I have been harshly critical of those elements in the Democratic party who are sleazy, beholden to corporate interests, and anti-progressive, and the current governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe is a prime example. But it is good to always remember that the two parties are not completely equivalent and that in some areas the differences can have significance.
McAuliffe has supported the Medicare expansion program that under Obamacare provides much needed health insurance for people who earn too little to qualify for the subsidies under the health exchanges. This expansion would be covered 100% by the federal government for the first few years and more than 90% subsequently, so it should have been a no-brainer for the states to accept it.
One of the most vicious and inexcusable acts of the Republicans is to block it is states where they control the governorships and/or the legislature. In Virginia, McAuliffe supported it and the state senate was balanced evenly. But in one of the most brazen acts of political corruption that I have seen, a Democratic state senator made a deal with the Republicans to resign and flip control of the senate to the Republicans so that they could block Medicare expansion. In return they would approve his daughter for a judgeship and also give him a top job with the state tobacco commission. The whole business is now being investigated by the FBI.
With Republican control of the senate, they were able to threaten to not pass a budget unless the governor signed one without the Medicaid expansion, which he did. The bizarre state of affairs involved Republican legislators breaking into the governor’s office in his absence to deliver their Medicaid-free budget.
McAuliffe has been criticized for signing the budget that did not have the Medicaid expansion instead of testing the Republican’s threat to shut down the government. McAuliffe has tried to push through Medicaid expansion anyway but the Republicans have used procedural maneuvers to thwart him twice. As McAuliffe said, “I am continually surprised and disappointed by the lengths to which Republicans in the House of Delegates will go to prevent their own constituents from getting access to health care.”
No surprise, really. Republicans really, really hate poor people.