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McDonnell's muddled message

<p>Virginia Gov.</p>
McDonnell's muddled message
McDonnell's muddled message

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who's likely to be considered for his party's vice presidential slot this year, raised an interesting argument yesterday while trying to spin the latest economic news.

"I'm glad the economy is starting to recover, but I think it's because of what Republican governors are doing in their states, not because of the president."

Just at the surface, once prominent Republican leaders tell national television audiences that the economy is recovering under President Obama, the GOP is effectively giving away the store, or at least most of it.

But the more one scrutinizes McDonnell's new talking points, the less persuasive they appear. To hear the Virginia governor tell it, the economy is improving because of Republican governors, but whether McDonnell likes it or not, the current evidence points to a national recovery. There are 20 Democratic governors, including Democratic chief executives in two of nation's three largest states, and their economies are improving, too.

For that matter, there's ample reason to believe McDonnell has it backwards. One of the factors holding back the economy over the last year is the shrinking public sector, and the deliberate layoffs of thousands of government employees. Governors from both parties have contributed to this -- since states can't run deficits, they generally haven't had much of a choice -- but it's the GOP governors who've put austerity measures at the top of their respective to-do lists.

That doesn't boost the economy; it does the opposite.

Indeed, there's a degree of irony hearing McDonnell make the argument in the first place: thanks to money his state receives from Washington, Virginia has seen its government payrolls grow, even while most states slash public-sector jobs.

As McDonnell auditions for national office, he'll have to do better than this.