No matter how Washington's balance of power swings on Election Day, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.
Just ask Ohio's Republican governor, John Kasich.
Regarding Republican promises to repeal the law? "It's not gonna happen," the potential 2016 GOP presidential contender told the Associated Press during a recent campaign stop.
Poised to win re-election by more than 20 points, Kasich is 1 of 9 Republican governors to quietly embrace Obamacare, accepting the law's offer of more federal money to expand Medicaid for people who can't afford private health insurance.
Opposition to accepting funds to cover the poor "was really either political or ideological," Kasich said. "I don't think that holds water against real flesh and blood and real improvements in people's lives."
But in the hours between when the comments were published Monday night and later, when they had gone viral, something changed. Kasich called Politico to "correct the record."
"You better believe [a Republican Senate is] gonna repeal Obamacare and I agree with that," he told Politico — a pretty stark turn from his earlier statement.
Kasich also suggested that Medicaid expansion, which he wants to keep, is not really "connected to Obamacare."
This ignores a long-term fiscal reality. Obamacare is about driving down costs — hence "Affordable Care Act" — to the point that lower-income Americans see an overwhelming financial benefit in buying insurance. That, in turn, lessens the burden on the government. With fewer unpaid bills to subsidize, more money becomes available to pay for things like expanded Medicaid.
So, saying you're against Obamacare but in favor of Medicaid expansion is like saying you love cheeseburgers, but would never eat dairy. It just doesn't make any sense.
Republicans are also missing out on the broader point: Obamacare is working for most people. An estimated 10 million to 12 million Americans are now insured either through the exchanges, Medicaid expansion or continued access to their parents' plans (which they can now stay on until age 26). Premiums for some of the most popular new plans are seeing a net decrease. So too is the basis for a rational opposition.
Kasich's desire is, on its face, implausible and irresponsible. But don't expect him, or any big-named Republicans, to change their tunes anytime soon. Most of them are sitting in good positions for the 2014 Elections.
This post has been updated.