Are all the sins of Reagan now going to be trotted out as precedents for Republican malfeasance?
John Kasich is the Republican governor of Ohio and he is running for President. I have no idea why. I have never heard of him before. But he is one of those governors who took the Washington D.C. Obamacare bait and increased funding for Medicaid in his state.
The Federal government’s story is that this is free money that can do a lot of good. Of course, the real story is that this is increased debt that is only going to add to a coming conflagration that will do far more harm to the people who are most needy. Furthermore, the entire design of the program is to entice the states into commitments that get voters hooked on additional welfare and then reduce the Federal input, leaving the states with an impossible burden and a populace that has forgotten how to live without the government “benefit.”
(And chief among those addicted to the new money will be, not the needy, but the big business hospitals who will lobby the state governors and legislators with the money they are getting from the public debt.)
In short, this is all part of the become-Greece-sooner plan.
And Republican Governor John Kasich signed off on it. This is the man who thinks he has a shot at getting the Republican nomination and becoming President of our current nation-state.
Perhaps we deserve him.
By the way, when I say Kasich signed off on Medicaid expansion, I mean he pulled a “pen and phone” page from Obama’s playbook and overrode his own legislature that voted against it.
Almost worse than the deed itself is the lying that accompanied it. Suddenly the man who is supposed to be a Republican is attacking fellow Republicans as if he is a Democrat. As if the only reasons Republicans oppose more Medicaid spending was out of political spite.
And one of his biggest excuses is one of the sins of Reagan. Reagan expanded Medicaid so that makes it all right for every subsequent Republican. Philip Klein writes in the Washington Examiner,
This is the one defense that has some grounding in the truth, but it still is a shaky argument that shouldn’t get Kasich off of the hook.
Republican politicians often try to invoke the iconic conservative president to excuse all of their deviations from conservatism.
It cannot be stated enough that despite Reagan’s rhetoric and many genuine accomplishments, he was far from perfect when it came to limiting government, and one of the areas where he particularly disappointed conservatives was when it came to the growth of entitlements. Two wrongs do not make a right.
As far as I’m concerned, Klein could have stopped there. I don’t care how great and conservative a politician is, he is still a politician. He will make compromises all the time. Conservatives can never allow politicians to appeal to the inconsistencies of other politicians as an argument for doing anything. The sins of Reagan cannot justify anyone who wants to copy those sins.
Having said that, it’s also worth noting that there are several key differences between Reagan’s Medicaid action and Kasich’s, as articulated by former Reagan Attorney General Edwin Meese and Buckeye Institute President Robert Alt in the National Review.
Reagan’s expansion was limited to giving the states an option to extend Medicaid benefits to children and pregnant women in poverty, which the authors noted, “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.”
One last item to remember: Reagan was indeed compromising with powerful Democrats to salvage his agenda. What is Kasich’s excuse?
This isn’t a free market argument, to be sure, but at the same time, it’s important to remember that Reagan was working with a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. In contrast, Kasich has a Republican legislature he bypassed that legislature to ram through the Medicaid expansion over lawmakers’ strong objections.
So the real precedent is not Reagan, but the Bush-Rove push to expand Medicare coverage of prescription drugs. Kasich is convinced that his path to the presidency lies in promising free money and showing he has a track record to back up those promises. His path to the presidency had better not require conservative votes, because he won’t get them.