Virginia's Governor Bob McDonnell Thinks You're an Idiot


On Friday, March 15, 2013, at 8:00 a.m. Bob McDonnell will go to CPAC and address the Faith & Freedom Coalition Prayer Breakfast. For those of you who attend this event, you will be sitting staring at a liar.


If you are a conservative, remember Bob McDonnell thinks you’re an idiot.

That’s the only explanation I can think of for what just happened in Virginia this week. That, and that McDonnell is an unprincipled fake conservative whose promises are without value, an exemplar of the kind of big government pro-tax Republican who ruined the party’s stature with fiscal conservatives.

Bob McDonnell promised when he ran for governor that he’d never raise taxes. He talks a good game to conservative audiences, about principled leadership and the like. He can pretend he’s one of you. He’s got great hair. He’ll speak at the Faith & Freedom Coalition Prayer Breakfast at CPAC as if he is one of us.

But when push comes to shove, when the time comes that being a conservative demands that you stand up for what’s right and reject the easy way out, Bob McDonnell is not going to stand on principle. He’s going to cave to what the media calls “leadership” which is really just big government liberalism.

Bob McDonnell was getting all kinds of praise on the Sunday shows for his big transportation tax hike, which passed the Virginia legislature this week. He was getting praise from big government liberals like Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe and Martin O’Malley for his evenhandedness, his leadership, not like those troublesome conservatives in Washington who refuse to wheel and deal.

That should tell you all you need to know about the transportation tax hike McDonnell pushed through. But it’s a whole lot worse than that when you look at what really went down.


McDonnell hasn’t achieved a lot as governor. He’s done some good policies here and there. But he’s entering the final year of his governorship looking for something for his “legacy”, and he decided to make it all about transportation funding. The big McDonnell backers – corporations and developers – want more funding for road building and infrastructure, and since Virginia has been insulated from the economic downturn thanks largely to spending by the federal government (hence his outrage over the sequestration and what it might do to Virginia — he has no interest in cutting the size of government dollars which go to his state), they saw an opportunity to get funding from a big tax increase. (See this Wall Street Journal editorial for more.

The initial McDonnell package amounted to a $2.4 billion tax increase over five years. By the time the Virginia legislature was done with it, it had exploded into a $6.1 billion increase. These tax hikes include:

  • Sales tax hike from 5 to 5.3 percent
  • Additional sales tax hike of .7 percent in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia
  • Personal property tax hike from 3.5 percent to 4.3 percent
  • Tangible personal property tax hike to 5 percent
  • 3 percent Northern Virginia hotel tax
  • Diesel tax hike from 17.5 cents per gallon to 6 percent tax on wholesale diesel, roughly a 5 cent per gallon increase
  • Car tax hike from 3 percent to 4 percent in 2013, 4.1 percent in 2014, 4.2 percent in 2015, and 4.3 percent in 2016 (Remember when Republicans got elected in Virginia by saying we should get rid of the car tax? Good times.)

The legislative package wasn’t even posted online for Virginians to read before it was voted through. Oh, and that’s not all: if Congress rejects the federal internet tax scheme McDonnell supports (McDonnell apparently, like Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, now supports the tax on every iTunes download), the tax on wholesale gasoline in 2015 will increase from 3.5 percent to 5.1 percent, without a provision to revert back. In other words: this tax burden could get even worse if Republicans on Capitol Hill don’t go along with Bob McDonnell’s tax raising ways.

What tells you that Bob McDonnell isn’t really a conservative is that there was never any interest on the part of his administration in finding funding for roads through cuts or privatizing state services. Contrast this with what a real conservative does, like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker – when a state commission recommended he raise the gas tax to pay for roads, he said he’d sell off state property and privatize other functions to pay for it rather than raise taxes. McDonnell was never interested in doing that.

But it gets worse. Because McDonnell was so desperate for this gigantic tax hike, he was willing to wheel and deal on Obamacare, too.

Senate Democrats in Virginia sensed that McDonnell was desperate. He needed their votes to pass his proposal since enough Republicans refused to go along with him. So they demanded more from McDonnell. They insisted they’d only vote for the tax hike if they got to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, something McDonnell had just days earlier swore he would not do.


But we already know McDonnell’s word is meaningless. So he wrote a letter saying he’d support a state commission to expand Medicaid instead, paired with “cost cutting reforms” and impossible-to-enforce commitments from the government and the like. It was just more meaningless talk to get political cover for expanding the worst-run entitlement program in the country. Leadership on both sides will make sure the bicameral commission will be nothing but a speed bump towards expanding the program and exploding the same program whose outcomes are so awful, a University of Virginia study recently found you were more likely to die on the table as a Medicaid recipient than if you had no insurance at all.

In other words, Bob McDonnell was so desperate to raise taxes, he was willing to sell out on Obamacare, too. He was willing to sell out his party, his base, and his principles. And he did it with a smile.

The plan all along was to tax people more. The Medicaid expansion will do that too, adding in huge tax increases in future years when federal funding drops. And McDonnell got what he want. He passed his tax hike with a higher percentage of Democrats in the General Assembly voted for it than Republicans. He passed it despite the opposition of every Republican running statewide this year, including Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

People like McDonnell say this is about evenhanded “problem solving”. But really it’s about the fact that they think conservatives are too stupid for there to be any negative consequences for breaking their promises – on taxes, on Obamacare, on anything. There will always be someone more liberal than a guy like McDonnell, so he doesn’t have anything to worry about. He has just shown us how fake he is, and he’s convinced he can continue to fake people out because they’re too dumb to keep track of it all.


Bob McDonnell is a perfect example of the worst kind of Republican. He has no principles that he won’t sell out if he thinks the situation demands it. He is interested in the praise of liberal editorial pages for his balanced leadership, which is really just selling out the people who got him elected. His policy legacy will now be trading higher taxes for a massive entitlement expansion. How pathetic.

Conservatives should recognize that between Bob McDonnell and Charlie Crist only Crist is honest about not believing in anything. The only difference is the letter after their name. Oh that, and Bob McDonnell, after raising taxes on Virginians and caving on the Medicaid expansion will be speaking at CPAC.

And if that’s what happens, maybe it’s a sign Bob McDonnell is right about you and me: we really are that dumb.

P.S. McDonnell didn’t do this alone. While many conservative Republicans held the line and voted against McDonnell’s tax hike and Medicaid expansion deal, many Republicans in the House and Senate went along with it, greedy for the taxpayer dollars that will flow into their districts.

House: (David B. Albo, John A. Cosgrove, M. Kirkland Cox, L. Mark Dudenhefer, James E. Edmunds II, Thomas A. Greason, Christopher T. Head, Gordon C. Helsel Jr., M. Keith Hodges, Salvatore R. Iaquinto, Riley E. Ingram, S. Chris Jones, Terry G. Kilgore, Barry D. Knight, James M. LeMunyon, G. Manoli Loupassi, Daniel W. Marshall II, Joe T. May, Donald W. Merricks, J. Randall Minchew, Richard L. Morris, John M. O’Bannon III, Robert D. Orrock Sr., Charles D. Poindexter, Harry R. Purkey, Thomas Davis Rust, Edward T. Scott, Beverly J. Sherwood, Christopher P. Stolle, Robert Tata, Ronald A. Villanueva, Michael D. Watson, David E. Yancey, Joseph R. Yost, Speaker William J. Howell)


Senate: (Harry B. Blevins, Charles W. Carrico Sr., Jeffrey L. McWaters, Thomas K. Norment Jr., Frank M. Ruff Jr., Walter A. Stosch, Frank W. Wagner, John C. Watkins)

These people believe in higher taxes, bigger government, and more entitlements. If that’s what you believe in, support them. If you don’t, and you live in their districts, consider running against them.

Consider this Codevilla piece a must read related to this:

Yet modern Republican leaders, with the exception of the Reagan Administration, have been partners in the expansion of government, indeed in the growth of a government-based “ruling class.” They have relished that role despite their voters. Thus these leaders gradually solidified their choice to no longer represent what had been their constituency, but to openly adopt the identity of junior partners in that ruling class. By repeatedly passing bills that contradict the identity of Republican voters and of the majority of Republican elected representatives, the Republican leadership has made political orphans of millions of Americans. In short, at the outset of 2013 a substantial portion of America finds itself un-represented, while Republican leaders increasingly represent only themselves.


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