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Posted at 2:30 PM ET, 08/23/2010

Bill Bolling's alternate CEO universe

By Peter Galuszka

The Sunday Commentary section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, my hometown newspaper, is more amusing than the comic pages. It's a riot of conservative, out-of-touch views reflecting the parallel universe in which its editors and the newspapers' managers reside.

This Sunday, the hottest hoot was the lead piece, penned by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, the Republican whom the Times-Dispatch editorial board is setting up to succeed Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Bolling writes that Congress must keep the tax cuts that Congress enacted at George W. Bush's urging. Bolling, true to the GOP, claims that these are not just perks for the rich, even though they are. They are needed to help stimulate the economy, and anyway, why should (rich) families be penalized? Odd that New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman writes today that by keeping the cuts, Congress would be giving a check worth $3 million to the tiny upper strata of people who are already wealthy.

But what really made Bolling a better read than "Doonesbury" or "The Wizard of Id," was this statement:

"In my role as Virginia's chief jobs creation officer, I have met with more CEOs than anyone in Virginia government over the past seven months. These CEOs know what it takes to create jobs and get our economy moving again. If there is one thing they all agree on, it is the need to reduce taxes to encourage spending and investment."

Wow. That's a mouthful. I have spent more than two decades reporting and writing about business in this country and overseas and have interviewed dozens of CEOs. I do not hold them in awe.

Bolling's statement is worth a chuckle because some of the same CEOs he must have visited are the very ones responsible for the economic mess we are trying to get out of. Consider that:

  • The CEOs of Bear Stearns, Wachovia, Merrill Lynch, AIG. LandAmerica Financial Group, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Bank of America let their greed get the better of them and became involved in subprime lending or extremely risky but profitable financial derivatives based on subprime loans, such as credit default swaps or collateralized debt obligations. These were the deals that stuck us in the Great Recession in the first place.
  • Greater Richmond took a huge beating because of the inept CEOs and other top managers at Circuit City, costing the area thousands of jobs.
  • CEOs at General Motors and Daimler-Chrysler botched making cars and planning for new models so badly that both needed huge federal bailouts.
  • CEOs at BP helped give us the worst oil spill in U.S. history this spring.
Flash for Bill Bolling: CEOs always want lower taxes. It ain't news.

He might want to concentrate on why financial services firms are not lending to small businesses, which create two thirds of all jobs in Virginia and elsewhere. Or why credit-card companies use any ruse they can to bilk customers so they can't spend more on goods and boost production.

But what does it matter? He'll probably be the next governor anyway.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon's Rebellion. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Peter Galuszka  | August 23, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Va. Politics, Virginia, economy, taxes  
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