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May 31, 2018

Calling Out a Republican Entitlement Reform Hypocrite

One governor calls for Republicans to engage in reform after contributing to the problem.

An intriguing op-ed appeared in The Wall Street Journal this week, the subject of which — “Entitlements Will Eat America’s Economy” — is especially salient for our reckless, spendthrift lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The author, who chaired the House Budget Committee from 1995 to 2001, worryingly observes that “it’s been 17 years since lawmakers and the White House approved a spending plan that didn’t add to the national debt.” This particular guru was largely responsible for the last balanced budget. Fast-forward to today, and our current fiscal dilemma evokes a great deal of trepidation.

Noting that “Washington set a record … in 2017 by passing six short-term extensions in less than a year,” the author goes on to report: “The latest spending bill, approved in February, did more than continue to fund the federal government; it also set America on a course to add at least $1 trillion a year to the national debt by 2020. … It took almost 200 years for the federal government to accumulate its first $1 trillion in debt. The next $20 trillion took less than four decades.”

This is inexcusable, indeed, and the writer puts his finger on the only viable solution: “The answer is clear. Republicans and Democrats in Congress must put aside divisive (and pointless) sound-bite politics and at long last get serious about meaningful spending restraint and entitlement reforms. Those discussions should begin with proposals to deal with the costs of Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, which are the greatest contributors to spending and debt. Congressional leaders from both parties must pledge to vote on a package of meaningful reforms.”

Entitlements and welfare together siphon a huge proportion of government revenues, and they are projected to worsen significantly in the years and decades ahead. ObamaCare didn’t help — in fact, it made the fiscal situation before its implementation seem relatively tame. Sadly, many state governors, tempted by the inflow of federal dollars that would ensue, took the bait by expanding Medicaid. Even the Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, expanded Medicaid and became one of that program’s most ardent advocates. In February 2017, he stated that Medicaid expansion rollbacks represent “a very, very bad idea, because we cannot turn our back on the most vulnerable.”

Furthermore, as National Review’s Jason Hart noted in June 2017, “Kasich’s public-relations campaign for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion could wipe out whatever chance remains for Congress to pass a substantial Obamacare-repeal bill.” It apparently worked.

Which brings us full circle back to the Wall Street Journal op-ed. The author of that piece? Ohio Gov. John Kasich — the man who betrayed conservatives with his embrace of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion.

The biggest irony of all? If we are going to get our fiscal house in order, Republicans truly need budgetary and constitutional stalwarts, not drifters who check to see which way the political winds are blowing before making critical decisions. Gov. Kasich is symbolic of the latter, his faux conservative bromides on health care notwithstanding. If only he knew how to follow his own advice.

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