Much of the plan relies on wildly optimistic assumptions, brazen exaggerations, gauzy projections and far-off scenarios: budget surpluses and revenue growth that may not materialize; interstate tolls that the federal government may not approve; royalties from offshore oil and gas wells that may not be drilled; borrowing that the state may not be able to afford anytime soon. Lump all that in a file called “Don’t Hold Your Breath.” Insert some of his other proposals — such as diverting some sales tax revenue from schools, public safety and human services statewide to pay for Northern Virginia road improvements — into a file called “Politically Dead on Arrival.” Quite simply, much of what Mr. McDonnell has in mind would almost certainly not come to pass during his four-year term as governor, if ever.
There is one aspect of McDonnell’s plan that I found appealing, and that’s the $500M that he proposes raising by privatizing the ABC. I think it’s bizarre that the state is in the liquor business, and I think we ought to sell them off before a court forces the state to, at which time they’ll go for fire-sale prices (because the state really won’t be in a position to negotiate). It turns out that the $500M number is totally invented. The editorial board asked the campaign where the number came from, and they had a couple of citations, one of which was a wildly optimistic theory for how Pennsylvania could benefit from selling off their stores, the other was Virginia’s Wilder plan, which provided no dollar value.
That’s the theme of McDonnell’s plan—there’s all of these “then a miracle occurs” steps. That’s not a plan. That’s a daydream.