CLEVELAND, Ohio — Sitting in the FOX 8 studios, Governor John Kasich makes it clear that his efforts to try to pass Medicaid expansion in Ohio are personal.
“And I want those who are sometimes the most destitute to know,” he said, “that John Kasich cares about them, and I’m expected in my lifetime to do something to help folks who sometimes don’t get helped, or get ignored, and that’s not right.”
Kasich wants the Ohio legislature to pass so-called “Medicaid expansion.” He said doing so will bring $13 billion in tax money back to Ohio to help the poor, the addicted and the mentally ill.
The governor is meeting resistance from fellow Republicans who believe the federal government can’t afford the program, and that buying in now may mean the state gets hit with unexpected costs later.
The expansion plan also came from President Obama’s health care reform, which had no GOP support on Capitol Hill.
Kasich said he doesn’t care if the idea started with the Obama administration.
“My most important mission now is to show conservatives, the party…that when you strengthen an economy, and some of us are doing better, it is essential that we begin to figure out how to help people who are not doing better,” he said.
Kasich would not predict victory, but said if “over time, people continue to express their concern, the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Cleveland Metro…if the pressure stays on, I’m hoping the argument will be won.”
The governor also defended his proposal to pay for a proposed state income tax cut with a sales, or consumption tax, on everything from haircuts to financial services.
He said the income tax cut makes the state more competitive, which should grow jobs.
“Why do you tax consumption? Because consumption is about two-thirds of the business that goes in the state,” he said.
“I’m open to other ways to get there,” Kasich said. “I just want to make sure that income taxes are lower, and small businesses can be helped.”
The governor defended the state’s decision to appeal a judge’s ruling that some business in Ohio had been overcharged $859 million in workers comp premiums.
But he said workers comp now has a surplus and “in a relatively short order, I believe we will see some real relief for all businesses.”
Asked about a potential race next year against expected opponent Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, Kasich said all elections are “a judgment on how the incumbent performed.”
“I’m a golfer,” he said, “and I don’t pay attention to what anyone else is doing on the golf course.”
Asked about a potential run for national office, Kasich dismissed it without ruling it out.
But he added, “If my wife heard you even ask that question, you’d probably get a phone call. And it wouldn’t be a pleasant one.”