After a month of family, work, and home improvement issues I thought a return to the blogosphere would be a good thing, comfortable that certainly so much of the Democratic tripping about to date has been so capably captured by others.
Nonetheless, one thought that keeps coming back to me is that Creigh Deeds is now reaping the whirlwind that has been sown by Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.
First, a frame of reference…
Sometime back I was chastised by Jackson Landers for suggesting the Dems would have trouble because they had no “substantive achievement” to point to. Jackson felt this was big government talk, and he liked the Warner-Kaine years because the two hadn’t done much of anything. I replied that if this was the case it was not because they wanted to do nothing, but because they couldn’t get the increased taxes from the GOP legislature that would allow them to do what they wanted.
Fortunately, within a week of our discussion The Gov came out in the WaPo and confirmed that there were many wonderful things he would have done if the parsimonious GOP legislature had just given him more money.
And therein is the second wind sown for Creigh Deeds. The Democrats in the state legislature under Tim Kaine-and yes, that includes Mr. Deeds-have not offered up a plan to fund those increased plans. There have been bills here and there, but no concerted effort to push an increase in the sales tax. If the VaDems had unified support for a tax increase, I can only think it would have cleared the Democratic controlled State Senate in each of the last two legislative sessions….
…ah, but nothing did-and that’s the problem. The Democratic Party, for all their talk of the need for new revenue, did not push with all its might the new funding plans it seems to want. Even in his piece referenced above The Gov doesn’t mention all the State Senate had done to secure funding…he simply chasitises the “GOP-controlled” House of Delegates for not providing it. Apparently he thinks we have a unicameral legislature.
The Democrats have not had the courage of their of convictions and offered solutions. They have simply pointed out problems, then pointed fingers at the GOP for failing to fix them. Their clear hope was one that the GOP would implode and hand them power on a plate, then the Democrats would be free to operate without being tied to a plan. Given the failure of the democrats over the last eight years to offer goals and ideas, one cannot really fault Senator Deeds for saying he would offere his plan after he is elected-he just figures that is how things are done these days.
One would think that holding the Governor’s chair for eight years would have been adequate time to give the state a plan, but neither Warner nor Kaine did so. Ultimately, their inadequate leadership means Deeds cannot go to the state with claims of progress of under the previous administrations. Worse for him, the projections that Kaine used for budgeting (courtesy of Deeds running mate, but that’s another story) are proving to be less analysis and more rosy scenarios, undercutting even the argument of competency.
On the other side of the aisle, there are many reasons the GOP has been unwilling to agree to raise taxes. There has been general anti-tax feeling, and certainly a feeling that a tax increase in a recession is a bad idea, but I bet there is a once-burned, twice shy feeling. Most members of the GOP contingent remember in 2005 when Governor Mark Warner swore the state was in fiscal trouble and that Virginia’s treasured AAA bond rating was in danger. They remember how men like Harry Parrish went against their inclinations on the word of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and pushed through a tax increase.
They also remember how when the numbers were completely picked through it turned out the tax increase was not needed save the AAA rating, and that the state would have had a budget surplus without the tax increase. They remember how those legislators who trusted that the Governor wouldn’t play fast and loose with the truth were then flayed in primaries and the 2005 general by constituencies who couldn’t understand why the taxes had been raised when the state was already looking at a surplus.
Mark Warner created the first wind. He poisoned the well by using the prestige of the Governor’s office to get his tax increase through by claiming dire circumstances-that ultimately were shown not to exist. Given the way that GOP legislators were pilloried for that tax increase, it is much more understandable why they aren’t leaping at the chance to offer up a tax increases that Democratic Governor’s want but cannot get Democrats in the legislature to push for.
Deeds should be able after eight years of Democrats in the Governor’s mansion to campaign across the state pointing to either a record of accomplishments or a list of specific policies the GOP has stopped-and that he can enact with electing him and a democratic majority to the House of Delegates. However, he can do neither. In eight years the Democratic Party has not taken a stand on policy, they have not offered a plan or a direction for the state. They have not been willing to draw a line in the sand and announce their position-instead they have waited for the sands of time and of ideological infighting to cause power to drift to them painlessly and without risk.
That absence of leadership and the unwillingness to take a stand on policy or principle is the wind sown by Mark Warner and Tim Kaine; it is also the whirlwind Deeds may reap in November.