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Ohio Gov. Kasich on Medicaid Expansion: 'It's My Money'

(AP Photo/Skip Peterson) (AP Photo/Skip Peterson)

From NPR:

Asked by NPR for his response to reports that Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Nikki Haley of South Carolina had accused him of "hiding behind Jesus" for why he expanded Medicaid through Obamacare, Kasich fired back.

"I'm really not hiding behind anybody," Kasich said, adding, "The last Republican I can think of who expanded Medicaid was Ronald Reagan. OK? People tend to forget that. ... If other people don't want to take the money, that's up to them, but I got money I can bring home to Ohio. It's my money. There's no money in Washington. It's my money. It's the money of the people who live in my state."

Anytime Gov. Kasich opens his mouth to talk about Medicaid expansions, you can be sure either an absurd canard or an outright falsehood will spew forth. Ohio's governor, who is positioning himself to run for president, brags incessantly about his history as a budget hawk during his time in Congress in the '90s, but apparently sees no contradiction between claiming to be a fiscal conservative and expanding Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of able-bodied working, childless adults. Nevermind that he did so by circumventing the state legislature, adding to the federal debt and imperiling the benefits of the most vulnerable Ohioans -- because it's his money.

Jason Hart at Watchdog.org recently reported:

Americans’ tax burden is already $3 billion heavier because of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare...

...After Kasich expanded Medicaid unilaterally, a state panel approved $2.56 billion in Obamacare spending for the expansion’s first 18 months. The money was meant to last until July, but it ran out in February.

Kasich’s Obamacare expansion cost $323 million in March — 84 percent greater than estimates revised just six months earlier.

In media appearances Kasich has repeated -- over and over again -- that Medicaid expansion brings "Ohio money" back to Ohio, as if there's a special pot of unclaimed "Ohio money" just sitting in Washington waiting for a savvy governor to claim it. Now he's taken that false claim to a new level by arrogantly boasting, "It's my money." The truth? Medicaid expansion is paid for with new federal spending from a government that is $18 trillion in debt. If those Kasich apologists at Fox News (who seem to be giving him more air time than Karl Rove these days) could stop swooning over the Republican moderate for just a few minutes, perhaps they'd ask Mr. "I-was-in-the-Tea-party-before-there-was-a-Tea-party" about these contradictions in his narrative. I'm not holding my breath.

And while we're on the subject of falsehoods, let's just dispel with this notion that Kasich is "just like Ronald Reagan" because they both expanded Medicaid. Hogwash. Reagan gave states the option of expanding Medicaid to include pregnant women and children and didn't coerce states into signing up with the perverse economic incentives included with Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. Reagan's former chief of staff Edwin Meese III wrote at National Review that the expansion was about a lot more than just adding people to the welfare rolls:

In an era when there were perpetual fights over using public funds for abortion, the expansion assured that pregnant women would not be financially worse off carrying their children to term than they would be if they chose to have an abortion.

In contrast, Kasich's new budget re-prioritizes Medicaid spending, removing pregnant women at the top end of the federal poverty level (FPL) from the rolls. Programs now available to women at 200 percent of the FPL will only be offered to women at or below 138 percent of the FPL. Those in the gap will be told to sign up for Obamacare.

I don't know if Kasich knew President Reagan, but it seems a fitting time to say, "Governor, you're no Ronald Reagan."