Today is day 27 of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Obamacare budget impasse.
Last fall, then candidate McAuliffe widely criticized Republicans in advance of the federal government shutdown. Governor McAuliffe wrote a letter to Virginia’s congressional delegation, urging them to “stop using the threat of a government shutdown as a bargaining chip in other negotiations, including over the healthcare law.”
But McAuliffe didn’t stop there. He campaigned with Congressional Democrats in Northern Virginia, saying “everyone agrees that a government shutdown shouldn’t be risked in negotiations.”
Now, the Governor and his allies in the Virginia Senate are doing the exact same thing they chastised Republicans for doing — threatening a government shutdown and using the state budget as a bargaining chip in the debate over the healthcare law.
Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw said recently “we won’t vote for a budget — I can’t be emphatic enough — nor will the governor sign a budget that doesn’t have some form of expansion.”
Howell is one of the Senate budget conferees, and also sits on a commission that is studying Medicaid expansion. She was not optimistic that the budget would be adopted soon.
“We’re going to go month after month,” Howell suggested, predicting “difficult times ahead.”
Republicans in the House of Delegates have urged McAuliffe to agree to something of a truce – adopting a budget that doesn’t include changes to the Medicaid program, then coming back into session later to address health-care issues.
Del. Bob Brink (D-48th) dismissed that idea as “ridiculous.”
“We’re going to battle it out,” Brink said of the Medicaid expansion. “Gov. McAuliffe is absolutely committed to this. This, in our mind, is a battle worth fighting.”
The hypocrisy of Governor McAuliffe and Virginia Democrats on this issue is blinding. Their actions are creating uncertainty for local governments, school boards and the busy community, as well as recklessly endangering Virginia’s AAA bond rating.
Governor McAuliffe was right – the threat of a government shutdown shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip. That’s why he should drop his demands for Obamacare and let Virginia pass a clean budget.