If Josh Mandel’s math skills were anywhere close to his political ambition or self-promotion skills, he’d be a really good State Treasurer. Three months on the job and already plotting his next political campaign promotion to the United States Senate, and Josh Mandel can’t name a single noteworthy achievement in office… so, he’s taking credit for what Kasich is doing instead.
In an e-mail from his campaign committee, Mandel brags about what he’s achieved so far in office:
Hope all’s well. Just wanted to give you an update on some of the positive changes taking place in the halls of our state government…
We have been focused on repealing unfair taxes and regulations to improve our business climate, bringing fiscal responsibility to state finances, and increasing educational opportunities and school choice for families and students. Here are a few examples:
Significant Step Forward for Eliminating the Estate Tax: Last week the Ohio House passed legislation to eliminate the estate tax (aka the “death tax”). This is an action for which I have advocated since I set foot in the Statehouse over fours years ago, and it brings us closer to an important step forward for taxpayers and our economy. This unfair tax has forced citizens of various socio-economic classes to sell their long-time family homes, liquidate their family businesses and get rid of their family farms – just to pay death taxes on assets that have already been taxed repeatedly over the years.
It has caused many small business owners, farmers and middle-class retirees to flee Ohio in their golden years, making places like Naples and Palm Beach second capitals of Ohio. Eliminating the death tax once-and-for-all will be a good start toward making Ohio more competitive with our neighbors, and towards reversing the exodus of financial and intellectual capital from our state. The next step is to encourage folks in the Ohio Senate to support the elimination of this destructive tax.
Ohio House Budget Reduces Spending by $3 Billion: The budget bill passed by the Ohio House last week reduces spending by $3 billion from the current fiscal year to the upcoming fiscal year. There is belt-tightening occurring throughout state government, including in the Treasurer’s Office. My office is reducing general revenue fund operating expenses and is striving to increase efficiencies in every division. At a time when Ohio families and businesses are doing more with less, all levels of government must do the same.
Teach for America Program Headed to Ohio; Budget Expands School Choice: Recently, the Governor signed a bill to finally bring the “Teach for America” program to Ohio, which will help to retain homegrown talent in our state. The bill allows recent college graduates and Ohioans with real world experience to teach in Ohio school districts. The program is expected to increase innovation and benefit schools that often times have a more difficult time attracting high-quality teachers. Separately, the budget bill increases funding for vouchers and aims to increase student access to charter schools, so parents have more options to maximize the discipline, safety and academic environment for their children.
Business-Friendly Budget Provisions Will Help Improve Economic Climate: The House budget passed last week continues our push to make government more limited and get bureaucrats out of the way of small businesses who are working to grow and create jobs. The budget seeks to establish an environment for economic growth. Additionally, the establishment of a Small Business Advisory Council to conduct a common sense and thorough review of state rules and regulations is underway, with the mission of furthering a business climate that’s conducive to economic growth and new job creation.
These are just a few highlights of the progress that is currently underway to improve Ohio. As always, please contact me if there’s ever anything I can do to be of assistance.
First, will getting rid of Ohio’s estate tax really make Ohio more competitive like its neighbors? Well, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Indiana still have an estate tax. So, it’s not like Ohio is an island in a sea of inheritance tax-free giveaways.
Second, what’s Josh Mandel done as State Treasurer to promote a repeal of the estate tax? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip. Goose egg. The opposite of any thing or everything. In fact, there’s not a single thing in his e-mail Mandel can say he’s come out and publicly supported before it passed. Not even the Teach for America bill. Although Mandel may have supported legislation to repeal the estate tax in the past, there’s been zero evidence that he played any role in House Republicans adding at the last minute in committee the repeal (which they don’t pay for) to be enacted at the tail end of the next biennium.
Third, Josh Mandel fails accountancy. Does the Kasich budget truly reduce federal spending by $3 billion the next fiscal year? Technically, yes, but only if you look at the all-funds numbers, which includes federal money the State receives and then passes through to the local government level. The State government has little control over its non-General Revenue Funds, as it just accepts the money solely to distribute elsewhere. You know like things like the federal stimulus money that Ohio got last year that isn’t getting this next fiscal year. The $3 billion less in all-funds spending is entirely due to the stimulus, not Kasich or Mandel. It’s not an achievement of the Kasich budget anymore than their estimate that the State’s collection of income taxes will go up. It’s nothing more than an unavoidable budget reality, not an achievement.
But the State does have control over how much it spends in its General Revenue Funds, which is why most Ohio budget watchers use GRF as a true measure of an Administration’s record on spending. Over the next two years, the Kasich budget (as submitted) increases GRF spending by billions. $5.5 billion by some reporting. And since the budget has been introduced, the House actually increased that number with an eye to add potentially as much as another $1 billion in GRF spending by the time the State budget is finalized before the end of June. As a result, the conservative think tank Buckeye Institute has been less than impressed with the first Kasich budget.
It’s kind of pathetic that forced to try to brag about what he’s done in office as he’s preparing for a U.S. Senate bid, Josh Mandel has to try to claim credit for what Governor Kasich has done by default because…. well, he hasn’t done anything.
But Mandel’s desire to hitch his wagon to Kasich’s achievements have limits. Over the weekend, the Cleveland Plain Dealer attempted to get a simple answer from the GOP likely contenders for the U.S. Senate race next year on two questions:
Where do you stand on Senate Bill 5?
Do you support Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare and replace it with a taxpayer subsidy of health insurance premiums for seniors?
Josh Mandel already has a documented history of just flat out ignoring questions on the issues when asked, and he hasn’t changed since March. He, yet again, refused a request for comment on the two hottest political items of the day. Won’t tell Ohioans where he stands on the GOP platform to replace Medicare with private health insurers, and he still won’t take a public position on Senate Bill 5.
How much you wanna bet the day after the referendum vote, Mandel will take a position that reflects the results?
Should a U.S. Senate candidate, I dunno, have positions on the issues, especially one being billed as the GOP’s best hope to defeat Sherrod Brown?