Policy: Entitlements

Ohio Gov. John Kasich's Medicaid expansion is a faith-based mistake

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Op-Eds,Ohio,Medicare and Medicaid,Entitlements,Religion

Ohio's Republican Gov. John Kasich seems to have settled on “it's what God wants” as his best talking point for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which he has been fighting to implement for more than eight months.

In his State of the State address in February, Kasich cited his “personal faith” and lessons “from the Good Book” as driving forces behind his embrace of the Obamacare expansion.

Kasich made it clear he viewed Ohio’s options as expanding Medicaid or leaving the poor “out in the street. The Lord doesn’t want us to ignore them."

Discussing Medicaid expansion with reporters in June, Kasich said he had told a conservative legislator that Saint Peter is “probably not gonna ask you much about what you did about keeping government small, but he’s going to ask you what you did for the poor.”

Ohio’s traditional media treated as a charming personal anecdote the governor’s warning that opposing him on Obamacare could mean an eternity in hell.

During an August radio interview, Kasich again insisted the Bible demands bigger government to serve the poor, adding, “we have to help them, and we’re expected to do that, and I believe the Lord expects us to do that.”

He reiterated the message with an “it’s what the Lord wants” comment during a September response to Medicaid expansion questions from statehouse reporters.

At an annual “Celebration of Goodness” luncheon in Cleveland on Sept. 12, Kasich was honored for supporting Medicaid expansion and for working with Cleveland’s Democratic mayor on school reform.

After singling out a local legislator who hadn’t fallen in line for the Obamacare expansion, Kasich said, “we need this program because we need to treat the addicted, and we need this program because we need to treat the mentally ill, and we need this program because we need to treat and help the working poor get comprehensive health care.”

Kasich said “all these decisions are, frankly, pretty easy for me,” then said "the Lord created the world, and He created us, men and women, to manage that creation.”

Kasich spoke at length of the need “to repair that creation in whatever way we can,” describing a broken world he seeks to fix with increased entitlement spending.

The former congressman who was elected Ohio's governor in 2010 -- who said at the beginning of that election year that he “was in the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party” -- would be appalled at Kasich's use of Christianity to validate his generosity by increasing the reach and cost of state government.

On Sept. 12, Kasich mentioned studying “the great theologians throughout history,” but late 20th century philosopher Puff Daddy best justified Kasich’s push for Medicaid expansion: It’s all about the Benjamins.

For the next three years, Obamacare promises to pay 100 percent of the coverage costs for newly eligible Medicaid recipients in states that agree to the law’s Medicaid expansion. The federal government will supposedly pay 90 percent of states’ expansion costs into perpetuity.

Concurrent with his “compassionate” equation of coercion with charity, Kasich has deceptively warned that Ohio’s Medicaid expansion dollars will go to other states if the Buckeye State rejects the expansion.

Kasich also falsely claims the billions in new federal funding Ohio could secure through compliance with Obamacare would be made up entirely of “Ohio’s tax dollars.”

Kasich’s arguments have won the hearts and minds of the media, at least. Across Ohio, reporters have spent the past seven months belting "The Battle Hymn of The Bankrupt Republic":

"We love to tell the story of more gover’ment free stuff;

"While the bill goes to somebody else, the karma comes to us …"

Because the press shares his new-found faith in big government, Kasich is cheered as the victor in a debate that hasn't taken place.

The Columbus Dispatch is even encouraging the governor to circumvent the General Assembly, expanding Medicaid by executive order and then asking the state Controlling Board to appropriate the resulting Obamacare funds — which may be illegal, but seems the path Columbus insiders now expect Kasich to take.

Although Kasich’s crusade for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion is backed by the traditional media and an army of lobbying groups, the governor’s sudden interest in a federal balanced budget amendment suggests his advisers realize he has damaged his credibility for 2014 and beyond.

While a balanced budget amendment is a great topic for a presumed presidential hopeful to discuss on national talk shows, in Ohio, the campaign serves to highlight how far Kasich has strayed from his stated principles by using pseudo-Christian emotional blackmail to enact a vast expansion of the welfare state.

Jason Hart is a conservative writer who grew up in western Ohio, attended Miami University in southwestern Ohio, and has strayed as far afield as central Ohio. You can find him on Twitter @jasonahart.
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