Op-Ed: Loose Talk About War with North Korea is Irresponsible

Gov. John Kasich recently authored an op-ed in the Washington Post about our need to exhaust all options with North Korea before our leaders start talking about the probability of war.

With tensions continuing to build between the United States and North Korea, there’s growing talk by politicians and TV pundits that we are on the brink of war. In truth, we shouldn’t be anywhere close.

This increasingly hot war of words — including loose talk about the probability of war — does nothing to bring us closer to where we need to be on North Korea, especially when military options short of war remain on the table. In fact, with millions of lives at stake, waging a war of words is a distraction from the serious task at hand. Any kind of war — especially nuclear war — should not be an option until all other options are exhausted. And, in the case of North Korea, there are several roads not yet taken.

First, North Korea is not, as some claim, “sanctioned-out.” We are nowhere near to applying the same type of restraints on North Korea that were successful in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.

In fact, the breadth of sanctions we have placed on North Korea to date are far less than what was applied in earlier crises on Russia, Syria and Iran. While our sanctions on North Korea have clearly escalated, we still have the option to penalize and seize the assets of North Korea’s enablers in other countries that enable Pyongyang to evade the full brunt of financial measures. We can expand our focus on shipping and work with our allies to deny maritime insurance to the vessels heading to or from North Korea. Last month, we targeted sanctions on 20 such vessels. Many more North Korean vessels are active and engaged in illicit activities beyond the small number designated by the Treasury Department.

We also can do more to expose those who use North Korean slave labor and to block any remittances back to Kim Jong Un’s regime.

Second, none of this will work without more pressure to hold the reluctant Chinese government accountable for the commitments it has made and to target more Chinese entities that support the North Korean government. The overwhelming majority of North Korea’s trade — 90 percent — is with or facilitated by China, and despite agreed-upon U.N. sanctions, much of this economic activity continues. Actions should include targeting a greater number of Chinese banks that deal with North Korea, fining their U.S. subsidiaries and freezing their U.S. assets.

This year, the international banking transaction network, known as SWIFT, moved to prevent North Korean banks from using the global messaging system to facilitate international transactions, but that doesn’t impact Chinese banks that transact for the North Koreans. We should consider expanding this ban to include Chinese banks with any North Korean connections.

Finally, we need to ask: Where are our allies on all of this? Instead of threatening a bilateral war between the United States and the North Korea, we should be working with allies — including South Korea and Japan — to threaten increased multilateral pressure to choke the North Korean regime. While economic sanctions have not proved to be effective yet, they have not been fully exhausted and tested. Part of the reason the previous administration succeeded in bringing Iran to the table — regardless of the flaws of their final deal — was due to internationally coordinated sanctions. Thankfully, the U.N. Security Council has adopted three rounds of such sanctions this year, including significant measures last week.

With millions of lives hanging in the balance, the last thing we need is to have politicians and pundits predicting odds on the probability of war. It’s neither an accurate nor a helpful way to treat a complex international challenge.

You can read the original op-ed (here).

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TIME Op-Ed (Govs. Kasich & Hickenlooper): A Bipartisan Approach to Stabilizing Our Nation’s Health Insurance System

Gov. John Kasich and Gov. John Hickenlooper were recently joined by six other governors, Republicans, Democrats and Independent, in announcing a bipartisan and fair blueprint health care fix. You can learn more (here).

They also authored a TIME op-ed about this important issue:

A Bipartisan Approach to Stabilizing Our Nation’s Health Insurance System

By: John R. Kasich, John W. Hickenlooper

As recently as late July, Congress appeared at the end of the health care road with its one-way, one-sided, closed-door approach to repairing the Affordable Care Act. Now, little more than a month since failing to move forward with their partisan efforts, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are working together on something all sides can agree upon: restoring stability to our individual health insurance markets.

This is an obvious place to start. Nearly 22 million Americans are caught up in the volatility of the individual health insurance market. Many are struggling to afford coverage and often have a limited menu of plans to buy on their exchange.

We have been working for months — on both sides of the aisle — to create a framework to build an improved health insurance system that is available and affordable to every American. While we are not telling Congress what to do, we think Governors have a unique perspective on what works and on how we can collaborate on a solution.

The first step Congress will hopefully take is immediate action to stabilize the health insurance markets. Health insurance carriers are facing an October 1st deadline to commit to participating in the exchanges, so there’s little time to waste. Insurers need to know that the exchanges will be viable into the future, and both the legislature and the Trump Administration can play a part in sending that signal. This would include a commitment by the White House and Congress to continue cost-sharing subsidies in the near term.

This also means leaving in place the individual mandate, temporarily. This provision is unpopular, but it is a major factor in encouraging healthy young people to get coverage and avoiding a collapse in the marketplace. The individual mandate should remain until the federal government can develop an equally effective approach, or until states can develop their own customized approaches within existing guardrails like preserving recent coverage gains and controlling cost.

Other crucial reforms to stabilize markets include creating a temporary, two-year stability fund that states can use to minimize market disruption during the transition to a longer-term solution. We also must support and strengthen federal risk-sharing programs and fix the “family glitch,” which leaves too many working families without access to affordable coverage.

Meanwhile, Congress should work to encourage more insurers to enter the health insurance markets in areas where there is only one insurance option. Until other reforms take hold to change the dynamics in today’s market, Congress could exempt insurers entering underserved areas from the health insurance tax — or allow residents in underserved counties the option for coverage through the Federal Employee Benefit Program.

As Washington begins to stabilize markets, states will step in with additional reform strategies to bring longer-term stability to markets. In many cases, states already have the ability to make significant improvements but have chosen not to do so in light of the uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act. There is no shortage of good reform ideas for states to achieve this. This will create larger, more stable insurance pools and reduce costs.

Despite the ability of states to put in motion needed improvements, in some cases innovation is being stifled because of federal regulations and the constraints within the Affordable Care Act. That’s why the federal government should work with states to improve the regulatory environment. Most importantly, the federal waiver process needs to be streamlined to allow states greater flexibility in pursuing innovative strategies to preserve coverage, cut costs and strengthen our nation’s health insurance markets.

Finally, we need reforms that encourage innovation. Consumers need more information about the price and quality of health care services, and we should create new tools to make meaningful information available. As important, the federal government should do more to move the system away from an outdated, fee-for-service model that rewards more care, toward a value-based system that rewards better care. By providing incentives for better care, we can begin to fix the rising cost of health care and improve health outcomes. This is already beginning to happen in our states, where we are increasing access to comprehensive primary care and rewarding specialists who focus on quality over quantity.

It’s encouraging to see both parties coming together — especially after a tumultuous and divisive spring and summer. By listening to each other and working together, we can move steadily toward quality health insurance that is available and affordable for every American.

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Gov. John Kasich Op-Ed: The Time for Bipartisanship is Now

In Gov. Kasich’s latest op-ed, he writes in CNN about how America is stronger when we work together to face our challenges:

Americans are relying on leaders in Washington to fix our health care problems, but if recent history is any indication, the search for solutions in the current environment will inevitably lead to an unproductive partisan standoff. Hopefully, members of Congress will learn from their turbulent town hall meetings that the American people are finally having their fill of that gridlock.

Sadly, the health care debate is but one battle in what seems to be an endless partisan war, and the battlefields are every issue of importance facing our nation — from the economy to foreign policy. How did things get so off track?

It wasn’t always this way. When I was chairman of the House Budget Committee in the 1990s, we were able to reform Pentagon spending, pass welfare reform and balance the federal budget for the first time in decades and largely because Democrats and Republicans made a commitment to work together. We disagreed and debated, but at the end of the day we agreed to meaningful reforms that strengthened our country. That change was possible only with bipartisan support.

In more recent times, as governor of Ohio, I’ve seen the same kind of across-the-aisle approach lead to positive progress in addressing some of our state’s most perplexing problems: police-community relations, human trafficking, infant mortality, underperforming schools, highway infrastructure, skyrocketing college tuition and so many others.

And yes, unlike Washington, we’ve even made progress with health care reform, within the framework we’re given by federal law. One of my first steps as governor was to reform Medicaid and rein in costs. Working with both sides of the aisle in our state legislature, we have been able to bend the cost curve of Medicaid from more than 9% annual growth to below 3%.

Today, we’re providing better care, Ohio’s Medicaid program is stable, per-member spending is flat over six years, and we’ve been able to extend health care coverage to more than 700,000 low-income adults.

Health care is not a Republican or Democrat problem. And there isn’t a strictly one-sided, partisan solution. We’ve shown in Ohio that tough problems can be resolved if people work together. That approach can and should be a model for Washington.

To resolve the current health care stalemate, Senate Republicans should reach out across the aisle, and their Democrat colleagues should accept the opportunity to achieve a lasting solution to these issues. If both sides choose to work together, we can fix America’s health care system in a way that preserves coverage, stabilizes the market, reforms Medicaid and controls costs. Let Ohio and other states show the way.

On health care reform and a myriad of other issues facing our nation, it’s time for Republicans and Democrats to come together, end the civil war in Washington and fight for all Americans.

Progress on health care can set a pattern for bipartisan cooperation on all the other problems that Americans so desperately want Washington to get off their partisan backsides and resolve.

You can read the original op-ed here.

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