that we didn't elect a "facilitator." We wanted someone to lead the state. Instead, the majority of voters installed as governor a passive, tentative little man who seems fearful of making a decision on his own.

I was intrigued by one thing about how McDonnell tried to get around Ken Cuccinelli making  Virginia look like a bigoted laughingstock and threatening attempts to lure business, including Northrup-Grumman. When, McDonnell finally backed off his earlier refusal to include sexual orientation in his executive order banning discrimination, his executive "directive" said that discrimination against persons because of their sexual orientation is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Ironically, McDonnell supported the very premise at the heart of a lawsuit now in California federal court, Perry v Schwartzenegger, challenging Proposition 8 that banned same-sex marriage. The contention in Perry v Schwartzenegger is that the right to marry is a fundamental one long recognized by our society. The heart of the suit states that refusing the right to marry to same-sex persons is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment that guarantees equality before the law to all Americans.

Wow. I never thought that Bob McDonnell would inadvertently defend the right of same-sex partners to marry, using the very rationale being applied in by renowned litigators Ted Olsen and David Boies! What a switch from the days when he applauded Virginia's addition of a bigoted "marriage amendment" to our state constitution. Of course, I doubt that he even realized what he was saying in his directive.

A final thought: If McDonnell's passivity and refusal to take difficult stands as governor is supposed to keep his options open for higher office after his term in Richmond, he has failed to show that he has the one quality he will need to be taken seriously: leadership ability.

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odd that democrats aren't reminding guv wimp of this EVERY SINGLE DAY.

But he HAS had some accomplishments:

opened up some rest stops and raised the speed limit (his transportation plan)

managed to piss off the LGBT community and most likely blew any chance of major companies coming to VA (his jobs plan)

the small-bladder constituency is larger than we thought? My last trip (from Lexington) to Richmond, in September, was miserable, what with all the no-longer functional rest stops. Maybe my next one (in May) will be easier. Being pissed off about no pissin' is no fun.

Mind you... My opposite number in front of the polls in November thought closing rest stops was a tremendous idea and that the best next step would be to privatise same, since the private enterprise can do everything cheaper than the govt. I expected a Repub to extol the virtues about privately-run everything -- including pissoirs -- but was surprised that he didn't know it was not possible to privatise rest stops on Interstates...

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