Governor John Kasich, a Republican seeking reelection in 2014, continued his push for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Medicaid expansion in Ohio with a June 2 USA Today op-ed noting that President Reagan expanded Medicaid in the 80s.
"After all, doesn't Reagan embody modern conservatism? He cut taxes, cut government red tape and fought the growth of entitlements," Kasich wrote. "Yes, he did all those things. However, he also expanded Medicaid, not just once but several times."
Even assuming that Ronald Reagan was the perfect embodiment of small-government conservatism, is it reasonable to assume the late president would adopt the PPACA Medicaid expansion if he were in Gov. Kasich's position today?
The following chart shows America's gross federal debt as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.
"We followed Ronald Reagan's lead and found ways to provide a better service at a lower cost," Gov. Kasich asserted. "First, Reagan was fiscally responsible, but he was also pragmatic and compassionate."
In 2012, the national debt equaled 103.2 percent of the country's economic output, more than triple the debt-to-GDP ratio of 33.4 percent the year President Reagan was elected and nearly double the debt-to-GDP ratio of 53.1 percent the year Reagan left office.
Federal entitlement spending equaled 10.2 percent of GDP in 1980, 9.9 percent of GDP in 1989, and 14.8 percent of GDP in 2012.
"That's why I have pushed to move forward with a plan to expand Medicaid while protecting Ohio's economic recovery," the governor continued, linking to an editorial from progressive Cleveland Plain Dealer editor Thomas Suddes and to a pair of entries at a leftist Washington Post blog for support.
On March 22, 2010, Kasich wrote, "In the end, the federal government will just rack up higher deficits and go deeper in debt, leaving future generations to pick up the tab. Ohio government spending will go up also, adding to an already bleak budget picture."
"Instead of letting states develop innovative solutions to their respective challenges, new federal mandates will require more Medicaid spending and stick states with large and unsustainable costs," the governor added.
His June 2 USA Today editorial was the latest attempt by Governor Kasich - who sought no input from free-market policy experts and has been aided by socialized medicine advocates - to dress up his decision to pursue billions in new funding with assurances of flexibility from the Obama Administration.
Since February, the governor has at various times insisted Ohio must embrace the PPACA Medicaid expansion to keep Ohio's federal tax dollars in the state, prevent other states from getting "Ohio's share" of PPACA funding, insulate hospitals from PPACA's charity care funding cuts, tend to the state's poor and mentally ill, insure our veterans, and boost our economy.
While arguing that Ohio should expand Medicaid, the governor has simultaneously claimed Ohio can back out of the expansion if DC reduces funding. Calling for a "temporary" Medicaid expansion or a permanent expansion with a "circuit breaker" to kick in when fiscal reality intrudes is hardly consistent with warnings that Ohio's citizens and hospitals need new entitlement spending.
Though Media Trackers has exposed severe logical or factual flaws in nearly all of the governor's talking points, Ohio's largest newspapers have endorsed the PPACA Medicaid expansion and have eagerly broadcast Governor Kasich's claims.
This story originally appeared at Media Trackers Ohio.