Clever moves weaken the rules

No clever way to summarize what happened Monday immediately is apparent.

“A switch in two saves … Medicaid expansion” is even farther away from rhyming than “A switch in time saved nine.” Plus, “legislating from the office chair” just doesn’t carry the same summary judgment as “legislating from the bench.”

The best we can do is criticize action Monday by Gov. John Kasich’s administration as “administrative activism.”

The governor again used a tactic employed by his counterpart in the Oval Office. President Barack Obama has used executive decisions to circumvent laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act. Monday, Kasich obtained Ohio Controlling Board approval for expanding Medicaid eligibility – at least temporarily at federal expense.

Two of the seven-member board’s GOP members – State Reps. Ron Amstutz of Wooster and Cliff Rosenberger of Clarksville – were replaced Monday by Republican State Reps. Jeff McClain of Upper Sandusky and Ross McGregor of Springfield.

The board then voted 5-2 to amend the state budget, and accept the federal funds.

Kasich used a similar strategy to fund JobsOhio. Ohio liquor profits could not be given to a private entity, so JobsOhio has a lease with the state to run Ohio’s liquor operations through a subsidiary, JobsOhio Beverage System. It sold bonds against those liquor revenues to raise money for its operating expenses.

Ironically, that move wouldn’t have been needed had the Ohio House acted on the proposal directly. But the Republican caucus didn’t bring it to a vote.

Sounds a bit like the Obama administration’s actions regarding aid to Egypt following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. Because aid would have to be suspended in the case of a military coup, the administration avoided applying that term to the change in office.

That’s choosing not to make a decision.

Our government isn’t meant to work this way. While this can circumvent obstructionism, it may contribute to the end of the seperation of powers as described in our constitutions.