As Gov. Kasich laid out his case as a defender of the poor (except the lazy ones) in a radio interview, with inspired Biblical infusions, it inevitably drew some of us back to another day when he was a congressman and chairman of the House Budget Committee.

It was in 1995 when he was less than charitable to the the folks at the bottom of the economic ladder. At that time, he was enlisted by House Speaker Newt Gingrich to cut and paste a budget that would offset a $348 billion revenue loss in tax cuts. Kasich saw it as a great opportunity to be knighted as a trending upwardly mobile conservative member of the GOP club.

A former colleague, Knight-Ridder Capitol Hill reporter Dave Hess exposed the budget game plan in an article that appeared on the front page of the Philadephia Inquirer. He quoted Kasich’s rationale for the devastating cuts in social programs:

“We’ve kept our word and met the challenge,” Kasich said with lofty self-approval. “We are beginning a process of restoring a balance by shifting power, money and infuence from Washington back to state and local goverrnments and, where possible, to individuals.”

Contrasting Kasaich’s handiwork to a less bloody Senate Budget Plan, Hess reported that the blueprint would cut Medicare ($256 billion) and Medicaid ($176 billion) and goes further than the Senate plan over a seven year-span, which Democrats asserted would drive up health premiums for health coverage. (Remember: Those were 1995 numbers.)

The House plan, Hess wrote, would abolish the Commerce, Energy and Education Departments as well as 13 other agencies, including the Economic Development Administration, Legal Services Corp, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Tennessee Valley Authority , Amtrak, VISTA, the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, homeless grants, community development block grants and “major housing programs for the disabled, the poor and elderly”.

What would Jesus say?

There’s more: “Also, scores of federal education-asstance programs to schools and colleges, along with most job training and vocational education programs, would be ended.”

The plan died in the Senate.

But Hess did find his reporting would cost him as a reporter. “Once the story appeared,” Hess recalls today, “they (Kasich et al) never talked to me again.”

Maybe the Kasich gang should be reminded that as Oscar Wilde once wrote, “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.”

 

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