(Source: Marc Kovac @ Ohio Capital Blog)
There are so many factual errors in Kasich’s statements in this press conference you wonder if Gov. Kasich has ever studied the virtue of honesty in that Bible study he so loved to talk about during the campaign.
Kasich, the guy who talked about “breaking the teachers’ unions back” and who began the day bragging to his political supporters in a campaign e-mail about defeating the unions claims he doesn’t view anyone as opponents… Ted Strickland and his other opponents, I bet, would beg to differ.
Kasich has made this point a number of times without anyone ever calling him on it: there’s a big reason that the workers at Nationwide and The Limited can’t negotiate for a pension and other benefits like public union workers presently can, but it has little to do with the fact that they’re private sector companies. It’s because those are non-union companies. And this is what should bother Ohioans about SB 5. When Kasich and his proponents talk about “leveling” the playing field so that public sector union employees get what “private sector” employees get, they’re not talking about what private sector union employees get, but what private sector employees who have no right to collective bargain get.
What is the point in calling something “collective bargaining” if the system is, by design, intended to ensure employees are unable to do any better than they’d do without collective bargaining? Gov. Kasich has no answer.
Finally, a reporter asks Kasich why instead of pulling the public employees down, why isn’t he doing something to pull these private sector up instead. Kasich, yet again, objects to the premise of the question even though he has repeatedly said that SB 5 is about driving back benefits.
The second major flaw with Kasich’s public/private sector analogy is it ignores a fundamental difference between the two systems. Private companies don’t have balanced budget amendments. A CEO who balances the budget year after year will soon be out of a job. Corporations shoot for imbalanced budgets in which the company takes what it calls “profits,” but what in government budget speak is consider “surpluses.” Therefore, companies have a vested interest in pushing employee benefits below that which the company can afford.
Nothing reflects this more than General Electric, a corporation that earned $5 billion in profits (in the United States alone) last year, but paid no federal corporate taxes, who is now reportedly planning on asking its union employees in Ohio for concessions to drive their costs down. Here’s a company that does allow its employees to collective bargain, does provide them with a pension, but is claiming poverty in union negotiations about that pension despite $14.2 BILLION in profits last year. G.E. is where Kasich’s theory of private sector employee benefits breaks down.
Kasich talks as if for-profit corporations are magnanimous, paternalistic entities that set their benefits at levels that just keep them from filing bankruptcy. It’s another intellectually dishonest proposition that he rests his entire case for SB 5 on. Corporations no longer operate under the assumption that American industrialist Henry Ford did—that a business had an interest in providing a standard of living for its employees that made the products the workers produced affordable to them. Executive compensation packages drive companies to lower costs artificially and in many ways, counterproductively, to make ledger seats look better and make their stock options profitable. It is no secret that every major corporate scandal, whether it was Enron or Kasich’s former Lehman Brothers, had at a center of the downfall not corporate greed, but corporate executive compensation-inspired greed. And that greed always comes at the expense of regular employee benefits.
Kasich, sensing the need to throw in some corporate population, claims that his Administration has “clawed back” nearly $1 million from businesses who failed to meet their promised job creation/retention numbers in return from Ohio Department of Development aid. But the Cleveland Plain Dealer has already found this statement to be misleading (if not outright false.) The reality is that the Administration has not reported received a single penny back in their clawbacks, as many of the companies no longer exist or already in bankruptcy. In other words, most of that money is uncollectable.
Then, there’s the problem with Kasich’s statements on equipment for safety forces. The House SPECIFICALLY amended the bill to make it possible for them to negotiate because the Senate bill did not provide for it. Niehaus can get all hot and bothered all he wants. The bill his body initially passed didn’t provide for it. That’s why the House had to amend it.
Kasich is asked during the press conference about Ralph Nader’s call for Kasich to do something about corporate welfare in Ohio. After all, Kasich during the campaign and in his State of the State, loved to mention Kasich’s limited work with Nader in Congress on corporate welfare. But Kasich defends his budget that does nothing about Ohio’s outdated tax expenditures that provide tax breaks with virtually no economic benefit by claiming that Ohio’s business community has been “under assault” during mostly GOP rule. Ohio loses $7 billion a year in tax expenditures. Some, like the spousal and dependant income tax deduction or the exclusion of Social Security income from State taxation are too politically popular to be expected to ever be eliminated, nor should they.
However, does Ohio’s economic health rely on the continuation of a sales tax break on “fractionally” owned aircraft? Or the total exemption from taxation of selling “qualified call centers”? On top of telemarketers getting a tax break, Ohio gives tax breaks for retail businesses’ catalogues and “printing advertising materials” (i.e.-junk mail). We even give tax breaks for equipment used for “preparing eggs for sale.”
To suggest, as Kasich’s budget does, that there could not be some savings to be had in reforming exemptions that have gone largely untouched longer than Ohio’s collective bargaining law is to hide the real reason: Kasich is more scared about what conservative non-Ohioans like Grover Norquist and an ironically named entity called Americans for Tax Reform would do if he did something that violated their silly little ideological pledge by tinkering with wasteful corporate tax giveaways than Ohioans who can be duped instead into believing Kasich’s cuts are the only option we ever really had.
In the end, the best news for organized labor is that this seems to be the best arguments, so far, Governor Kasich has to support his bill, which has become so toxic he may be the public face for the pro-SB 5 by default. Even Kasich allies like the Ohio Chamber of Commerce has told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that while they support SB 5 and will contribute to the campaign to oppose the effort to repeal it via referendum, it is not the chamber’s “top priority.”
"It’s not our baby, so to speak," [Ohio Chamber of Commerce President Andrew] Doehrel said. "It’s not our issue to lead the charge on."
With arguments like these along with a 30% approval rating, the biggest enemy to SB 5’s mortality may not be organized labor, but Governor Kasich himself.