Candidate Essay: Caren Merrick

by ARLnow.com October 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm 5,234 144 Comments

This week we asked the two candidates for the 31st District state Senate seat to write a sub-750 word essay on why the district’s residents should vote for them on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Caren Merrick’s campaign says they did not receive our request (emailed to the campaign manager), and thus were late in responding.

Here is the unedited response from Caren Merrick (R):

I’m running for the Virginia State Senate because I believe that in these uncertain economic times we need a State Senator who understands how to create jobs, help grow our economy, and make wise investments that will help individuals, families, seniors, and veterans succeed in education, work, and life.

As a candidate, I’ve listened to thousands of voters. I can tell you firsthand the top concern is jobs and the economy.

The region’s unemployment rate is nearly double what it has been. Our #1 employer is the Federal Government and the 2nd largest employer group is the contracting community that serves it. Major contractors are already feeling the pain of Federal spending cuts. Is our region ready for the cuts to come? Absolutely not.

We must diversify our economy and unleash Northern Virginia’s entrepreneurial capacity. I understand the challenges of starting and growing a business and creating jobs. I cofounded a software company in my basement, went without a paycheck for a year so we could pay employees, overcame many obstacles and grew our company to more than 1,100 employees. My plan to grow our economy addresses business tax and regulation reform, transportation, and education as we need to improve all three areas to advance a growing economy and a brighter future.

To spur the growth of new and existing businesses, I propose comprehensive tax and regulation reform, including a pay-as-you-go regulatory environment. For every new regulation we add, we need to remove an outdated one of equal cost from the books. We also need to reform Virginia’s tax code to make it simpler, fairer and more conducive to competition and economic growth.

Another key to growth is enacting a stronger R & D tax credit to promote innovation and job creation across our region and boosting industry sponsored research and collaboration with Virginia’s universities.

Transportation – we must prioritize spending based on congestion relief. This sounds obvious, but a bill to do just that was blocked in the last session of the General Assembly. We need a dedicated source of revenue and I support revenue from offshore oil leases as studies show it can be done safely and it is estimated that it would produce 15,000 jobs and $3.2 billion to our Commonwealth – and it has received strong bipartisan support from Senators Warner and Webb, Governor McDonnell, and candidates for U.S. Senate Tim Kaine and George Allen.

Education – I have proposed cost effective ways to introduce science, technology, engineering, and math at earlier grades to ensure that our kids are prepared for jobs of the future. And we need to increase the college graduation rate across the Commonwealth.

I served on the Governor’s bipartisan Economic Development and Jobs Creation Commission where 92% of our jobs and opportunity agenda passed with strong bipartisan support.

I’ve been endorsed by leading bipartisan business groups such as the Northern Virginia Technology Council NVTC TechPAC, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Chinese American Chamber of Commerce. Most of these organizations endorsed other Democrats, but not Barbara Favola.

As you know, elections are about choices. Barbara Favola often talks about being proud of her record. I would like to highlight a couple of differences between Ms. Favola and I.

First, Ms. Favola would like to raise the gas tax to fund transportation projects. I disagree; this would hurt working families and seniors in these tough times.

Ms. Favola increased spending by 70% while on the County Board. She has raised taxes many times, while giving herself a 59% pay increase, all this while some school kids in Arlington sit in trailers.

Finally, she was a champion for wasting $2 million of taxpayer dollars on a lawsuit personally attacking government workers and blocking transportation solutions that would relieve congestion in the region. A lawsuit which The Washington Post said “undercut (Arlington’s) own economic interests.”

I’m running on jobs and the economy while my opponent wants to talk about the NRA. It’s worth noting that Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb have A ratings from the NRA and both have received strong support in the 31st District.

I welcome ideas and support from all. I have strong support from Democrats, Independents, and Republicans because they know that, unlike Ms. Favola, I understand the first hallmark of leadership is to listen, then find common ground, and work together to push for solutions.

I ask for your vote on November 8.

  • South Walter Reed

    Weird that she doesn’t say she’s a Republican.

    • Andrew

      Why is that weird? Did you not know she was a republican? Favola did not state she was a democrat in her essay.

      • South Walter Reed

        Favola said this:
        My Republican opponent is listed on the VA Tea Party Alliance Web Site as a possible candidate to create a conservative majority in the State Senate. I submit to you that it is in the interest of the 31st District and the Commonwealth as a whole to keep the State Senate in Democratic hands.

        Pretty easy to get where she is politically.

        Meanwhile, Merrick is intentionally trying to hide her Republican-ism in Arlington. That’s why it’s weird.

        • Andrew

          I guess it matters to people who vote down the party line and don’t care about what the candidate has to say or what their positions are.

          • South Walter Reed

            Personally, I’d like to see Merrick’s NRA Candidate Survey but she won’t post it…

          • Carl

            WHAR SOORVEY?

          • Westover05

            So true. It’s like the Redskins vs the Cowboys. My team is best no matter what!

          • Chris

            It matters because as a Republican she’ll side with her party on the stuff she doesn’t list here that would alienate a large block of Arlington voters: the dangerously conservative Republican social agenda.

          • novasteve

            Dangerous? Like what? Your precious right to kill your offspring because they are inconvenient to you while you fight to get cop killers off death row?

          • Flying Spaghetti Monster

            “Every sperm is sa-cred! Every sperm is Great!
            If a sperm gets wasted, God gets quite irate!”

          • Chris

            Yes, a woman’s right to self determination in medical matters, free of interference from sanctimonious religious conservatives – that is one of the rights I’m talking about.

            I know you conservatives have a bloodlust to satisfy some deep-seated feeling of being wronged all the time, be it by people driving automatic transmissions or public-health smoking bans – but no one is trying to prevent the punishment of the rightfully convicted. The Innocence Project has exonerated 273 including 17 people sentenced to death.

            Tell me, how is justice served by executing the innocence? To satiate a public demand for blood?

          • novasteve

            Self determination? A 17 year old girl cannot even get a broken bone set in an ER without parental persmission, let alone just notification, yet a 12 year old girl can terminate her pregnancy no questions asked?

            That’s SPECIAL PRIVILEGES. No child is allowed to make any other medical decision.

          • Chris

            Steve your logic, or lack thereof, is astounding. What about self determination scares you so much? You open with abortion rights and then shrink down to a niche argument of a child’s right to self determination and the admittedly more complicated questions of the conflict with parental rights. Where are you going with this, and how does this apply to a woman’s right of self determination?

          • Zoning Victim

            The whole thing is such a non-issue. This has been settled by the courts in Roe v. Wade for a very long time. No matter what the personal beliefs of a candidate, they’re never going to be able to outlaw abortion. It’s been challenged and upheld. There are far more important issues to worry about that the candidates can affect. This “issue” is just a diversionary tactic to keep people busy with something, anything, other than the real issues.

          • AllenB

            BS… it matters because it shows who she’ll vote for to lead the state senate. Mrs VA Tea Party wants to hide that she is a tea party darling.

          • Zoning Victim

            None of the other candidates directly identified which party they’re running for; you guys are just nitpicking because you know your candidate is weak. Anybody responding to a request like this would know that the article would identify them and their party. She never even identified herself in the article at all for that matter.

      • lujuria


  • Carl

    You go.

  • Andrew

    Drill baby drill

    • Zoning Victim

      $3.2 billion over how long? In light of the BP spill costing $40 billion, it doesn’t sound like much money. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand Ms. Favola and will be voting against her, but I’m just completely against deep water drilling at this point.

      • drax

        But it’s free money! It avoids having to actually take responsibility for funding our transportation system with a real dedicated source!

    • Baffled

      It is absolutely astounding that a candidate in our district would be spouting this offshore lease nonsense.

      That might fly in Wasilla, but not here.

      • Carl

        As a state senator, it is an issue she would be voting on. Arlingtonians are such deniers when it comes to understanding that the Commonwealth conducts business for the entire state.

        • Baffled


          A shill for the latest claptrap from the API crowd is not remotely representative of this district and it is shocking that a candidate from our area would tout this as her answer to transportation revenue issues.

          One would hope that our local representatives would not be swept up in these fantasies and drive our Commonwealth over a cliff in the process. We are NOT Alaska.

          • Carl

            Bipartisan support for it. Guess that leaves you on the outside looking in. Enjoy the view.

          • drax

            This is about who should represent Arlington, Carl.

          • Carl

            What about the part that is not in Arlington?

  • charlie

    Hmm. More amateur hour stumbling. Does she realize this is one of the most politically intelligent electorates out there. Not getting the email isn’t going to cut it as an excuse.

    She is smoking, though.

    • AllenB

      Maybe the dog ate the email.

    • KalashniKEV

      “…this is one of the most politically intelligent electorates out there.”


      • drax

        That comment couldn’t have come from a more appropriate poster.

  • Problem solved

    Tea-party. Gun nut. Anti-choice. Beholden to big business.


    • novasteve

      Believing in the 2nd amendment makes one a gun nut? Are you an abortion nut?

      • Chris

        I’d rather see her get an A from NARAL than NRA, sure.

        • novasteve

          That’s funny, the 2nd amendment is explicit, and the “right” to abortion was made up out of the blue, to such a laughable extent that even Liberal justice Ginsberg says that Roe v. Wade is a horrible decided case.

          • drax

            You ever read the 9th Amendment, Steve?

            By the way, Roe v. Wade is based on earlier cases that declared a right to privacy, such as the right to use birth control. That’s another “made up” right, I guess.

          • Paco

            Novasteve is no doubt a member of a well regulated Militia.

        • KalashniKEV

          I’m pro-choice, but I’d rather see her get an A from the NRA. One is about fixing a mistake and one is about a basic human right.

          • drax

            Hey, why don’t you and Steve fight it out over abortion while we watch.

          • KalashniKEV

            I’d probably lose, abortion isn’t really one of my big issues.

            I just want the government to leave me alone and think the tax burden should be approximately 1/3 what it currently is. I will vote for whoever gets me closest to that… Democrat or Republican.

          • drax

            Okay, but I doubt even you would want a government 1/3rd its current size if you actually looked at what that would require in cuts. But no matter. Even if you don’t want to fight over abortion, Steve seems to, so watch your back.

          • KalashniKEV

            No… I’m like Ron-Paul-level-of-crazy when it comes to slashing gov.

            I very much DO want a Federal Government that works for the people and is extremely limited in power. It’s time to starve the beast!

          • Theakston

            I am willing to bet that 100% if your salary comes directly form the government and always has.

  • Brendan

    I almost feel bad for her… she’s trying to intertwine what appear to be fairly moderate personal views, with those required by the party’s base and then hide them long enough to not push away the liberal independents. Tough tightrope, especially when the national party has gone so bonkers.

  • Chad

    Does anyone else notice that these essays follow almost like a “cookie-cutter” form? Except for McGhee, but that dude is crazy.

    • Zoning Victim

      Haha, yeah, I was thinking the same thing.

  • Chad

    I also just used some flimsy word count tool and I noticed a few things.

    Merrick – 810 words
    Favola – 533 words (really? Could have said some more stuff about how Merrick sucks, duh)
    McGhee – 591 words (more storries, bra)
    Ebbin – 641 words

    You should have made Merrick trim hers down to remain within the rules. Caren “The Maverick” Merrick or even Maverick Merrick – slogan, “I don’t need no stinkin rules, I do what I want”

    • Chad

      stories too ^_^

    • Craig

      funny. my word count for merrick was 744. But we are such a sophisticated electorate, are we not?

      • Chad

        Mine is more scientific. It is called “Word Count Tool” after all.

  • HaulinOats

    “Education – I have proposed cost effective ways to introduce science, technology, engineering, and math at earlier grades to ensure that our kids are prepared for jobs of the future. And we need to increase the college graduation rate across the Commonwealth.”

    The placement of a sentence regarding STEM education next to a sentence beginning with the word “and” makes this liberal arts major cry.

  • Well Hello

    Caren is hot.

  • Grammah Chameleon

    “I would like to highlight a couple of differences between Ms. Favola and I.”

    That should be “between Ms. Favola and me.” You wouldn’t say “Come with I” or “Sit here next to I,” would you?

    (Obama does this too, and it drives me NUTS.)

    • Jim

      Second yer motion.

    • Zoning Victim

      I know what you mean. The worst part is that MS Word will flag this if you turn on the grammar editing feature.

    • drax

      I feel badly about bad grammar.

  • John Fontain

    Obama is in Clarendon right now. Even tide or liberty tavern.

  • Novanglus

    “She has raised taxes many times, while giving herself a 59% pay increase, all this while some school kids in Arlington sit in trailers.”

    Huh? So Favola should have _lowered_ taxes to build new schools? This is more borrow-and-spend broken logic from the GOP.

    And a salary of $49,000 (compared to $31,000 when she started) is hardly living high-on-the-hog.

    • Zoning Victim

      She’s the chairman, so she actually gets $53,900, but yes, I see your point.

      But let’s not sit here and pretend that the money spent on the schools was spent properly or that building new schools is all they’ve done with the massive revenue increases they’ve gotten, or that the incredibly high property taxes didn’t push out a lot of long time Arlington homeowners. Arlington County tore perfectly good buildings down and built new ones that are already inadequate and have spent money left and right over the last decade on things many people see as frivolous. The board stomped all over land owners rights, had complete fiascos at both the county manager and zoning administrator positions, have been very unfriendly to local businesses and have done everything they can to protect illegal aliens. So it’s not like they’ve shown great leadership over her tenure in my opinion.

      • Thes

        Let’s just start with your first sentence. Flat. Out. Wrong.

        Come back with your opinions once you have your facts in order.

        • Zoning Victim

          I got that information from Arlington County’s own County Board page:


          Being dismissive over information gathered from Arlington County’s site, whether correct or incorrect, does little to overshadow my opinions.

          • Operative

            Last Modified: October 27, 2011

            That is effing hilarious. Or shady, take your pick.

          • Zoning Victim

            As a software developer with a lot of web development experience, I’ll go with hilarious; or better yet, typical. It’s hard to find everything on a site when things like this change. That’s why sites will often pull information like this from a resource file or database. That way, you only have to change information like this in one place and it updates every page on the site that refers to it.

            They (the ACB I mean) actually would want it changed to say Zimmerman because the real shady trick they pull is to make the next person in line for election the chairman to help their campaign in the rare event that someone challenges for their seat.

          • Operative

            I can not see any differences between the page and Google’s cached copy. She has not been chair since 2009.

            Get your stuff cleaned up Arlington. You have a state senate candidate’s administrative position inaccurately represented on your website.

  • AllenB

    Same old republican garbage – cut taxes and we’ll grow our way out of the deficits. Yeah, trickle down really worked for Reagan and Bush Jr.

    Just warmed over pablum from the republican playbook.

    • Zoning Victim

      The only problem with growing our way out of deficits is that the big spenders on both sides of the isle are unstoppable. Growing out of the deficit/debt problem is only possible if we stop growing the government.

      Government spending has increased 19% faster than the inflation rate since President Obama has taken office. In 1992, we spent 22,027 per person; in 2010 we spent $30,543. That’s $473 per person per year in spending increases or a 28% increase over 18 years.

      Tax and spend doesn’t work any better than cut and spend. We just have to stop the growth in spending.

      • AllenB

        I can sign on to a mix of spending cuts and tax increases, but it can’t be just one or the other.

        And you didn’t mention the spending increases under Bush. I don’t know the exact answer to that but since he ran up massive deficits and increases in the debt, I’m guessing it was even bigger than the increases under Obama.

        • Zoning Victim

          No, I didn’t mention the increases under G.W. Bush in my reply, but my distain for the way he and all of the big government Republicans have led us down the same path as the Democrats (and the fact that I think we have one party masquerading as two) has been pretty well documented on this board. However, that’s no excuse for what Obama is doing.

          Believe it or not, the increases were not bigger under G.W. Bush; in fact, they aren’t even close. Although, Obama’s presidency hasn’t run its course and he could cut out all deficit spending from here on out, it’s pretty safe to say he won’t. GWB’s average debt increases were $607 billion a year. During Obama’s presidency to date, the national debt has risen by an average of $1.723 trillion a year; $1.116 trillion more, per year, than it rose under Bush. This is no defense of Bush and there are many reasons why this is happening, some of which were caused by Bush, but there’s no denying the fact that in Bush’s biggest year ever, he spent just under $3 trillion and under Obama, the lowest year he’s had was $3.4 trillion. In 2012 he will spend an estimated $3.7 trillion. If we stay on the path that the last two presidents have put us on, we’ll be completely broke in no time.

          If you go and look at any budget or proposed budget by any president on OMB’s site (obviously, you’d want Obama’s 2012 if you want to see the 2011 projections), there is a historical table in them that covers figures like these going all the way back to the beginning of time. Looking at it, you’ll be amazed how many years we’ve run deficits and how quickly the debt has increased in the last decade-plus.

          • drax

            Debt and spending are not the same thing.

            Of course debt increases in a recession with high unemployment – there is much less tax revenue coming in.

          • Zoning Victim

            I know they’re not the same thing, that’s why I outlined both. Funny how the economic problems of this country are never your party’s fault at all, no matter what; I guess that’s one good thing about not having a party; I don’t have to wear their blinders. It’s not Obama’s fault that the Bush tax cuts were extended? It’s not Obama’s fault that his own budgets have run at 3.2 trillion versus 2.4 trillion even though he’s only had to deal with 4% more unemployment than Bush did? Speaking of a 9+% unemployment rate, how is it that you still think the government can spend its way into a good economy?

          • drax

            Where did you get the idea that I assign all blame to one or the other party?

            Since the economic (and government debt) problems of this country span the rule of both parties, I’d say it’s not any party’s fault, yes. I do assign blame more to one than the other though.

          • Zoning Victim

            Because you always defend the Democrats / liberal values and pretty consistently blame conservative values for creating the debt. If tax cuts and not enough entitlement spending and regulation are responsible for the mess we are in, then how can you possibly blame the Democrats for anything? You defend these things (and Obama) with the vehemence of a mama bear defending her cubs, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that I think you’re blaming it all on the Republicans, Bush especially.

          • drax

            I don’t ALWAYS defend Democrats. But even so, that doesn’t mean I don’t blame them for anything, I just don’t talk about it here as much.

          • In Other Words

            I’m ALWAYS a hypocrite. You just can’t prove it 100% of the time.

          • drax

            No, you just can’t judge me by what I don’t say.

            I haven’t heard you come out against killing puppies on this forum. Why do you hate puppies?

            Don’t be an ass.

      • drax

        You didn’t mention that the tax burden is the lowest it has been since 1958.

        But never mind. Spending is going to go up in bad times – there is a greater demand for government services. That’s not Obama’s fault. It is good for the economy too.

        The problem is that in good times, when spending should go down and we start generating a surplus to pay off that debt, we don’t. And I blame those who failed to do so at that time. You can look that up yourself.

        • AllenB

          Well, we DID generate a surplus under Clinton but GWB eliminated that by giving a huge tax cut. And then took us to war and never came up with a mechanism to pay for it.

          • Zoning Victim

            Yes, the Republican congress and Clinton created a surplus. Yes, Bush cut taxes and the made a whole bunch of terrible mistakes that caused huge increases in government spending, but trying to blame the entire problem on him doesn’t really make much sense. Spending $3.2 trillion a year and starting a class war (and another military one) haven’t helped anything, either, and Obama hasn’t done anything to reverse the Bush created spending you’re complaining about. He’s just adding fuel to the fire. If you want to hit a big reset button to go back to Clinton era spending and taxation (adjusted for inflation, naturally), including the repeal of the socialized pharmaceutical plan, the Bush tax cuts, Obama-care and all new programs / spending increases since then, I’m all for it. Of course, we all know that won’t happen. So Democrats will continue to swear it’s not Obama’s fault and we can’t possibly exist without spending all this money (thanks, of course to Bush, our favorite political boogieman who is responsible for all that sucks in the world) so we have to raise taxes – on someone else, and Republicans will continue to claim to be conservative when they aren’t and we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing even though it never works.

          • drax

            “Yes, the Republican congress and Clinton created a surplus.”

            It’s always funny how everything bad is the fault of whichever President one doesn’t like but everything good can go to Congress. And vice versa when there’s a president one does like.

            I expect you to lay off Obama now that he has a Republican Congress to share the blame.

          • Zoning Victim

            This argument is lame at best in light of my giving the credit to both Congress and the President.

          • drax

            I’m just asking you to make sure you do that in every case, that’s all.

          • drax

            It’s just that I’ve seen this issue before. After hours and hours of explaining in detail that the “Clinton surplus” was real and why, people will often finally accept it and then simply switch to “but it wasn’t Clinton, it was the Republican Congress.”

        • Zoning Victim

          I don’t need to look it up since I’ve pretty much already stated that spending is the problem.

          • drax

            Well, yeah, and I said spending wasn’t the whole problem.

  • Smoke_Jaguar4

    I want to give Ms Merrick a fair hearing, but…

    1. Her silence on social issues is deafening. It’s letting her opponent fill in the blanks to Ms Merrick’s detriment. What’s worst is she continues to avoid responding to these questions. Dodging things you don’t want to face is not a sign of good leadership.

    2. Her campaign’s apparent attempt to avoid any association with the Republican Party. Yet another dodge. Does her campaign believe party-line voters won’t figure out her affiliation?

    Just come out and say it: “I’m a Republican, and here are my positions on abortion, gay rights, etc…” The sooner she deflates these issues, the sooner she can take the momentum from her opponent to and get her core message out and heard.

    • Operative

      You sound concerned.

      • AllenB

        He/she should be.

      • Smoke_Jaguar4

        I am concerned. I think a true moderate Republican (along the lines of Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins) would resonate with independent voters in Arlington. Combined with support from more conservative Fairfax voters, she would have a real chance. Her stonewalling on these issues is letting Faviola define the terms of the debate.

  • Anne of Tan Gables

    Why why why does she keep talking about how she and her husband didn’t draw a salary for the first year of their company’s existence? Isn’t fairly standard that a company will not be profitable in its first year? Hence, no salary for the owner for the first year (or longer)?
    And given that she was still working for AOL in 1997, it’s not as though she was toiling away 24-7 for her start-up.
    I don’t care how she ran her company, I just wish she would stop asking us to be impressed by the parts that aren’t impressive.

  • TheBoss

    She’s a cutie. Got my vote!

  • Hojon

    The Clinton surplus is a myth. The federal debt increased every single year.

    The charlatans and their lemmings ignore the fact that money borrowed from SS is actually part of the overall debt.

    • AllenB

      The federal debt did increase every year under Clinton. It declined in the last few years of his term.


      • FunnyMunny

        What I see in that curve is Clinton taking control of the economy, turning it around, and putting it on the right track. This ship does not turn on a dime.

        But I do like your comment, especially the part where you say the debt did “increase EVERY year” except when “it DECLINED…” Reminds me of a famous quote by Mr. Brian Fantana. “60 percent of the time, it works every time!”

        • AllenB

          Sorry, my typo – the federal debt did NOT increase every year under Clinton.

          My bad.

          • Hojon

            Either you’re a liar or just dumb (probably both)


          • drax

            You are making the same mistake others make all the time. I don’t blame you, since government finance is hard to understand sometimes.

            The “national debt” figure includes “intragovernmental holdings,” which is simply money the government owes itself from one account to another, not debt from borrowing money from outside sources, which is “debt held by the public.” Intragovernmental holdings are certainly important, but they don’t qualify as debt in this context. Debt held by the public is the real debt figure, and it declined under Clinton.

            The government took in more money than it spent in 1999 and 2000. Period. (And yes, that happened even if you exclude Social Security income). That is the definition of a surplus. And this cause debt held by the public to go down.

            I won’t call you the dumb one, just uninformed. But now that you are informed, if you repeat your false information, it will be a lie.

          • Lol

            Intragoverment holdings are still debts owed to entities outside the govt, so they are part of the overall debt. You lie poorly

          • KalashniKEV

            I don’t think he lied… he’s just not smart.

          • drax

            Um, no, “INTRAgovernmental holdings” are not debt owed to entities outside the government. Did you miss the part where I explained that intragovernmental holdings is money that one part of the government owes to another part?

            It’s certainly important, but it is not at all “debt” in this context.

            Nor does it matter, because the government took in more than it spent, which is the definition of a surplus.

          • Lol

            The mother of all intragoverment accounts is SS. Those monies belong to beneficicairies, thus when SS gets a credit when they “loan” the money to the fed, they have to debit the “trust fund” account by the same amount. Your so called surplus is theft

          • drax

            No, SS does not “belong” to its beneficiaries. It is not an investment program where people have personal accounts. It is just another account. There is not real “trust fund,” just an account that has a dedicated source of revenue and a dedicated purpose. The amount the beneficiaries will get is subject to change at any time by the government. The government could give them nothing if it chose to (not that it ever would).

            Yes, in moral terms, that money is meant for the beneficiaries. And yes, it matters that beneficiaries will want their money later.

            But not in any way whatsoever can SS money be called a “debt” to beneficiaries, or anyone else outside the government.

            And once again, I remind you that even if your little trust fund scenario is the whole picture, which its not – the government did not borrow money from the Trust Fund in 1999 or 2000. The SS surplus was completely irrelevant. The total surplus was REAL in every sense.

        • Right track? He certainly laxed the lending requirements so that banks could put more money out there to those who were not normally approvable. You could call that the “right track” or the start of the bubble we are now cleaning up after the burst.

      • Hojon

        The public debt went down. The total debt increased every year. By definition that means every year was a deficit year. Smoke and mirrors used by every politician.

        Fiscal Year Year Ending National Debt Deficit
        FY1993  09/30/1993  $4.411488 trillion  
        FY1994  09/30/1994  $4.692749 trillion  $281.26 billion
        FY1995  09/29/1995  $4.973982 trillion  $281.23 billion
        FY1996  09/30/1996  $5.224810 trillion  $250.83 billion
        FY1997  09/30/1997  $5.413146 trillion  $188.34 billion
        FY1998  09/30/1998  $5.526193 trillion  $113.05 billion
        FY1999  09/30/1999  $5.656270 trillion  $130.08 billion
        FY2000  09/29/2000  $5.674178 trillion  $17.91 billion
        FY2001  09/28/2001  $5.807463 trillion  $133.29 billion

        • AllenB

          You can find any calculation you want to support your statements, but Clinton is the first Pres in a long time to generate a surplus and pay down debt. Yes, there was a small tax increase at the beginning of his term, much needed after the trickle down garbage of Reagan/Bush.

          Bottom line, Clinton was much more responsible with the economy than any other Pres in recent memory.

          • Zoning Victim

            Funny how everybody keeps blaming banking deregulation and free trade agreements for the problems we have now but never seem to figure out that those things are a part of Clinton’s legacy. If you’re going to give him all of the credit for balancing the budget when the Republican congress had to shut down the government to force him to sign it, you should give him the credit for causing the housing crisis and the dismantling of the manufacturing segment of our economy, too.

          • Hojon

            You just acknowledged the federal debt INCREASED every year, then you come back and say he generated a suprlus and paid down some debt.

            You can’t cure stupid.

          • drax

            I suggest you refrain from all the talk about “stupid” immediately, since you’re the one who is wrong.

        • drax

          See my post above. You are making a common mistake, though I don’t blame you since the Treasury reports things in a terribly confusing way.

    • Karl Rove

      The Clinton surplus is a myth.

      You’re confusing ‘deficit’ and ‘debt’, Einstein. There most assuredly was more revenue brought in than went out in spending in the last two years of the Clinton presidency.

      • Zoning Victim

        It’s pretty easy to trim the deficit yet raise the national debt if you just fund a lot of stuff through special supplemental appropriations bills (Bush used that one all the time to fund the wars), but the net effect is still an unhealthy economy that’s backsliding. Saying that you are running a surplus because what you actually budgeted is lower than your revenues when your debt is increasing because of unbudgeted spending is very disingenuous.

        • drax

          “It’s pretty easy to trim the deficit yet raise the national debt if you just fund a lot of stuff through special supplemental appropriations bills”

          Well, no, you can’t. All appropriations count toward a deficit, even if they don’t count under, say, a budget cap for the year. That’s just congressional tomfoolery, but it’s not reality. I hope you’re not an accountant. You might be a government accountant though.

          “Saying that you are running a surplus because what you actually budgeted is lower than your revenues when your debt is increasing because of unbudgeted spending is very disingenuous.”

          Sure, but that didn’t happen in 1999 or 2000. The government actually took in more than it spent, when you count every penny of both. That’s a surplus.

          • Zoning Victim

            No, I’m not an accountant, but that doesn’t mean I can’t spot an accounting gimmick when it’s placed in front of me. For starters, special appropriations bills do not count against budget deficits. Obama’s administration points this out all of the time as one of the reasons the budget deficit skyrocketed under him; he started including the special appropriations that were funding the wars in with the regular budget.

            As for the smoke and mirrors argument that spending the money from the Social Security trust fund (and other various intra-governmental holdings) doesn’t count as debt “in this context” is just that; smoke and mirrors. The simple fact is the government spent more money than it took in. The fact that it was money the government collected under the guise of spending on future benefits and appropriated to something else is inconsequential. The government issued interest bearing securities to the trust fund, and those securities are a debt. It didn’t issue securities to itself; it issued securities to the Social Security trust fund. In other words, it owes those debts not to itself but to the beneficiaries whose benefits they’re guaranteeing. Don’t take my word for it; the SSA’s own site explains it very well:

            “Far from being “worthless IOUs,” the investments held by the trust funds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U. S. Government. The government has always repaid Social Security, with interest. The special-issue securities are, therefore, just as safe as U.S. Savings Bonds or other financial instruments of the Federal government.”

            If this was a business, and a business had capital on the books and spent all of their revenues for the year plus some of the capital, they would declare a loss. The only reason government accounting seems confusing is because people keep trying to redefine common words to mean something they don’t; like pretending that the national debt is really only the public debt and Clinton and the Republican Congress created a surplus because they issued debt to beneficiaries who don’t exist yet instead of having to borrow it through issuing bonds to the public.

          • drax

            The accounting that results in two different, and confusing, numbers for debt is complicated.

            The simple fact that the government took in more cash than it spent in 1999 and 2000 isn’t:

            Year Income Spent
            1999 1,827,452 1,701,842
            2000 2,025,191 1,788,950

            (in millions of dollars)

            http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals – Table 1.1

            And this is true with our without SS, as you can see from this table.


          • drax

            “For starters, special appropriations bills do not count against budget deficits.”

            Yes they do.

            They may not count for the purpose of that year’s budget resolution, which is indeed an accounting trick – but they get counted when the U.S. Treasury counts it all up and says how much got spent and how much got taken in. And those are the numbers I am citing here.

            “The simple fact is the government spent more money than it took in.”

            But that’s false.

            The government took in more money than it spent in those years. And it did so whether you count or don’t count SS.

            “It didn’t issue securities to itself; it issued securities to the Social Security trust fund.”

            The SS trust fund is just another account. SS is part of the government.

            And, once again, I’ll remind you that there was a surplus in 99 and 2000 EVEN WITHOUT counting SS.

            If you want me to explain how intragovernmental holding went up even when that happened, I can, though it’s more complex. It’s no accounting trick though. But first you have to accept the simple, undeniable FACT that the government took in more than it spent in both SS and non-SS accounts in 99 and 2000, which is a surplus.

            All that stuff about SS your wrote is correct, but irrelevant here, since the surplus happened even without relying on SS funds.

    • drax

      Oh, and even if you exclude SS and only count discretionary spending, the amount collected in taxes exceeded the amount spent in 1999 and 2000. That’s a surplus.

  • FunnyMunny

    I think it’s great that she hit the lottery with her start-up, and I also applaud her philanthropic endeavors. But I just get the feeling she’s hiding her Republican-ness in order to pull the wool over us. It also bothers me that I believe she simply move in lock-step with McDonnell, which is perhaps the worst thing that could happen to Arlington’s representation to the state.

    • Zoning Victim

      This line of thinking is peculiar to me. How can anyone hide their “Republican-ness” in the most politically charged and aware town in the nation? If this were Bumpass, I might agree with you.

      • bubba

        Milfy, yum.

  • KalashniKEV

    I already knew she was a Republican.

  • Blindwithoutdrax

    I, for one, appreciate Drax’s didactic, if not pedantic, diatribes.

    Regarding budget surplus’s and deficits, let’s all marvel at just how stupid THIS guy is:


    • drax

      Steiner is wrong too.

      I’ve explained almost every one of his myths here.

      You can continue to believe that, somehow, having more cash come in than going out is not a surplus, but that’s what happened, and it happened in non-SS accounts too.

    • drax

      What Steiner doesn’t understand is that intragovernmental holdings can go up even when the government is spending less than it takes in. There are several reasons, including the simple fact that the Treasury (like everyone) pays its bills when they come due with the cash it has at the time instead of collecting all the money and paying every bill at the end of the year, and that some trust funds like SS are required by law to invest in government bonds (in other words, create an intragovernmental holding) even when they have a surplus.

      • Blindwithoutdrax

        Boy, Drax, there are dopes everywhere. Sometimes people just won’t understand the bonds that unite us!



        • drax

          Okay, let me get this straight.

          You’re posting a site that says that SS bonds aren’t real – and you think that supports the claim that intragovernmental debt is the same thing as real debt that involves real bonds?

          And I’m the dope?

          Then you post a site that says, as I already have, that SS is just another account and people don’t have individual accounts in SS and its not a savings plan or anything like it, and you think that also supports the idea that SS funds are debt?

          And I’m the dope?

          Or maybe you’re not being sarcastic and you really are here to support me. Sure looks like it. If that’s the case, sorry if I was mean.

        • drax

          Have a great weekend, everyone.

          Be sure to call someone stupid and/or a liar about something you don’t really understand! LOL!

          • I don’t always understand you, so have a great weekend you stupid liar! LOL. (just kidding of course)

  • Zoning Victim

    It seems like a lot of people want to find a fairly recent person or recent actions on the part of one party or the other to blame for the mess we are in, but we haven’t shown any fiscal responsibility in the lifetimes of most of the people posting here. What follows are some thoughts on this subject.

    To find the only three years that the total national debt didn’t increase since 1950, you have to go all the way back Eisenhower in ’57 and ‘56 and Truman in ‘51. One Republican and one Democrat were able to balance the books, in most normal peoples’ understanding of the definition, all of three times between the two of them over 50 years ago. Since then, no mixture of Republican or Democrat control despite both having full control of both houses of Congress and the presidency at one time or another could not put this country in the black. Perhaps now we can stop the blaming George W. Bush for all that is wrong with the economy and put the Clinton/Gingrich “surplus” in perspective.

    Maybe, just maybe, someday, we’ll be able to look at ourselves and realize that “we” are the problem. Politicians can’t do anything we don’t empower them to do. Oh sure, they can screw up once or twice during one term and do a lot of damage, but there is nobody to blame for 54 years of history other than the citizens themselves. We, the voting citizens of the United States of America are to blame for the last 54 years of indiscriminant spending: WE are the ones who have not elected the people who will pass a balanced budget amendment, WE are the ones who have not elected the people who will keep spending under control, WE are the ones who have not elected the people who will keep spending and revenues balanced, WE are the ones who don’t even teach our children how the budgeting process works and how to see through the smoke and mirrors accounting presented to everyone by the government. There is no one Republican or Democratic boogieman. The sooner we face that and we change the conversation from “who is to blame” to “why haven’t we been able to do this, yet,” the sooner we can try to get this nation back on track.

  • Paco

    Ms. Merrick seems to have trouble with email. I emailed her two months ago asking her positions on abortion rights and suing the federal government and never heard back.

    She may have “listened to thousands of voters” but she doesn’t seem to like answering some of them.

    • KalashniKEV

      And how did that effect your feelings and emotional well being, my self -important/ world revolves around you and your information requirements neighbor???


      • Paco

        I wish you were on her staff, Kev. Then I KNOW I would have received an articulate, well-argued response complete with way-cool military insignia and impressive-sounding, mysterious moniker.

        • KalashniKEV

          She can’t afford me.

      • drax

        How dare a voter complain about a politician not being responsive in a democracy, Kev! It’s so self-centered!

  • Bill

    Zoning Victim ascribes to himself a software expertise and posts a purported web page. Go to the actual web page at ArlingtonVA.US and click on County Board. I currently shows and has shown since January 1, 2011 that Chris Zimmerman is the Chair and Ms Favola is a member of the Board. ZV is playing fast and loose with his facts and his invented web page. ZV would be a great Republican politician. He will say anything a supporter will pay him to say and vote for the special interest of the “pay to play” supporter ZV probably is a hack for Merrill.

    • Zoning Victim

      I’m not one to drudge up old posts by replying to something well after the fact, but this character assassination of yours is over the top. For starters, I am a web developer, and I am most certainly NOT a Republican. I also take personal integrity very seriously and take exception to your baseless accusation that I lied about a page on Arlington County’s own site identifying Ms. Favola as the Chairman.

      I didn’t post a link to a “purported web page.” It is an actual web page on their site, which you can tell from the link. It’s also the first page that comes up when you search for “arlington county board salaries” on google.com. Arlington County corrected the page after I pointed out on here that it incorrectly identified Ms. Favola as the Chairman, which is why the page now shows a last modified date of November 3, 2011.

      The next time you decide to make up accusations about “made up web pages” and who I work for, at least get the basic facts about the link I posted straight.

  • Bill

    Merrill talks about jobs and the economy. If anyone thinks that a junior first term Senator will have any ability to influence jobs in VA, you are delusional. The Republican governor talked jobs in his campaign. The Republican governor got a big increase in his company “bribe” fund in the last legislative session. Well this Republican governor has seen the number of jobless INCREASE during his term in office. So Merrill is going to have the magic formula to create jobs when the State is controlled by Republicans and they have been able to do nothing. More talk for her “brainless” supporters to believe.

    Talking platitudes does not create jobs.

  • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

    Vote for Babs…..get her off the board !!!

    • Lou

      I vote to get her off too.

  • BallstonDweller

    She wrote:
    “For every new regulation we add, we need to remove an outdated one of equal cost from the books”

    Please explain to me how this is determined. Does the state of Virginia have its own version of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)? Even CBO numbers are sometimes disputed. Or will the purported costs of a new regulation be determined by lobbyists or interest groups? Who gets to determine how much a regulation costs? What is the official number? Does the state have a team of non-partisan economists everyone will trust?

    • Suburban Not Urban

      Something would be better than nothing. The IRS calculates how long each part of the tax code takes – that would be a simple starting place.

      • pointonpoint

        IRS is a federal entity, so presumably they calculate federal tax codes. She is running for state office, so state regs. Very different.

    • Josh S

      Yeah, not only HOW do you accomplish such a thing, but also WHY? What does “outdated” mean? According to whom? And again, why?

      About the most arbitrary and asinine thing in that statement…..

      • drax

        Outdated. You know, anything that keeps business from polluting our air or water, selling us disease-infested food or other unsafe products…

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