Schapiro Analysis for 7/16/10
Jeff Schapiro gives his analysis of the week's Virginia politics.
Farrar: WCVE Public Radio HD. Jeff Schapiro joins us now from the Richmond Times Dispatch for his regular Friday morning analysis of Virginia political news. Good morning, Jeff.
Schapiro: Hi there, Wayne.
Farrar: Well, the governor had two announcements this week, one about the surplus which was expected but perhaps a little bit more than had been anticipated a few weeks ago, and the other on jobs that have been created or filled on his watch and he's taking credit for that.
Schapiro: Ah, yes, a lot of happy, happy, joy, joy from the third floor of the Patrick Henry building, but do not be misled; the economy is still very much in the tank. This surplus, 220 million dollars, a bit more robust than had been anticipated, may have been inflated somewhat by this accelerated collection of sales tax revenues. Now the governor's office says that's not the case, but it's difficult to erase the concerns of skeptics that somehow this may have contributed to this burst of black ink, a chunk of which, about 80 million dollars, will go to these one-time bonuses for state employees; of course, this is a big deal for a work force that hasn't seen a pay raise since 2007, and Richmond being a factory town, these dollars certainly will be welcome in the local economy.
As far as job growth is concerned, 72,000 new jobs, net new jobs, McDonnell claims since taking office, somehow reconcile that with a stubbornly high unemployment rate; it may have dropped somewhat, but it is about twice what it was when the economy really accelerated in terms of its decline, and this has been an opportunity for McDonnell as well to roll out, if I may put it that way, his heir-apparent, or his perceived heir-apparent, Bill Bolling, the chief jobs creation officer; he was at the gubernatorial announcement to spotlight these figures on growth and juxtapose the Bolling appearance with some of the things Ken Cuccinelli has been doing, a possible rival for the gubernatorial nomination, with his latest burst of legal activism, joining challenges to the federal challenge to the Arizona anti-immigration law.
Farrar: We've talked before about Senator Mark Warner's role in the financial reform legislation in Washington; it's finally passed both houses of Congress and it's on its way to the President.
Schapiro: Ah, yes, the element of this bill that has Mark Warner's fingerprints on it is that element that ends these so-called taxpayer bailouts; if there are troubled financial institutions, they will be forced into an accelerated bankruptcy and they will quickly shed their assets and the sale of those assets will cover the expense, rather than taxpayers. The idea here is to somehow make this financial system, which was so badly wounded a couple of years back, make it pay for itself. This component of the reg bill that Warner helped write, he likened to the roach motel; in this case, troubled financial institutions would check in but never check out.
Farrar: What can we tell so far about the fund-raising by the Congressional candidates?
Schapiro: Well, it's good to be an incumbent, particularly a Democratic incumbent, particularly Democratic incumbents who were narrowly elected two years ago, Tom Perriello and Glen Nye in the fifth and second congressional districts respectively, very much on the Republican hit list, have about well over a million dollars in hand; their opponents, Robert Hurt, Mr. Rigell in the second, have less than about three hundred thousand but of course, they're coming through, or coming out of, primary and nominating contests. They will be well-financed courtesy of national Republican sources.
Farrar: Congressman Cantor had one of his jobs fairs in the area this week; it was well turned-out, a lot of people looking for jobs.
Schapiro: Ah, yes, and these jobs fairs tend to rankle a number of the Congressman's critics. The Congressman, they would claim, somehow uses those less fortunate than ourselves as kinda props for political theater to underscore his views of an anti-interventionist approach to the economy.
Farrar: Okay, we've got some time left. Let me go back to one of the items you mentioned in passsing, Attorney General Cuccinelli continues to be in the spotlight and he answered UVA's challenge to his investigation of a former professor at UVA, keeping that pot boiling.
Schapiro: Ah, yes indeed, and the idea here, of course, is to, at least politically speaking, is to keep Cuccinelli's base engaged and involved; of course, these are the climate change skeptics and the longer Cuccinelli can keep that pot boiling, to use your term, the better.
Farrar: He's refuting UVA's claim that it's an encroachment on academic freedom, what he's doing.
Schapiro: Correct. His concern is that perhaps there was some skullduggery on the part of a former professor, that it has little, if anything, to do with academic freedom.
Farrar: Okay, our time's just about gone for today, Jeff.
Schapiro: Have a great weekend.
Farrar: We'll talk to you again next Friday morning at the same time. Thanks to Jeff Schapiro of the Richmond Times Dispatch.