In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich appeared to go full apostate on the issue of Obamacare. Not only did Kasich say that Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act are unlikely to bear fruit, he added that they were misguided.
When asked by AP reporters while campaigning for election as Ohio’s governor whether Republicans would eventually be successful in repealing the Affordable Care Act, Kasich suggested that GOP members of Congress were just spinning their wheels.
“That’s not gonna happen,” Kasich reportedly said of repealing the ACA. He went on to apparently endorse the law:
“The opposition to it was really either political or ideological,” the Republican governor added. “I don’t think that holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people’s lives.”
As you can expect, all hell was raised by conservative Kasich-backers, many of whom are planning to head to the polls in November to reelect the governor. Many on the right already believed that Kasich’s opposition to the ACA was never especially firm, particularly considering his administration’s decision to accept Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. His statements to the AP only confirmed their suspicions that the Ohio governor’s anti-ACA zeal was decidedly lacking.
Clearly, the damage done to the Buckeye State governor was significant enough for him to take to Twitter and backpedal:
The AP got it wrong. Ohio said NO to the Obamacare exchange for a reason. As always, my position is that we need to repeal and replace.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) October 20, 2014
What’s more, Kasich promised that he had just concluded a media blitz in the effort to undo the harm he claimed AP’s shoddy reporting had done.
Spent my night talking to the NYT, WSJ & Politico. Why? Because the AP screwed up. Let me make my position simple. Repeal Obamacare.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) October 21, 2014
The Associated Press subsequently updated its post to reflect that Kasich insisted that he was only talking about the Medicaid expansion associated with the ACA and not the health care reform law itself:
Kasich called The Associated Press Monday night to clarify that he was speaking specifically about a repeal of Medicaid expansion and not of the entire Affordable Care Act __ although opponents in Washington don’t usually draw such distinctions.
The rest of the AP story, which used Kasich’s quote as a launching pad from which to expound on the myriad benefits the nation’s poor and disadvantaged are receiving from Obamacare, remains unchanged.
So, who is telling the truth? In fact, Kasich probably deserves the benefit of the doubt. AP’s admission that the Beltway does not make a distinction between the deeply unpopular ACA and the relatively popular Medicaid expansion rings true, because to do so is to concede that Obamacare can be dismantled and effectively repealed.
In fact, The Washington Post’s WonkBlog is out today with a post insisting that Kasich is wrong and there is no distinction between Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion. That post essentially makes the AP’s point for them: The press inside the Acela Corridor regards Obamacare as one indivisible entity.
Conservatives who would like to see the ACA torn out root and branch, Medicaid expansion included, will not be satisfied by Kasich’s decision to draw a distinction between the massive Affordable Care Act and the expansion of state-level entitlements. Apparently, Beltway media types were equally frustrated by Kasich’s phrasing. The distinction he raised, however, is a valid one to draw. Republicans who hope to advance repeal efforts after Barack Obama leaves office will one day have to contend with the fact that no governor – Democrat or Republican – is going to be willing to un-ring the Medicaid expansion bell.