When Ohio Gov. John Kasich delivered his year-end summation sermon at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s holiday gathering in December he promised to dole out punishment to anyone who opposes him. “Maybe I won’t win it,” said the Governor, “but I ain’t going to quit. I’m going to have a whole lot more to say to those who stand in my way.” This promise is both ironic and problematic since it’s totally in conflict with his call to put politics aside and do what’s right during his inaugural sermon last Monday.
Gov. Kasich also promised to bulk up the state’s rainy day fund during his Chamber speech. That may sound good to the fewer than one-in-four registered voters who helped him win reelection in November. But padding the emergency fund, coincidentally, also allows him to continue to short-change local governments—and all the public union members employed by them—of funds needed to deliver services taxpayers expect. But it’s no secret that local governments have been asking taxpayers to pony up more to balance the gap between what they had received under Gov. Ted Strickland and the billion less the Kasich administration gives them now.
Deceptive on its face, it suggests Mr. Kasich knows what’s coming down the pike in Washington, now that his GOP brethren have recaptured control of Congress. Twice-elected but term-limited, Gov. Kasich better pad the rainy day fund good, because another national meltdown might come sooner rather than later.
Republicans control Congress again and it doesn’t take a high-paid GOP insider to foresee that must-pass budget bills, poison pills and relaxed federal regulations could once again tank the economy. We saw an example on Wednesday when the new, larger crop of hard-right House House Republicans were joined by 29 Democrats in voting 271-154 to eviscerate Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms. It’s unmistakable proof that Gov. Kasich’s party, the one he wants to remake in his own image, is hard at work creating exactly the kind of ill headwinds from Washington that not even he and his super secret but poor-performing job creation group JobsOhio can stand up to.
Called the “Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act,” the bill rolls back a number of key reforms enacted in 2010 in Dodd-Frank, the Wall Street reform bill. Now headed to the U.S. Senate, the bill delays the so-called “Volcker Rule,” named after Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker, who tamed galloping inflation by boosting interest rates sky-high during President Ronald Reagan’s first-term. The rule restricts commercial banks from engaging in high-risk trading and removes regulations from private equity firms that provide investment banking services. It also waters down the rules and oversight on derivative trading, the very instruments of unsecured, unbacked financial instruments that were central to the financial crisis from which the nation and especially Ohio are still struggling to break free from. Among other no-so good goodies in it, publicly traded companies could more easily hide their financial pasts because their transparency requirements for their filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission would be cut back, all in the name of Republican’s misplaced idea of what commonsense regulation should be.
Gov. Kasich will frame his administration’s continued denial of adequate funds as good fiscal management, one that will keep Ohio’s bond rating high. Gov. Kasich’s first two state budgets were the largest in history, the second one larger than the first, topping out at $62 billion. It’s easy to fill your pantry when you raid other pantries, then tell them to carry their own weight and help others along the way. Kasich’s budget razzle dazzle may go unnoticed by statehouse media, even though it’s a shameless fulfillment of ideological principles that promise to lift people up when they really put them down.
Mr. Kasich mocked the Obama Administrations’ stimulus package, chided Gov. Strickland for using one-time state stabilization funds, and has never come clean on whether it would have let the auto industry, with its quarter-million jobs in Ohio, go bust. In 2010, Citizen Kasich pounded Gov. Strickland for draining the rainy day fund down to 89 cents, but no reporter has ever asked him, so he’s never had to answer, what he would have done differently at the time than what Gov. Strickland did to keep Ohio from becoming a true economic basket case.