When John Kasich spoke to the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, he claimed that George W. Bush’s presidency was when “Republicans lost their minds.”
As the DDN editorial board pointed out last week, Kasich seems absent on what policies he opposed of the man Kasich proudly declared as his “soul brother” when endorsing him in 2000.
It sure wasn’t the Bush tax cuts, because Kasich actually wants to go even further. It wasn’t the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. At best, it’s the prescription drug benefit for Medicare, but that’s hardly a politically winner that divorces Kasich from his party’s former President and a man he proudly endorsed who ran on a prescription drug benefit for Medicare . . . in 2000. So what did Bush do that made Kasich turn on him … other than become really, really, really unpopular?
Then the DDN editorial board goes after John Kasich’s “dirty little secret:”
Mr. Kasich painted himself as the “chief architect” of the budget surplus at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency. He was chairman of the House Budget Committee. He said he is “willing to share credit,” but he really didn’t seem to mean it.
He did, in fact, play a constructive role, being early to put together a plan for balancing the budget. But by most accounts, the hero of the surplus was the booming economy of the 1990s.
Actually, Mr. Kasich wants credit for that, too.
First, the idea that because two events occured there must be causation is a common logic fallacy called post hoc ergo propter hoc. Second, it is a near universal opinion by economic historians that Kasich has cause and effect backwards. It was the economic growth of the 1990s, created predominantly by the housing and IT bubbles and fueled by Fed monetary policy that slashed interest rates creating cheaper commercial lending, than anything that Congress did.
Kasich, you recall, calls his Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the crown achievement that lead to economic prosperity. The problem, for him, is that the economy was clearly doing just fine before that Act was even introduced, let alone signed into law. Three years after Kasich’s “landmark budget deal” became law, the nation was in a recession.
When John Kasich left the House Budget Committee, he did so as the nation was entering into a recession. And he told the nation that the budget surpluses created by the historic economic growth of the 1990s could be trusted to this guy:
Who he now calls crazy.
The reality is that due to the tax increases that Kasich opposed in President Clinton’s first budget, federal revenues had already began to close the deficit gap by catching up to spending. As this Columbus Dispatch chart from February showed, the federal government continued to spend more and more money and that it was revenues, not spending cuts, the created the “balanced budgets” and “surpluses” of the 1990s. Revenue growth, not spending cuts, created the budget “surpluses” of the 1990s.
John Kasich famously said of the first Clinton budget and tax hike that if they truly worked to reduce the budget deficit and grow the economy, he’d become the Democrat. Well, they did reduce the budget deficit, and the economy did grow.
But John Kasich didn’t become a Democrat. And despite all his bluster, there’s something John Kasich never did do in his “one-man” campaign, he never got the GOP Congress to repeal those tax hikes, either. He did get passed modest targeted tax cuts that were supported by President Clinton in his State of the Union address like the child credit, Hope & Lifetime Learning credit and the creation of the Roth IRA in exchange for a modest cut in the capital gains tax and estate tax changes.
The clear lessons are that Kasich’s orthodoxy did not win out the day during those budget battles. Bill Clinton stared down Newt Gingrich and John Kasich every time and won. While John Kasich has claimed the government shutdown engineered by the Gingrich-lead Congress as his “greatest achievement in Congress” the reality is that Clinton won both in policy and politically from each fight.
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.”
The federal government, during Kasich’s budget chairmanship, increased federal spending some $650 billion after spending before Kasich had stayed relatively flat from 1990-1993. It was the revenue side of the equation, not expenditures, that lead to the “balanced” budgets and “surpluses” of the 1990s. The current budget situation in Ohio is similar. You cannot cut income taxes (half of your revenue stream) by 17% in a recession and not expect to have some budgetary pain. There’s little question that an improving economy will likely self-correct Ohio’s budgetary problem. The only question is when and what should Ohio do in the meantime? Kasich, however, is proposing to make it four times worse, not better.
John Kasich lead a war against the War on Poverty in Appalachia, a war against veterans with serious head wounds, he even led a war against Muppets (ok, PBS), but the only good news is that he lost almost all of those fights.
In other words, John Kasich lies about his record…. a ton. The problem is, though, that he actually believes his own revisionist autobiography. As the DDN editorial noted:
To hear him speak, it’s as if the 2008 financial meltdown that resulted in part from insufficient government regulation never happened. Nor did the Clinton tax-increase story that he experienced himself, and certainly not the New Deal.
What happens if we elect a man as Governor who sat at Ground Zero of our economic collapse and yet still doesn’t learn from his ideological failings? What’s the worse that could happen when someone continues to support the failed economic policies of the past that brought us to this present? Let’s hope Ohioans never have to find out.
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