Compassionate Conservatism is a Love Song to Big Government

Cross-posted from Townhall.

Few aspects of the Republican Party affair with the welfare state are worse than the crooning from politicians who offer “compassion” as an excuse for betraying conservatism.

By muddling messaging and helping the press dismiss anyone to his right, a big-government Republican who claims he’s a limited-government Republican can undermine conservative principles in ways honest leftists cannot.

The story’s as old as boy meets girl: Politician is elected to tackle runaway welfare spending. Politician decides goosing welfare spending would be easier than tackling it. State-worshiping media sigh about what a pragmatic wedding it was as politician and welfare spending leave the chapel hand in hand.

Spending money that isn’t yours is not generous. Promising benefits that taxpayers can’t afford – and that often hurt the recipients, regardless – isn’t compassionate. These are not difficult concepts.

But when a “conservative” decides growing government is his best career move, he further entrenches broken programs both by expanding them and by insulating stupid arguments from the public shaming they deserve.

Think back to all the times you’ve heard variations of, “cut Bush/Dole/McCain/Romney some slack, we agree 90% of the time,” or, “you guys loved spending on this when Dubya backed it!”

The first thing a compassionate conservative will tell you about his decision to spend more of your money on some failed entitlement program is that he’s not motivated by politics.

This is a dead giveaway that he’s motivated by politics.

Consider Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican who ran against Obamacare in 2010 and is now one of America’s foremost advocates of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

To name only a few of the problems with the Obamacare expansion, Medicaid is already rejected by 28% of Ohio doctors, Medicaid expansions in other states have failed by nearly any metric, and DC is already $17 trillion in debt.

With that in mind, Gov. Kasich could have stopped an estimated $53 billion in federal spending and $4 billion in state spending through 2022 by refusing to expand Medicaid.

Instead, Kasich spent a whole year serenading the Obamacare expansion with lyrics asserting Ohio must claim its “fair share” of federal money to help Ohioans who are living “in the shadows.”

Repeatedly insisting that God supports Medicaid expansion, Kasich has used everyone from drug addicts to the mentally ill to veterans as props for new federal spending – because obviously Ohio’s governor cannot help Ohio’s disadvantaged except by digging DC deeper into debt.

How has one self-described conservative’s advocacy of bigger government echoed through state and national politics?

Hospital executives and the rest of the entitlement lobby have showered Kasich with praise; everyone loves being handed more of someone else’s money.

The legacy press has cheered Kasich’s awkward embrace of the welfare state, pretending his lunge to the left proves the worst policy enacted in Ohio in 30 years has no credible critics.

Since the Ohio Republican Party only cares about winning elections, Party flacks cover for Kasich by repeating his awful rhetoric, telling adherents to shun critics from the right, and then changing the subject.

Everything the national GOP and GOP-friendly pundits know about what’s happening in Ohio comes from the state GOP, so Kasich’s abandonment of principle has little impact on 2016 presidential chatter.

Meanwhile, John “Caring” Kasich has handed the Obama Administration a much-needed Obamacare win, making it tougher for conservatives in other states to stop their own treacherous Republicans from chasing “free” Medicaid expansion money.

Does this sound like a formula for a compelling limited-government narrative?

Of course not, but it’s a cover of a song you’ve heard a hundred times before. The next election is never far away, so conservatives can either sing along or shut up.

Gov. John Kasich – Ohio’s Own Obama?

Cross-posted from Townhall.

Ohio taxpayers are being treated to an unwelcome taste of DC, as Governor John Kasich brings President Obama’s favorite policies and tactics to the Buckeye State.

Narrowly elected as a small-government conservative in 2010, Kasich has veered sharply to the left despite Republican supermajorities in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly.

Candidate Kasich warned that the Obamacare Medicaid expansion would “stick states with large and unsustainable costs.” But after failing to trim public unions’ power in 2011, Kasich decided last winter that he’d show what a caring moderate he is by hanging the millstone of Medicaid expansion around Ohio’s neck.

Kasich used laughably false talking points to undercut conservative critics, saying the Obamacare expansion would be paid for with “Ohio’s tax dollars” and warning that Ohio’s slice of some imagined funding pie would be served to other states if Ohio rejected it.

Although political wrangling over Medicaid expansion was big news for most of 2013, Ohio’s dino-media let Kasich lie about billions in taxpayer money without batting an eye.

Sound familiar?

Coordinating messaging with the entitlement lobby the same way Obama frequently does, Kasich developed a “compassionate conservative” stump speech that would make a Clinton blush.

Kasich even improved on Obama’s routine of torching straw-men opposed to big government: just add brimstone. Frustrated by opposition to the Obamacare expansion, Kasich warned his foes that they may be securing themselves a place in Hell.

Nonetheless, Ohio’s legislature – lobbied by grassroots groups the press acknowledges only to sneer at – stripped Medicaid expansion from the state budget and even passed language explicitly forbidding it.

Kasich responded by line-item vetoing the Medicaid expansion ban, and thenunilaterally expanding Medicaid when several more months of emotional blackmail didn’t work.

The legislature wouldn’t grow government the way Kasich wanted, so Kasich took a page from Obama’s playbook and pretended the huge policy decision was an executive matter.

Ohio’s newspapers cheered along, but the leftist press is only part of the state’s problem.

Like Obama, Kasich is the shark in a bristling ecosystem of political suckerfish eager to help grow the welfare state.

“I guess for some people in Ohio, unless you are a card-carrying Nazi you can’t be a Republican,” a GOP lobbyist and Kasich advisor told The Daily Beast in an autumn story about intra-party strife.

“Conservatives all oppose Obamacare and Ohio’s Republican leaders have helped lead that opposition,” Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges said in a hilarious announcement the day Kasich made official his move to expand Medicaid over legislative opposition.

“On the separate matter of Medicaid, good conservatives have worked to make the program better and engage in a healthy debate on its future,” Borges added.

The Ohio Republican Party’s idea of “healthy debate” involves branding critics as secret Democrats and instructing party faithful to blacklist them.

Probably the first obvious red flag of Kasich’s tenure was when the governor created JobsOhio, a secretive, publicly-funded nonprofit later described inFortune as an “Obama-like jobs plan.”

Before spending most of 2013 pushing Medicaid expansion, Gov. Kasich was using Obama-worthy class warfare rhetoric to hawk a tax hike on fracking.

In 2012, Kasich toured Ohio promising his fracking tax proposal would redistribute money from rich, out-of-state Big Oil companies in the name of fairness and job creation.

Sure, Kasich’s plan – which the legislature and industry now tepidly support, after watching him ram through Medicaid expansion – would also hit Appalachian landowners, but Gov. Kasich cares about personal property rights about as much as President Obama does.

On school choice, the Second Amendment, and the rights of the unborn, Kasich has signed some good policies sent to his desk by a legislature pushed in the right direction by Ohio taxpayers… but even excluding Medicaid expansion, both of Kasich’s budgets have increased the reach and cost of the State.

Lately, it seems the main difference between John Kasich and Barack Obama is that Obama doesn’t claim to be a limited-government conservative.

Gov. John Kasich’s Medicaid expansion is a faith-based mistake

Cross-posted from Washington Examiner.

Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich seems to have settled on “it’s what God wants” as his best talking point for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which he has been fighting to implement for more than eight months.

In his State of the State address in February, Kasich cited his “personal faith” and lessons “from the Good Book” as driving forces behind his embrace of the Obamacare expansion.

Kasich made it clear he viewed Ohio’s options as expanding Medicaid or leaving the poor “out in the street. The Lord doesn’t want us to ignore them.”

Discussing Medicaid expansion with reporters in June, Kasich said he had told a conservative legislator that Saint Peter is “probably not gonna ask you much about what you did about keeping government small, but he’s going to ask you what you did for the poor.”

Ohio’s traditional media treated as a charming personal anecdote the governor’s warning that opposing him on Obamacare could mean an eternity in hell.

During an August radio interview, Kasich again insisted the Bible demands bigger government to serve the poor, adding, “we have to help them, and we’re expected to do that, and I believe the Lord expects us to do that.”

He reiterated the message with an “it’s what the Lord wants” comment during a September response to Medicaid expansion questions from statehouse reporters.

At an annual “Celebration of Goodness” luncheon in Cleveland on Sept. 12, Kasich was honored for supporting Medicaid expansion and for working with Cleveland’s Democratic mayor on school reform.

After singling out a local legislator who hadn’t fallen in line for the Obamacare expansion, Kasich said, “we need this program because we need to treat the addicted, and we need this program because we need to treat the mentally ill, and we need this program because we need to treat and help the working poor get comprehensive health care.”

Kasich said “all these decisions are, frankly, pretty easy for me,” then said “the Lord created the world, and He created us, men and women, to manage that creation.”

Kasich spoke at length of the need “to repair that creation in whatever way we can,” describing a broken world he seeks to fix with increased entitlement spending.

The former congressman who was elected Ohio’s governor in 2010 — who said at the beginning of that election year that he “was in the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party” — would be appalled at Kasich’s use of Christianity to validate his generosity by increasing the reach and cost of state government.

On Sept. 12, Kasich mentioned studying “the great theologians throughout history,” but late 20th century philosopher Puff Daddy best justified Kasich’s push for Medicaid expansion: It’s all about the Benjamins.

For the next three years, Obamacare promises to pay 100 percent of the coverage costs for newly eligible Medicaid recipients in states that agree to the law’s Medicaid expansion. The federal government will supposedly pay 90 percent of states’ expansion costs into perpetuity.

Concurrent with his “compassionate” equation of coercion with charity, Kasich has deceptively warned that Ohio’s Medicaid expansion dollars will go to other states if the Buckeye State rejects the expansion.

Kasich also falsely claims the billions in new federal funding Ohio could secure through compliance with Obamacare would be made up entirely of “Ohio’s tax dollars.”

Kasich’s arguments have won the hearts and minds of the media, at least. Across Ohio, reporters have spent the past seven months belting “The Battle Hymn of The Bankrupt Republic”:

“We love to tell the story of more gover’ment free stuff;

“While the bill goes to somebody else, the karma comes to us …”

Because the press shares his new-found faith in big government, Kasich is cheered as the victor in a debate that hasn’t taken place.

The Columbus Dispatch is even encouraging the governor to circumvent the General Assembly, expanding Medicaid by executive order and then asking the state Controlling Board to appropriate the resulting Obamacare funds — which may be illegal, but seems the path Columbus insiders now expect Kasich to take.

Although Kasich’s crusade for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion is backed by the traditional media and an army of lobbying groups, the governor’s sudden interest in a federal balanced budget amendment suggests his advisers realize he has damaged his credibility for 2014 and beyond.

While a balanced budget amendment is a great topic for a presumed presidential hopeful to discuss on national talk shows, in Ohio, the campaign serves to highlight how far Kasich has strayed from his stated principles by using pseudo-Christian emotional blackmail to enact a vast expansion of the welfare state.

The incoherence of John Kasich’s cave-in on Obamacare

Cross-posted from Rare.

Voters who treat politics as a process of picking and then sticking with a party or politician rather than wrestling with principles should consider the cautionary tale of Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Gov. Kasich was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010. “I think I was in the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party,” Kasich – a plainspoken critic of Obamacare, leftist labor unions, and big government in all its forms – told Ohioans in January 2010.

If John Kasich was the first arrival to the Tea Party, he certainly wasn’t the last to leave.

Since signing a repeal of Ohio’s death tax, battling a union smear campaign against public union reform, and balancing the budget without hiking taxes in 2011, Kasich has devoted most of his energy to the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, a tax hike on fracking, and picking winners and losers via JobsOhio.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the governor is privately promising union bosses he will oppose citizens’ efforts to make Ohio a Right to Work state, though both Indiana and Michigan adopted Right to Work in 2012.

On Medicaid expansion, Team Kasich has offered sad leftist talking points in lieu of any coherent argument. The expansion is a key component of Obamacare, but Kasich insists he opposes Obamacare while simultaneously pressuring legislators to embrace the law’s Medicaid expansion.

Kasich is so eager for billions in promised funding from a federal government nearly $17 trillion in debt, he’s willing to saddle Ohioans with hundreds of millions per year in new Medicaid costs – despite his professed disdain for deficit spending.

Gov. Kasich now emphasizes the importance of the State caring for “the least among us,” as if forcing taxpayers to expand a broken, unsustainable entitlement program is the moral equivalent to charity.

Kasich has even suggested legislators will be denied entry to Heaven if they don’t vote for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

With Ohio’s economy slowly rebounding from years of devastating job losses, how much credit should be given to Kasich and how much to the General Assembly is up for debate.

A number of facts, however, are beyond question: State spending has grown dramatically since Kasich took office; Kasich has sought to redistribute energy company earnings for nakedly political reasons; Kasich is fighting to implement the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

That’s not to say Gov. Kasich has done nothing to advance the cause of liberty, but how much good policy would it take to balance the impact of Medicaid expansion alone?

Like so many Republicans before him, John Kasich seems happy to serve as standard-bearer for a political philosophy whose central tenets are contradictory: a limited government, but not so limited that it doesn’t care.

If you’re curious as to the extent of Kasich’s control over the Ohio Republican Party, ask a state or local party official about the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Instead of a debate over any of the substantive issues conservatives have raised in the past six months, you’ll be met with debunked Kasich Administration rhetoric and instructions to ignore malcontents who disagree with the governor.

Medicaid Expansion: Beating a Trojan Horse

Who would have guessed so many states that sued DC for the freedom to opt out of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion would even consider opening their gates for new entitlement funding from a government that’s effectively bankrupt?

To describe the arguments for Medicaid expansion as “bad” would be like calling Oedipus Rex “kind of a downer.” Consider the latest example from here in the Buckeye State: “Medicaid expansion would cost Ohio less than doing nothing, study shows.”

That’s not a satirical blurb I made up to mock liberals – that’s a headline from The Columbus Dispatch, the most influential newspaper in the state.

See, in January the Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cincinnati Enquirer, Toledo Blade, and Akron Beacon Journal each endorsed the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, and every paper did so while leaning on projections from a Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) study.

The January HPIO study was a shining tribute to The Broken Window Fallacy, framing Obamacare funding as free money that would create jobs and pump up tax revenues in the state.

Through some combination of ideology and ignorance, the editorial boards all agreed HPIO’s study proved Governor John Kasich, supposedly a small-government conservative, had made a bold, pragmatic choice by caving to Obamacare – and it showed in each paper’s news coverage.

Fast forward to the August legislative recess, after “flint-hearted,” “off-the-chart right” House Republicans dashed the hopes of Gov. Kasich, progressive activists, the hospital lobby, the Chamber of Commerce, and the media by stripping the Obamacare Medicaid expansion from Kasich’s biennial budget.

The big papers have ensured no criticism of Medicaid expansion sees the light of day in theirreputable publications, but in a state where all 88 counties voted for a Healthcare Freedom Amendment in 2011, the Obamacare Trojan horse needs a little extra varnish.

What better way to rustle up support for a key component of President Obama’s imploding health law than with another HPIO study founded on ridiculous fallacies?

The Plain Dealer editors have openly encouraged “casting Medicaid expansion as Medicaid reform,” telegraphing which lies Obamacare advocates should tell. This month, HPIO delivered with a report designed for muddling Medicaid expansion and Medicaid reform in the minds of low-information voters.

In its new study, HPIO compared Ohio’s estimated future Medicaid spending with two scenarios that both assumed Ohio adopts the Obamacare expansion while putting ambitious caps on Medicaid spending growth.

The study concluded that by holding spending growth far below its expected trend, Ohio could save enough money to cover the cost of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion… and the press reported this as “YOU GUYS, expanding Medicaid would save money!”

Think about that: Ohio reporters think Ohioans are so stupid, we’ll believe it would cost less than nothing to expand Medicaid to unknown hundreds of thousands of able-bodied childless adults under the age of 65.

Unfortunately for Obamacare backers and the state-worshiping press, it gets easier every day for citizens to find information online, check competing arguments for themselves, and reach out to friends, family, and their elected officials with what they learn.

This story was originally published at FreedomWorks.