As he issued an executive order preventing the state from applying for any of the grants available in the new health care law, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signaled that he would accept $263 million in federal dollars to bolster the state’s Medicaid program — funds he previously described as a “bailout” of the states. “The federal government should not deficit spend to bail out states and special interest groups,” Pawlenty said earlier this month after the House reconvened for an emergency vote and passed a $26.1 billion bill providing aid to state governments. “Minnesota balanced its budget without raising taxes and without relying on more federal money. The federal government’s reckless spending spree must come to an end.”
Putting aside the fact that the $26.1 billion measure was fully paid for (and even reduced the deficit by $1.4 billion), Pawlenty searched for another explanation as to why he’s willing to accept a transfer of federal funds into the state Medicaid program but would not apply for grant dollars authorized by the health care law. The enhanced Medicaid payments are “not Obamacare” and won’t “further some stupid policy agenda,” he concluded:
“We’ll likely take that money,” Pawlenty said in an interview at the State Fair Tuesday. “It’s not Obamacare, it is something that we were going to be doing anyhow…”We’re going to take the money for those things that we were going to do anyhow and for the Medicaid (money), we were going to do that anyhow,” Pawlenty said. [...]
Further, the governor said, Minnesota is a net donor to the federal government — sending in more money than it gets back — so “where it’s appropriate and where it’s wise and doesn’t further some stupid policy agenda or otherwise concerns us or sign us up for something that is unsustainable or otherwise cause us a problem, we’re going to apply for those other pots of money.”
Earlier this year, Pawlenty rejected federal funds from the health care law to expand the state’s Medicaid program, a point he highlighted in yesterday’s executive order.
The Huffington Post notes that Pawlenty is requesting federal grants for abstinence-only education that are funded by the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) said yesterday that “members of the Pawlenty administration thank me” for voting in favor of health care reform.