Warning:? Enclosed in this post is a story that the traditional political media so far refuses to touch, involving John Kasich’s radical associations and intimate ties to a prominent male Republican official that the Kasich campaign has gone to great lengths to deny.? Don’t click if you are the faint of heart. 🙂
Since beginning his unofficial gubernatorial run in 2006, John Kasich’s campaign has been based on convincing people in Ohio two things: 1) Kasich is some sort of anti-Bush Republican; and 2) Kasich was the “architect” of the balanced budget and surpluses of the 1990s.? Neither are correct.
(As any conservative blogger will tell you, if you make a point with a bland graph, then you’ve already won.)
How did the surplus occur when spending during that times span increased nearly 30%?? Well, because tax revenues rose nearly three times that amount during that time.? And, no, there wasn’t some massive across-the-board tax cut in the 1990s.? Almost all the tax cuts were more modest, targeted tax cuts.?
No, the Clinton-Gingrich budgets became balanced, not from Kasich’s budget wizardry, but because the sustained economic growth after the recession fueled by the IT and housing bubbles stuffed tax coffers everywhere. Nothing John Kasich did in Congress had anything to do with it.? It likely would have happened without him as evidenced by the fact that Kasich never beat Clinton in a single budget battle.
I. John Kasich’s vote on the first Clinton budget.
By any measure, the first budget to seriously begin to reduce the federal deficit? was the first budget introduced by President Bill Clinton.? The year was 1993, a young President defeated an aging Republican war hero in a contentious election in which the Democratic ticket was demonized as out-of-touch socialists in a campaign to determine who would lead a country facing unprecedented foreign policy challenges in the midst of an economic recession in an election that saw large Democratic gains coupled with a Republican party that has become inflexibly ideological and partisan to its own detriment.? (In other words, unique political events that would never, ever happen again.)
A young Administration proposes a “stimulus” package that combined spending programs with targeted tax cuts as well as reduced spending in other areas as a means to help move the country out of a crippling recession.? Stung by its recent political defeat, the Republicans unified in their opposition into just about every proposal of the new Administration.? (Again, this has never happened in our county before or since.)
Enter ranking Republican House Budget Committee member John Kasich.? Voting against the first budget to not only reverse but substantially reduce the budget deficit, Kasich proposed the Republican alternative.? Much like the current GOP’s health care proposal, his 80-page proposal was long on politics, short on policy.? Kasich’s budget, in reality, was nothing more than a political prop for the Republicans to criticize the President without seeming like it was just opposing the President for partisan purposes.? Kasich’s plan was GOP manna: it promised to reduce the deficit as much as Clinton did in the same timeframe, but without Clinton’s massive tax increase on the top 1% of income earners.? And it entirely undermined Republican criticism that Clinton’s budget was all smoke and mirrors.
The problem was that even Kasich’s spokesman at the time admitted that the Republican leadership refused to endorse Kasich’s own plan (heck, Kasich didn’t even ask them to endorse it), but they were perfectly willing to use it as a weapon to attack Clinton.
In reality, Kasich’s budget plan reduced the defict at a rate slower than Clinton’s.? Slower than Clinton’s.?
And yet, in the debate on Clinton’s budget, a confident Kasich explained his “no” vote by declaring:
The plan worked; John Kasich is still a Republican.
II.? Kasich:? The Gingrich years & Kasich’s self-described “greatest achievement”
Largely using the failure of Clinton to pass health reform and still claiming that the President’s budget had failed (when the results were not yet in), the Republicans rode back into legislative power in 1994, and John Kasich was elevated to Chair of the House budget committee.
To hear Kasich’s supporters now, you’d think that John Kasich was such a player that he personally negotiated one-on-one with President Clinton.? Um, no.
At the time, CNN reported that the closest Kasich came to the negotiations with President Clinton in 1996 was sitting outside of the Oval Office while the negotiations took place.
Think about every radical, asinine budget cut advocated by the Gingrich House Republicans and you’ll find Kasich’s fingerprints: eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, cutting Head Start funding, eliminating legal assistance for the poor.? Kasich even voted to tie federal school funding based only if the school district allowed “voluntary” prayer.
In 1995, Kasich’s committee passed a budget that would have eliminated the U.S. Department of Education.? He voted against tax breaks for education, grants and scholarships for need-based college students, and voted to eliminate funding for the Economic Development Administration, which provides assistance to economically distressed areas to create and retain jobs.
Kasich proposed cuts in spending to give assistance to child nutrition, child day-care, student loans, working retraining, and?infrastructure improvements.? In other words, John Kasich is a real asshole.
Kasich’s zeal for ideological-inspired budget cutting eventually lost him support among fiscal conservative Democrats.
Kasich was behind them all.? His budget showed that there was something other than just deficit reduction driving Kasich: it was a war on the War on Poverty itself– a war against every successful government program responsible for the creation of the middle class and the economic class mobility that exists in our society.
So, if balancing the budget isn’t Kasich’s greatest legislative achievement, what is?
In his book “Stand for Something” Kasich himself said:
“Today, with perspective, pundits look back and suggest that shutting down the government under those circumstances was dumb, but I look back and think it was one of the greatest moments of my career.”
Kasich ignores the possibility that both he and the pundits are right.? It was the greatest moment of Kasich’s political career, and it was incredibly dumb thing politically.
The prevailing historical view is that President Clinton largely prevailed in the budget wars with Gingrich, both in terms of public opinion and policy, that it’s not even debated (then or now.)? In fact, at the time, Kasich and the GOP was largely ridiculed in the media for the inability to avoid being outflanked by Clinton:
- “Charge of the Light Brigade–Bad Republican Budget Strategies” Lowry, Rich. National Review. (Feb. 12, 1996).
- “Yes, Folks.? It’s Another Fiscal Year, and Another GOP Budget Blunder” Pellegrini, Frank. (Sept. 30, 1999).
Just to name a few articles at the time.? In fact, President Clinton’s ability to outmaneuver Kasich’s party was so effective, it’s become a matter of serious academic study.
Regardless, the government shutdown was a failure both politically and in matters of policy.? The monetary difference between the GOP and Clinton Administration wasn’t that profound– the debate was more over the means in which they reached the same goal.? The GOP insisted that Clinton submit a budget that a CBO scoring would show lead to a balanced budget in seven years.? They were shocked when he did it.
All the first three years of GOP Congressional rule did was improve Clinton’s poll numbers, hurt the Republican’s political standing with the public, and help elect more Democrats to Congress.
By 1998, just the third budget fight, Clinton’s budget could claim to be the first balanced budget in thirty years.? The budget fights starting from that point on had nothing to do with balancing the budget or creating a surplus.? In fact, that same year, President Clinton announced the first year of a government fiscal surplus.
Some conservatives were so disillusioned with the budget that became law under Kasich, and how much they felt Clinton outplayed them, they began keeping a record on the Internet of their grievances.
And, so naturally, John Kasich thought he should leave Congress and run for President in 2000.
III.? Not even Republicans believed that Kasich was responsible for the budget surplus.
The Ohio Governor’s race is not the first time Kasich has tried to run by claiming he was the “architect” of the federal surplus during the Clinton years.? A claim so preposterous that the CATO Institute’s Stephen Moore already rejected it as early as 1997 by citing, as I did above, that the budget success was solely due to large economic growth.? (Of course, Moore misses the mark by claiming that the real credit is due to President Reagan, but that’s just his compliance with the first law for conservatives.? To actually claim that Reagan was responsible for balancing the budget is like crediting England’s King George III for the advancement of western representative democracies.)
Undeterred, Kasich announced his bid for the White House.? The entire centerpiece of the campaign was Kasich’s claim of responsibility for the “budgetary success” of the Gingrich revolution.? As he toured Iowa and New Hampshire, Kasich was introduced by AC/DC’s “Back in Black” as a way to remind voters of Kasich’s “responsibility” for the federal government budgetary turnaround.? Kasich was the only candidate, really, claiming the mantle of the Gingrich revolution.
It was so successful, Kasich trailed badly in both the polls and fundraising and was the second GOP candidate to drop out of the 2000 race… before the first primary or caucus even took place.?? July 1999 to be exact (six months before Iowa.)? And when Kasich dropped out he endorsed his “soul brother”:
And the rest was history, with Kasich not ruling out a return to politics that could lead to yet another White House run.
IV.? Kasich’s post-Bush rehab
Sensing that Ken Blackwell was a disaster in the making, there was an attempt to draft Kasich to run in 2006.? However, Kasich knew that no Republican was likely to win that year, so he sat out rather than damaging his “comeback” foolishly.
However, Kasich quickly formed “Recharge Ohio” a PAC that he used to “unofficially” run for Governor starting almost right after the 2006 elections.? “Recharge Ohio” has three issues:
Sound familiar?? And yet, despite running on this platform for three years, Kasich has announced no plans on how to pay for these changes.
And that’s Kasich’s other dirty secret, we’ve been thinking that Kasich’s lack of plan was evidence that Kasich’s radical tax proposals was nothing more than a false narrative to endear him to his conservative base.
I thought that once, until I reminded myself of Kasich’s history.? His entire history is to use the economic problem de jour to push through a radical, anti-government platform of privatization.? Kasich is pushing these tax cuts not to create jobs but to kill government, particularly government social problems that help the poor and middle class, so he can make Ohio a massive tax shelter for his rich, Wall Street friends.
Want to know what kind of budget cuts Kasich will look to to pass his massive tax cuts?? Just look back to the 1994s.
Kasich now claims to be an anti-Bush Republican, blasting the Republicans that succeeded him in Congress as big spenders, but “his” budgets never really cut spending.
Clinton, at least, started the federal government on a path of reducing its deficit.? None of Kasich’s budgets survived Clinton’s veto or his veto threats.? Nor did Kasich “pull” Clinton more than he was pulled.? In fact, you’d be hard press to make a factual case that Kasich had anything to do with budget surplus except that he was the House budget committee chair at the time.
And that’s Kasich’s dirty secret: his entire campaign is based on a claim of an achievement that is nothing more than a cum hoc ergo propter hoc argument, and behind that dubious record is a radical agenda that would wreck this State’s budget worse than anything Kasich’s “soul brother” did to our federal government.