Bob McDonnell

Lost Investments

My question for conservatives is this: Do you want the government deeply involved in the economy and picking winners and losers, or do you want to create a lot of jobs—paying $300 a month?

That is a question that arises out of this story of Evergreen Solar and its industry. The company took $43 million from the taxpayers of Massachusetts to develop a new solar technology. It created jobs in the Bay State, virtually all of which, three years later, are moving to China.

But now the company is closing its main American factory, laying off the 800 workers by the end of March and shifting production to a joint venture with a Chinese company in central China. Evergreen cited the much higher government support available in China.

,,,Although solar energy still accounts for only a tiny fraction of American power production, declining prices and concerns about global warming give solar power a prominent place in United States plans for a clean energy future — even if critics say the federal government is still not doing enough to foster its adoption.

Beyond the issues of trade and jobs, solar power experts see broader implications. They say that after many years of relying on unstable governments in the Middle East for oil, the United States now looks likely to rely on China to tap energy from the sun.

Evergreen, in announcing its move to China, was unusually candid about its motives. Michael El-Hillow, the chief executive, said in a statement that his company had decided to close the Massachusetts factory in response to plunging prices for solar panels. World prices have fallen as much as two-thirds in the last three years — including a drop of 10 percent during last year’s fourth quarter alone.

Chinese manufacturers, Mr. El-Hillow said in the statement, have been able to push prices down sharply because they receive considerable help from the Chinese government and state-owned banks, and because manufacturing costs are generally lower in China.

“While the United States and other Western industrial economies are beneficiaries of rapidly declining installation costs of solar energy, we expect the United States will continue to be at a disadvantage from a manufacturing standpoint,” he said.

Apparently Massachusetts didn’t strike much of a bargain when negotiating the investment. The jobs were good but temporary. I suspect Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, as probably did his predecessors Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, is giving away the farm in his attempt to lure businesses to the Commonwealth.

To American business the bottom line is the bottom line. We expect individual citizens to have a responsibility to this country and to make sacrifices but allow businesses to operate under a different set of rules: get as much as you can as fast as you can. Individual profit over national prosperity.

To be fair, however, when solar power becomes cheaper that fossil fuels, Americans will install it. The Wal-Mart generation seems to evaluate products based on price alone. And there’s not much we can do to stop it. Americans are not going to “buy American” if that means spending more, Nor can middle class Americans afford that patriotic luxury. So if Evergreen Solar stayed in Massachusetts and continued to grow jobs at $5,400 a month, it’s not likely solar power would become a viable business for the company when the Chinese can make it as well and much cheaper.

No amount of giveaways to businesses will reverse this economic axiom: cheaper sells better.

So it’s foolish for governments to invest in businesses in the vague, and as we saw with Evergreen, ephemeral attempt to create manufacturing jobs unless Americans are willing to work for $300 a month.

Better that governments invest in the businesses that can’t easily exported: the knowledge businesses. Education is the one investment that government, which is to say all of us collectively, should make to create jobs here. We need to develop the intellectual capital that can be exported to help other countries who may likely be more efficient, which is to say cheaper, than we can here.

Otherwise, more states and the federal government will be like Massachusetts, once the bloom is off the rose, hat in hand asking for its money back.

Michael McCarthy, a spokesman for Evergreen, said the company had already met 80 percent of the grant’s job creation target by employing up to 800 factory workers since 2008 and should owe little money to the state. Evergreen also retains about 100 research and administrative jobs in Massachusetts.

The company also received about $22 million in tax credits, and it will discuss those with Massachusetts, he said.

Good luck with that.

Democratic Party Positioning Fails

Yesterday I wrote that the Virginia Democratic Party’s statement on Gov. McDonnell’s requirement that felons submit an essay to have their rights restored was poor positioning.  Fortunately, other Democrats had better ideas—along the lines I suggested.

The Legislative Black Caucus in Richmond has the right focus.

In a statement, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said: “Governor McDonnell’s decision to use the executive power granted to him to transform the restoration of voting rights from an objective process to a subjective one that is contingent on an original essay for nonviolent offenders is taking a horrific step back towards the era of Jim Crow.“

Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, said in a statement that the governor “appears to have reinstated the literacy test in Virginia” and that for people with limited education, the new requirement “is a nearly insurmountable obstacle.“

In the Virginian-Pilot that same positioning, while not a quote, held sway with the reporter.

Critics of the letter-writing concept have said it is reminiscent of literacy tests once conducted at polls to bar minorities from voting.

The only place the Democratic Party’s positioning on the issue appeared in yesterday’s rundown of stories in the commonwealth was on The Washington Post’s Virginia Politics Blog.

In the AP story, there was no mention of the Democrats position at all.  Again, it was up to the ACLU to get it right.

The American Civil Liberties Union accused the Republican governor Monday of imposing upon convicts the same Jim Crow tactic used to prevent black people from voting.
"The Governor appears to have reinstated the literacy test in Virginia," Virginia ACLU executive director Kent Willis said in a statement.

Another endemic problem with Virginia Democrats is the lack of message cohesion.  In addition to the Black Caucus and Democratic Party HQ issuing statements, we have another angle from two legislators, including the House Caucus Chairman and Minority Leader.

"By requiring nonviolent offenders to submit an essay, Governor McDonnell is returning to a ‘blank sheet’ voter registration system that in the past disenfranchised many African American voters," Plum said. "By creating an additional, unnecessary and egregious hurdle, McDonnell has violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the Federal Voting Rights Act."

Folks, you may want to talk to one another.

McDonnell’s Plan for Felons: Tell Me a Story

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s call for felons to write an essay to gain back their voting rights is a thinly veiled attempt to minimize such requests.  But more important, it gives his administration the chance to deny anyone they want based on the essay.  What possible criteria can he devise for the essay that is not wholly dependent on subjective evaluation?

McDonnell (R) will require the offenders to submit an essay outlining their contributions to society since their release, turning a nearly automatic process into a subjective one that some say may prevent poor, less-educated or minority residents from being allowed to vote.

Virginia is one of only two states that require approval from the governor to restore felons’ rights.  Most states do so automatically once a sentence has been served.

What puzzles me is the Democrats’ response.

"It’s another roadblock," Sen. Yvonne B. Miller (D-Norfolk), a member of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, said when she was told of the change.

(It is surprising that in a story of more than 1,000 words that three-word sentence is the entirety of the Democrats’ viewpoint.  Whether that is the reporter’s fault for not seeking more comment or the Dems fault for not speaking up is unknown.)

We do have this statement by the state’s Democratic Party office (thanks to Blue Virginia):

"Governor McDonnell should immediately remove this costly and burdensome barrier for non-violent offenders to renew their voting and 2nd Amendment rights.  It’s mind-boggling that Governor McDonnell would choose to bury the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office in unnecessary paperwork during a time of belt-tightening and budget cuts. Surely the Secretary’s valuable time could be used in more productive ways than grading essays for Governor McDonnell.

"If Governor McDonnell wants to improve Virginia’s prisoner reentry efforts, he should make it easier for those who have completed their sentence to fully integrate back into society. Instead, he chose to institute an unprecedented roadblock in a Commonwealth with a painful history of blocking voting rights. Given his experience last week, it’s shocking that the Governor would unnecessarily stumble on Virginia’s history yet again.

"Virginia now may have surpassed Kentucky as the state with the most obstacles to reintegration for non-violent offenders who have served their sentence. Virginians should not be subjected to more bureaucracy getting in the way of their rights to vote, hunt, or exercise any other Constitutional rights.

"This is yet another unnecessary side project by Governor McDonnell when Virginia is facing its highest unemployment rate in nearly 30 years. Right now, Virginians have to be wondering, what happened to ‘Bob’s for Jobs?’"

Why lead with how costly and burdensome it might be?  Why focus on administrative “roadblocks” and “bureaucracy”? 

The statement should have been more forthright.  Instead of trying to parse words, the Dems need to be more confrontational.  Something like this:

Just days after the anachronistic “Confederate proclamation,” Gov. McDonnell and the Republican Party have again demonstrated their underlying racial insensitivity with an egregious campaign to limit the vote by requiring the modern day equivalent of the literacy test.

This is a naked attempt to put the McDonnell administration, which is overwhelmingly white, to limit the voting rights of black people.  There is an overrepresentation of African-Americans in Virginia’s prisons, a result in part of biased application of the law.  Far more than half of the prison population in Virginia is African-American.

But whatever the ethnicity of Virginians who have paid their debt to society, Bob McDonnell is instituting a plan to require essays before their rights are restored.  It is a system fraught with subjective determinations that are likely to be used in a partisan way.

Given the recent acts of Virginia’s top lawyer, Attorney-General Ken Cuccinelli, we would likely see a prejudiced system designed to continue to deny rights to people who have paid their debt to society.

This smacks of literacy tests instituted in Virginia and across the South during earlier times in our history.  Those tests were designed to prevent people of color from voting. This appears to be McDonnell’s modern version of the literacy test.

Attack.  Repeat. Attack.  And stop throwing softballs.

McDonnell Must Love Washington Post’s Confederacy Proclamation Story

As most folks in my business would probably tell you, the most important parts of a newspaper story are, in roughly this order, the photo (if any), the headline, the lede and the last sentence.  More folks will see the photo and read the headline than will read the story.  A few more will read the first few graphs, maybe to the jump, and then abandon it.  The fewest will read the entire piece, and the last impression you give them in the story (the close) will have an impact.

With that in mind, I offer Anita Kumar’s story today in The Washington Post.  There are slights of writing that impact the readers’ perceptions.

In the dead-tree version, the story is in the upper left of page one, a fitting placement.  The proclamation by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell of “Confederate History Month” created a national furor and, of course, it’s a homegrown story.

The headline is “McDonnell admits a ‘major omission.’”  That’s pretty accurate.  He didn’t apologize for celebrating Confederate History Month, but only that he did not refer to slavery.  (Which is like referring to the oppression of the Jews in WWII without mentioning that that oppression was more than hurling epithets.)  Note that in the online version the headline is different but also accurate:  “Virginia governor amends Confederate history proclamation to include slavery.”

The lede, however, is another issue.

After a barrage of nationwide criticism for excluding slavery [emphasis added] from his Confederate History Month proclamation, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) on Wednesday conceded that it was "a major omission" and amended the document to acknowledge the state’s complicated past.

The criticism was not just about “excluding slavery” from the proclamation; it was about the proclamation itself.  Why do we celebrate traitors to this country?  Why do we celebrate a movement that sought to preserve the most despicable of human institutions?

I’ll admit that some of the chatter I saw, heard and read the last two days  was a little wishy-washy on this issue.  Liberals, especially elected officials, didn’t want to go all the way there for fear of alienating Southerners who continue to cling the notion of the noble confederate.  But I think it’s fair to say that many people, especially those who’ve had little contact with the South, are baffled by this sanitized view of the Civil War.  Were there other issues besides slavery, for example, states rights?  Yes, but they stemmed from the issue of slavery; they were not separate and apart.  Why, those folks ask, do Southerners celebrate the Confederacy?

McDonnell and his supporters must be happy with the next two paragraphs as they give his original rationale for omitting slavery and his rectification of the mistake.  In fact, the entirety of the story before the jump is favorable to McDonnell—a man taking responsibility for his action and graciously calling two key critics.

After the jump, we see another headline:  “Despite apology, criticism of McDonnell continues.”  So where’s the evidence that criticism continues (though I’m sure it does)?  After a graph that details the changes to the proclamation, we have this curious graph:

But his decision to declare April Confederate History Month continued to cause a firestorm Wednesday, with national media descending on Richmond and Democrats and African Americans accusing the new governor of ignoring the state’s role in slavery.

Was the firestorm before or after McDonnell’s mea culpa?  If after, as is the logical interpretation, despite the lede, there is a firestorm over not just the omission of slavery in the proclamation, but the proclamation itself.  OK, where’s the evidence in the story?

From the point of the above graph, we have Sheila Johnson’s critical statement—made before McDonnell’s change of heart.  State Sen. Don McEachin, as Johnson an African-American, says he accepts McDonnell’s apology

…but said he was disappointed that the state had to undergo the embarrassment and national scrutiny that followed the proclamation. "It’s a black eye," he said.

That doesn’t criticize the proclamation but suggests that if it had included words about slavery it wouldn’t have been scrutinized.  Of course, there’s no way of knowing that.

Kumar then gives a little history of the proclamation and includes a statement by former Virginia Gov. and now Democratic Party chairman Tim Kaine that also seems to criticize McDonnell on the basis of the omission not the proclamation itself.

"Governor McDonnell’s decision to designate April as Confederate History Month without condemning, or even acknowledging, the pernicious stain of slavery or its role in the war disregards history, is insensitive to the extraordinary efforts of Americans to eliminate slavery and bind the nation’s wounds, and offends millions of Americans of all races and in all parts of our nation," he said.

So where is the voice to continued criticism?

Kumar then turns over the last five graphs to the Sons of the Confederacy, the group that requested the proclamation.The story ends with a quote that makes the group appear reasonable.

"All we’re looking for is an accurate history, which we don’t get in schools anymore or in the media," [Sons of Confederate Veterans national board member Brag] Bowling said. "The idea is to promote education in Virginia and tourism. Hopefully, we can still do that."

McDonnell and his allies must be pleased.  The article and jump headline allude to continued criticism but give no voice to it.  Meanwhile, the sons of traitors get to whitewash history and attack the media for not picking up a paint brush with them.

UPDATE:  The Post’s Robert McCartney has a thoughtful column on this issue, though I disagree with his conclusion that it’s justified to honor Confederate “heritage” because of Robert E. Lee’s “brilliant generalship.”

Cross posted on News Commonsense.

World Leaders Follow McDonnell’s Lead

To boost tourism in their own countries, leaders across the world are adapting Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s tourism strategy

Angela Merkel declared April Holocaust Month and is encouraging tourists to stop by Dachau to learn about the courageous German guards. 

It’s also Turkey Month, Armenian Style.  You can tour across the old Ottoman Empire and see what Young Turks can do when they really put their minds to it.

And for you pot heads, visit the lush fields in Cambodia where it’s Pol Pot Month. 

As for McDonnell, who is sensitive to the furor over his designating April Confederacy Month in the Old Dominion, he wants to add a celebration of how far African-Americans have come since the Civil War.  So he’s planning to cap the month with a minstrel show—with all white performers in black face, of course.

UPDATE:  Peter Miller at The Huffington Post takes the Nazi analogy a bit further.

Who Put Adam Nagourney Up to His Thinly Sourced Article?

New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney has an article suggesting Virginia Democrats are regretting their choice of Creigh Deeds as their candidate for governor.  Nagourney’s analysis of Deeds’ poor campaign is accurate, but there are several problems with it.

1.  It is thinly sourced.  The only  source cited is Virginia political analyst Robert Holsworth.  Generally, Holsworth provides credible insight (though his blog posts are written in a weird one sentence per paragraph style that disjoint his thinking), but no one else is cited in the article.

2.  Maybe it is “hard not to forgive some Virginia Democrats for thinking that they might have been better off with Mr. McAuliffe at the top of the ticket,”  but Nagourney offers no one, quoted anonymously or even referenced, to support his contention.

3. Nagourney’s conclusion – for with no sources that’s all this article is – is ludicrous.  Whatever disabilities Deeds has -– and he is, at best, an ineffective, some might say bumbling, campaigner -– the idea that Terry McAuliffe, an abrasive interloper in the Commonwealth’s politics, could draw more votes than Deeds isn’t credible.  Would he excite Democrats more?  Yes, probably.  Would he have more money to spend?  Most definitely.  But would he get anything more than the most yellow dog Democrats outside of Northern Virginia to vote for him?  Absolutely not.  With Dems reminding everyone of their fecklessness on Capitol Hill and Obama appearing uncertain, weak and all hat and no cattle, the idea that McAuliffe could win the race is unsupported. Obama won Virginia.  Bill Clinton didn’t.  With McAuliffe’s ties to the Clintons, there is little chance he could win this year – or any year, really.

So the question is, who put Nagourney up to this article?  In it, he states that McAuliffe himself and aides to Deeds and his opponent Bob McDonnell “did not respond to a request for comment.” So what possessed the reporter to write this story?  Someone’s pitch worked.  I doubt it was Holsworth, but whoever it was, they are still smoking – and inhaling – something.

Cross posted on News Commonsense.

Deeds Shows Courage, But Is He Proud of It?

It appears Creigh Deeds has listened to those who have ask him to show courage when talking about transportation funding.  Yesterday in The Washington Post, he wrote of his transportation plan, which while still a little thin on details, is honest about the funding alternatives and directly states that he would support higher taxes. 

Let me be clear regarding taxes. I will sign a bill that is the product of bipartisan compromise that provides a comprehensive transportation solution. As a legislator, I have voted for a number of mechanisms to fund transportation, including a gas tax. And I’ll sign a bipartisan bill with a dedicated funding mechanism for transportation — even if it includes new taxes.

At his web site you’ll find a transportation plan that is more goals than specific projects he would endorse, save a number of rail initiatives and completing the Coafields Expressway.  Still his op-ed is to be commended for its honesty about taxes.

The op-ed led to a favorable editorial today from The Post.

R.CREIGH DEEDS, the Democrat running for governor in Virginia, has now unequivocally committed himself to support higher taxes to rescue the state’s sclerotic road system. His stance is nothing more or less than common sense: Virginia needs tens of billions of dollars in new revenue for roads, and it will not materialize without asking taxpayers — the same taxpayers who rightly groan about traffic — to foot a good part of the bill. Still, by articulating that position in plain English on the opposite page Wednesday, Mr. Deeds showed political guts, which is more than one can say for the smoke-and-mirrors, wing-and-a-prayer approach to transportation endorsed by his opponent, Republican nominee Robert F. McDonnell.

Usually such a glowing editorial would be the subject of campaign email landing in my inbox before I have my second cup of coffee.  No such email has been received yet.  It may still come.  It’s as if he said, “OK, I’ve used the T-word and I’m not going to talk about it again.”

In any event, I hope now he can continue that honest approach by talking about options and how he will approach the decision if elected.  Will he conduct a statewide campaign as Mark Warner did to build support for his tax increase?  Despite yesterday’s op-ed, Deeds continues to be pummeled.  The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce yesterday, in endorsing Bob McDonnell, complained that Deeds still doesn’t indentify funding sources, though that’s exactly what he did in his op-ed, though not specifying which taxes.

What I find curious about both the Deeds campaign and about coverage by The Post on this issue is that neither talk about McDonnell’s plan to issue bonds to pay for transportation.  That’s passing the bill on to the the next generation.  Yet The Post reporters often leave that out when describing McDonnell’s plans

McDonnell has proposed paying for transportation by shifting state money and relying on funding sources that don’t involve tax increases, such as privatizing the state’s liquor stores and adding tolls on some highways.

Republicans are chortling that Deeds has had his “Mondale moment.”  I think he has a good chance of carrying this off.

Deeds-McDonnell Poll

The Deeds folks are no doubt celebrating this morning’s Washington Post poll that shows him narrowing the race for Virginia governor.  His attacks on McDonnell’s extreme right-wing views are working.  Let’s pause for a moment and relish this development:  Democrats gain by pointing out the values of conservatives.  We’ve come a long way, baby.

Deeds is gaining with “independent” women.  I know that probably means those who don’t afiliate with one political part or the other, but I think there’s another way to look at it.  Independent, in the more general sense of the word, women who are Republicans can bring along their moderate GOP or conservatic Democratic hisbands.  Independent wives tend to get their way a lot fo the time, beleive me, I know.  With plenty of time left in this campaign, they will work on their sposes and friends to vote for Deeds, unless McDonnell can turn the tide.

One message Deeds needs to continue to press is that when McDonnell wrote his thesis, he already was married and had, I beleive, two daughters.  So looking into their eyes, he saw a role for them – barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.  Deeds will need to make the conenction between McDonnel’s thesis and where he was a that point in his life.

Deeds is leading big in northern Virginia, so obviously turnout will be important here.  Expect to see flyers targeting women here until election day.  After all, in the poll only 46% said they’ve heard “a good amount” about the thesis.  There are more to be educated.  Even though only less than one percent beleive the thesis is the most important issue, there are two reasons to ignore that statistic.  One, because it’s not the most important doesn’t mean it couldn’t influenec a voter.  And two, not many people will admit it’s the “most important,” even if it is.  Also, it will be critical for Deeds to come out with an ad that says “Bob McDonnell says his views on women have changed.  Then why did he introduce 34 bills restricting abortion while he was in the House of Delegates – which he was until only four years ago?” One of the focus group participants mention that what McDonnell wrote 20 years ago isn’t as inportnat as what he did.  Thirty-four anti-women bills is what he did.

Deeds is running less than I had hoped in rural Virginia.  With his slight drawl and gun rights’ votes, I thought he could peel off some of the Republican’s natural support.  Maybe spending mor time down there might help.  Maybe he can talk about how he wants to ensure we have enouigh revenues for schools down there and pojtn ot that McDonnell’s transportation plan would cripple their schools.  MAybe he could talk about the economic development he wants to bring to those areas, suggesting that he might lure some of NOVA’s business to those areas of the state.

If we have a healthcare bill signed by November, adn if the talk in DC is about strong financial reforms, we might see an uptick in enthusiasm by Democratic voters and a better response from independnet moderates.

The sidebar that discusses the focus groups incldues this intersting statement.

Many in both groups described traffic as their top concern — perhaps reinforced by the rush-hour traffic they battled to get to the Wednesday evening focus group meetings in Fairfax. But several expressed a deep cynicism about their political leaders’ ability and will to solve the region’s congestion issues. Some were worried that Deeds, as a native of western Virginia, would not be sympathetic enough to the transit needs of Northern Virginia.

…The economy and jobs are voters’ top concerns in the election, according to the new poll, but few in the focus groups expressed a strong view on which candidate could better lead the state out of its economic doldrums. Lisa Schumann, 36, of Bristow said, "I think that I need more information to say." She also wondered how much a governor could do to make a difference. [emphasis added]

Here is where Deeds has even more possibilities.  I’ll bet he would get a bump of five percent in Northern Virginia if we would talk honestly about taxes to improve transportation.  I’ve already written about how he could frame this.  I’m under no illusion that he will tak honestly about transportation funding, as I’m sure he’s hearing an earful from spineless Democrats who are telling him he shouldn’t go near the issue.

Deeds could also make the link between what a Democratic governor can get from a Democratic administration in terms of new jobs and the race.  Fact is governors can’t do a whole lot to help the state besides give away the store in terms of tax advantages to companies who bring business here.  What we give away and what we gain in new jobs can be debated.  Moreover, I’m not so sure that tax relief wins the day when a business and their workers can’t get around the state because of traffic.

New Blog

It’s been quiet here for a few weeks.  So what else is new?  I’ve been travelling as well as injuring myself.  Got a painful back problem.  So there, I told the truth and made it sound as if that’s a rational reason for not writing. 

Also, I’ve decided to write about journalism issues on a new site, News Commonsense.  Lately (or at least before three weeks ago when this site went silent), many of my posts have been about news coverage.  So I thought I might segregate them in a blog just about the fourth estate.  So now I have two blogs I won’t be able to keep up with. 

I invite you to join me there, while I keep this blog about politics, maybe even about Virginia politics, which is what I set up this site for five and half years ago.  Times flies when you’re lackadaisical.

Meanwhile, did you hear the one about the gubernatorial candidate running in 2009 who thinks women ought to barefoot and pregnant?  Nah, jokes need to have an element of truth in them to be funny.  And who would believe that in this day and age?

Lynchpin of Governor’s Race – Taxes?

Roz Helderman had a pedestrian B1 (Metro section) story on the Virginia governor’s race Sunday.  It broke no new ground, and it can be argued that its greatest value was that it reinforced a Republican point of view that taxes are one of the most critical issues facing voters in November.

It can also be argued that an article this soon in the race, at the height of the summer doldrums, will not impact the contest to any great degree.

But more disturbing is that this presages the kind of coverage we’re going to get from The Post on the race.

Even Republican nominee Bob McDonnell recently tried to downplay the tax issue by saying that he wouldn’t take the Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge.

But Helderman and her editors, basically being lazy by re-hashing old tax/no tax arguments, lets us know that The Post, at least, is going to follow this political line throughout the campaign.  This was the first article since the Democratic primary that discussed an issue, instead of being a process article.  And of all the issues The Post could have addressed, they picked taxes.

What we can expect, then, is that Helderman will be asking tax questions throughout the campaign.  Why?  Because it’s easier to do that than study the more complex issues facing the electorate, such as how are we going to fund necessary transportation improvements in this down economy?

As a favor to the GOP, Helderman details votes Democratic candidate state Sen. Creigh Deeds has taken and suggests Deeds speaks with forked tongue.

Deeds, too, has said he does not intend to propose a tax increase. But he has promised to try to fix the state’s roads and rails — an issue often assumed to carry a $1 billion-a-year price tag — in his first year in office.

Basically she’s saying he can’t do it without raising taxes.

Does she ask how McDonnell might address the transportation problem?  No, but she assures us he won’t raise taxes.

[She quoted McDonnell] "I think in a down economy like this, it’s a very bad time to be levying more gas and sales tax on the hardworking citizens of Virginia."

And Helderman gives a prize piece of article real estate to those who argue taxes shouldn’t raised, as she concludes with,

But the economic downturn and a yawning budget gap may provide new resonance for the tax issue this year, said George Mason University professor Mark J. Rozell.

"The state of the economy is so dramatically different than it was in the last election cycle four or eight years ago," he said. "There is a different dynamic out there today."

My argument with this article is not so much what Helderman says or doesn’t say in it.  It’s more of a disappointment that we can expect The Post to take the easy way out in its gubernatorial election coverage. 

No one loves paying taxes.  But real leadership doesn’t start with talking about taxes.  How many of us start our day by saying, “Shall I spend something today, or should I try to make more money than I did yesterday?”  No, we look at what we have, what we would lie, and make a decision whether it’s a good idea to pay for some things now that we know would be a good investment later.  A house comes to mind.  But any decision we make about money basically comes down to what we want and how much we’re willing to sacrifice for it.

The first step for politicians then should be, “This is the vision I have, and here’s how I propose paying for it.”  Wasting valuable newsprint on whether we should raise taxes absent what we’d use them for means that much less discussion on what we want as an electorate.