Skip to comments.Kasich Veering Left (Is the Ohio Governor Really the Conservative He Claims to be?)
Posted on 04/12/2013 6:38:53 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Most political observers in Ohio believe Governor John Kasich wants to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. If thats true, hes approaching it in an odd way, alienating much of his conservative base by making controversial tax proposals and proposing to expand Medicaid although he now appears to have given up on the latter.
In his 30-year-long political career, John Kasich has prided himself on being a conservative. In his successful 2010 race for governor he boasted he was in the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party. For years before that he hosted a show on Fox News that showcased small-government conservatism.
But this year, Kasich has taken a strange turn. He embraced extending Medicaid coverage to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, a move that was anathema to opponents of Obamacare. He declared himself in favor of civil unions for gays, and then had his spokesman withdraw the statement. He proposed a frack tax on oil and gas production and an extension of the sales tax to many services in order to pay for a 20 percent cut in the states income tax. While he sold his tax-reform package as pro-growth, many GOP state legislators disagree.
This week, the GOP-controlled state house stripped Kasichs Medicaid expansion out of the budget, rewrote his school-funding formula, canceled all of his tax increases, and reduced his income-tax cut to 7 percent for all taxpayers. Its a dramatic reversal for a Republican governors priorities to be treated that way by his own party, says Chris Littleton, head of the conservative activist group Ohio Rising.
Kasich insists he remains a conservative but admitted last week to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that trying to stick me in the [ideological] box, I dont think has ever worked very well.
In truth, John Kasich is often more of a populist than a conservative. He grew up in blue-collar McKees Rocks, Pa., and he says he grew up wanting to help people. Its a sin to not help somebody who needs help, he said, and he clearly believed his Medicaid expansion would do just that.
But in reality, giving in to the lure of free federal dollars to broaden Medicaid isnt compassionate. Over half of physicians no longer accept Medicaid patients because it is a failed program with bargain-basement reimbursement payments and bureaucratic regulations that lower the quality of overall care. Medicaid patients often give up trying to find a doctor and wind up in hospital emergency rooms, where they wait three to six hours for non-urgent care, John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis told me. Representative Chris Collins, the chairman of the Houses Small Business subcommittee on health, told me, The false promise of Obamacares Medicaid expansion is that it will trap millions of Americans in a program that needs urgent reform first. Recent studies by the University of Virginia have shown that surgical patients on Medicaid are 13 percent more likely to die than those without insurance of any kind.
But hospitals among the biggest employers in Ohio lust after the $13 billion in federal Medicaid dollars that would flow to Ohio over the next seven years. Hospitals helped bring 2,500 liberal protesters to the state capital of Columbus yesterday to argue for Medicaid expansion. With Kasich insisting he profoundly disagrees with the legislatures refusal to expand Medicaid, he may well ratchet up pressure on the legislature.
Thats what worries many Republicans. We are dividing ourselves on a core issue, says Tom Zawistowski, a Tea Party leader, who is running against the governors choice for Republican-party state chairman later this month. He notes that 65 percent of Ohio voters supported an anti-Obamacare initiative in 2011 and at least two-thirds of Republican primary voters oppose Medicaid expansion. Political analysts like Charlie Cook say Obamacares failures could be the big issue in the 2014 midterm election, and we are just fracturing our coalition here, he told me.
On policy grounds, GOP house speaker Bill Batchelder says that Medicaid expansion would be a leap into the dark. This is so screwed up, he told the OhioCapitalBlog. We have all these regulations that have to come out. . . . We also have to know what it means if they dont have the money in Washington. Those are pretty big challenges.
Kasichs staff insists he is pursuing a conservative agenda that includes a reduction of more than 4,000 state employees in the last two years, an expansion of school-choice programs and efforts to improve the states business climate, albeit often with targeted subsidies many conservatives disapprove of.
Overall, Kasichs record is clearly conservative in some areas. But should he run for president, his shifts to the left will likely leave true conservatives going with other candidates. The space for a pragmatist in the 2016 GOP primaries is limited, and much of it is already taken up by New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
But Christie has a ready-made excuse for many of his deviations from conservative orthodoxy: He must deal with a Democratic legislature, and he has often moved it to the right. John Kasich is in the position of having a solidly Republican legislature that he sometimes is trying to move to the left. That contrast could force him into a lot of awkward explanations on the 2016 campaign trail.
John Fund is a national-affairs columnist for NRO.
If I read it right, the Repubs in the Ohio Senate removed the Obambicare provision from Kasich's back-stabbing cave in.
Now we're really screwed with Kasich in the Ohio capitol and Bone-Head in the federal Speaker's spot.
Snowball’s chance in hell. Get a landscaping job, Kasich-idiot.
Yes, we are lucky to have a Rep-controlled state congress to watch this character.
RINOs to the left of us (where they properly belong), RINOs to the right of us. What to do when they fool us so bad? It happens in 95% of the time.
If only we had a general left in the ranks who was not a politically correct appointee. What America needs is a benevolent dictator like Francisco Franco. These weasely leftists have trashed our Constitution, this would be a way to punish them.
Kasich was the Paul Ryan of budgets in the 90s and pretty darn solid. He recent performance in the governor’s office is terrible, and I am more than a little surprised. He’s always been one of those solid, plain spoken conservatives that is able to get our view out. Instead, it seems like he is tucking his tail and running. It started with the union votes a couple years ago, where he seemed completely absent...I think he knew the vote was a loser because it was too far reaching, but he just faded away during and after the vote. He never really has resurfaced as a leader. He’s been through bigger fights than this, so I have no idea what’s going on over there.
No... kasich is and has always been a progressive... he just lies well during elections. I have never liked him.
Congrats to the GOP State House legislature in Ohio- they stripped out the Medicare expansion.
Ohio was a big win for Obama on the expansion—thanks to no standards Kasich.
Seems we are always fighting two entities—Democrats and GOP-E Republicans.
NO, we don`t need ANY dictators, we need our Republic.
God, I gotta GET THE HELL OUTTA this F-d up state!
Why is everybody “veering left” these days? Yesterday, it was Toomey, Flake and Coburn; today it’s Kasich. Do they really think that turning their backs on their base is politically smart?
I used to really love John Kasich but he’s turned out to be a major flipping disappointment. Sort of a Toomey-Rubio.
Yes, they do, because all they really want is votes to get in office one way or another. If that means they have to cater to a different set of voters (I'm thinking Hispanics at the moment), they will.
Politicians are just vote-whores. Principles have little to nothing to do with it. They are looking out for numero uno's paycheck and "health", nothing more.
Am I being cynical? Probably. I wish I could be less so.
Why is everybody veering left these days?
Turning your back on your base is not always politically smart. Richard Nixon learned that the hard way in 1960 when he cut a deal with Nelson Rockefeller over the party platform and picked an ultra-liberal RINO as his running mate.
Others who short-circuited their political careers after selling out those who voted them into office include President George Bush, who famously broke his “no new taxes” pledge, Rep. Jim Courter (R-NJ), a pro-lifer who flipped around and became a pro-abort, and California Assemblyman Paul Horcher (R-West Covina), who was recalled after he broke ranks with his fellow Republicans and voted to keep a leftist Democrat as the Assembly speaker. One of the Republican turncoats who supported him was also recalled, and another was “primaried” out of office.
He's always seemed like a likable guy, socially conservative and OK on fiscal issues.
But he has always seemed WEAK. When he ran for President a few years ago he had nothing new to say.
I'm not surprised that he is not performing in a muscular way in Ohio.
Our state rep (Ryan Smith) has a son who is friends with our oldest boy via Cub Scouts. Smith is as solid a conservative as you will find on the planet. My husband thinks the world of him, and my husband is almost more conservative than I am. ;)
I know the Ohio House said no way to the Medicaid expansion funding. We were discussing it in our Gallia Co. Right to Life Meeting a few nights ago. We were all making sure we had the contacts for Ryan Smith and Bob Peterson to keep the heat on them about this stuff.
I am still not sure if the state Senate has voted on this yet...I’ve been busy with outside stuff the last couple of days. Anyone know?
I agree with you completely.
Is that an Ionesco reference?
You'd have to build a big room to not have most of the space taken up by the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
But the GOP will manage. There has to be room for Kasich, Jeb Bush and Señator Rubio.
Yup! Every day someone turns into a rhinoceros - not a rino.