August 8th, 2010
01:16 PM ET
8 years ago

Govs spar over state aid, same-sex marriage, health care


Michigan's Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, left, and Virginia's Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, right, disagreed Sunday on a number of potential hot-button issues in this November's elections. (Photo Credit: CNN)

(CNN) – In a preview of Democratic and Republican talking points on what are likely to be major issues in this fall’s midterm elections, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell sparred Sunday in an interview that aired on CNN’s State of the Union.

As the House prepares to return early from recess in order to vote on a $26-billion state aid bill passed by the Senate last week, McDonnell, a Republican, slammed the measure as an example of excessive federal spending.

“Well, I think it has to end soon, because the federal government is running out of money,” McDonnell told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “I mean 14 trillion [dollars in total federal debt], which is $42,000 for every American. Candy, it's an unsustainable level of spending. We cannot continue to be a debtor nation.”

The Virginia governor added, “Spending is out of control at a lot of levels of government. We have to live within our means.”

McDonnell also told Crowley that some of President Obama’s economic stimulus plan had helped his state “in the short run . . . in some of the areas, although we've turned some of it down and made the decisions to make the cuts that are necessary. But we cannot continue to have all the states rely on the federal government.”

Gov. Granholm, by contrast, defended the latest state aid bill along with earlier efforts by Capitol Hill to help out cash-strapped state and local governments“There is no doubt that this has been critically important money for us, as we make our way through this recession,“ Granholm, a Democrat, said of the federal aid her state has received in the recent tough economic times.

While Granholm agreed with McDonnell that, in general, “governments have to cut,” Granholm also emphasized that the funds in the latest $26 billion bill will help meet real needs without making the federal government’s fiscal situation worse.

“This is not for bureaucracy,” the Michigan governor told Crowley. “This is for people - real people who need real help out here. And this bill was entirely funded. Let me say that again - this bill was entirely offset. Everything was paid for. So this doesn't add to the deficit. The Congress found a shrewd way of paying for it. And therefore, it allows states to continue to serve the most vulnerable populations, which is exactly what this is for.”

Granholm and McDonnell also disagreed on the issue of same-sex marriage, which has re-entered the legal and political discourse because of a ruling last week by a federal trial judge in California. In the ruling, the court overturned a voter-approved ballot measure which sought to ban same-sex marriage in California by stating that marriage was defined as a union between a man and woman. A federal judge in San Francisco held that the ban violated the constitutional rights of same-sex couples.

“I think the court is wrong to overturn the will of the people,” McDonnell, a former Virginia attorney general said. “And I'm hoping that, ultimately, if it gets to the U.S. Supreme Court, they will agree.”

But Granholm saw the issue differently.

“This is what the Constitution and the interpretation of the Constitution by the courts is for,” said Granholm, who like, McDonnell, was once her state’s attorney general. “I mean the judicial branch is not supposed to be a branch that simply ratifies the will of the majority if, in fact, it violates the Constitution.”

And Granholm said she would like to see the California decision upheld by higher federal courts.

“And I think the court was courageous. And I'm glad for - for Michigan's sake, I'm glad that it actually happened, because I'd like to see this moved to a higher level and affect more states,” she told Crowley.

On health care, McDonnell echoed the arguments Virginia has made in litigation challenging the individual insurance coverage mandate which is at the heart of Democrats’ health care law.

“This goes to the heart and soul of our federal system, [to] what the Tenth Amendment means,” the Virginia governor told Crowley.

He added, “if the federal government can use the Commerce Clause to tell the citizens of Virginia or Michigan or any other state that they must buy a good or a service and if they don't, they're going to get fined, then there's virtually no limits to federal power. I think this is really - this has more to do with constitutional authority of the federal government than it does with health care.”

Asked about continued public opposition to her party’s health care law as November’s midterm elections approach, Granholm said that doing away with the insurance industry’s ability to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions was “good policy.”

soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Four and The Door

    “This is not for bureaucracy,” the Michigan governor told Crowley. “This is for people – real people who need real help out here. And this bill was entirely funded. Let me say that again – this bill was entirely offset. Everything was paid for. So this doesn't add to the deficit.
    Just step back for a second and realize how completely wrong and misguided this statement is. I should not need to explain why but the Democratic spin-machine has brainwashed so many people.

    ALL government spending adds to the debt! Every single penny. Here is why. If it is not spent it can be used to pay back the $14 trillion of debt. It really is that simple. It really is. Don't let the Obama spend machine screw up the simplest facts.

    August 8, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Dave

    The twisted, insidious agenda of the Republican Party is exposed during this recession: they have governors turning down Federal aide in order to deliberately make the plight of the people of their home states worse, and then blame it on the President. And in many cases (like Gov. Jindall), these are states that have been hit the hardest by the recession. This is more than cynical, dirty's borderline sociopathic behavior to use this as an election strategy. How sad that it continued to be so effective, as those targeted by it are ignorant enough to fall for it.

    August 8, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Marcus

    Unless you are a die hard Reaganomics fan, you'll have to agree that the government had to do something about the recession that the subprime crisis + tax cuts (CBO findings, not mine, if you don't agree prove that they are wrong, if you can) dragged the country in.
    It is true that the spending, as a whole, MUST if not end (fat realistic chance for that to happen) at the very least reduce its velocity.
    BUT why should states that, for reasons that may or masy not be related to poor financial management and/or the recession itself, had to be the firsts to be affected when they are in need of the money (and let's remember to what this money is for)?

    August 8, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. Hugo

    As long as the OBpama his legions of Demospendacrat thugocracy are in, this is where the path will lead us. Vote in new blood that want one or two terms and then boot them before the lobbyist can corrupt them too. Get rid of the Unions, downsize Government, enact trade tariffs, cut corporate taxes to bring jobs, deport the illegals that cost us over a 100 billion a year, and layoff State and Federal employees and cut their overpaid jobs and pension plans.

    August 8, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. Fed Up

    Why is the money not coming out of the stimulus funds? Why is the money for the small businesses not coming out of the stimulus funds? That's right. I forgot. The stimulus funds are only for big banks that donate to the Democratic party. Americans and small businesses need not apply. And they wonder why they are losing in all the primaries. They haven't got a clue! Vote 'em in. Vote 'em out.

    August 8, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. DB25

    Well, of course Boob McDonnel the Republican is going to say that the will of the people shouldn't be overturned. I couldn't disagree with him more. People make rash and snap decisions based on political ads, lies, and distorted information put into 30-second commercials surrounding ballot initiatives. Judges are supposed to be there to reign in these kind of far-reaching laws that people have no business making broad-based decisions on, such as deciding the rights of minority groups.

    August 8, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. the real ib

    I am very proud of the way McDonnell is running this state so far. He realizes it's time to cut gov. expense not spend more and more money and raise taxes again and again. The people of this country have to live within their means and the state and fed. gov. have got to cut back and stop spending money that we don't have and people cannot afford to have their taxes raised again and again to allow the gov. to keep spending.

    August 8, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  8. Chipster

    Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the same-sex marriage that I appreciate the most if the one between Lady Liberty and Justice.

    If people really wanted to protect the "sanctity of marriage," they would demand laws against adultery. That's the biggest threat to families and health (threat of AIDS), not monogamous same-sex couples. This opposition is religious-based attempts to restrict freedom and equal protection. Gay couples don't threaten my marriage in any way.

    August 8, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. annie s

    I have an idea – let's lower the deficit 700 billion by allowing the tax cuts for the rich to expire. But no, Republicans don't think that's a very good idea – they'd rather teachers lose their jobs than charge the rich an extra 3% income tax.

    August 8, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  10. Ric NY

    clearly the West Virginia Governor is homophobic. the rights of an oppressed minority can not be voted away by a majority.

    August 8, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. voice of reason

    Republican Governor McDonnell says the federal court was "wrong to overturn the will of the people" in finding California's ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. He needs to be reminded that at one time, the "will of the people" upheld segregation in schools and public accommodations. The "will of the people" saw nothing wrong with slavery. The "will of the people" thought public hanging for theft offenses was a good idea. The "will of the people" thought it was just fine to require poor people to pay a poll tax just to exercise the right to vote.

    Democratic Governor Granholm got it right: the function of the federal judiciary is NOT to simply ratify the majority will when it violates the constitution.

    Progress is being made toward equality for all Americans, and those politicians (most, but not all, Republican) who oppose it will be left behind on the wrong side of history, all for short-term political gain.

    August 8, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    Have a cousin in SW Virginia that is scared of McDonnell and all his radical cut proposals. Not everyone in Virginia is wealthy like McDonnell.

    August 8, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. vic

    Today state of the union was great two good governors Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell had civil discussion now days hard to see civil discussion
    Federal Government not wasting 26 billion they are giving to states to save jobs and to balance their state budget

    Mc Donnell agreed stimulus helped his state. We have to appreciate small helps that could avoid big economy tragedy

    August 8, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. sonny c.

    "Spending is out of control". Next time that a Repub. utters those words,tell them to cut the Military Budget by 10 %. See how many Repubs. holler but who are quite willing to cut the deficit on the strained backs of the unemployed.

    August 8, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  15. BeverlyNC

    Of course Republicans are going to criticize every single good piece of legislation the Democrats pass – because they have voted NO on everything to help America.

    Just like the stimulus package who Republicans voted against and then took credit for in their home states, the same will happen with this much-need help for cities so they can keep teachers, police, firemen, and other important public servants. When it succeeds, Republicans will pretend they were part of it. Always the liars and hypocrites.

    Republicans have NOTHING to run on but hate and criticism of every successful law the Democrats have delivered for the PEOPLE. They are corporate boot-lickers who worship at the altar of greed. Republicans have not and will not do a single thing for the American middle class or job creation. They want us to fail thinking it will make them look good. How crass and unpatriotic.

    Be careful of what Republicans really want to do – get rid of Social Security and Medicare (they try to hide it by saying "getting rid of entitlement programs"). They want to repeal everything positive and protective delivered by the Democrats for the People. SInce that has been 200 bills, they would spend a lot of time moving the nation backwards. The only thing they are for is renewing the Bush tax cuts for the millionaires – which will add 4 trilion dollars to the deficit. They also want taxpayers to pay for BP's Gulf oil spill. They are trying to protect BP right now from liability for their criminal behavior.

    Republicans can sure spend money on their rich buddies and criminal corporations but not a dime on the People – no job creation help, no economic recovery help, no educational loan help, no homeowner help, no help for small businesses, no consumer protection from abusive banks and insurance, no, no, no, no- that is all the Republicans have done – NOthing but try to make the middle class fail.

    Vote NO for the no-good, no-work, no jobs, do-nothing Republicans. Given the chance they will once again destroy America for they want to return to the Bush policies – according to them.

    August 8, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  16. Edwin

    What a shock. The democratic governor supports the decisions of the federal government - mostly with sound bites, and the republican governor opposes the decisions of the federal government - also with sound bites.

    Nobody would be convinced by this show, I think. We are unable, as a country, to learn from each other any more. Most Americans perceive politics as a battlefield now, and none want to lose tactical advantage by seeming weak, or actually listening.

    August 8, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  17. GI Joe

    To live in fear is to not live at all.

    August 8, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  18. Chris

    When I tried to voice my concern about the runaway deficit during the Bush presidency, I was told by conservatives "deficits don't matter." Now those same people are screaming that the Democrats are mortgaging their grandchildren's future. When I tried to object to the record trillion dollar deficit, I was told by conservatives "It's just a number." Now those same people are regularly announce the number in righteous indignation. When I tried to speak out against Bush's abuse of constitutional rights, I was told be conservatives that anyone who doesn't fully support the president during wartime is not a patriot. Now those same people declare anyone who supports President Obama is not a patriot.

    August 8, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  19. Ryan

    Our economy is the way it is because of the wasteful spending we did on WARS THAT WEREN'T NEEDED – during the Republican Regime.

    The Democrats are trying to fix it by spending the money on the people who funded it in the first place – the tax payers.

    The only people who receive tax breaks with Republicans are their corporate interests. So unless your name is Blackwater or BP, then you don't have to worry about losing money.

    August 8, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  20. Pat F

    Granholm is leaving office completely despised by the State of Michigan. She has done zero for the State in eight years. But she has done everything for the State workers union – funding their bloated benefits beyond our ability to pay, driving more and more business from our beloved State.

    She should go back to Canada where she came from – socialized medicine and homosexual marriage are all the rage there – and leave the US and the State of Michigan ALONE!!!

    August 8, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  21. vic

    In 2008 52% California voters didn’t support same sex marriage but judge turn it down
    We get that
    I don’t think judge violates the Constitution. Basically we crate the court system to protect individual.
    If Majority of people decision is law mean then minorities voice won’t heard

    Violates the Constitution argument is totally wrong

    August 8, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  22. JR

    I would not be surprised if middle class and poor people start to run away from states like Virginia and going to more liberal states in order to improve their life expectation.
    I don't see any economist who would say that, during the recession, deficit is more important than empowering middle class ability to remain in market and survive.

    August 8, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. jim

    What good does it do to require insurance companies to insure people with pre-existing conditions and the at the same time allow them to set prices that in effect price those same people out of the market place.If the people like Gov. Granholm had bothered to read the new healthcare legislation either before it was passed or after she would not be out their praising the bill.I know this from personel experience so i'm no loney . I know exactly what i'm talking about.Check it out for yourselves, you people that supported this terrible piece of crap!!!!

    August 8, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy resulted in the wealthiest 0.1 percent of the population increasing their share of income from 7 to 12 percent between 2000 and 2007. They certainly aren't running out of money, and it didn't trickle down to create jobs – job growth over that period was the most anemic since WWII, except for a brief period during the 82 Reagan Recession.

    If the government spends 26 billion, it all goes into the economy. If the government gives a 26 billion tax break to the wealthy, they first take a cut off the top for profit – they are not charities, and wouldn't have become the wealthy without profit. Then they invest most of the rest in arcane financial products like Credit Default Swaps and Collateralized Debt Obligations, and with as yet undiscovered crooks like Bernie Madoff. This may create a few high pay jobs on Wall Street, but doesn't do squat for unemployed Main Street.

    The proof is in the pudding – alleged irresponsible Democratic "tax and spend" policies under Clinton handed Bush a government surplus. So called "fiscally responsible" policies under Bush and the Republican congressional majority turned those surpluses into massive national debt, and a huge windfall for the wealthy.

    August 8, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. But Obama is AGAINST gay marriage.....

    let's give him some heat on his stance which is on the wrong side of history....

    August 8, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
1 2