If you have any respect for facts, empirical evidence, or anything resembling “the truth,” this video is almost unbearable to watch. In it, Bob McDonnell pushes his Big Lies about the Virginia budget, the economy, and job creation. At best, it’s seriously distorted. At worst, as you review this sentence by sentence, it’s all pretty much flat untrue. Yet Bob McDonnell’s not letting a little thing like “relationship to reality” slow him down; this is the spiel that he hopes to ride to bigger and better things, the White House if at all possible, in 2012 and beyond.
Now, what about McDonnell’s comments qualify it as “Big Lie” material? First off, I strongly recommend that you watch David Axelrod’s demolition of McDonnell on Meet the Press on May 1. It’s a thing of beauty, as McDonnell sits there dumbfounded, without any substantive response, while Axelrod points out a few counterfactuals to McDonnell’s narrative:
Look, you’re a good guy and I commend you for trying to wrestle with this problem, and you made some cuts, your predecessor made billions of dollars in cuts right before you left, but you also balanced your budget with $1.7 billion in money from the Recovery Act, you balanced your budget by borrowing $3 billion against future receipts on transportation…you borrowed money from your pension plan that you’re gonna have to return…but those bills are gonna have to be paid...Governor, when you borrow billions of dollars from future receipts and you borrow money from your pension system and you say your budget is balanced, the next governor’s gonna have to wrestle with that, I know you only have one term there, but the next governor’s gonna have to wrestle with that…
Ouch, the truth hurts. And yes, it is the truth — empirical, verifiable – not opinion. Look it up yourself if you don’t believe Axelrod, it’s easy to find using that magic tool known as “Google.”
Actually, David Axelrod left out another Big Lie by McDonnell, that Virginia’s economy is coming back because of his policies. I mean, I know politicians of all stripes love to claim credit for good things that happen while they’re in office, but c’mon now, McDonnell’s claim doesn’t even come close to passing the laugh (smell?) test. Why not?
Very simple: because Virginia’s economy is overwhelmingly driven by things that McDonnell, or any other Virginia governor for that matter, has almost no control over: the national economic climate and federal expenditures, by far and away. This article explains it well:
Virginia has thrived on Washington’s decade-long spending spree, according to analyses done by professors at Virginia colleges…Ten cents of every federal procurement dollar spent anywhere on Earth is spent in Virginia. More than 15,000 Virginia companies hold federal contracts, a number that has almost tripled since 2001. Total federal spending – from salaries to outsourced contracts – has more than doubled, to $118 billion, since 2000, as homeland security and defense spending skyrocketed in response to the 2001 terrorist attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By 2008, it accounted for about 30 percent of Virginia’s entire economy.
Federal dollars have filtered through the rest of the economy, too, helping to build the high-tech Dulles corridor and funding new homes and cars for federal workers and contractors and meals at local restaurants. The billions have helped fuel the economic boom cycles of the past decade and have cushioned the blow of the recent recession, particularly in Northern Virginia, where the unemployment rate has stayed stubbornly below 6 percent, less than the state and national rates.
“We have a rich uncle, I like to remind people – Uncle Sam,” said Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University.
That’s all true; Virginia owes its economic prosperity largely to federal government spending, including military spending, despite McDonnell’s Big Lie that “government doesn’t create jobs.” To the contrary, Virginia’s economy – particularly Northern Virginia’s and Hampton Roads’ economies – are overwhelmingly fueled by federal employees, federal spending (including direct, contract, indirect, military, civilian, intelligence, technology, you name it). What’s particularly galling is to hear Bob McDonnell bite the very hand that feeds him (and feeds most of us here in Virginia, one way or the other), then have the chutzpah to claim credit (!!!) for the very thing he just finished dissing. Amazing, no wonder why he’s a successful politician (no, that’s not a compliment).
On the flip side, one of the major drags on national (and Virginia) economic growth and recovery has been exactly what Bob McDonnell and his fellow Republican (mostly) governors have done — cut employment and spending in the states, thus imposing a drag on employment and GDP nationally.
In sum, Bob McDonnell has started to benefit from a recovering economy and massive federal spending (including the hated – by the right wingnuts, that is – “stimulus”), while he has actually harmed it through his policies. Also, he has only “balanced” the budget through gimmicks, smoke and mirrors, slippery maneuvers like raiding the pension fund and borrowing against the future (he’s a one-term governor, what does he care?!?), and the hard work of his predecessors, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner. Yet despite all that, McDonnell has the chutzpah to go around the country and claim credit for Virginia’s relatively strong budgetary and economic situations. No wonder why he’s a successful politician — he’s as slippery and shameless as they come.