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Democratic Candidate Tom Shields Answers Virginia Right! Open Letter Questions At Town Hall

In case you missed last week’s posts on this blog, let me give you a little background as to what went on last week.

While looking around the Virginia blogs on Blog Net News, I noticed a photo I took at an event for Republican Delegate O’Bannon posted on several Lefty Blogs. The photo was of Congressman Eric Cantor and Delegate O’Bannon and I had used that picture in my post about the event.

These blogs were all attacking Dr. O’Bannon and Congressman Cantor (which means they are doing an effective job in my book). The attack was because they were of the opinion that Delegate O’Bannon was anti-worker because he was in the majority that turned down the Federal Unemployment Stimulus money. (And no, the irony that unemployed people were referred to as workers did not escape me.)

So, I made a few comments challenging the idea of revisiting the arguments to accept the money. When I posted a list of questions to consider as far as a cost benefit analysis, the owner of the blog deleted my post and blocked me. Nice! You can see that story by clicking this link.

Obviously, the Lefty Blogs are not capable of answering the questions. They are simply mindlessly parroting anything a Democratic politician says. So, I decided to go to the source of the information. Democratic Candidate Tom Shields, who is running against Dr. O’Bannon. Now I have met Professor Shields and attended a Town Hall meeting he held a couple of weeks ago, and gave my opinions of the meeting in this post. If anyone would answer my questions, it would be him.

So, I sent Shields the questions by email and published the email in an open letter posted here.

I found out Monday morning that Professor Shields was having a Town Hall meeting on Education that evening, so I attended.

I spoke with Professor Shields prior to the meeting and asked if I could ask the question I had emailed him, since the meeting was about Education. He said that would be fine.

Note: I did not attend the Town Hall because my questions had not been answered as it had only been a couple of days. I wouldn’t have expected a response for at least a week or two.

So I asked my questions at what I thought was an appropriate time.

You can read the questions here, so I will do a short summary.

Question: Given that accepting the Unemployment Stimulus money ($125 million) from the Federal Government requires mandatory and permanent changes to Virginia laws, which may cost as much as $1 billion over the next 10 years, and given an over $6 billion budget shortfall, how can this be fiscally sound judgment. It is as bad as a payday loan.

We will be required to extend benefits from 26 weeks to 59 weeks, which would have no immediate impact because the Federal Government is already picking up the tab for weeks 27 – 59. We must increase the weekly payments by around $4 (which is not much of a “stimulus”), and add part timers for the first time. So, the net effect is $4 a week, and part time workers can draw unemployment.

In his answer, Professor Shields did not dispute the numbers, but thought it might be a longer time before the financial impact was fully realized. Which will happen if we are still in a recession for another year or two. He also did not dispute that the impact to full time unemployed workers would be minimal. But his real reason for wanting to accept the money is, he would have a hard time telling people he didn’t accept every penny he could to help them.

That policy is admirable, compassionate, and financially ruinous. And that is the exact logic that Jody Wagner and Governor Kaine have used to create an over $6 Billion budget shortfall. Who cares what it costs, we’ll worry about that when the bills come due.

That scares the hell out of me. We have a Constitutional requirement to balance the state’s budget. We can’t print money or run a deficit like Washington. This must be paid for by either raising taxes, with Unemployment Taxes hitting businesses hard and causing more job losses, or by huge budget cuts.

Throughout the Town Hall, and the previous Town Hall, Professor Shields fielded question after question. Everyone had concerns about numerous problems. And most of these were serious questions that need to be addressed.

Questions like:

We need to spend more to recycle. Shields agreed.
We need to spend more on mental health. Shields agreed.
We need to spend more on educating Special Needs children. Shields agreed.
We need to force Dominion Power to sell us windmill power. Shields agreed.
More money for educational programs. Shields agreed.

Tom Shields is a very agreeable guy. Especially when it comes to spending. I have yet to hear him disagree with spending of any type. He knows we have serious budget problems and has said he will not raise taxes. But he can’t say no to more spending.

To be fair, Professor Shields has identified one area we may be able to shave a few dollars in savings from. The $35 million we spend on SOL testing. So, what. 10%? That is but a drop in the bucket.

Now numerous times during both Town Hall meetings, Professor Shields has criticized “his opponent” (he rarely mentions his name) for voting against spending for various purposes, including education. Now, to be fair to Dr. O’Bannon, many of these were not actually spending cuts, but reductions in the rate of increase. It seems Delegate O’Bannon does not get the Tom Shields stamp of approval because he is trying to have the Commonwealth live within it’s means. Within the budget. For shame! How dare O’Bannon and the obstructionist Republicans be fiscally responsible with Virginian’s money!

The bottom line is, Tom Shields has not heard a spending idea he does not like, or a budget cut he can agree with, but raising taxes is not a good idea. Tom Shields is a smart guy, and I am quite amazed that he can’t see the looming problem with this type of thinking.

Professor Shields works at the University of Richmond. Prior to Shields arriving at U of R, back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was employed by U of R as what would now be known as the IT Department. I was the only one at the time. I installed the first network backbone, fiber and routers and began the process of bringing the Campus up to date with technology. I was involved with the networking aspects of the Jepson Center where Shields works, and was involved in the meetings with the Architects and everyone involved in building the Jepson School.

Many, many meetings involved input from faculty, which we joked was like herding cats. I learned then that many college professors have absolutely no concept of money. They are accustomed to asking for piles of money for this project, or that project, and somehow the money magically appears. To them, there is no difference in asking for an ink pen or a million dollar grant. Fill out a requisition and somehow you get it.

The Virginia House of Delegates is not the academic world. It is the real world where the touchy-feely emotions and financial disconnect that prevail in the hallowed halls of academia are not a luxury a legislator can afford. It is the real world and you are spending other people’s money. Professor Shields has failed to understand that all the feel good wants and desires of his liberal followers cost money. A Delegate cannot just fill out a requisition or request a grant to pay for everything his constituents desire. If you pass it, you must pay for it. You don’t get to pass the financial work to some administrator to fund your whims like you do at school.

Tom Shields is a nice guy with a big heart and a lot of empathy for everything his supporters want. He is a great educator or he would not be working at U of R, one of the best Universities in the country. But one bad thing about Academic life is the isolation from reality that fosters the learning experience without external disruptions. It is good for learning and teaching, but simply does not translate to the real world.

Delegate O’Bannon knows how to control budgets and spend our money wisely. He has been doing it for years. Shields criticism of O’Bannon’s responsible fiscal actions is all the proof one could need to see that Tom Shields is simply not fiscally ready to serve as a Delegate. I have never heard Tom Shields accuse Dr. O’Bannon of spending too much money.

If you doubt me, go to one of his Town Hall meetings. He plans at least 8 more. Ask for something you would like to have, and Santa Shields will promise to place it under your tree in November.

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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