- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 15, 2012

The seemingly ever-escalating war of words between friendly rivals Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell continued last week — just in time to coincide with Mr. McDonnell’s hosting of the National Governors Association’s annual meeting held in Williamsburg, Va.

This time, the topic du jour was the provision in President Obama’s health care overhaul that subsidizes states’ expansion of their Medicaid rolls — a provision now essentially optional in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling. Deep-blue Maryland has embraced the law with open arms, while Mr. McDonnell, a Republican, has yet to decide whether to implement the expansion, citing the uncertainties and growing costs associated with the federal-state program that provides health care for the poor, sick and elderly.

“If Virginia is slow to come to this realization that businesses are paying far more now in health care and rising costs of health care every year than what they’re paying in other expenses, then that would be a competitive disadvantage, I would think, for Virginia,” Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, said on CNN’s “Starting Point.”

He did give his neighbor a little bit of credit.

“We want to be an early implementer, and I’m glad that Gov. McDonnell’s moved from totally opposed to now being on the fence,” he said.

But the chairman of the Republican Governors Association wasn’t going to take those words lying down.

“Well, Gov. O’Malley ought to look at the numbers,” Mr. McDonnell shot back a short time later on the program. “Businesses and people are fleeing Maryland for Virginia because he’s raising taxes on about everything that moves, so I’m not worried about competing with Maryland or any other state.”

Luckily (or unluckily) for these two, they are constitutionally barred from running for governor in the next cycle. For Mr. McDonnell that election would be next year, and for Mr. O’Malley, 2016.

Sources say there are other offices to pursue then, however.

Power problems

Not long into a hearing on Pepco, the much-maligned utility that faced scrutiny for multiday outages after a June 29 “derecho” storm, D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser needed to clear something up.

“Nobody accused me of being a good golfer — ever,” the Ward 4 Democrat told a witness before the Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs.

Ms. Bowser was responding to a charge that she likes to golf with bigwigs from Pepco. The woman who made the claim, a witness from the Idaho Terrace Tenants Association, apologized because it was based on hearsay.

Ms. Bowser said she may have played with some Pepco folks at a charity event, but there were about 100 people there. And, sure, she hits some balls at Hains Point or in Rock Creek Park from time to time, but let’s not get carried away.

“I’m not a woman of leisure and do not have much time to play golf,” she said.

David Sherfinski and Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report.

• Matthew Cella can be reached at mcella@washingtontimes.com.

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