Ohio’s Gov. Kasich plays maverick at Republican conference


By Jason Hart | Watchdog.org

Ohio Gov. John Kasich played to media enthusiasm for big-government Republicans earlier this week during a Republican Governors Association panel.

Sharing a stage in Boca Raton, Fla., with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Kasich chided President Obama’s critics Wednesday while defending Obamacare, Common Core and citizenship for illegal immigrants.

MIXED MESSAGING: Kasich combined laid-back tales of compromise in the ’90s with agitated defenses of Obamacare and Common Core

The RGA panel was moderated by MSNBC host Chuck Todd, who earlier this month told Republican radio host Hugh Hewitt he thinks Kasich has “the perfect gubernatorial resumé” to run for president.

Perry, Walker, Pence and Jindal also are considered likely 2016 presidential candidates, but Kasich has long been one of the media’s favorite Republicans. Throughout Wednesday’s discussion, Todd asked Kasich each question first and then let Kasich cut in at the end of other governors’ comments.

On immigration, Kasich suggested Republicans in Congress should plead with President Barack Obama not to grant amnesty to illegal aliens by executive order.

“I think it’s a mistake for him to move forward like this unilaterally,” Kasich said, although Kasich unilaterally expanded Ohio’s Medicaid program last year to get Obamacare money.

Video of Kasich’s response to Todd’s immigration question is available courtesy of C-SPAN.

After Pence, Jindal, Perry and Walker remarked on the political nature of Obama’s immigration maneuvering, Kasich reiterated the need for compromise.

“The country’s just too divided,” Kasich said, imploring Republicans to work with Democrats like he did while serving in Congress in the 1990s.

Watch video of Kasich’s additional comments on bipartisan unity

“People want problems solved, and you gotta be careful with the rhetoric, ya know, because you get too far out on that and people don’t wanna deal,” continued Kasich, who routinely accuses Obamacare critics of ignoring God’s call to help the poor.

Asked about granting citizenship to illegal immigrants, Kasich said, “Here’s the thing: We gotta think about what’s gonna bring about healing. Now, my sense is, I don’t like the idea of citizenship when people jump the line — we may have to do it. It may be a laborious and tough process; I would never say you would never do it. I’m open to it.”

Watch video of Kasich’s comments on amnesty

Regarding the Common Core State Standards Initiative, Kasich said, “if the federal government starts meddling in this, if it starts doin’ all this education policy out of Washington, I’m not for that. But as long as local school boards are involved in writing the curriculum to reach a higher standard — particularly in math and in science, which we have in Ohio, we’re not gonna do history with some Common Core — I think it makes a lot of sense.”

“Testing does drive what gets taught,” Jindal said, also noting U.S. Department of Education funding and No Child Left Behind waivers have been tied to participation in Common Core.

See the governors’ Nov. 19 discussion of Common Core

Interjecting defensively after Jindal, Walker, Pence and Perry expressed their concerns with Common Core, Kasich said, “I don’t have any complaints from anybody in my state that they’re not able to set their own curriculum to set a higher standard.”

“Maybe I didn’t get the message from the governors, the 45 governors that came out with this, but they didn’t have Arne Duncan, they didn’t have these people writin’ this, this was governors doin’ it, and that’s what I thought we wanted,” he said.

When Todd asked Kasich to explain his decision to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, Kasich replied, “We’ve got a lot of people that have been made promises to that have been ignored — the drug-addicted, the working poor and the mentally ill.”

Watch Kasich defend his embrace of Obamacare

“Now, I can get my money back from Washington, and I want it back in Ohio cause I know what they do with it in Washington,” Kasich said.

Contrary to this favorite Kasich talking point, Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is paid for with new federal spending, not Ohio tax dollars.

“I’m proud of what we’ve been doing for the people who’ve been living in the shadows, living under a bridge or whatever — and the people have responded to it, and conservatives in my state have responded to it, by and large,” the Ohio governor said.

That “conservatives” support Kasich’s decision to take billions in Obamacare money to put hundreds of thousands of able-bodied childless adults on Medicaid would come as news to every center-right group in Ohio not controlled by the Ohio Republican Party.

Cutting in again after Perry, Jindal and Walker detailed their reasons for rejecting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, Kasich cried, “Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid!”

Watch Kasich’s additional Medicaid expansion remarks

“Medicaid expansion allows us to do something, but the reason why the Affordable Care Act is bad is first of all, it’s top-down, it has nothing to do with costs, and it’s frozen jobs,” Kasich said.

His Obamacare Medicaid expansion has cost federal taxpayers roughly $2 billion since Jan. 1, and will likely shrink the state’s already-shrinking labor force.