John Kasich

John Kasich Deplores Political Gibberish in Presidential Campaign—Then Relies on It to Sell His Own Record on Obamacare

The Ohio governor has repeatedly made misleading statements about his expansion of Medicaid under the president's health law.

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Marcn / Flickr / via Foter

John Kasich is frustrated with the GOP presidential race.

The Ohio governor, who has yet to win a state and is currently running behind in both delegates and national polls, complained about the tone and substance—or lack thereof—in an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) today.

Kasich declared that Donald Trump, the current frontrunner in the GOP race, "will not be beaten by smearing him." Instead, Kasich argued that the path to victory was to demonstrate a record of leadership and policy success.

"The key is: Who's got a record and a vision, and not just political gibberish," he said, insisting that he had already shown his propensity for both as governor of Ohio. Indeed, Kasich said he was the only candidate left in the race who was running on his record, and he encouraged voters to check it out.

It's true that Kasich, the only governor still running, stresses his record more than any other candidate. But he has also repeatedly misrepresented it, most prominently on his decision to expand Medicaid in the state under Obamacare.

Just days before the New Hampshire primary, Kasich released an ad insisting that he had not expanded Obamacare in Ohio.

This is a claim he has made repeatedly. It is completely untrue.

As governor, Kasich decided to expand Medicaid in Ohio under the law, which provided funds for states to expand the jointly run federal/state health program for the poor and disabled. Indeed, the Medicaid expansion is in some sense the foundation of the president's health law: A majority of the newly covered under Obamacare were covered via Medicaid. In Ohio, about 76 percent of Obamacare's newly covered fall under the program.

The Medicaid expansion was initially all-but-required for states, but thanks to a 2012 Supreme Court decision, states were allowed to decide whether or not to participate in the program, and Kasich went ahead with it. Moreover, this was Kasich's decision alone: He overrode the state's legislature, which objected to the expansion, in order to implement the Medicaid expansion. Since then, he has defended his decision to ignore the legislature on the grounds that the state's elected representative secretly wanted him to override them.

Kasich has defended his decision on budgetary grounds, saying that it didn't weaken the state's budget. What he doesn't say is that the decision to expand Medicaid has cost $6.4 billion—it's just that the spending has gone on the federal tab, rather than the state tab, because, well, that's the way it works under Obamacare, which finances state expansions of Medicaid. 

Kasich's position that presidential candidates should display leadership and vision instead of just spouting political gibberish would be more convincing if he were not rely on misleading political gibberish to defend his own record.