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Letters to the Editor

Right-thinking governors

Jo Davis March 13th, 2013

Ohio’s Republican governor, John Kasich, recently surprised most political pundits by changing his mind about expanding Medicaid. “I, as all of you know, am not a supporter of Obamacare,” Kasich explained at a press conference. “But I think this makes great sense for the state of Ohio.”

Democrats have been arguing for quite a while that Medicaid expansion is the only fiscally responsible path forward. Now their argument has been endorsed by Kasich, who has impeccable conservative credentials, since he is a former chairman of the House Budget Committee and a former Fox News analyst. Kasich built his political identity arguing for smaller government; now he finds himself at odds with the same conservatives who propelled him to victory in Ohio.

The issue for Kasich and others in his position is pretty straightforward: Do they choose ideology or reality? For much of the right, the only thing that matters is fighting against “Obamacare.” Whether it makes sense from a policy perspective is irrelevant. The goal is to preserve the integrity of a far-right conservative philosophy that seems to be entirely detached from practical considerations.

For governors, it’s not as easy to ignore the substance. Unlike right-wing activists, governors actually have responsibilities.

A speaker at the “Expand Medicaid” rally at the state Capitol last month used a simple analogy that really made sense to me. He said, “If someone told me that they were going to buy me a steak dinner for three nights, but on the fourth I would have to buy my own if I wanted one, I think I would be a fool to turn down those three steak dinners.” Perhaps the Republicans actually are concerned that creating healthier children, seniors and working people will be so cost-effective that they won’t be able to stop participating.

The conservative states of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and North Dakota and their Republican governors have also decided to take the practical approach and expand Medicaid. I think these governors realize that they actually have responsibilities to their constituents, and I applaud them for putting people before politics. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our governor would have the courage to do the same?

—Jo Davis, Shawnee

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