In case anyone needed more proof that Barack Obama governs to support his base constituencies and make war on others, the Obama administration has denied federal funds to the GOP-leaning state of Virginia to assist with rebuilding efforts following the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the entire region on August 23. The quake, which was centered in Louisa County, did an estimated $15 million of property damage to the state.
FEMA’s Individual Assistance program would have provided loans, grants, and even Nancy Pelosi’s favorite “job creator,” unemployment assistance. Yet with these inducements, the president denied emergency assistance to Virginia for the second time this year.
Governor Bob McDonnell stated, “Disaster relief and public safety are core functions of the federal government.” But they are core functions the Obama administration is unconcerned about providing. Nor is this a partisan sentiment. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, who considered a presidential run himself in 2008, has said, “If damage from a once-in-a-generation, 5.8 magnitude earthquake does not qualify for federal disaster relief, then I don’t know what does.” Earlier this month, the former governor cited the “enormous frustration” Virginians feel over “the lack of collaborative action in Washington.”
The cut-off of federal dollars seems to coincide with McDonnell’s election as governor on November 3, 2009 — the same day Chris Christie was elected governor of New Jersey. (McDonnell won his usually Republican state by a more decisive margin.)
Chris LaCivita, a Republican strategist, calls Virginia “ground zero on the re-elect.” A Quinnipiac poll shows Obama’s approval rating at 40 percent, more than ten points below his disapproval rating. Polls taken over the last month have shown Obama trailing both Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.
It is possible for the president to win the state without carrying every demographic group. Although Obama won the state by more than six percent in 2008, Obama attracted a mere 39 percent of white voters. But first-time voters counted for 13 percent of the electorate, and he earned a large share of independents. His support among independents currently stands at 29 percent.
Obama’s star has cratered so badly in Virginia that some Democrats are running away from him in this year’s elections. State Senator Philip Puckett, a Democrat, has said he will not support Obama for re-election in 2012. Puckett’s announcement cited cap-and-trade legislation and the president’s opposition to the coal industry. “It’s very clear to me that the administration does not support the coal industry in a way that’s beneficial to our area,” Puckett said. Obama’s assault on the coal industry has been a key driver of the greatest reduction in U.S. wealth in decades. Soon, it may become a pivotal reason he loses the Old Dominion in 2012.
Until Virginia voters start moving his way, they can rest assured Obama has nothing for them in the federal budget.