New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s advice to a constituent who was worried about Obamacare costs at a town hall meeting in Toms River was simply, “Elect a new president.” That constituent erupted in cheers, as did many others in attendance, and instantly Christie reinforced his intention to run for the White House in 2016.
This is significant because the Governor has come under heavy fire due to the ever-developing “Bridgegate” scandal and has been particularly mum on the issue lately. Christie’s announcement was about as subtle as a hammer, and he made it sound like if he was elected his plan for fixing Obamacare would be to repeal it.
“What we need to do is start over,” Christie said about the Affordable Care Act. He went after Obama, saying, “He’s dead wrong on this,” and then attacked the President’s delays for employer mandates when he said, “There’s a lot of things that are a part of Obamacare that he [Obama] has just unilaterally decided to delay for periods of time because he knows it’s not working.” Christie pulled back a little and made light of his own current scandal situation, saying, “The President made a mistake here and as a guy who is in these jobs [governing], mistakes get made.”
Christie’s lightness aside, his criticisms of the President’s health care law are interesting considering he has elected to approve Medicaid expansion under the ACA in New Jersey, which brings federal money into the state to sign up new enrollees. He’s not the only one.
The sizable lineup of Republican-governed states that have approved Medicaid include: Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Ohio. In addition, Tom Corbett, Governor of Pennsylvania, proposed a health reform package that would accept federal Medicaid funds, and Gary Herbert of Utah has said that doing nothing on expansion was not an option.
One governor that has not allowed expansion to take place in their state is Nikki Haley, Republican from South Carolina. Haley is facing an election this year, and her Democratic challenger, State Senator Vincent Sheheen, has made supporting Medicaid expansion in South Carolina a part of his platform. Because of this, the Republican Governor’s Association has bought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of air-time to run ads that attack Sheheen on that very issue. Chris Christie just happens to be the chairman of the RGA, and Nikki Haley sits on the executive committee. This has led Sheheen to release an open letter to Christie in which he criticizes the New Jersey Governor, writing, “You and I have the same position on this issue — keep our own federal tax dollars working for the people of our states.” Democrats have called the ads “hypocritical.”
Whether the ads are hypocritical or not, they will no doubt be effective on South Carolina voters, as the ACA remains a hot button issue in the 2014 cycle and surely for the presidential election in 2016. It seems clear that if he can survive scandals in New Jersey, Governor Christie will run in that race, asking Americans who are worried about Obamacare to elect him as the new president so he can potentially repeal the law.
Opinion By Matt Stinson