Will McDonnell Stick To His Campaign Promises?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article on Bob McDonnell entitled, "Back to GOP Basics: Virginia's governor-elect Bob McDonnell on his plans for spending cuts, offshore drilling and charter schools." In it, McDonnell pretty much sticks to his campaign promises: "hold the line on taxes," "cut spending," sell off ABC stores and earn "a huge chunk of money," become "the first state in the country in 2011 to drill [for oil] offshore," and downplay "social conservatism" (although McDonnell also points out that he's "100% prolife" - whatever that means exactly - and "unequivocal about our position on marriage"). The problem is, these promises never made any sense in the first place. Here, for instance, is former Governor Linwood Holton (R), speaking in late September 2009 about McDonnell's proposed sale of ABC stores and also on offshore drilling, which McDonnell bizarrely seems to believe will provide a gusher of oil revenues in the next few years.
1) Sale of ABC Stores: "There will be no sale of the ABC system in Virginia as long as the General Assembly of Virginia exists, they will not permit the sale of a source of revenue that produces $100 million a year for them to use for schools and other public needs"

2) Revenues from oil drilling: "That couldn't possibly bring us a dime within the next 10 years...oil profits is a false promise." there any reason to believe that Linwood Holton is wrong and that Bob McDonnell is right about this? Also, now that Governor Kaine has announced billions of dollars more in cuts to state services, now that we don't have any money at all to pay for pretty much anything, and now that we've shaved essentially all the "fat" out of the budget, what else is there left for McDonnell to cut at this point?

Logically, of course, if there's nothing else left to cut, the only way to balance Virginia's budget will be to figure out some way to raise revenues. On NPR last night, there was a report on how states around the country are closing loopholes and raising "fees" on anything and everything, as long as they aren't called the dreaded "t" word. Is that a possible path for McDonnell, to outwardly stick to his campaign promise not to raise "taxes," while simultaneously raising desperately needed revenues? Or, will McDonnell attempt to do what Linwood Holton says makes no sense and/or can't be done? We're going to find out soon enough, and whatever the answer is, it will tell us a great deal about Bob McDonnell's governorship and also about what "back to GOP basics" actually means.