Columns

Kasich: Dysfunctional Politics a Result of Our Culture ‘Losing Its Way’

WASHINGTON – Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich said the dysfunction in Washington politics is a reflection of how “our culture” in the U.S. is “losing its way.”

Kasich challenged the American people to examine their own “part of the world” rather than focusing on their personal frustration with politics.

“The problem is Republicans don’t want to be connected to anything that’s connected to Obamacare no matter what it is, OK? And Democrats don’t want to be connected to anything that erodes part of Obamacare and all of it is false, it doesn’t work that way. What I think is happening is the public is like – they’re getting fed up. Look, we in our lives tend to focus, in my opinion, on politics, how everything has failed. What about your lives? How’s it going in the business world? You read anything about the problems at Wells Fargo? They opened up phony accounts, the insurance, how’s that going in the business world?” Kasich said during an American Enterprise Institute and Center for American Progress discussion Sept. 8 about stabilizing the individual health insurance market.

“How about in the sports world? You feel good about somebody beating up their girlfriend they played on Sunday? How’s that feel? Or somebody who is on steroids, they sit out for a while then they sign a big contract. Or how about in religion where we’ve got to find a bunch of Catholic priests who were predators, OK? Think about where your world is. We tend to focus everything on politics – how dysfunctional it is,” he added.

“How’s your part of the world going? My view is what’s happening in politics is really just a glimpse of what’s happening across our nation, and our culture is losing its way because people are not standing enough on these basic principles that we believe in – personal responsibility, grace, forgiveness, connectedness. And then we see a glimpse of it down in Houston and we go, ‘oh my God, maybe we’re OK.’ Isn’t that what everybody is saying, maybe we’re OK? Well, it shouldn’t just take a flood for us to be OK.”

Kasich continued, “We’ve got to get over ourselves and our ego, although we know we’re all hypocrites. I mean, I’m the No. 1 hypocrite, but as I look across the landscape of our country and I look at the problem of drug abuse, I look at the problem of kids with teenage suicide, I look at all of these things, to me, they are road signs for ‘we’ve got to get it together.’ And it’s not just politics, it’s everything. And we’ve got to reassert those values, frankly, that I think come on high, but that are taught in our families – and so much of it isn’t happening today.”

Kasich and Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper recently released a blueprint healthcare reform plan. When asked why he wants to “save” Obamacare, Kasich said there are too many labels being used in Washington.

“I want to have a marketplace where people can buy insurance, and if people can’t afford it let’s give them some money so that they can have it. Because if we don’t, then they end up sicker in the hospital and they drive up the cost. Why do we keep putting names on everything?” Kasich said alongside Hickenlooper. “Down in this town everybody has to attach a label to something and some sort of a description that drives people in opposite directions.”

Kasich said he and Hickenlooper “believe in exchanges, we believe in the private market and we also happen to believe in Medicaid.”

“For those who are really poor – help them out, but get them on their feet. Who is against that?” he said.

Hickenlooper suggested imposing penalties against individuals who drop their insurance altogether and sign up again at a later date as a replacement for the individual mandate in Obamacare.

“If you don’t like the mandate, what are the other tools you have? And one is to give penalties when someone drops off and when they come back on, and another is to make it attractive to young people, maybe find incentives, a discount they can get in some way or another through quitting smoking or whatever,” he said.

Kasich joked, “We’re going to give Ed Sheeran tickets out to any young people who get health insurance.”

Hickenlooper addressed insurance companies who are leaving certain counties in Colorado and other states.

“The bottom line is these insurance companies have to make a profit like anyone else, and if they can’t then they leave these counties,” the Colorado governor said. “And part of what we’ve been talking about is trying to figure out what are the other incentives, what can we do, should people in these counties where you only have one carrier, should citizens there be able to join up and get the federal employee health benefit program? That’s a classic example.”

Kasich said allowing insurance companies to sell plans across state lines is a bad idea.

“Everybody in here is for that, right? OK, that’s right, because you are smart. Because what that means is somebody comes from out of state and offers some ridiculous plan at some really low cost that disrupts your market. I believe in state insurance regulation, so that allows us to determine, Jillian determines, what is reasonable in the state,” he said, referring to one of his staffers in the audience.