Since last February, Virginia has seen the fourth highest number of net new jobs created of any state, and our unemployment rate has fallen to 6.7 percent, ninth lowest nationally. Our governing model of fiscal austerity and strong support of the private sector has given the Commonwealth a small tailwind on the path to economic recovery. While our national challenges are much greater, I sincerely hope the President will choose this fiscal conservative model of governing, and not just of speechmaking.
As a Republican governor I appreciated the President’s acknowledgements that small businesses drive our economy, the private sector must be bolstered to create good jobs, and the continuance of last decade’s tax reductions will benefit all Americans. He spoke with needed clarity regarding the dynamic nature of this global economy and the furious economic competition between states and nations to which it has given rise. I strongly endorse his call for a reduction in the corporate income tax, and I certainly do not disagree that we need to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build” the world in the years ahead. Further, this Administration knows it has an ally in Richmond in the shared effort to provide more entrepreneurial and higher quality educational opportunities for all our young people.
There was much common ground to be found in the President’s roughly 6,800 words of text. Unfortunately, specifics on policy were scant. The President touched on the negative impact that excessive and burdensome regulations can have on the businesses that create the jobs our citizens need. I applaud him for focusing on job creation, higher education opportunity expansion, and even tort reform. But will he earnestly pursue these commendable objectives?
The President spoke about the “mountain of debt” looming above our heads. Yet the most he could muster when it came to the difficult decisions that must be made to reduce the size of that mountain was a call to freeze domestic spending for the next five years. While this move would save $400 billion over the next decade, the only way out of this crisis will be through cutting spending. The Simpson-Bowles Debt Reduction Commission has given this President an initial list of items from which to choose in the pursuit of real debt reduction. Tuesday night was his opportunity to put the Presidential stamp of approval on a number of those proposals, and call for a bipartisan commitment to enacting them. It did not happen. It was an opportunity lost.
It was left to Congressman Paul RyanPaul RyanOvernight Healthcare: Medical cures bill finally heads to White House Overnight Energy: Trump taps EPA foe to head agency | Energy reform bill officially dead Speaker’s office: No energy bill this year MORE of Wisconsin to level with the American people about the tough measures that must be taken to truly reduce our nation’s immoral and unsustainable $14 trillion in debt.
However, in a politically split Washington, nothing of substance will occur without cooperation between the parties.
The American people certainly appreciate a bipartisan speech, but what they really need is bipartisan action in the much tougher task of getting our fiscal house back in order. The President’s speech was well-received, now is the time for policies that are well-conceived. The months ahead will tell us much about whether or not this Administration is truly committed to the fiscal responsibility that is crucial to sustained job-creation and economic recovery.
Bob McDonnell is the 71st Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He delivered the Republican response to the State of the Union in 2010.