When the Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed John Kasich over then Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, it became irrationally infatuated with Kasich’s razzle dazzle rhetoric, so much so that it went with the fast but erratic hare instead of the slow but steady tortoise. Strickland, you may remember, withstood the worst the Great Recession could dish out and still put Ohio back on a path of recovery.
“John Kasich, is a former congressman from suburban Columbus given to Reagan-style optimism and bold, sometimes questionable, ideas. He is just as clearly the wild card, eager to shake up the status quo and even challenge his own party, but also capable of talking himself right off a cliff.
The gift of gab—”talking himself right off a cliff”—has always been part of the Westerville Wizard’s political tool box, spinning one crazy position after another into something that must twist and turn to find a safe zone where his hard-right political ideology can rest without being attacked for its inherently wrongheaded reasoning.
And that political sleight of hand was on full display Monday when Gov. Kasich got his partisan political talking points all twisted up as he tried to do two things at once: one was to continue the basic mindset that Obamacare, aka, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [ACA], doesn’t work and needs to be repealed and replaced. The second was to simultaneously say he likes Medicaid expansion, which is fundamentally inseparable from and totally tied to the ACA. Being for Medicaid expansion, because its for poor people and helping poor people fits nicely with his “moral choice’ narrative about why he wants to “life up” people in the shadows. News flash to Team Kasich: That has been done exponentially for everyone eligible for the ACA. Even Johnny Pennsylvania can see that. But admitting that Obamacare actually works would be politically wrong, like daring to mention his Democratic challengers name in public, a silly season game Ohio media clearly finds amusing.
“The AP got it wrong. Ohio said NO to the Obamacare exchange for a reason. As always, my position is that we need to repeal and replace,” Team Kasich tweeted. Quoted by the Associated Press, Gov. John Kasich said he doesn’t think there will be a repeal in Washington, even if Republicans win a Senate majority and consolidate their hold on the House in next month’s election. “That’s not gonna happen,” the Republican governor told the AP during a recent re-election campaign swing. And the reason he didn’t mention about why Ohio didn’t go along with doing its own healthcare exchange instead of letting HHS build it? It would cost Ohio some money. Really? Kasich’s $3 billion in tax cuts to people who don’t need them cost Ohio money, too. But tax cuts for Mitt Romney types, not affordable health care for people who have never had it before, is OK with the daring hare.
Kasich put his foot in his mouth again, and had to backtrack what he said. He called the AP Monday night to clarify that he was speaking specifically about a repeal of Medicaid expansion and not of the entire Affordable Care Act. Politico wrote that the former 18-year congressman drew distinctions that are not usually used even by Washington insiders. Kasich said he believes the ACA “can and should” be repealed, but that opposition to the Medicaid expansion “was really either political or ideological.” He added, “I don’t think that holds water against real flesh and blood and real improvements in people’s lives.” He has cast the Medicaid expansion in Ohio as a “moral choice” to help the poor. So would raising the minimum wage, but he’s curiously not for that “moral choice,” among others that would lift up the poor, the ranks of whom have increased under this messiah of reform.
Meanwhile, Kasich knows that “repeal” remains the mantra for many Republicans in Washington and that arguments to take it out “root and branch,” as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, is needed have no solid footing when compared to real facts and real people. The ACA and Medicaid have been a big success, as this report shows, and Kasich knows that, which is why he’s again become the amazing human pretzel, twisting himself to both say the ACA is bad but championing key parts of it is good. That’s called talking out of both sides of his mouth, a skill the always evasive governor has honed over the arc of his political career.
What happened was Kasich flubbed the answer, again, so his patch and repair crew had to try to separate out Medicaid from the ACA, lest someone actually think Kasich was saying good things about Obamacare. Kasich suggested that “millions of people now have a tangible benefit that would be taken away if the health law were repealed,” echoing what senators like Ted Cruz of Texas and maybe a possible future presidential challenger like Mike Huckabee called “Uncle Sugar” because people would like the taste of a sane health care system for a change and not like it if it were taken away, as Kasich and virtually every other Republican knows to say to be fore.
Any GOP replacement law would probably have to give most of those people a way to remain insured, and that would involve considerable taxpayer expense and government regulation, Politico deduced. The real story, it seems, is that after all his decades in government, Johnny Pennsylvania has no clue what to replace Obamacare with. It’s even more pathetic when people are reminded that the big Contract with America movement, the one that helped Republicans take over the House of Representatives during the Clinton years, spoke about a number of issues, not one of which was health care. Not one word on health care from the entire universe of GOP brains and brawn.
Kasich talks about repealing and replacing the ACA, and offers nothing that makes sense to replace it with, something he should and would be challenged on if he wasn’t such a political coward who refuses to debate his Democratic challenger. How much more of a buffoon can Kasich become on such life and death issues as affordable, quality health care?
John Kasich doesn’t have clue, but some of his Republican brethren do. “What we would anticipate is most likely to happen, even with a Republican Senate, is we’d have to work within the confines of where we are,” said Marty Carpenter, spokesman for Republican Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah to Politico. Herbert wants federal approval to deliver the Medicaid expansion through private insurance companies — as some other GOP governors have done. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, another Republican seeking re-election, says “major changes” are required to the health care law. But he expects his state’s Medicaid expansion to stand. “I think our system and our approach is working, and I think other states are starting to look at our approach,” Branstad said, which is curious since Kasich keeps saying everyone is looking to Ohio for leadership. McConnell of Kentucky said that Obama’s health care law must be pulled up “root and branch,” but he quickly added that the state could somehow still keep its insurance marketplace, which owes its existence to Obama’s law.
So if John Kasich gets his way, saving only the parts with a direct impact on the federal budget, what would happen? As Politico put it, it would leave “an unworkable jumble of insurance rules. And Obama could still veto it.” There’s no consensus among Republicans over how to replace Obamacare, and the Westerville Wizard, the messiah of reform, has no clue either.
“Kasich is not nearly as smart as I thought, LOL. He is so scared of the cuckoo base, his truth-telling is now ‘inoperative.’ Which is good. Sanity on keeping the ACA would make Kasich 100 times more electable. Now he is back with the pack as a no chance President. Thank God for the GOP base, it is keeping Dems in total control of the Presidency,” one commenter said. Another also got it right: “Kasich is more scared than smart it appears, he is now disavowing what he actually said. That means he has 100x less chance of ever being President. I gave him much too much credit for brains and forgot about cojones.” Another added, “He still does not have the guts to say its working. He says I’m against, but not really.”
Kasich could be called the Music Man of Ohio. He’s selling a fantasy that appeals to the local townspeople. Instead of getting what they want, they will get what John Kasich wants to give them, which always turns out to be the short end of the stick.