It was a bit of political theater with an unexpected twist and a huge dose of public policy for wonks – an example of local politics and the effectiveness of grassroots in action. Chris Littleton was guest speaker at a meeting in Rep. Peter Beck’s district to present “A Case against KasichCare”, a plan to block Governor Kasich’s proposal to voluntarily advance Obamacare in Ohio.
Stacks of precinct walk lists, maps, KasichCare flyers, sign-up sheets, phone lists, scripts, and postcards were prepared and organized – ready to paper Beck’s district.
Rep. Beck unexpectedly arrived, moments before the meeting began, accompanied by his wife Carla.
Why schedule a meeting in Mason if Rep. Peter Beck is “not for Medicaid expansion”? “Why the rush”?
As of Monday morning, Rep. Beck’s vote was “firmly” in the “squish” column according to those tracking votes in committee. Voters in Beck’s district have received recent fundraising mail to oppose Obamacare in Ohio.
There is a line of distinction between “not for Medicaid expansion” and not voting for Medicaid expansion.
Lipstick on a pig. Republicans are reportedly studying new plans, which are considered back door methods to implement Obamacare.
Previously, Beck privately described the budget process as complicated and discussed other pilot plans – such as Texas and Arkansas
Columbus wants “free money” from DC – and they’re looking for another vehicle.
Beck’s vote in the House Finance and Appropriations Committee is central to the outcome of the debate whether Ohio will accept federal tax dollars for Obamacare in Ohio.
With four days lead time for planning, forty motivated healthcare freedom supporters turned out for a last-minute March 25 meeting in Beck’s district despite snow and cold weather, to urge him to vote “no”.
The State House was well-represented by two other republicans from southwest Ohio back in district for spring break – Representatives Ron Maag and John Becker who have publicly said they will vote “no”.
Kasich appointee and former State Rep and Senator Gary Cates also attended.
Beck, seated in back, listened intently during Littleton’s presentation and addressed the group at the conclusion.
Littleton pointed out how many people in the room collected signatures for the Healthcare Freedom Amendment. Nearly every hand went up.
Legislators have seen the power of the anti-Obamacare movement in Ohio with passage of the Healthcare Freedom Amendment.
Littleton demonstrated the feasibility of replacing state reps in primaries, especially with cutting edge data and technology in gerrymandered single party districts. He compared the number of primary votes needed to replace a state rep versus the number of Healthcare Freedom Amendment signatures in a rep’s district.
Phone calls to Beck’s district shows 9 out of 10 hard core primary voters don’t like Medicaid expansion. It is “super voters” who determine primaries.
Littleton on Republicans’ view of conservatives, especially the Tea Party:
“They take you guys for granted. They expect you to vote Republican. That’s the problem. “
Littleton, always on his game, gave one of his best presentations, weaving facts and conviction with educated political forecasting and opinion. He rattled off statistics, policy, and legislation while the group attentively listened for seventy minutes before Q & A.
He pointed out deficiencies in Kasich’s budget:
- Kasich’s budget up 10% from last year – 24% total increase over term of administration
- Federal government is monetizing debt – we can’t afford it
- Predatory taxation and wealth redistribution – severance tax increased by 400%, Medicaid expansion
- Republican state house and senate with “super majorities”. Would this happen if the governor was a democrat?
- Medicaid is Ohio’s number one budget item
- Studies reflect outcomes for Medicaid recipients are worse than if they had no insurance
- Federal bureaucracy controls funding for Medicaid
- Conflicting estimates for number of enrollees and costs
- Kasich won’t be in office when the program is actually implemented -short term political gain
According to Littleton, “the political football of the moment is”:
“This budget is a house of cards. Kasich has created unnecessary holes…he pulled the money from them (hospitals) that was already allotted to them in the state budget, created an $800 million hole that didn’t need to exist..…I’m going to restructure the way this is done. John Kasich didn’t need to take that money away…”
“He’s increasing spending and trying to backfill it with federal money.”
“The real problem is, if he doesn’t get Obamacare money, the whole budget collapses.”
“It’s about $500 million unstructured. He has to have the federal money.”
The House Republican Caucus reportedly held a March 20 meeting “to count votes”. The state legislature is out of session for spring break. The Finance and Appropriations Committee will resume debate and vote on Kasich’s budget the week of April 8. Full floor vote on the budget is scheduled for April 18.
Word from Columbus is Beck and other representatives are under extreme pressure from leadership and the Kasich administration
Republicans in key positions of leadership in the House are supporting the Governor’s budget plan to expand Medicaid and Obamacare in Ohio. One can only wonder if they are too close to the Kasich administration, if they want advancement of their political career in the party, and what tactics are used to earn their support.
75% of Medicaid recipients are Democrats (Opportunity Ohio p.17). What happens if Ohio permanently becomes a blue state- no Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio.
Republicans may vote themselves permanently out of a job .
Excerpts from Rep. Beck’s comments:
- “We haven’t cut spending at the federal level; we’re not cutting it at the state level”
- “We have representatives that are out in other states right now looking at what those other states are doing…Texas, Arkansas, trying to see how they can bring that back to Ohio.”
- “Medicaid is woven into budget, it needs to come out.”
- “I know who I work for. I work for you. You guys put me in office. I know that and I have never forgotten it.”
- “It’s hard. We need your support.”
“When rubber meets the road” – Littleton questioned Rep. Beck on his vote.
Beck publicly stated he will vote no in committee, no on the budget floor vote, and no if Obamacare money is funding a pilot program.
Stories of the governor’s goon squad and trackers are legion across the state. It is tough for legislators to hold the line against the barrage of lobbyist pressure and Chicago-style politics in Columbus.
Regardless, if the stories are true, we are here to back that kind of leadership and support those who stand up for principles and free market solutions.
Rep. Beck needs to be supported for standing up.
Ohioans have already voted. We say no to federal money – we say no government takeover of healthcare in Ohio.