The Columbus Dispatch editorialized as expected for Gov. Kasich’s long-shot, quixotic crusade to amend the U.S. Constitution with a balanced budget amendment [BBA] conceived at a national constitutional convention. “The U.S. government has developed a harmful addiction to spending, something Gov. John Kasich wants to address by passing a federal balanced-budget amendment through a convention of the states,” the governor’s adjunct PR department wrote the day after Christmas. “The first step toward conquering a problem is recognizing that one has a problem; that requires a break from business as usual, something at which Kasich is expert.”
Resorting to Team Kasich’s often repeated platitued that government can’t spend more than it takes in, the editorial opines, “Kasich makes a sound case that Washington also should be compelled to live within its means to avoid unpleasant consequences.” History shows, however, that Mr. Kasich was apparently tongue-tied when the man who forced him out of the presidential race in 2000 racked up trillions in debt after having inherited a balanced budget and billions in surplus from the presidential years of Bill Clinton, a boom time when 22 million jobs were created. President Clinton’s agenda included a small income tax increase for America’s wealthiest, this in turn contributed to the surplus Mr. Kasich likes to take bows for, even though he voted with all other Republicans against Clinton’s 1993 budget plan. President George W. Bush famously failed to veto any spending bill, and he put $2.3 trillion in income tax cuts and trillions more in politically motivated Iraq and Afghanistan war costs on the national credit card. Mr. Kasich’s suddenly found crusade to push a balanced budget amendment was no where in site then. And in his role as congressman. Mr. Kasich went completely mute when President Ronald Reagan raised the national debt to stratospheric heights, all to defang the Soviet Union by outspending it. And let us not forget that Gov. Kasich campaigned in 2012 for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who had as one of his talking points to double the defense department’s budget. Congressman Kasich, who got lots of attention in the 1980s for pointing out the high costs of some defense purchases, like toilet seats and hammers, for example, again stood silent.
Meanwhile, very Republican, very pro-growth, very pro-business groups like Forbes Magazine and The Wall Street Journal have already lambasted Gov. Kasich on his self-serving BBA crusade, which is clearly a showman’s excuse to travel to safe Republican venues to increase his chances of becoming a 2016 presidential candidate contender. Oblivious to pushback from very Republican voices, Gov. Kasich’s friends at 34 South Third Street are staying the course for him: “Kasich has the track record and the understanding to give the balanced-budget amendment a boost. He is to be commended for taking on the challenge.”
A spokesman for the the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare told OhioNewsBureau Friday that the group would not be in favor of a BBA in the foreseeable future. NCPSS’s Brad Wright told ONB, “Such a thing would hamstring us in a time of war and there’s no doubt that Social Security funds would be compromised to achieve a balanced budget. The deficits we face as a country are an issue, but not the most important ones. Taking care of our people should be our country’s top priority.”
The former spokesman for Innovation Ohio, a progressive research group based in Columbus, wondered aloud in the late great Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper why a balanced-budget amendment merits special treatment not accorded any of the other 27 existing amendments to the constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights? Dale Butland is a Columbus-based Democratic consultant and a former press secretary and Ohio chief of staff to U.S. Sen. John Glenn, who offered up an editorial in the late great Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. Butland argues that Kasich’s BBA should get two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states.
“So before he asks to change our Constitution, Kasich should be willing to identify which programs he would cut and which taxes he would raise — and by how much — in order to achieve what he says he wants,” Butland wrote, adding, “So far, he’s refused. It’s easy to propose an abstraction; spelling out the concrete pain you’re willing to inflict is politically risky. What we’re getting from Kasich is a lot of profile, but no courage.”
Notwithstanding the misguided editorial for the BBA by The Dispatch, it printed a letter to the editor from John Georgiton, just a regular guy who nails Kasich to his cross of false tough decisions. Georgiton notes, accurately, that policies put forth by most conservatives are balanced budget, increased military expenditures and tax cuts, including eliminating the inheritance tax, reducing the top income tax rate to 25 percent, while reducing corporate taxes. He also notes, accurately, that the federal deficit has decreased significantly during the past two years from nearly $1 trillion a year to an estimated $400 billion. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the military and interest on the national debt, he says, represent 72 percent of the federal budget, and that balancing the budget would require huge decreases in the social programs, since Republicans want to increase military spending and the interest on the debt has to be paid.
“These cuts will mean that most of the 50 million elderly people receiving these benefits will experience economic hardship that will cause them to significantly decrease the purchases of consumer goods. This will harm our economy and could throw us into a recession. Another negative effect of eliminating the deficit is that sooner or later we are going to have another recession. Experience shows that federal revenue significantly decreases during a recession. If conservatives insist on not having a deficit, even during a recession, this would mean more cuts in social programs,” Georgiton wrote. “If our senior citizens receive more cuts in benefits and the financial markets are allowed to collapse at the same time, we could face a full-scale depression. It is difficult to imagine the consequences of senior citizens losing half of their Social Security and Medicare benefits and experiencing a 50 percent decrease in their retirement funds,” he opines. He also says what Gov. Kasich won’t say: “The other negative consequences of a complete Republican takeover of the federal government would be the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, deregulation of our financial markets, an energy policy that involves no conservation of energy, and no efforts to control the climate.”
Ohio’s capital city newspaper, widely known for its shameless political posturing for Gov. John Kasich, has this editorial as the latest example of why it’s as much a political blog as Plunderbund. Unlike Plunderbund, Ohio’s greatest political blog, the Dispatch isn’t Ohio’s greatest home newspaper. Owned and operated by a powerful central Ohio Republican family whose business interests span print, TV and radio and whose agenda defaults to monied interests and corporations instead of the kitchen-table interests the bulk its subscribers likely subscribe to, The Dispatch transparently in the tank for Ohio’s now term-limited governor. Unlike the Columbus Dispatch, Plunderbund has the honesty, courage and transparency to show and stand for its true colors, an agenda which happens, coincidentally, to represent the day-to-day concerns of 100,000-plus hardworking Ohioans still waiting for the “comeback governor’s” Ohio miracle to shine it’s god-given light on them.