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Gov. Northam’s “Ask the Governor” Appearance This Morning: The Decent, the Bad, the Ugly

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See below for three, short audio clips from this mornings’s “Ask the Governor” appearance on WRVA, as well as some comments by yours truly.

First, here’s a clip of Gov. Northam talking about the current status of Virginia’s budget, and also Medicaid expansion. According to Northam, there have been some “tough negotiations,” in which “I’ve given some, the Republicans have given some,” with the General Assembly “coming back to town on Monday.” Northam says he’s “hopeful” the Senate can get a budget out of their Finance Committee into conference, “get us a budget in Virginia that’s structurally sound, that’s good for all Virginians,” and that provides “working Virginians…have access to…quality and affordable health care.” Northam adds that if we don’t get a budget by July 1, we’ll have a government shutdown, and that is NOT something he’s interested in. The main hangups seem to be work requirements, which Republicans are demanding, and an “1115 waiver.” But the bottom line right now is “we’re still at an impasse, we still have some work to do.”

Now, here’s a clip of Northam being asked two questions by callers: 1) one basically blaming immigrants for taking away jobs; and 2) one that tries to get him to praise Trump for all the supposedly great things he’s doing on North Korea, including the release this morning of three U.S. prisoners. On the immigration question, Northam responds that “immigration is primarily a federal issue,” which is absolutely true, and also that “we need comprehensive immigration reform, and that has to start in Washington.” My only quibble – ok, a lot more than a quibble! – with Northam’s answer is him saying “when we have people here that are illegal it does take jobs away from other folks.” First of all, it’s simply not true that immigration “take[s] jobs away from other folks.” Second, and maybe this is just Northam being his usual, inarticulate self, but people are not “illegal.” Period. As for the ridiculous, obnoxious setup question on giving credit to Trump (and how it’s a “genetic thing” that Democrats won’t praise Trump) for the U.S. prisoners being released by North Korea, Northam’s reaction – I find it very revealing that Northam’s instinct is not really to push back, but instead to talk about how he was just “up in Washington a few weeks” ago and how he had a “great conversation with President Trump.” Alrighty…

Finally, saving the worst for last, Northam’s inability and/or unwillingness to give honest answers to questions about the pipelines (side note: the interviewer incorrectly references the Atlantic Coast Pipeline when he means the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and Northam doesn’t correct him, which I also find revealing) would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. In this non-answer, Northam claims that he’s a “steward of our environment,” is “sympathetic to these folks,” that he’s been “consistent” on this issue, that he’s “going to follow the law…and also follow science,” and that he hopes we can “move forward with civility on this project.” WTF? Oh, also gotta love Northam yet again falsely claiming that: a) Virginia has no power on this, despite the fact that we DO have power – and a lot of it! – under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act; b) “we are using the most stringent environmental oversight that’s ever been used in Virginia” (uh huh, riiiiiight); and c) that he’s doing what’s “in the best interests of Virginia” on this (nope, false).