National Edition

Ohio GOP governor says 'there seems to be a war on the poor'

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 30 2013 9:45 a.m. MDT

John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, has taken aim at some of his fellow GOPers for their attempts to chip away at the social safety net, according to Trip Gabriel at the New York Times.

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John R. Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, has taken aim at some of his fellow GOPers for their attempts to chip away at the social safety net, according to Trip Gabriel at the New York Times.

“I’m concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor,” Kasich told Gabriel. “That if you’re poor, somehow you’re shiftless and lazy.”

“You know what?” he added. “The very people who complain ought to ask their grandparents if they worked at the W.P.A.”

Kasich frames his support of social programs as "a matter of Christian compassion," Gabriel wrote. Kasich's comments come as he attempts to defend his decision to accept the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. The Advisory Board Company, a health care research firm, provides an interactive map of the states that have accepted the Medicaid expansion.

According to Gabriel, Kasich's policies have balanced Republican priorities — he has signed legislation to decrease the power of public unions and restrict abortions — with support for programs aimed at helping the poor. Kasich argued that expanding Medicaid would help those who need mental health treatment, decreasing the homeless and prison populations.

"For those who live in the shadows of life, for those who are the least among us, I will not accept the fact that the most vulnerable in our state should be ignored," Kasich, whose brother is mentally ill, said in a February speech.

A Wall Street Journal editorial criticized Kasich's decision to expand Medicaid and his appeal to Christianity, calling his reasoning a "government-as-thy-brother's-keeper riff," and mockingly referring to him as "Apostle Kasich."

The WSJ editorial quoted Kasich as saying, "When you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he's probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor."

But expanding Medicaid is a mistake even under this logic, argued the editorial, saying, "St. Peter might recoil at a Medicaid program that reimburses doctors so poorly that fewer will take Medicaid patients and the quality of care is increasingly, well, poor."

"His behavior doesn't speak well for Mr. Kasich's governing judgment as he prepares to run for a higher office in 2016, and we don't mean the afterlife. Republicans get a vote before St. Peter does," it added.

But in the Times piece, Kasich showed no regret for accepting the Medicaid expansion. "I have an opportunity to do good, to lift people, and that’s what I’m going to do," he said. "You know what? Let the chips fall where they may."

Email: dmerling@deseretnews.com

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