August 8th, 2010
01:16 PM ET
11 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. NAM VET

    The basic family,city,state or federal gov.that cannot live within their
    budgets are doomed to get real in how they spend money on basic
    expenses and forcast expenses such as raises,retirement B&D,
    maintenance and vital fire and law enforcement You know all of
    those things that is ther jobs to do in the first place.. We are due
    the respect of our neighbors and elected officials to do the job not
    for just their paychecks but for the responibility to all of those they
    are suppose to serve. That is a given and no excuse is acceptable.

    August 8, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. doight

    Looking in from Canada; your republicans wrap themselves in your constitution unless they don't like what it says. Republicans substitute "the will of the people" for "we the people".

    August 8, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. Patrick from Minnesota

    This argument has nothing to do with the Constitution. All the powers within the healthcare law abide by the constitution, as does mandated auto insurance, home owners insurance and so on. All he is doing is using the name of the Constitution to make his argument sound more patriotic because he has nothing better to back-up his claims.

    August 8, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. George

    We cannot afford to be a debtor nation????

    When were we ever NOT a debtor nation? If Gov. McDonnell ever picked up a book, he might know that the federal budget has not been balanced since the administration of Andrew Jackson. We will NEVER balance the budget, so these right wing gas bags should stop trying to fool the voters into thinking that it is even possible. Unless Medicare, Social Security and the bloated military spending are ever brought under control, it will never happen. Any politician who campaigns on wiping out any of them would be foolhearty, as all three are necessary. Still, they should be made functional by an independent auditor with no ties to either political party. That will never happen, though, because the Democrats don't want any change to Social Security or Medicare and the Republicans would rather die than stop building bombs, guns, rockets and all the other ways we've come up with to do a lousy job in the Middle East.

    August 8, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. Its the economy "stupid"

    Yes stupid its the "economy" on peoples mind ...first...second...etc...!

    August 8, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. John K.

    What a contrast! A successful, business-friendly executive in Virginia, and a failed Michigan governor, under whose tenure hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost. Wow!

    August 8, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. Augsbee

    Unfortunately, Gov. Granholm is not that financially of a bright person as she is the one that not to long ago declared a National "Meat out Day" asking Michigan residents to participate, try vegetarian eating only for 1 day, thus causing restaurants, grocery stores, etc.... to lose sales. Now how smart is that in finances???????? To me it is this type of nonsense from Governors like Granholm as to why these states are "cash'strapped" states.

    August 8, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  8. snow

    The Michigan Governor and previous demorat governors has run the economy in Michigan into the ground. I find it funny that anyone could care what she thinks. She is beholden to state pensions and union employees who continue to pay for the Governors Mansion.

    August 8, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  9. Augsbee

    I disagree with Gov. Granholm on the same-sex issue. I think the law is a dangerous one in that it will open the door for crooked Heterosexual persons to use it for their personal advantage such as paying less taxes as a married couple when in fact the marriage is a fraud between 2 guy friends or 2 girl friends, apply for federal aid, benefits when the marriage is a fraud, etc... Other then that, I see no reason why 2 people who love each other can't get married just because they are gay or lesbian. If the people voted that it is okay to allow same-sex marriage the people's vote should be honored, respected by the court.

    August 8, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. malabar

    As a gay man i believe in the right to gay marriage, HOWEVER, nullifyng millions of votes (in cali no less) is just begging for a backlash from voters. tread carefully, judicial activism cuts both ways. i believe the day is coming, and very soon, when the majority OF THE PEOPLE will vote for it. that wud mean more than what 1 judge decides. 1 seeming step forward cud just usher in 2 steps back. i understand the frustration, but 4 now we are outnumbered and if california voted against gay marriage, how do u thnk the rest of the country feels? that includes a considerable number of dem and ind voters.

    August 8, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  11. Augsbee

    There's a difference between the government changing the rules of the health insurance industry's ability to deny people coverage on pre-existing conditions, allow adult children to be added to the parent's policy and the government forcing the people to buy a health insurance policy or pay a fine/tax to the IRS. If anything, the insurance industry now stands to make more money than before.
    This new health care law will not change the emergency room expenses, because if people to choose to pay the IRS the fine/tax because it is cheaper than to buy a health insurance policy those people are still allowed to use the emergency room. Employers also get to choose if to buy employees insurance or pay the fine to IRS.

    August 8, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  12. "You've Got To Be Kidding Me!"

    States that are fiscally irresponsible, that can't sustain themselves due to their continued reckless spending, expect fiscally responsible states (like Virginia) to keep bailing them out.

    Can't figure this out? People in VA pay taxes. They don't get it back. It goes to irresponsible liberal bailout states like Michigan and California.

    What would Ayn Rand say?

    August 8, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  13. Dale

    "The American people– do not want more 'stimulus' spending - spending for LABOR UNIONS , SPECIAL INTEREST BAILOUTS , Congress and the white house would be better off listening to their CONSTITUENTS, who are asking, 'Where are the jobs.

    G.E and other United States companies were not making enough money in the U.S.
    When NAFTA , and other BACK DOOR deals went into affect, this opened the doors. United States companies picked up everything and moved to other countries.

    Powerful, corrupt, greedy, medical organizations, they do not care about people’s pain and miseries.

    They only care about how much money they can make off of sick people.

    People that are sick and dying will pay any thing to get better, people that can afford treatment.

    August 8, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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