The Agenda

The Limits of Kasichism

Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s popularity has soared as he has cut taxes and placed a heavier emphasis on bettering the lives of the poor. It’s not clear to me that Kasich is hitting the right note. His early efforts to limit collective bargaining rights for public employees were rolled back by an effective union-led campaign, and he now seems to have abandoned his efforts on this front. While some conservatives are incensed by his embrace of Medicaid expansion, I see Kasich’s retreat on public sector reform to be his real failure. Kasich has yet to find a really coherent message: if you care about the poor, you also have to care about delivering public services cost-effectively. So while I applaud some aspects of Kasich’s message, like when he told a group of Republican donors that “we have to use government to reach out to people living in the shadows,” he should spend less time congratulating himself and more time taking a page from Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana, who (among other things) reformed his state’s Medicaid program by encouraging cost-consciousness among beneficiaries. 

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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