- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 31, 2004

Political campaigns are noteworthy for the issues they highlight. The 2004 campaign for the presidency is no exception. The front page issues are obvious: The war against terrorism, the economy and a range of domestic issues including whether we will appoint judges who interpret the law or ones who will legislate from the bench. But I digress.

More interestingly, however, are the issues that go unnoticed. One that is of distinct importance to Virginia surfaced in The Washington Post’s article on June 28, 2004.

It cited Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s plans to “turn back the Republican’s efforts to revamp federal pay and personnel systems and open up more federal work to private companies.” Mr. Kerry’s remarks impressed the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) who endorsed him. AFGE, an AFL-CIO teammate, ranks seventh among public sector unions in political contributions, giving $490,000 to pro-union candidates (84 percent going to Democrats).

Not surprisingly, AFGE seeks a larger federal government. Endorsing Mr. Kerry is a logical step for them since the Democratic nominee has already proposed a $2 trillion expansion of government spending at the same time he derides the current deficit which in large part resulted from the war on terrorism. How Mr. Kerry will reduce the latter while exploding the former transcends all logic. But after all this is the same guy who said he voted to fund the war in Iraq before he voted against it; classic liberal doublespeak.

So how does this affect Virginia? Democrat Mark Warner ran for governor as a centrist pro-business leader who would bring business experience to Richmond to reform Virginia’s budget without raising taxes. Since his election, Virginia has done precious little reforming and a whole lot of tax raising.

Like his party’s nominee for president, saying one thing and doing another come naturally to the governor. Nevertheless, Mr. Warner likes to fashion himself after another famous centrist, former President Bill Clinton. Yet he has made no secret of his enthusiastic support for the ultraliberal Mr. Kerry. “Hey,” you might say, “give the guy a break. Like it or not Kerry is the Democratic nominee and Warner shouldn’t be criticized for supporting him.” Fair enough. But Mr. Warner’s support of Kerry positions is fair game for Virginia voters this November. And one of the senator’s positions could be disastrous for Commonwealth and especially Northern Virginia.

According to The Post’s article, in April 2004 Mr. Kerry pledged “to cut 100,000 federal contractor jobs.” Such a move would be catastrophic for the most important economic region in the state which, thanks to the governor’s tax increases, will soon provide almost 50 percent of the Commonwealth’s entire revenue stream.

For example, assume that of the 100,000 contractors Mr. Kerry is so eager to dump, about 20,000-30,000 are in Northern Virginia. What happens when they lose their jobs?

• First, the companies that lay off workers — and some of the people they let go — pay fewer taxes to Virginia, so Commonwealth revenues decline.

• Second, the companies that lose contracts experience stock declines, which impact the portfolios of other Virginians not directly linked to fired contractors.

• Third, the government then must hire additional workers to take up the slack.

• Fourth many of the former contractors become government workers.

• Fifth, the taxpayers assume a greater burden because government workers cost more to finance than contractors. Finally, big labor and AFEG are gleeful with potential new members and swelled government employee ranks which — once hired — are virtually impossible to eliminate.

So there you have it; John Kerry’s plan to rein in spending while conducting democratic voter recruitment at taxpayer expense.

Here are some questions the press should be put to Gov. Warner. First, does he favor the Kerry plan to dump 100,000 contractors, many of whom are employed by companies in Virginia that are so important to the economy of the state and Northern Virginia in particular? Second, does he agree swelling government ranks with more federal employees is a way to make government more efficient? Third, does he consider this a pro-business policy? And fourth, if he does not agree with this huge cut in contractors in his state, will he go to Mr. Kerry and insist he retract this horrible idea, an idea which will devastate the lives of many Northern Virginians?

Oops, I forgot. The governor has already launched a predatory tax assault on the pocketbooks of Northern Virginians, even as the recovering economy produces a $324 million surplus. I suspect we won’t be hearing much from the governor on Mr. Kerry’s calculated assault on contractors who work hard every day to serve the nation. If thousands of loyal Americans — like me — who are proud to serve their country as federal contractors get their notice, you can bet that’s an issue that won’t go unnoticed the next time Mark Warner contemplates political office.

L. Scott Lingamfelter, Republican, was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2001. He represents Prince William and Fauquier Counties. A retired Army colonel, he also works as a private sector contractor for the Defense Department.

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