Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign is blowing up, in a good way. Soon, it’ll blow up in a not-so-good way.
Kasich’s record of promoting Obamacare is a time bomb likely to go off long before the first 2016 ballots are cast — even in New Hampshire, where Kasich’s poll numbers have risen rapidly.
In his latest Crystal Ball report, campaign analyst Larry Sabato alluded to this, despite listing Kasich as a “top-tier” candidate for the first time.
As Sabato and his staff put it, “an unlikely Kasich nomination would mean a win for the party’s least conservative voters.”
But those issues don't matter much, since Kasich has built his whole “compassionate” campaign around Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.
According to Kasich, Medicaid expansion is separate from Obamacare and is necessary to help “people who live in the shadows.” Ohio can afford it, he claims, because the economy is rebounding.
Kasich warns critics of his Obamacare expansion they're gambling with their souls by failing to understand the Bible or care about the poor the way he does. Even Ronald Reagan would support Obamacare!
It may sound like aisle-crossing pragmatism to the uninformed, but Kasich's Obamacare spin is a bulk order of nonsense. CNN host Jake Tapper's reaction during a May interview sums it up.
Obamacare expansion puts working-age adults with no kids and no disabilities on Medicaid, increasing federal welfare spending. It's responsible for two thirds of Ohio's total Obamacare enrollment.
Kasich says he wants to repeal Obamacare. Why would anyone believe him, when he's done more to promote Obamacare than any other Republican governor?
A few months later, Montana Republicans caved to Democrat Gov. Steve Bullock and voted to implement Obamacare expansion.
When Kasich talks about Medicaid expansion, he insists there's no argument against it. But he campaigned against it himself before the Supreme Court ruled that states could opt out.
A chance to deliver Obamacare money to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the hospital lobby proved too enticing for Kasich to pass up, even after the Ohio General Assembly voted it down.
Like all Republicans who decide more government is better than less, this made Kasich a hero in the eyes of the legacy press.
The rest is history, but it’s not a history Kasich tells at presidential campaign stops.
Kasich expected his Obamacare expansion to enroll 366,000 people by last month. It actually enrolled 609,000.
Kasich expected his Obamacare expansion to cost $2.56 billion by June. It wound up costing taxpayers more than $4 billion.
Kasich says his Obamacare expansion is paid for with $14 billion of “Ohio money.” It's really not.
Think these are numbers other Republican candidates might start mentioning? Think Kasich will keep his temper in check when he's challenged on the worst policy implemented in Ohio in 30 years?
Pundits who think, “he's from Ohio!” is a profound argument for putting Kasich on the Republican ticket either don't know or don't care that a vote for Kasich is a vote for Obamacare.
Based on polling conducted for the free-market Foundation for Government Accountability, Republicans in early primary states do care.
In New Hampshire, 45 percent of respondents to a July 2014 poll said they would be “very unlikely” to vote for a Republican primary candidate “who implemented ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion” in their state.
In Iowa, 49 percent said they would be very unlikely to vote for a Republican primary candidate who implemented Medicaid expansion. In South Carolina, 56 percent said the same.
Combining “very likely” and “somewhat likely” responses for each state, no more than 20 percent of Republican voters in New Hampshire, Iowa or South Carolina said they would vote for a primary candidate who expanded Medicaid.
Unless Republican voters suddenly decide they don't mind Obamacare's mammoth Medicaid expansion, Kasich is sunk — and the same goes for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
And, as if Kasich wasn't already begging for comparisons to center-left Republican Jon Huntsman's failed 2012 campaign, Kasich has staffed up with Huntsman '12 alumni.
Huntsman dropped out of the last presidential race after being embarrassed in New Hampshire. Kasich will be lucky to last that long, unless the rest of the Republican field decides to ignore him.