Cracks in the Democratic Foundation

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce has been a Medicaid expansion advocate throughout this General Assembly session. The organization’s support has been a boon both to Gov. McAuliffe and to Democrats in general because it placed the most visible representative of Virginia’s business community on their side.

But in concert with the House Republican proposal yesterday to get the state budget done on time, and then tackle Medicaid, alone, in a special session, a crack has formed in the Democrat-business foundation:

“The Virginia Chamber of Commerce urges the General Assembly to work to pass a budget bill on time. Failure to do so could have serious implications for the Commonwealth. In 2013, again named Virginia as the Best State for Business. Without a budget, this status, as well as Virginia’s status as the best managed state in the country will be put in jeopardy. In addition, Virginia’s AAA bond rating could be threatened. If the process of budget negotiations goes too far beyond the scheduled due date, Virginia’s budget uncertainty could affect investment decisions by businesses and potentially discourage companies from locating or expanding in the Commonwealth.”

And later, in the same statement, we have this:

We ask members to find a constructive process to set aside any issue that may create an impasse and avoid jeopardizing Virginia’s reputation as the nation’s best managed state and the best state for business.”

A couple of things worth noting…

1. Someone other than myself and Paul Goldman touches on the AAA bond rating. This will become a much more important issue if the debate drags on through the spring.

2. The budget is the most important lever both sides have. If Republicans succeed in getting the budget separated from Medicaid, they have won. If Democrats succeed in keeping the two linked, it becomes a matter of attrition, and who blinks first before the current budget expires.

3. Terry McAuliffe has already given away a large part of the Democrats’ rhetorical advantage. As a House press release noted on Tuesday:

…Speaker Howell and others highlighted a letter that Governor McAuliffe sent last year to the Virginia Congressional Delegation urging them to “stop using the threat of a government shutdown as a bargaining chip in other negotiations, including over the health care law.” At the moment, it appears Governor McAuliffe has forgotten that he agrees with us – the budget should not be used as a bargaining chip.

Candidate McAuliffe’s latter can be found here. Also worth noting is this passage:

Virginia and our nation want leaders who will find commonsense solutions to the real challenges our communities face. For too long we have seen extreme factions of political parties threaten our economy and our national security when they don’t get everything they want.

The Virginia Chamber seems to have remembered Mr. McAuliffe’s words. Now to see if he, and General Assembly Democrats, do, too.

  • FriendlyVoter

    Neither side wants a shutdown, so the fact that Terry McAuliffe was previously on record against the federal shutdown seems pretty consistent. (I am less confident that the Virginia House Republicans genuinely oppose a shutdown, to be honest.) At this point, the governor and the Senate have moved toward the center with the Marketplace Virginia plan — a version of the Medicaid private option that was just renewed in Arkansas by a vote of 75 percent of the Arkansas House. The Virginia House now needs to find a way to move toward the middle from their side.

    • Downstater

      No, “Marketplace VA” is just “Obamacare” with another name designed to pretend to be attractive to Virginians. Lipstick on a pig…..

  • David McKissack

    The Virginia House should stand firm and let McAuliffe either shutdown the government or claim he can pass Medicaid expansion on his own hook. The whole rube Goldberg puzzle called ObamaCare is a train wreck and the majority of people rightly dislike it. It and all its aspects are going to get worse and worse, requiring changes in Virginia’s budget, filling the heath care system with plaque-like rules that clog it, and harm more and more people. Republicans would be fools to have their party name anywhere on Medicare expansion.

    • David Obermark

      I am a Blue Dog Democrat and I agree with the Chamber. Passage of the budget should not be held hostage for passage of Medicaid expansion.

      But with that said, I am in favor of Medicaid expansion in the current environment, or perhaps I could live with the alternative that several red states have won approval for which offers assistance to those who currently get no help with getting health care coverage.

      I am also going to disclose is that what I really wish would happen is that we repeal ObamaCare and replace it with a cheaper, more cost effective system – Socialized medicine. ObamaCare was supposed to be the compromise and it does not seem to be delivering on cutting the costs of healthcare to our society.

      • Eric McGrane

        Because if there’s one economic model that history has shown to be successful, its socialism.

        I guess some people just yearn for misery and mediocrity.

        • David Obermark

          What history can you show me that proves socialized medicine has been a failure? On average, nations with socialized medicine pay, per capita, less then one half what we pay for healthcare. On average, they also have better outcomes. On average, they also have more Doctors, per capita, then we do.

          You might be able to make the valid claim that, well, yeah, there is some rationing of healthcare in most nations with socialized medicine, but that is only because the citizens of those nations are not willing to pay more. They prefer to keep costs under control. If they were willing to pay as much, per capita, as we do, I’d imagine rationing would go away.

          I can provide some links to prove some of what I say, but I have provided them before. My opinion was helped in being formed by having talked with quite a few Canadian truck drivers. Without exception they were generally satisfied with Canada’s socialized healthcare. My opinion was also formed by having talked extensively (via the internet) with an Australian medical professional (a doctor) by the name of Michael Tam. I mention him by name because he sometimes googles his name so that he can check out what people are saying about him.

          Michael, if you read this, feel free to jump in and defend socialized medicine. You can do a better job of it then I can. If Michael jumps in, let me introduce him ahead of time. I met Michael shortly after he first got started practicing medicine. I was impressed with this fine young man enough that for awhile I watched his progress in his field. He is brilliant and quite the success story down there in Australia.

          • Eric McGrane

            I can get into hyperlink wars too, that show that these bastions of “success” are indeed failing under their own weight as well. Many, many links. That I’ve been collecting over several years.

            Not only that, but I actually work for a major healthcare organization with facilities in the UK, and have talked with my counterpart in London. She’s told me that the private care (non-NHS) facilities there are BOOMING right now, with Londoners stacking up to pay personal cash to circumvent the NHS. This is not a one-patient anecdotal example…this is from leadership at a multi-facility system in the heart of London.

            Finally, the size, scale, and demographic make-up of the US versus many (all?) of these “success” systems is an apples-to-firetrucks comparison.

          • David Obermark

            OK, you start the war. Provide a link that proves your point and then I will show mine. It takes me some work, because I haven’t saved them, I will have to google again.

            I think that I can prove that if we can get our healthcare costs down to the average of what nations with socialized medicine pay, there would be NO NEED for a tax increase to pay for it. In fact, government run programs already pay for half of our society’s healthcare costs.

            But, that is not what I would argue. I would argue that taxes should go up to pay for socialized medicine so as to decrease deficit spending. The government is already borrowing money to pay for the half of costs they provide. If they relieve the private sector of the need to pay for the other half, the private sector should be willing to pay higher taxes as an investment.

            I am going to bed. I have committed to trying to help some of my customers recover from the freight delays caused by the most recent winter storm. I have to get adequate sleep so that I can safely drive my truck tomorrow.

          • Eric McGrane

            #1, I present Sweden. Sweden is often touted as the pinnace of socialist healthcare. This, despite being being NOWHERE NEAR the same size/demographics as the US, but I digress:

            Swedes buy insurance to skip long health queues

            The Truth About Swedencare

          • David Obermark

            Oh, you are going to be too easy. But it is going to take some work, and I need to get some sleep tonight so that I can safely do the job I get paid money to do.

          • David Obermark

            OK, here’s my rebuttal:

            Sweden is often pointed to as an amazing country that almost seems to be able to make a heavily socialized economy work. This amazing performance has been strained, however, due to increased immigration that I believe was explained as being due to having joined the EU (European Union).

            One thing it is not known for is the excellence of its healthcare system. Following a further link in the link you, yourself provided, you will find this:

            “Long queues to see a doctor and get treatment in Sweden have
            dragged the country far down a European ranking of healthcare providers,
            with Sweden now the worst among its Nordic neighbours despite efforts
            to cut waiting times.”


            Here is another link from which I am going to lift some statistics:


            In 2013 Sweden spent $3,925 per capita, compared to the US spending $8,508. I would imagine that with only a modest increase in per capita spending, say to only half what the US spends, the long queues could be drastically reduced.

            I chose that last link particularly because it gives some examples of where the US ranks fairly low on the outcomes of healthcare provided. It is not a comprehensive list by any means, as there are a few areas where the United States also ranks pretty high.

            It also validates my claim that the government already pays at least half the total national expenditure for healthcare. Don’t be fooled by the statement about the government only covering a third of total costs. They arrive at this total by only including Medicare and Medicaid. Look to the chart below that statement and it shows other real costs which were excluded. If the chart is to believed, the true cost to the government might approach 60%. Please note that this is all before at least most of the costs of ObamaCare kick in and it also excludes the portions of government program costs paid by the individual states.

      • VirginianVoter

        I disagree that Obamacare was supposed to be a compromise. Compromise was never considered, David. Not when Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, and a Majority in the House. The only reason we got this, instead of single-payer, is because of Democrats like Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Mark Pryor, etc. They refused to support a single-payer option, and the votes were simply not there.

        • David Obermark

          ObamaCare is a compromise in that it is what Republicans proposed to counter what Bill Clinton tried to get, what has been described as HillaryCare, passed. HillaryCare was not even really single payer (socialized medicine).

          Please do not try to describe the “option” that failed to get passed as single payer. In single payer (socialized) medicine, the government is the only payer and it is not an option. There is no other option available.

          I am not just in favor of the option, (which is not available), I want the whole hog. Only if we can get the whole hog will we be successful in preventing rising healthcare costs from bankrupting our society.

          • Eric McGrane

            What in history leads you to believe that providing something for “free” will reduce costs and that price controls actually work? Your thinking is dangerous, harmful, and dismissive of historical precedent.

  • Alan

    I really wonder the if the chamber will back down. After all Crony capitalism is all the rage and they are salivating at the thought of dumping their employees into government health insurance programs. Gone are the days when employees worked hard to get a job that provided good benefits for them and their families. Gone too are the days when business owners knew that the economy would work best with less government not more. Too many people just wants to jump on the gravy train and get their share.

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