How Terry McAuliffe failed to impose Medicaid expansion on Virginia.

This Washington Post article on Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe’s futile attempt to sneak Medicaid expansion past his own state legislature is fascinating, but it has several flaws in it. There are things that are not mentioned enough, things that are mentioned too much, and at least one thing that is not mentioned at all. Unsurprising, given that the WaPo remains a Democratic cheerleader; but still slightly disappointing.

Quick summary of the article: at the beginning of the saga, Terry McAuliffe was faced with a barely Democratic state Senate and a solidly Republican General Assembly. This meant that if Gov. McAuliffe wanted to get Medicaid expansion through the legislature, he’d need to sweet-talk the Republicans into going along – HAH! Who am I kidding? Nah, his team of trained legislation-breakers found a suitable loophole, in classic Democratic party fashion* – and snuck it into the budget. Alas, Democrat state Senator Phillip Puckett was made a deal (which apparently had nothing to do with any of this) that flipped the state Senate (despite the frantic deal-making efforts of every Virginia Democrat from McAuliffe on down); that, coupled with conservative watchdogs and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Eric Cantor48%House Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard48%‘s remarkable primary loss, scuppered the inclusion of language in the Virginia budget that would have permitted said loophole. Sic transit gloria McAuliffe.

It’s all very droll, despite the best efforts of the WaPo to spin otherwise. Now, on to the problems with the article. I was going to bullet point it, but the real problem with this article is that it concentrates too much on the Puckett deal – which may or may not be actually illegal, and which may or may not suck in both the Republicans and Democrats that were involved in it**. The real story here? Why Terry McAuliffe thought that it was necessary to pull this stunt at all.

Seriously. As you may recall, Terry McAuliffe campaigned on Medicaid expansion, and the budget be damned. But it wouldn’t come to that, because Gov. McAuliffe knew how to make deals! …Only he couldn’t make a deal on this (more on that in a second), so he abandoned that tactic and went looking for a cheat code. That he found …read more    

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