John Kasich, the glib, foot-in-the-mouth governor of Ohio who was in South Carolina last month touting his much debunked crusade for a federal balanced budget amendment, answered questions directed at him by reporters by again not answering them.
David Weigel, a reporter for Bloomberg Politics whose beat covers the loony right-wing of the mostly wrong Republican Party, got the same brushoff Ohio reporters got last year, when Mr. Kasich banished one reporter from covering him and stiff-armed others by refusing to answer questions, even though he was engaged in a $17-million reelection campaign he failed to announce that included his child-like practice of not mentioning the name of his competitor.
Weigel reported that he asked Ohio’s term-limited governor how he would respond if the Supreme Court struck down subsidies for people who bought health insurance plans through the federal exchange at HealthCare.Gov? Ohio News Bureau, coincidentally, asked the same question to new Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger just weeks earlier. ONB was told the question was hypothetical and about the future, and the speaker and his Majority Caucus were only interested in the here and now.
“If we ended up in a situation—and again, I don’t like to get ahead of ourselves on what a Supreme Court might do—but if it threw half a million people [off] insurance, we’d have to look at it,” Gov. Kasich told Weigel on a critical issue that would auger ill for millions of Americans including hundreds of thousands of Buckeyes. “And we haven’t made any determination on that, but—I’m gonna try to avoid your question—I’ve got good people working on this. We’ve chatted about this. If the court makes a decision that these exchanges get shut down, then we’re gonna have to figure something out in Ohio,” he told Weigel.
Kasich and Ohio would be in a world of hurt if the U.S. Supreme Court rules as Republicans want them to, that taxpayer funded federal subsidies are illegal to plan participants from states like Ohio that let Health and Human Services run their state exchange because they decided to not run their own, as Gov. Kasich decided to do, saying Ohio couldn’t afford it. Gov. Kasich has famously declared the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “flawed” and has called for repealing it and replacing it. But after nearly four decades as a career politicians, he’s unable to say what he would do differently. It’s also amusing that Gov. Kasich, during his 18-years in Congress, offered up a half-baked healthcare plan that included a personal mandate to purchase insurance, the same lynchpin contained in both Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan and President Barack Obama’s ACA. No stranger to forced mandates, Gov. Kasich has proposed that Ohio Medicaid participants, in order to get right with his political ideology about “personal responsibility,” pay a monthly premium for their coverage. Sound strangely familiar? His plan is ripe for criticism, and Policy Matters Ohio, an independent economic think tank, delivered a correct analysis recently.
Ohio’s governor got additional ink in another report on his campaign for president. The 63-year old supply-side relic of the Reagan era was asked about whether he had made any contacts in the Deep South state of South Carolina that could help him with his unannounced but on-going run for the White House. Even the reliable apologist reporter for Gov. Kasich had to admit that his response was “meandering — and at times conflicting.” Welcome to Kasich world, where out is in and up is down. “The fact is, look, I’m down here to do this job. It also gives me an opportunity to talk about Ohio, and I intend to do this as often as I can around the country. I mean, you may find me in New Hampshire before it’s over. But I’m not there because I’m running for president. I’m there because I want to talk about leadership. I want to talk about what we were able to do in the state.”
Equally revealing in the same piece was a mention of who was with him in South Carolina. Gov. Kasich’s longtime friend and campaign contributor Mark Kvamme, who Kasich has buddied up to since first meeting him in the 1990s, when Kasich was a Congressman. Mr. Kvamme, who was at his side during Mr. Kasich’s short campaign for president in 2000, was also at his side in Columbia. Ohio media apparently has no interest in asking Gov. Kasich who footed the bill for his trip to South Carolina and West Virginia or his junket to western states or his sojourn to Davos, Switzerland in his first term. Were they to dare to ask him or his PR handlers if Mr. Kvamme is footing the bill for flights and arrangements, it would be priceless to watch Gov. Kasich tap dance away from offering a plausible answer.
Meanwhile, in related news, Gov. Kasich, although not named specifically, was indirectly outed along with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as “charlatans and cranks,” since they’ve been so wrong over so many years about so many things. “So what does it say about the current state of the G.O.P. that discussion of economic policy is now monopolized by people who have been wrong about everything, have learned nothing from the experience, and can’t even get their numbers straight?” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote. “The answer, I’d suggest, runs deeper than economic doctrine. Across the board, the modern American right seems to have abandoned the idea that there is an objective reality out there, even if it’s not what your prejudices say should be happening. What are you going to believe, right-wing doctrine or your own lying eyes? These days, the doctrine wins.”