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This Republican Just Made the Best Obamacare Pitch of Any Politician

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

See if you can guess who just made this statement about Obamacare:

The opposition to it was really either political or ideological. I don't think that holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people's lives.

Was it Barack Obama?

Nancy Pelosi?

Paul Krugman?

Actually, it was John Kasich, governor of Ohio, during an interview with the Associated Press. He's a Republican, in case you didn't know.

Kasich later clarified to Politico that he was speaking not about the Affordable Care Act as a whole, which he continues to oppose, but simply about the law's expansion of Medicaid. And, to be clear, it wouldn't be the first time Kasich has done that. Kasich fought hard to have his state participate in the Medicaid expansion—eventually circumventing the state legislature to get it done. But in the same interview, when asked about repeal of the law, Kasich said flatly "that's not gonna happen." 

Such non-hysterical talk about Obamacare is heresy on the political right, although it shouldn't be. It’s easy to forget, but the basic idea of Obamacare—a system of competing private insurance plans, with subsidies to help lower income people pay them—used to have the support from many conservatives. Many of the law’s features, like a cap on the tax exemption for group health insurance, remain popular on the right. And while Republicans don't typically like Medicaid, there's a long history of Republican governors working with Washington to implement the program in ways that ultimately benefit their states.

The reason you don’t hear more praise like this from Republicans is largely political (it’s Obama’s law) and ideological (it involves some government intervention)—which, of course, was precisely Kasich’s point.

Update: I added material from the Politico interview, which appeared later in the day.