See below for a statement by Virginia State Sen. Donald McEachin (D), in which he denounces Sen. Frank Ruff’s comments (at the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce’s legislative breakfast) likening Medicaid expansion to a “tar baby.” According to Julian Walker’s Virginian Pilot scoop, “John Gilstrap, a member of the Danville City Council, denounced the comment as ‘not a correct statement to make’ and ‘offensive to a couple African Americans in the audience.” In addition, “Gilstrap told the Pilot that Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders had walked out of the meeting after Ruff’s comparison.” Following up on the Virginian Pilot story, Think Progress reports that Ruff emailed to say “Never have I ever heard this as a racial term.” Well, I guess now he has! Anyway, here’s Sen. McEachin’s statement. Never a dull moment…
Henrico – Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) today assailed the remarks of his colleague Senator Frank Ruff in referring to Marketplace Virginia, the private insurance bipartisan plan to offer health care for low income Virginians, as a “tar baby.”
Senator McEachin said, “For Senator Ruff to use an expression widely known as a racial slur was shocking, insensitive and extremely disappointing. Instead of contributing to the merits of this discussion, he resorts to old time racial epithets and dog whistles. However, every bit as dismaying is his lack of concern for the up to 400,000 low income working Virginians who would finally have the opportunity to access healthcare for themselves and their families. Instead of engaging and trying to find solutions, he has simply demonstrated his complete lack of concern for their very real needs.
“Moreover, Senator Ruff has been completely inaccurate about the Marketplace Virginia proposal. The plan contains a kill switch that will ensure that Virginia will not have to over pay and that the program’s costs will not simply escalate. For him to ignore this critical piece either demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge of the legislation which is alarming or an intentional ignorance which is truly unacceptable.
“Senator Ruff owes Virginians an apology and, as importantly, a commitment to actually read the legislation, to speak the truth about what it contains and to engage in a serious, merit and fact based dialogue to improve the lives of Virginians, the very thing he was elected to do, instead of resorting to antiquated and offensive insults.”