Our state government and the news media right now are focused on the spread of the COVID-19 virus, social distancing and face masks. However, a separate catastrophe is looming and few in our leadership seem to be reacting effectively. The gathering COVID-19 economic maelstrom is both an immediate crisis and a deeper, longer term danger. We are facing wide-spread immediate suffering followed by a years-long depression once the virus subsides. This result isn’t inevitable. Yet, our State government is not reacting and the Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), as our spokesman, is giving them a pass.
Our immediate issue is getting money into the hands of those hit hardest by the crisis. Small businesses are the bedrock of our economy. They can survive only a short time without cash flow before they go bankrupt and disappear. Too, 25% of Virginians live paycheck-to-paycheck; 40% can’t afford a $400 emergency. They all need supplemental income right now to survive the next several weeks. The money is available. The bottleneck is government bureaucracy; it can’t process applications at the speed needed.
Our State government has yet to set up any emergency apparatus to process loans, unemployment, or insurance applications. For the bureaucracy, it is business as usual. Why isn’t the Governor shifting personnel from other State agencies to process loans? For example, why aren’t idled DMV employees helping process loans and unemployment applications? And, equally important, why isn’t the RPV Chairman using his bully pulpit to prod the Governor to do that which is so desperately needed by the citizens of this State? Why is our Chairman so silent?
Our longer-term need is to preserve as much of our economic structure as possible during the crisis; it will determine our capacity to recover once the crisis has passed. Our Democrat-controlled General Assembly passed massive tax increases during their last session. Especially hit were restaurants, the hospitality industry, the entertainment industry, gasoline, and energy production – all of which dis-proportionally hit the lower income sector and rural areas. These same sectors are the most in jeopardy right now. Does our Governor think that, now, raising their taxes at the height of the economic calamity will result in anything other than their collapse?
The General Assembly couldn’t have foreseen the current economic crisis when they passed the tax increases earlier this year. But, given our new reality, why hasn’t our Governor walked back the tax increases to adapt? Do the Democrats prioritize protecting their tax increases over preserving the economy? Our leaders in Richmond are petitioning the Federal government for fewer restrictions on Federal aid. Yet, none of them talk about – shock of horrors – the Republican solution of cutting spending or reducing taxes. Why are we not calling for that responsible reaction?
No government has ever taxed and spent it was way out of a recession. Economies climb out of recession by reducing government burdens on the private sector and letting it do what it does best: produce prosperity. Yet, our Chairman is not clamoring for this policy from the State government. Instead, he is strangely silent. Groups such as the Middle Resolution and the Thomas Jefferson Institute have identified dozens of actions that our State government could do to help our business survive this crisis. Why aren’t we, as the RPV, demanding that the state government act on these proposals and do that which is so desperately needed?
Bureaucracies will not react to sudden change unless forced to. We see that in the Virginia State government right now. Too, no bureaucrat has ever been fired for not rocking the boat. We see that in the leadership of the RPV right now. These two traits are going to permit real, but unnecessary damage to Virginia during the COVID-19 crisis. We could be working to protect Virginians right now by demanding answers from our Governor, identifying problems, and proposing solutions. However, the RPV leadership is willingly silent – as usual. I am running for Chairman of the RPV. If elected, I promise you that I won’t be silent when the State needs to be prodded to do the right thing. I will speak up so that the RPV members will know that their voices are heard, so that uncommitted voters know where we stand, and so that Democrat leadership is held to account when it strays from what is best for Virginia. That is what leaders do. I ask that you vote for me at our State convention to be the next RPV Chairman so that, in times like this, I can speak out for us.
Best regards, Mike Schoelwer
Chairman, Lancaster County Republican CommitteeCandidate for Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia