In a stunning move, Republicans in Virginia have done the unthinkable and outfoxed their Democratic colleagues. In Richmond, the state senate was evenly divided between the parties, with each side having twenty seats to its name. This division was crucial for Governor Terry McAuliffe, as the Democrats rubber-stamped his agenda and blocked virtually all Republican amendments—at least until this morning, when State Senator Phillip Puckett resigned, effective immediately.
While the single-celled brain trusts over at Media Matters and Think Progress would have you think that the earth is coming to an end or that Senator Puckett was bribed, let’s look at the facts. According to the Washington Post:
Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) will announce his resignation Monday, effective immediately, paving the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission, three people familiar with the plan said Sunday. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
If the leftist blogosphere considers that corruption and bribery, they might not want to cherry-pick their quotes, because they missed this particular detail:
During the General Assembly session this year, Republicans cried foul when McAuliffe appointed longtime GOP operative Boyd Marcus, who had crossed party lines to endorse McAuliffe in the campaign, to a six-figure position on the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Republicans blocked the appointment, saying the job was essentially “sold” for the endorsement.
Ignoring the hyperventilating of the left, the Post also states:
The full details of this arrangement, including whether or not Puckett was explicitly offered the position as deputy director of the tobacco commission in return for his agreement to resign his senate seat, are not yet known.
We need to stick to the facts and the ramifications of this resignation before hurriedly writing angry blog posts while tit-for-tat politics is being played. Besides, Puckett has decided not to take the job.
The impact this resignation will have on McAuliffe’s budget will be huge, especially in the growing battle over expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. With the Democrats no longer in control, the hissy fits quickly leapt into overdrive:
“It’s astounding to me. The House Republican caucus will do anything and everything to prevent low-income Virginians from getting health care. …They figure the only way they could win was to give a job to a state senator,” [Delegate Scott] Surovell said. “At least they can’t offer Terry McAuliffe a job. I hope Terry continues to stand up to these bullies.”
An expansion in Medicaid, however, will be detrimental to those who need the most help. Medicaid was created to serve those in the most need. According to Fairfax County, approximately 997,000 individuals receive Medicaid in the state of Virginia, meaning it covers almost one-eighth of Virginia’s 8 million residents. With nearly 1 million on Medicaid, the addition of another 400,000 could lead to a massive increase in demand, and those who are in need may lose the quality of coverage they’d enjoyed previously. This could cause those who are truly needy to fall through the cracks—which is very similar to what happened at VA hospitals. In addition, the collective burden on taxpayers will increase significantly.
The Republicans are willing to have this battle. And now, with control of the state senate, they can expect concessions.