Capitol Square watchers in Ohio know that Governor John Kasich, like Republicans across the nation, has easy access to ready-to-use, ALEC-approved government reforms that always benefit businesses first along with the boardrooms and CEOs who run them.
Any private employer knows workers are an expense to control, like utilities and materials. But when it comes to the public sector, where the messiah of reform from Mckees Rocks, PA works his magic, he wants to reform their pay and benefits down so they come closer to his beloved private sector, where workers generally start out at the bottom of the pile and have little collective force to negotiate better days for their families. For a living relic of the Reagan era, a time when tax rates across the board were cut while the national debt ballooned from Cold War military spending, Kasich doesn’t much care for unions in general, and public unions in particular.
So it wasn’t a surprise when he pushed for legislation that gutted long-standing collective bargaining rights for public sector union workers in 2011 via SB 5, State Sen. Shannon Jones’s bill that he signed, subsequently triggering a tremendous pushback that ended with Kasich’s bill being rejected by voters statewide by a 2-1 margin. At the time, Kasich never said he was wrong to do what he did. What he did say, however, was that SB 5 represented an important agenda that didn’t pass because it was “too much, too fast.” Kasich said he had to listen to the voters when they spoke this clearly, but his real message, something nobody else (especially Ohio media) picked up on, was to wait for a new, better time to run his anti-worker play.
Issue 2, the name of the citizen referendum on SB 5 in 2011, was soundly defeated. But what Kasich learned from the bill, and the recoil to it, was that he had to wait to run a different version of the same play. Kasich would sign SB 5 again tomorrow if he thought it would work. Witness his evasive answer on right to work legislation. When asked, he said it wasn’t on his agenda, and repeated that phrase again, hoping to avoid telling the truth: He will sign right to work legislation if he continues as governor with a Republican-controlled legislature itching to send him a bill to make Ohio the latest state to adopt right to work laws. First, though, he has to once again fool most of the people a second time.
Former congressman Kasich doesn’t forgive and forget, just like his hero and mentor Jack Kemp, even though the Bible he says he studies every other Monday instructs the faithful to love their brother and turn the other cheek.
John Kasich has been calculatingly silent on right to work legislation, he’s been purposely coy on whether he’ll run for president if elected, he hasn’t talked about how many more harmful or hurtful bills for women he’ll sign, he started his re-election campaign with stealth by not announcing it, and he’d probably prefer to swallow a bitter pill in lieu of acknowledging he has a Democratic opponent, let alone mention that candidate’s name, Ed FitzGerald. What voters in 2010 didn’t know citizen Kasich would do as Governor Kasich helped elect him by the skinny 77,127 votes he won by. Voters this year should proceed, based on what history tells us, that what John Kasich doesn’t talk about is exactly what he’ll do once he knows he’s won a second term in a state where recalling statewide officials is not allowed by the state constitution.
Here’s what can be said with certitude: Had John Kasich told Ohio voters in 2010 that he planned to move on SB 5 after elected, he would have lost to Ted Strickland by a half million votes.
Voters should not let stealth campaigning tactics this by Team Kasich lull them into a state of stupidity as happened four years ago. To prevent the onset of future Republicans like Gov. Kasich imposing — without approval from rank and file voters, which history shows almost happened in 2011 — show John Kasich you’ll Remember in November what he tried to do then, and will do again once he’s safely out of the reach of voters.
Reach out, voters, it’s your last chance to hold Kasich accountable.