Cracks in the Foundation
A casual reading of Jeff Schapiro’s Sunday column could lead one to think that the fight over Medicaid expansion, while it still has a way to go, is really little more than hand waving at this stage.
No, it has nothing to do with the health insurance legislators receive (though that does add to the potential PR misery for those opposing expansion). It has to do with what Jeff sees as cracks in the House GOP foundation:
Depending on who’s asking and who’s talking, there are at least 18 House Republicans who might be enticed to join the center-left, Senate-anchored coalition to enact some scheme that could bring hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians under the Affordable Care Act. Were all those Republicans to join the 32 of 33 House Democrats solid on health care, it’s still one vote short of passage.
Quite the damning revelation. But it echoes what I’ve been hearing about the underlying mood in Capitol Square. Not all Republicans are as adamant against Medicaid expansion, or expansion by another name, as the rhetoric would have us believe. But they have their orders from the top — you will not cave.
So Jeff attempts to put a few names to his scoop. Not that he has on the record quotes from Manoli Loupassi or Terry Kilgore, and he lifts a quote from Glenn Davis that could very well be taken out of context. It’s a clever approach, naming the possible price each legislator would pay for a vote in favor of expansion. It puts the named members on the spot, offers expansion proponents some additional talking points and has the supreme benefit of allowing Jeff to twist the knife in Bill Howell’s back.
But behind the malice are a few grains of truth. Privately, Republicans will admit they cannot win a PR battle on expansion — even before Jeff tossed the members’ own health plan onto the fire. Some outside groups have argued that rather than talking about holding the line on Medicaid expansion — which is nebulous — they need to use the magic word: Obamacare.
This is all about bringing Obamacare to Virginia and cementing it in place. It’s catnip for the GOP base, which will, it is hoped, offer a massive outpouring of support for the Republicans fighting the good fight in the face of a withering assault from editorial boards, liberal interest groups, the Governor, the business community, the state’s hospitals and universities, the federal government and a cast of thousands.
So please call and offer your thanks (but be respectful, as the resident political class prefers a degree of obeisance from the proles).
But also recall the one supreme irony in this ongoing play…
A year ago, the General Assembly pointedly ignored the outside groups and base voters who opposed the transportation tax hike. This indifference was called “leadership.”
Now the formerly shunned are looked to for help. It’s all quite amusing…