More Ignorance from the WaPo Editorial Team

In the place of offering any constructive proposals for addressing Virginia’s transportation problems, the Washington Post editorial writers insist upon playing the anti-RoVa card. Here is the lede of today’s editorial:

After all the fuss and shouting about a grand statewide transportation funding plan, here is what the legislative powers in Richmond have decided to pay for each year to relieve the beleaguered commuters of Northern Virginia: half of one highway interchange, or the equivalent thereof.

As for any further improvements to Northern Virginia’s jammed roadways, the legislature has said the region is welcome to tax itself.

Despite “Republican propaganda” of raising $1.5 billion a year to spend on roads under the legislative package it crafted, the Post opines, the state would send Northern Virginia only $54 million for new road construction a year. The bulk of the new funds for the region would come from taxes that Northern Virginia imposes on itself. Says the WaPo: Gov. Timothy M. Kaine needs to amend the bill, insisting upon a “more robust state funding component so that the burden of improving Northern Virginia’s transportation network does not fall so overwhelmingly on the region itself. “

Somehow, in the WaPo mythology, the inequitable allocation of transportation dollars is all the fault of evil Republicans. Time for a reality check: The allocation of state transportation dollars is determined by a complex formula that was last updated (as memory serves, please correct me if I’m wrong) in 1986 as part of Gov. Gerald L. Baliles’ overhaul of Virginia’s transportation funding. The legislature back then was controlled by Democrats. Baliles was (and is) a Democrat. Back in 1986, before two intervening censuses and redistrictings, the General Assembly had more rural representation than it does now. The allocation formula was designed, in large measure, to protect rural interests.

The GOP Compromise would circumvent the state transportation funding formula: The estimated $400 million raised by Northern Virginia taxpayers for a regional transportation authority would all stay in Northern Virginia. Greedy downstate leeches would get none of it.

If the Washington Post pundits could rise above its Manichean worldview that casts downstate and conservative Republicans as the source of all evil , they might realize that the GOP package is probably the best deal that NoVa can get. The only alternatives are (1) to funnel new taxes through the old transportation funding formula, in which case NoVa would get hosed, or (2) turn the distribution of funds into a wide-open pork-fest where money flows into districts whose representatives have the most political clout — in which case NoVa would get hosed.

If the WaPo editorialistas were interested in getting more money for NoVa rather than blindly flaying its partisan antagonists, they would support the GOP package. If that were too bitter a pill to swallow, they would recommend restructuring the state transportation funding formula to be more favorable to urban/suburban interests.

Of course, in the absence of Fundamental Change, dumping more money into Northern Virginia road and transit projects won’t help congestion relief. The GOP plan is gravely flawed, though not for reasons comprehensible to the Washington Post. But expecting the WaPo to achieve that level of understanding is like teaching quantum physics to an algebra drop-out. For right now, I would be grateful if the WaPo pundits would simply grasp the most basic facts of Virginia government instead of spewing nonsense.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


12 responses to “More Ignorance from the WaPo Editorial Team”

  1. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    Three cheers for The Washington Post editorial team!!!

    Boy do they have it right on the

    The recently approved so-called
    GOP compromise transportation plan
    is a political plan designed to help the troubled GOP keep control
    of the General Assembly in the fall

    Virginia has neglected funding for
    our transportation needs for more
    than 20 years during a period of
    rapid growth.

    The much touted additional $1.5
    billion in new annual statewide revenues raised via new fees, fines and taxes does little to
    help us pay for the muti-billion
    transportation upgrades needed
    along I-81, in Northern Virginia,
    along I-95 and I-64 and in Hampton

    Jim Bacon, you need to reflect on
    these hard facts …. todays GOP is
    no friend of the traveling public
    in Virginia, who struggles daily
    with our horrible traffic jams and
    the risk of accidents on our bad
    highway system.

  2. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    The Daily Press in Tidewater has part one of three part series on the Transportation plan.

    Their subtle bias is in highlighting the costs to average folks with almost the equally opposite attention they did for costs to The People in the ’02 Tax Scam they supported.

    But, frankly, it’s one of the better presentations of facts from the MSM. Thanks.

    They correctly smell the political cynicism of the ’07 Tax Panic.

    Let’s see if, in the next installment, they point out that road congestion will INCREASE. Or the many open-ended opportunities for waste, fraud, corruption in an unelected Regional Government – and how they can raise taxes and tolls.
    As well as the whole – how cities and counties are forced into the Regional Government or not… you see… the Daily Press prays to their Liberal Human Secular gods for Regional Government.

    Like the WAPO, they have a fixation on the General Fund and a false notion that other spending will be cut. As in a real cut in spending.

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Rodger, Please explain to me — with real numbers, not rhetoric — how the GOP plan would funnel less money into Northern Virginia than the alternatives plans presented by Gov. Kaine, or by anyone else for that matter.

    (Let me make it clear: I am not defending the GOP plan: In the absence of Fundamental Change, throwing more money at transportation is not a virtue. However, I do think that it is important to be tethered to reality while engaging in the transportation debate. And the reality is that the GOP plan would jack up spending more than any of the alternatives proffered.)

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    This would be funny if it wasn’t so … [choose your own pejorative]

    The WaPa is not alone and neither is Rodger.

    Around the state, every region wants the State to do “more” for “their” region without putting the burden on their region’s constituents.

    And NoVa and TW/HR are saying the same thing…

    They’re saying that allowing themselves to tax themselves for their respective regions’s needs is WRONG.. and that the “STATE” – there’s that word again… double-speak for RoVA should “step up to the plate” and provide the money that NoVa and HR/TW need.

    In other words.. when you get right down to it.. despite all the talk, all the rheotric about “reform”, all the talk about focusing on more effective use of dollars…

    it all falls away to “tax the heck out of others so our region can continue the .. status quo… just like we have in all the prior years”.

    They want apparently believe that roads are built by Daddy Warbucks and not taxpayers and HORRORs certainly not the taxpayers in their own regions…

    What a farce… Don’t blame the GA.. those guys merely relfect public sentiment… which is something other than intelligent IMHO.

  5. E M Risse Avatar

    We have some new insight on what drives the WaPo editorial policy which we hope to get into a column soon.

    In the meantime, go talk to the Governor when he comes to a Forum near you.

    Tell him his veto of the bill will help Donkey Clan folks get elected and will make him look like a hero so he can get a nice job after his one term is over.


  6. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    Dear Jim Bacon:

    It is estimated we have $100 billion in unmet transportation
    needs in the state.

    It is estimated our population will
    exceed 10 million within two decades or so.

    The traffic on our rail and road systems will contine to explode because of new business development and population
    growth along the East Coast.

    Current revenues are consuming our
    our construction budgets for they
    are needed for maintenance.

    All of this is a by-product of more
    than two decades of neglect by our
    state government relative to this
    vital need.

    Virginia needs:

    -a statewide growth management plan;

    -a statewide transportation plan
    linked to that growth management

    -a revenue plan to support our needs from taxes, tolls, fines and
    special fees;

    -a state planning agency to create these plans and their management;

    -and an active public seeking to bring about these changes.

    We will never accomplish these goals with the likes of you and your pal in Newport News, James
    Atticus Bowden.

  7. E M Risse Avatar

    Roger, old friend, I do not know what has gotten into you.

    Get out a piece of paper and plot all those things you say will continue to expand and will need more and more money.

    Then go find a high school sophomore who has taken biology and ask her what happens to geomentric growth in a natural system.

    Hint: In rabbit populations or transport expenditures the answer is the same: COLLAPSE.

    Lets all get on the track for Fundamental Change before it is too late.


  8. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Rodger: Poquoson. Pronounced – Pah-COH-sen. Not Newport News.

  9. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo


    A state growth management plan linked to a state transportation
    system would address the issue
    of most concern to you.

    None of that will provide relief
    for the estimated 40% of our out-
    of-state interstate highway traffic that continues to grow and adds to
    our congestion problems in areas
    like Northern Virginia, Richmond,
    Hampton Roads and along I-81.

    EMR, the tone of your posting is not to unlike those by gentleman from Poquoson … sarcastic and unlike what I know you to be.

    This has nothing to do with high
    school students, rabbits or science
    and math courses taught to teenagers … it is about the real
    facts and what our state is facing.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    “Pah COS en”

    You don’t happen to live on “Odd” Road there, do you?

  11. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Anon: Pah COH sen or Pah COS en – maybe my ear is slow.

    Tne ‘new’ elementary school (my wife and I are brick owners – my youngest was in the first class there 17? years ago) and the HS is on Odd Road, but not my house.

  12. E M Risse Avatar


    “This has nothing to do with high
    school students, rabbits or SCIENCE AND MATH courses taught to teenagers … it is about the real
    facts and what our state is facing.” (Captials Added)

    I can see why you agree with the WaPo editorial staff. You and they skipped the same lessons.

    More in the future column.


Leave a Reply