Home Virginia Politics For VA Democrats, the Moment of Truth on Transportation

For VA Democrats, the Moment of Truth on Transportation

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by Paul Goldman

Hopefully, today’s column by the RTD’s Jeff Schapiro will convince you that VA Democrats have arrived at their moment of truth on transportation, moreover a chance to take back the fiscal issue that helped Wilder and Warner win the Big House.  

From  off-shore oil, to on-shore booze, now to VISA plastic, Governor McDonnell, as AC/DC might sing, is on a highway to paying political hell for his latest really dumbfounding idea on transportation policy. But to be fair, Governor Kaine tried to avoid the same fate by going for big traffic fines, pledges of surplus monies that never existed and other gimmicks until finally giving up the ghost of transportation fixes past.

After his debacle with ABC-1, the original McDonnell plan that turned out to be $47 million and counting short of a full deck, logic would have suggested that the Governor had learned an important math lesson: less is less, and borrowing from the future doesn’t give you any more money either.

Instead, McDonnell has adopted Wall Street math, coming up with 3 billion reasons to be proven wrong again, perhaps thinking this will make his ABC plan look 6,000% less bad in comparison. On that score, I have to give him credit: compared to his original bad idea, latest proposal is PhD work, capable of winning honors at the University of Phoenix on-line program.

Let’s cut to the bottom line: Had a Democratic Governor proposed it, Attorney General Cuccinelli would have promised a law suit opposing it and Delegate Bob McDonnell would have promised to vote against it.

 

With all due respect Governor, you build roads with asphalt and the like, not with plastic. “Credit card” Bob would no doubt say that in the long run, his unprecedented approach doesn’t issue more debt than Governors otherwise could, just that he is issuing more of it a lot earlier.

I have to concede that Yes, Governor, you will become the all-time borrow-and-spend Governor on transportation in state history. But as Lowell pointed out yesterday, McD’s politics is hard to understand right now since he doing at the state level what he opposes at the federal level when it comes to debt financing.

Schapiro is right: The moment of truth for Democrats has arrived. Yes, McDonnell will say he wanted to build X or Y, but Democrats wouldn’t  let him.

Democrats need to trust the people. They know “credit card” Bob is trying to break the rules to help him, not them.

As I have said, I don’t blame McDonnell for not fixing overnight what he inherited. But his $3 billion in red ink is based on a Gilmore-style “cooking the books,” and we know how that turns out.

It elects a Democratic Governor if there is someone in our party who can make a fiscal case, the way Wilder and Warner, along with Robb before them, were able to make it.

  • Teddy Goodson

    I can imagine who can deal with Gov. McD’s idea in a convincing, progressive way, is our current State Senator McEachin.  

  • McDonnell is doing exactly what Reagan did:  Go from a tax-and-spend fiscal policy to borrow-and-spend — and borrow and borrow and borrow.

  • libra

    certain parallels between what Lil Bobby McD is trying to do in VA and what happened/is happening in Nassau County, NY. To be sure, the scale is different — a single county vs an entire state — but…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12

  • Steve Vaughan

    … Dems don’t really have an alternative plan. If the Dems say “raise the gas tax” and the guv says “no we’ll just use bonds and nobody’s taxes have to go up,” I predict McDonnell wins that argument. Because, let’s face it, a bunch of Dems won’t agree with the tax plan and give the governor cover on it. And the Republicans have the ability to unite behind a message. Which Dems lack.

    The Dems’ best shot here is if some fiscally responsible Republicans, Tommy Norment for example, or the Independent chair of the House Appropriations Committee Lacey Putney, comes out against it. Putney hates debt. He’s the last link to the Byrd Machine.  But, of course, five minutes after he disagreed with McD about this he wouldn’t be chair of the committee anymore.