Critical Condition

NRO’s health-care blog.

Schwarzenegger: The First (and Last) Republican Governor for Obamacare


Oh, the joys of being a Republican who has abandoned the principles of limited government but doesn’t have to face the voters again!

Unlike that other lapsed conservative, Florida governor Charlie Crist, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to leave politics after his term ends next year — but he can still cause plenty of harm in the meantime.

He’s just become the first Republican governor to endorse Obamacare and pledge that his state’s government will implement it, ASAP. Governor Schwarzenegger had previously criticized the “Cornhusker kickback” (which gave an extra Medicaid bailout to Nebraska), but not on principle. He just thought that the federal government should give the same kickback to every state — which it did in the “reconciliation” bill.

This has long been a pattern of Governor Schwarzenegger’s: When the spending gets tough, the tough go to D.C. for a federal bailout. In fact, Obamacare provides short-term gains for long-term pain. It’s brutal on state budgets, for any number of reasons. As Grace-Marie Turner discusses in the Wall Street Journal, the first challenge is newly instituted high-risk pools, for which Obamacare will send a huge tab to states. Then there’s the Medicaid expansion, which will impose even more costs on them. Furthermore, rich states get a bigger federal Medicaid bailout than poorer ones do. And states might even lose revenue from premium taxes on health plans, to boot.

What’s not to like?

Fortunately, both of governor Schwarzenegger’s likely successors as Republican governor of California, Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, have made strong commitments to support repeal of Obamacare and its replacement with real reform.

Governor Schwarzenegger will pass his final eight months in office pushing legislation in Sacramento that will sacrifice Californian patients’ choices and the state’s budget on the altar of Obamacare. One of Mr. Poizner’s or Ms. Whitman’s most critical tasks, as newly elected governor in January 2011, will be to unravel whatever harmful laws he manages to impose, and ensure that California is prepared to fully participate in the movement to repeal and reform Obamacare.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review