Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio represent an odd couple matchup that deserves further review and comparison on other issues now that the duo have linked arms on healthcare.

Kasich is now term-limited and a lame duck leader in many ways as overrides this week of some of his budget vetoes by fellow Republicans show his power in Columbus has waned. Hickenlooper is also term-limited, but he built a big profitable beer business and served Denver as mayor before chairing the Democratic Governors Association through 2015.

Odd Couple

Will John Hickenlooper be John Kasich’s 21st century Ron Dellums, a Democrat Kasich can point to as an example of bipartisanship? Dellums was an exception, on defense spending, but not the rule on most other Great Society-like spending programs directed toward urban areas and minority populations that Kasich has nearly always opposed. They are the new buddy team on healthcare, with plans to release a health-care reform proposal as soon as next week, according to what Kasich told a Colorado Public Radio station on Monday. The “bipartisan duo intend to get other governors from both parties to sign onto the plan, which they hope to put out ahead of September hearings in the U.S. Senate.”

Always poised to provide fewer rather than more details, Kasich offered little light on the plan. One detail of the otherwise secret plan that leaked out is to change the Affordable Care Act mandate that employers with 50 or more employees provide insurance coverage. What sounds odd for Hickenlooper, a Democrat who Hillary Clinton talked to about the VP post last year, that a national single-payer coverage plan won’t be considered, is par for the course for Kasich, an establishment Republican Trump has frozen out who actually voted for John McCain for president last year even though McCain wasn’t on any ballot for that office. 

Recall that Kasich signed onto the “Contract for America,” a Republican manifesto that included not one word about healthcare. When he ran for president last year, losing badly to Donald Trump by winning just one state, Ohio, Kasich’s healthcare plan started off with this: Obamacare is the “Wrong Diagnosis and Must Be Repealed and Replaced.”

Kasich says the solution is market-based principles, a position no other advanced industrial country has chosen as its solution. The Legatum Institute, a London-based research institute released its 10th annual global Prosperity Index in November, a huge survey that ranks the most prosperous countries in the world and lists the 16 countries with the best healthcare system.

Spoiler alert for Kasich: America isn’t in the top 16. In fact, America ranks 37th in the world, according to The Patient Factor, an independent online source for news, views and commentary on Canadian health care.

Obamacare to Kasich is more “big government interference,” when in fact it represents a method for those who don’t buy their healthcare through their company or who can afford to buy it on the open market to have insurance at all.

Bogus Thinking About Free Markets

The fallacy with Kasich’s thinking is that there is no easy way for consumers to shop around the healthcare market since prices are no where to be found. Who would think walking into a sandwich shop where no prices for sandwiches is a good idea? If sandwhich prices are posted, consumers can choose between food shops based on price, quality, service. Hospitals don’t offer menus with prices. America is unique in that the cost of a procedure is known only after it’s performed, not before.

If Kasich really wants competition, start a campaign to post prices from the doctors office to the operating theater. Then, and only then, can consumers make informed decisions.

Kasich as governor of course wants states to have control, saying so last year. Returning control of health care choices to patients and returning full control of insurance market regulation to states, he says, is the conservative path.

While national and state media relish the relationship between these leaders on healthcare, these governors are far apart on most other issues, so much so that it’s hard to imagine one or the other joining the other on many other key issues.

Hickenlooper has a “10 Year Plan to End Homelessness” he released at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington. Kasich has virtually nothing to say about homelessness in Ohio, a state where he’s now 56 straight months into underperforming the national job creation average.

Other Issues: 

Marijuana: Whereas Kasich has done everything he can to oppose the recreational use of the plant, Hickenlooper has come around to Colorado’s legalization of it, saying he thinks it’s starting to work.

Guns: Hickenlooper showed his position on it when he signed bills that created a limit of 15 rounds in magazines that could be bought, sold or transferred within the state. He’s also for universal background checks. Kasich has done or said little about guns, preferring to sign bills sent to him that expand concealed carry options. While Hickenlooper is a member of the gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Boston mayor Thomas Menino, Kasich stays silent on the issue, and he’s never been asked if he owns or uses firearms.

Capital punishment: The duo diverge. Hickenlooper granted an indefinite stay of execution to a prisoner facing execution for murders committed in 1993. Hickenlooper has questioned whether it’s legitimate for a state to take a life. Kasich, a Catholic boy who once wanted to become a priest, has asked no equivalent question, choosing instead to execute people based on his belief that victims deserve a public official to carry out the law.

Jobs: The W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, ranks Ohio 36th while Colorado is at 15th.

Government Reform: Hickenlooper wants to implement same-day voter registration and mail-in voting. Kasich has signed legislation to make voting more difficult.

Health Care: Hickenlooper says basic health care is a right, not a privilege. Kasich will only admit he believes the same when cornered to do so, otherwise he skirts the issue as often as he can.

Immigration: Hickenlooper has called for stringent verification process for Syrian refugees. Kasich said he doesn’t want to accept any Syrian refugees.

Taxes: Hickenlooper said trillions in tax cuts to the wealthy is not the answer. Kasich says tax cuts are the answer, boasting of the billions he’s given away in Ohio even though the state has floundered on his watch in creating the quantity and quality of jobs.

Trade: Hickenlooper favors reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank. Kasich, who voted for the Ex-Im bank when in Congress, switched his position last year running for president.

While both governors look beyond their soon-to-end terms, they each represent conservative thinking, Kasich more so than Hickenlooper who oversees a growing state compared to Ohio, where population growth is as moribund as the political thinking by the state’s all-Republican leaders.

With the news of a potential hook up between these center left [Hickenlooper] and hard-right governors [Kasich], serves as crack cocaine for beltway media types looking for alternatives to President Trump, the glow of the matchup loses much of its glow if other factors are considered, as Chris Cillizza has written about.

Dream On JRK

Also remember that John Kasich could have seized the day last year when media was looking for someone to run outside their political party against Trump and Hillary Clinton, who were framed by media as the worst of choices. Kasich could have been that candidate, but he chickened out, saying it wasn’t the right time. Not the right time, when the likes of Donald Trump was vanquishing Kasich and his establishment-lane colleagues? Gov. Kasich has honed his flim flam ideology over decades and continues to dream the impossible dream of being president one day. Media may one day realize how bad Kasich has been for Ohio, a once great state now in retrograde motion after two terms of his policies and programs producing poor performance in education, economic development, voting and so many more areas.

So dream on, governor, any run you make to comfort your great ego will only make it easier for Trump to win in a three-way race, even though his job approval rating is forecast to go lower not higher.

Buying Deals

For anyone who hasn’t followed the trials and tribulations of Kasich, his statement that Ohio doesn’t buy deals is laughable, given his track record of buying deals.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” he said when the topic of how long it will take for Wisconsin to recoupe it’s giveaway to one manufacturer of digital phones and other devices, Foxconn. “It’s not going to take us 40 years to make back the investment we make… We don’t buy deals.”

Of course Kasich buys deals. He did that early on in his first term when he ladled out hundreds of millions of dollars to the likes of American Greetings, Bob Evans Farms, and others who hinted they might move to another state. Kasich bought deals even though he didn’t have to, but that’s basic Kasich, say one thing and do another.

 

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