Leahy: Glenn Youngkin’s Policy Rollout Is Overshadowed by the ‘Big Lie’

After weeks of running an empty-vessel campaign into which voters could pour whatever ideas, hopes, fears and theories they wished, Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin has finally put some ideas on the table.

They aren’t fresh or new ideas. The tax rebates, small-business support and modest school-choice policies, plus a spending spree on constituencies such as law enforcement, would be standard fare for a Republican running for office in, say, the late 1990s or early 2000s.

There are flaws with each proposal — the biggest being that many of them are based on Virginia’s share of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Youngkin has flip-flopped on the spending plan, calling it unnecessary in the spring but more recently saying he wants to spend it.

That change of heart — or bow to reality — means the starry-eyed outsider has taken a big step toward becoming the transactional insider he’s running against.

But what about the ideas?

One of the tax proposals would hand out a maximum of $300 per person. That’s not exactly going to send the Virginia economy into orbit. But returning a portion of the state’s budget surplus — not ARPA funds — to those who created it seems not just fair but long overdue.

And credit goes, too, to Youngkin’s proposal to use more of the $4.3 billion in federal relief he’s now embraced to plug the hole in the state’s unemployment insurance fund.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) proposed using $862 million in federal money to shore up the fund and another $73 million to help fix problems at the troubled Virginia Employment Commission.

That’s all fine and good, because the shift helps avoid businesses large and small from seeing their unemployment taxes spike to cover the deficit. But just a few weeks ago, the consensus, including from former finance secretary Aubrey Layne, was that fixing the trust fund would require “well over a billion dollars.” The Virginia Employment Commission said it would take $1.3 billion to return the trust fund to pre-pandemic levels and ward off tax hikes on businesses.

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