Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) isn’t the only Republican governor to embrace Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, but few have been quite as enthusiastic about it. Kasich has said the policy “makes great sense,” adding that he believes Obamacare has made “real improvements in people’s lives.”
The governor, who frequently presents his policy priorities in moral terms, has even suggested his Christianity has led him to embrace the ACA policy. Molly Ball reported this week that Kasich’s posture has apparently annoyed some of his Republican brethren.
Majorities of voters support expanding Medicaid, but many conservatives revile it as a costly expansion of government – and they aren’t fond of being lectured by Kasich about their supposed heartlessness. “He likes quoting the Bible – ‘Thou shalt expand Medicaid,’ I keep looking for that verse,” John Becker, a conservative member of the Ohio House of Representative, told me.At a closed-door donor forum in Palm Springs hosted by the Koch brothers, Kasich was attacked by two fellow Republican governors, Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal, for, in the words of a source who attended the event, “hiding behind Jesus to expand Medicaid.” The source added, “It got heated.”
As best as I can tell, there is no recording of the closed-door donor forum, so there’s no way to say with certainty whether Kasich was blasted by Haley and Jindal for “hiding behind Jesus,” but if so, that’s quite a charge for Republicans to make against one of their own.
It’s also a reminder of the kind of rhetoric we’re likely to hear if, as expected, Kasich enters the Republican presidential race.
The report in The Atlantic added:
Kasich’s reputation as something of a bleeding heart could make it difficult to get through the GOP primary. Just after his recent New Hampshire foray, he met in New York with an influential group of fiscal conservatives including the former CNBC host Larry Kudlow, Reaganite economist Arthur Laffer, and the Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore. National Review’s report on the meeting, which included a testy back-and-forth on Medicaid, was headlined, “Kasich Turns Off Supply Siders in New York City.”
By any sensible standard, it’s all but impossible to characterize the Ohio governor as a “moderate.” He is very far to the right on social issues such as reproductive rights; he’s signed unnecessary voting restrictions into law; his environmental record is a mess; and his signature federal issue is a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, quite possibly the worst idea in the history of bad ideas.
But on health care, Kasich has been willing to break with party orthodoxy to his state’s benefit. Republican primary voters may never forgive him – his intra-party rivals certainly won’t.