For all of its howling and absurd denouncements, the Virginia Republican Party, like many Virginians, are economically linked at the hip, for better or for worse, to the federal government. The close relationship between the federal government and Virginia was further revealed when Moody’s Investors Service improved Virginia’s credit outlook to “stable” and affirmed the commonwealth’s triple-A bond rating one day after the credit rating company improved the U.S. government’s rating from “negative” to “stable”.
In December 2011 Moody’s downgraded Virginia’s credit outlook to “negative” due in great part to Virginia’s reliance on federal spending. That is, Virginia Democratic and Republican Party reliance on federal spending, not just Democratic Party reliance.
According to Moody’s, federal budget deficits have decreased faster than originally forecast and the U.S. economy has “demonstrated a degree of resilience to major reductions in the growth of government spending.”
Virginia has also taken its own steps to rein in spending by reforming the Virginia Retirement System and reducing “unfunded liabilities” in local and state employee pension plans. What is continuing to hurt Virginia’s economy the most, however, is the ill-conceived and even more contemptible decision to allow the federal ‘sequestration’ to indiscriminately buzz-saw through the federal budget.
Sen. Mark Warner noted during a hearing last week regarding the impacts of the sequestration that the indiscriminate cuts in federal spending are negatively effecting small businesses “from Northern Virginia to Norfolk.” That is, the sequestration’s harmful effects to Virginia’s economy are not isolated to Northern Virginia. On a more abstract level, the nature of our globally integrated economic network means that negative effects to one of Virginia’s economic sectors could potentially have a negative effect on a seemingly peripheral part of Virginia’s economy. What this means is that Virginians should be concerned with what goes on in other parts of Virginia’s economy if only for purely selfish reasons.
Sooner or later, Virginia’s Republican Party will have to begin discussing how the state is going to create jobs, not just cut spending in more and more insignificant corners of Virginia’s economy. While this would mean actually using their imaginative intelligence, I believe some within Virginia’s Republican Party have this capability. While the Virginia Democratic Party is not blameless for any of the economic woes the state has experienced over the last few years, the absurd ideas and policy decisions of the Republican Party clearly take the cake in terms of adding little to Virginia’s economic recovery.