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Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...

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By John Barnhart

    Russia formally annexed Crimea last week, undoing Nikita Khrushchev’s action in 1954. Khrushchev was allegedly drunk when he administratively moved Crimea from Russia to Ukraine. I’m sure Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was totally sober when he acted to get Crimea back. I’m also sure he’s not through with Ukraine. Donetsk and Kharkov, in eastern Ukraine, are the most likely spots for trouble to break out. Nearly half the people who live there are ethnic Russians and almost all speak Russian as their first language. There have been large pro-Russian protests in those cities and the risk is high that something will happen that will give Vladimir Vladimirovich his excuse to move in.
    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Commonwealth of Virginia still does not have a budget. From what I understand, Senate and House conferees were close to an agreement, except for one problem:  Governor Terry McAuliffe has made Medicaid expansion part of the budget. In doing this, he’s taken every city and county in Virginia hostage to force the Republican controlled House of Delegates to do his will.
    Medicaid expansion is part of ObamaCare but the Supreme Court ruling that declared this monstrosity Constitutional left it up to the states as to whether they wanted to expand Medicaid. Virginia is one of the states that opted out.
    Under ObamaCare, the federal government promises to pay 100 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion for the first three years, then 90 percent of the cost — until 2022. Then the states are on their own.
    This is a problem. Medicaid expenses are already growing fast as it is. According to Delegate Terry Austin, who represents the 19th House of Delegates District, Virginia’s Medicaid expenses grew by 1,600 percent over the last 30 years. Spending on this program already consumes 22 percent of Virginia’s budget and McAwful’s proposal will add an estimated 400,000 people to the Medicaid rolls, a roughly 50 percent expansion. The taxpayers of Virginia will be on the hook for 100 percent of this cost in eight years if McAwful’s proposal passes. Medicaid will then consume a third of Virginia’s budget, and it won’t stop there. There will be less and less money available for things like transportation infrastructure, or, taxes will steadily climb upward, leaving Virginians with less and less money for everything else. Keep in mind that people who don’t have money don’t buy things. The money the government takes from people at gunpoint is no longer available to them to buy the goods and services that Virginia businesses are selling.
    Actually, no one can be sure that the federal government, which can make money out of moonbeams and fairy dust, won’t renege on its promise to fully fund the cost for three years and pick up 90 percent of the tab until 2022. What the government giveth, the government can taketh away.    
    But that really doesn’t matter as, one way or another, Virginia taxpayers will end up picking up the full cost.
    Whether or not to expand Medicaid is a huge decision and McAwful should decouple Medicaid expansion from the rest of the budget and have the General Assembly debate it in a special session. That way Virginia will have a budget and all Virginia counties and cities, whose budgets are impacted by the state budget, will know what the state is going to do to them this year.
    McAwful, however, couldn’t care less about Virginia’s counties and cities. Proof of this is the fact that the General Assembly session wasn’t extended until the budget was passed and signed. The debate is being picked up in a special session. This way it didn't interfere with McAwful’s participation in a fundraising effort for a political action committee he’s putting together. The prize for especially generous donors is special access to the governor.