When Kasich really wants something, he’s willing to put all of his resources and staff behind it, and he is willing to play rough in order to achieve his goal. But with Medicaid expansion, Kasich appears to have completely given up. And it makes us wonder if he was ever really serious about it from the beginning.
When the union-busting provisions in Senate Bill 5 were under attack, Kasich’s chief-of-staff and multiple other members of his office took a leave of absence to help fight for the bill.
When John Kasich wanted to wrestle control of the Ohio Republican Party away from Kevin DeWine, Team Kasich kicked into high gear. Kasich’s friend Doug Preisse set up an oust-DeWine HQ with the help of Kasich staffers. Kasich’s regional liaisons went out and collected signatures for committee candidates. Jai Chabria and others went out and twisted arms, made threats and promised “influence” in order to swing the necessary votes. Kasich’s campaign made ads supporting candidates who would vote the way he wanted. And at least one person who refused to join Kasich lost her job as a result.
But a day after House Republicans pulled Medicaid expansion from his budget, Kasich has effectively thrown up his hands in defeat.
“This is a time where the legislature has to work things out themselves,” Kasich told the Toledo Blade. “I’m not a mechanic, I’m the governor”
Even worse, the Governor has dismissed attempts by Democratic State Reps Carney and Antonio to create a separate, stand-alone bill for the Medicaid expansion.
According to House Speaker Batchelder, 20 of his Republican members were willing to support Medicaid expansion. With support from the 39 Democrats in the House, this would be more than enough to pass the bill.
“If there’s a separate deal, what do you get? Thirty-nine votes? That doesn’t get you to 50,” said Kasich.
If Kasich was serious about getting Medicaid passed, he wouldn’t be dismissing Democrats attempts to save his plan. Instead he’d put his team into action to secure the votes of Republican legislators and to get it to the floor for a vote.
If he was serious, Kasich would have Chabria and Carle and Luketic out there busting heads and counting votes.
“I couldn’t give any more speeches [on Medicaid]” Kasich told the Blade.
But Kasich knows: Pretty speeches discussing the religious merits of Medicaid expansion make for good sound bites, but they don’t get bills passed.
That takes hard work and a dedicated team working behind the scenes to secure votes – and there’s no indication that Kasich’s team is mobilizing for that effort.
Instead, it looks like Kasich is hoping to get credit for introducing the idea of Medicaid expansion, hoping he can win over some voters who may consider him more moderate now, without having to deal with the political backlash from the extremists in his own party should the Medicaid expansion actually pass.