Five other Republican Governors are in the second-to-worst class of offenders. John Kasich of Ohio, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Terry Branstad of Iowa, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and Rick Scott of Florida lead states that George W. Bush was able to carry. These are not die-hard blue states, but their governors are acting like blue-state governors by accepting Obamacare’s invitation to expand Medicaid. (Florida’s legislature has thus far succeeded in blocking Scott’s attempt at expansion, but the same sadly can’t be said elsewhere.)
Let’s be clear about what’s at stake. The Medicaid expansion is absolutely central to Obamacare. It will cost federal taxpayers at least $800 billion over the next ten years. Obamacare raises taxes by $500 billion in order to (help) pay for the expansion. Although Obamacare’s individual mandate has attracted most of the attention, there’s nothing about Obamacare, from the perspective of those of us who think government taxes too much and spends too much, that is worse than the Medicaid expansion.
Republican Governors who want to expand Medicaid make two arguments. First, they say that a rejection of the Medicaid expansion in their states would mean that federal tax dollars from their citizens fund the expansion in other states. But that’s only true if there are other states that expand. If all 30 Republican governors joined with the Democratic governors of Montana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia (5 red states that voted for Romney), there would only be 15 states expanding Medicaid – which would save federal taxpayers in all 50 states hundreds of billions of dollars.
Second, at least one Republican Governor, John Kasich, has argued that rejecting the Medicaid expansion is un-Christian. Kasich told an interviewer that “we will be held accountable” by God for not expanding Medicaid because “the right way to live is to make sure that those who do not have the blessings that we have, those who are beleaguered, those who have fallen on hard times – we can’t ignore them. We have to help them. And we’re expected to do that, and I believe the Lord expects us to do that. And it’s spelled out pretty clearly in that Old and New Testament, consistently.”
Unlike John Kasich, I’ll let the Lord speak for himself, but I have three questions for Kasich and governors like him. If spending $800 billion by a government already $17 trillion in debt is actually some kind of Eleventh Commandment prescribed by the Almighty, as Reverend Kasich apparently believes, why did Kasich campaign in 2010 in favor of repealing all of Obamacare? Why did he support a suit by 26 states in 2011 challenging the Medicaid expansion’s legality? And since nothing in “that Old and New Testament” changed between then and his Come-to-Obama moment, what did?