Ohio Governor John R. Kasich won a tight election in 2010 by a slim two percentage points with grassroots help from the newly born Tea Party movement, which turned the election two years ago into a shellacking of Democrats in Ohio and across the nation.
Kasich bucks Tea Party
At the time, then former Congressman, Fox TV political talk-show host and Lehman Brothers managing director Kasich jumped in front of the freedom and liberty loving parade that was forming and led at the time by once popular politicos like Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska whose political star has since risen and set.
Now, as he gears up for reelection in 2014, Ohio's CEO-style governor, whose mantra has been and is today that while government should do less overall, it should always be the handmaiden to private business, getting out of its way at all times—in Kasichese, that's called "headwinds" from Washington—while simultaneously feeding and watering the private sector with reduced regulations, lower tax rates and workforce subsidies through the Workforce Investment Act, a federally funded program.
Kasich played Hamlet for a time, wondering whether it was nobler to participate in an expansion of Medicaid to otherwise eligible Ohioans who qualify for the federal/state program for the working poor, elderly and disabled, or be more economically prudent to not participate—as 13 Republican governors have done so far—and by doing so avoid millions in future payments that will saddle Ohio and other participating states with unsustainable obligations going forward.
Even though he and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor ruled out setting up their own health exchange, as the ACA called for, after explanations that always included their view that the ACA is a "deeply flawed" law, they capitulated to allowing Medicaid expansion go forward.
But Gov. Kasich recently became one of six governors to decide that since the Affordable Care Act was declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer, he wouldn't say no to expanding a program that hundreds of thousands of Ohio would benefit from, whose costs for the first three years would be paid in full by Washington.
Mandel enters Medicaid fray
Just this week, though, another statewide official, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, has called on the Ohio General Assembly, a body he once served in as a Representative living in Lindhurst, that also enjoys a supermajority for the next two years, to say no to Gov. Kasich's decision to expand Medicaid coverage.
In a letter to leaders of the Ohio House and Senate, Treasurer Mandel, who lost his brutal and expensive race last fall to replace Ohio's senior U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, expressed concerns about the impact on the federal debt and the future burden to Ohio if lawmakers followed the governor's plan to expand the health care program for the poor.
Tempest in a Teapot?
On Thursday, a Tea Party movement leader is taking up political arms against Gov. Kasich's decision on Medicaid expansion. Chris Littleton, the liberty-loving patriot behind Ohio 2.0 and Ohio Rising, asked Ohioans, through their elected representatives to the Ohio legislature to "help stop Kasich's Obamacare expansion."
"You are the difference," Littleton wrote in a provocative email titled "Kasich and Socialists Partner on Obamacare." The Tea Party movement leader reminded his readers that expanding Medicaid requires approval by both the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate. "Without their approval, Kasich's Obamacare expansion is dead in its tracks."
Littleton's evidence that Kasichcare is the same as Obamacare, the name Republicans dubbed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which narrowly won approval by the high court last year despite states like Ohio joining together in a lawsuit that said it and its individual mandate provision was not constitutional, came in the form of comments between an executive with the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio and Kasich's office.
"She [UHCAN Ohio Executive Director, Cathy Levine] 'was in regular contact with the governors’ [sic] office, sharing different budget assumptions, as to ensure they would all land near the same place. The administration was totally transparent about how they were developing their numbers and analysis,' said Levine. 'We went back and forth so we could try to close those differences. They worked very hard on their end on an honest analysis of those numbers.'"
Littleton said these quotes were taken directly from a group advocating for a socialist model for healthcare in Ohio. "They worked hand in hand in with John Kasich to move forward on the Obamacare expansion. Please contact your Ohio Representatives ... tell them ... you don’t want Obamacare expanded in Ohio, and that means they should vote NO on any expansion to Medicaid!"
Kasich to give 3rd SOTS next Tuesday
Next Tuesday, Gov. Kasich will give his third State of the State address, this one from Lima in Allen County in Ohio's northwest quadrant. Along with touting his many reforms over the past two years and re-selling his tax reform proposals that include income tax reductions subsidized by an expansion of the state sales tax to hitherto exempt services like advertising, attorney and lobbyist, the supply side governor will no doubt revisit his Medicaid expansion decision, which he justified, saying it would bring billions of dollars into the state it wouldn't otherwise enjoy.
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