True to recent form, Cuccinelli focused on federal investigations related to McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive venture and Clinton-era fundraising scandals, while McAuliffe attacked Cuccinelli for initially failing to disclose thousands of dollars in gifts from Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie Williams Sr., the same political donor who provided gifts and loans to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and his family.
Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis also appeared briefly and criticized both major party candidates.
On health care, McAuliffe said he would expand Medicaid coverage to approximately 400,000 Virginians as part of the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act. Under Obamacare, the federal government has pledged to pick up states’ initial cost for expanding the shared program covering low-income families, the elderly and others.
“Remember, it’s our money,” McAuliffe said, adding that expansion would bring $21 billion in federal funds that would “turbocharge” the state’s economy. “Why would we ship our money to Washington and not want to get that money back?”
McAuliffe said he would not sign a budget from the General Assembly unless such a provision were included, and that any possible costs to Virginia are also balanced by the creation of perhaps 33,000 new health-care-related jobs.
“It is fiscally irresponsible for Ken Cuccinelli — and, I think, socially irresponsible, morally irresponsible — not to take that money and help so many Virginia residents,” McAuliffe said. He dismissed the argument that the federal government, which is heavily in debt, could leave states holding the bag with a large new social commitment. If the federal government ceased to pay for the program, Virginia could later back out, he said.
“You have to call the General Assembly back in and say, ‘The federal government broke their part of the promise. We have to end ours as well.’ If it happens, it happens,” he said.
But Cuccinelli said McAuliffe has ignored the $200 million that Virginians will pay in taxes to support the expansion when the plan is fully phased in, and he said the program is already under strain because of a shortage of participating providers.
Cuccinelli said it was extremely unlikely that the state would be able to go back on expansion if the federal government reduced its support and that kinks in the law’s implementation suggest more serious problems to come.
“I would note that our federal government is bankrupt,” Cuccinelli said. “This is a health-care fraud disaster in the making. This is a real train wreck.”