On Entitlement Reform, Are Republicans All in This Together?
Recent statements by likely GOP presidential candidates indicate the answer may be no.
“Republican governors across the country, including several conservatives, couldn’t resist the siren song of federal dollars and chose to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare,” writes Stephen F. Hayes at The Weekly Standard. “The federal government promises to fully fund Medicaid expansion for three years, after which the federal dollars are phased out and states will be responsible for paying for the expanded program themselves.”
Those governors include John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey. Both argue they made the best of a bad policy situation. Former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas could also be added to the mix, since he has recently distanced himself from Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s entitlement reform package ahead of an anticipated presidential bid.
After three years of party unity – broadly speaking – on entitlement reform, Republican leaders seem to be charting different paths on how to tackle the issue. This can and should be a healthy exercise in deliberation and persuasion, precisely the kind of policy-centric debate so necessary in the primaries.
That is, if the conversation stays on topic. Kasich, for example, has already shown a willingness to demonize critics instead of responding with a better argument. To wit, when health policy expert Avik Roy asked Kasich how he could be against ObamaCare’s “top-down government” but support Medicaid’s version of the same, Kasich retorted, “Maybe you think we should put them [the poor] in prison. I don’t.”
Hillary Clinton’s attack machine couldn’t have said it better. For the good of the conservative movement, Kasich and the rest of the presumptive GOP presidential field should.