Kasich: People Shouldn’t Have Gotten ‘Worked Up’ Over Me Invoking St. Peter on Medicaid

Ohio Governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said that he doesn’t believe the Republican Party is waging a “war on the poor” and people “shouldn’t have gotten all worked up” over him invoking St. Peter to argue for Medicaid expansion on Tuesday’s “Hannity” on the Fox News Channel.

Kasich was asked, “Now, you were quoted in the New York Times as saying, about your party, the Republican Party, that’s waging a ‘war on the poor.’ When you accepted Medicaid expansion, you went out there and you talked about St. Peter at the pearly gates, he’s not going to ask me if I decreased the size of government, but whether I helped the poor. Do you really believe republicans are waging war on –” Kasich then jumped in, “No. But look, I don’t know where that came from.” After Hannity said the “war on the poor” line came from the New York Times. Kasich sarcastically answered, “Okay, well then it has to be true.”

He continued, “If you pick up like, Psalm 41, you know what the first couple lines are? It’s all about what — you’ll be remembered for what you do for the poor. Now, that doesn’t mean you just throw things at people and then that’s the end of it. You try help them get out of the ditch, but then hold them accountable. And that’s what we’re doing in this state.” Kasich also pointed to his work on welfare reform in Congress.

After touting his record taxes and budgets as both a member of Congress and Governor of Ohio, Kasich was asked, “When you went with Medicaid expansion, because you did say you’re against Obamacare, but you did expand Medicare and accept the money for Medicaid in your state. You got a lot of heat for that. And one of the reasons was, it was when you said the line about Peter at the pearly gates, etc. People were saying, ‘Oh, does that mean that anybody that disagreed with you maybe isn’t acting Christian?'”

Kasich responded, “Maybe they shouldn’t have gotten all worked up about that. But I’m not trying to question anybody else’s motivations, frankly. But here’s what I do believe Sean. First of all, we brought our money back to Ohio, 14 billion. And secondly, you know, when you treat the drug addicted, and get them on their feet, you save $22,500 a year because they’re in prison. I’d rather them be working, which is — we’re having success with that. The mentally ill, it’s disgraceful what we’ve done with the mentally ill. If you’re bipolar or schizophrenic, we put you in prison. No, we’re not going to do that, at a cost of $22,500. Or, if you’re the working poor, and you don’t have good health insurance. Guess where you go? The emergency room and then everybody here pays. Do you know that Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid, somebody told me two or three times. Did you know that? And he didn’t need Obamacare to do it.”

Kasich added that he does want to repeal Obamacare and that “many” of the Republican governments who refused Medicaid expansion were “tiptoeing into the water” on that issue.

He concluded, “Medicaid, frankly, has to be sent back to the states, and empower the states to deal with their poor. And I can tell you, all the governors would tell you, that if you give me my money back with fewer strings and let me be creative, I’ll take that deal. And I think that’s what we need to do. we need to empower people at the local level, not just with Medicaid, but with education, so many different things.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett