When the national health-care bill passed in the spring, outcries were heard loud and clear from the Republican Party, from the tea party, and from the state of Virginia.
In fact, the state of Virginia was the first to file a lawsuit against the federal government over the bill, alleging that under the Constitution, Congress doesn't have the authority to regulate interstate commerce and require people to buy insurance. Virginia's attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli (a Republican), also claims that the legislation violates a state law that says people in Virginia are not required to buy insurance. Shortly thereafter, other attorneys general followed suit.
Some states are concerned about the fiscal burden the health-care bill will bring, in addition to their own fiscal problems. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell echoed those concerns in an interview; the report on this interview continues here. With the federal government's deficit only climbing higher, we also discussed the prospect of a national value-added tax.
Jennifer Schonberger: I'd like to get your thoughts on the health-care bill and its potential impact on Virginia. Are you concerned the cost of providing health care will fall to you without enough federal government support?
Governor Bob McDonnell: Absolutely. That's why I was one of about 20-plus states that opted out of that high-risk pool just two weeks ago, because after a quick analysis of the math, we felt that first: Virginia did not have a high-risk pool as it was, and so starting it up would be difficult. Second, we estimated within 22 months, the amount of the money the federal government was allocating would be gone, and we'd be left holding the bag for these high-risk pools. It was, frankly, a pretty easy decision to opt out of that. The federal government will create its own high-risk pool, and if they've underfunded it, the burden will be on them.
But my immediate concern is with the constitutionality of the bill. Virginia was the first state to pass a state statute that banned or outlawed the ability to mandate [state residents] having to purchase an insurance product. I think I'm the first governor to sign the bill. We were then the first state to file suit, just a little over two months ago, in the federal district court in the Eastern District of Virginia, alleging basically one clear claim, and that is that the commerce clause of the United States Constitution is not so broad that it allows the federal government to mandate that the citizens of Virginia buy a product or a service, and then if they don't, to be fined for it.
Schonberger: As you know, the federal government is racking up a massive deficit and taxes are likely to go up, as the government seeks to rein in the excess. What do you think of a national VAT tax and how would that impact the state of Virginia?
McDonnell: In Virginia we are doing everything we can to get people back to work and expand opportunities for all Virginians. A value-added tax would hinder our ability to do this and make it harder for employers to create the good jobs our citizens need. The answer is not to take more money out of people's pockets and increase their cost of living. We made tough choices to balance the budget without raising taxes -- that's the approach the federal government needs to take as well.
For Gov. McDonnell on the state of the states and Virginia's fiscal situation, click here.