Surplus? What surplus?

My latest op-ed appeared in The Virginian-Pilot Thursday. For those who just read it online, you missed how the article was presented: side-by-side with this Cal Thomas piece touting it with a picture of our governor, Bob McDonnell, in the middle.

Some thought I was taking on Thomas, but in truth, I hadn’t seen his article. My definition of surplus is what’s left over after all the bills are paid. Given that Virginia hasn’t paid its bills, it’s pretty hard for me to call this a “surplus.” If I don’t pay my mortgage for a year, I’m pretty sure I’d have a surplus at the end. That’s the equivalent of where Virginia is.

The other thing that has really bothered me is the whole thing about deficit spending, as if somehow we don’t engage in it on a regular basis. Nearly every individual engages in deficit spending, as does nearly every government, including Virginia, as I explain in the column. All this hoopla about deficit spending seems to ignore that.

Finally, I was unable to track down the exact amount that Virginia has received over the past few years from the federal stimulus money. Various articles refer to the fact that Virginia was able to balance its budget because of the receipt of these funds but none said how much. In any case, the bottom line is that it is more than a bit disingenuous to complain about federal deficit spending while touting Virginia’s “surplus,” part of which is the result of that very same federal spending.

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