We’ll never know who’s paying for Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s six states in three days junket this week to push a crusade he and other Republicans are suddenly backing, and that is certainly no coincidence.
Still 109,000 jobs in the hole from where Ohio was before the Great Recession hit, Gov. Kasich has found time to trot to safe GOP venues, like one in North Dakota, where reports are that he’ll keynote a legislative reception for the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC]. ALEC is a breeding pen where corporations and legislators in sync with them on a wide array of issues, devise cookie-cutter conservative bills that are routinely introduced and passed in individual states like Ohio where Republicans are in firm control.
The governor’s itinerary includes safe, non-threatening venues like Bismarck, N.D.; Pierre, S.D.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Helena, Mont.; Boise, Idaho; and Salt Lake City, Utah, states that are not part of the dozen or so that a candidate for president, and Gov. Kasich aspires to be one, must win.
Not at all a surprise, the governor’s agenda dovetails perfectly with ALEC-oriented conservatives, many of whom are now in Congress and orchestrating a revival for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. According to The Hill, GOP lawmakers in both chambers have filed several amendment proposals in the early days of the congressional session in a coordinated effort to resucitate a moribund balanced budget amendment. “I came here with a clear mission: work to get a balanced budget and do my best to reduce the size and scope of government, so that our small businesses and farm families can grow and create jobs,” GOP Freshman Rep. David Rouzer of North Carolina said in a recent speech on the House floor, The Hill reported.
Twenty-three states and Ohio have approved moving forward to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget except in cases of a national emergency. The movement needs 10 more states to join in, but backers like Gov. Kasich hope Congress will seize the initiative and act on its own if the list of states narrows. “A growing number of states are realizing that there is little chance that our nation will take steps to address our $18 trillion federal debt without Americans taking control at the state level to trigger change,” Kasich said in a statement. “By implementing a federal balanced-budget amendment, we’ll finally be able to hold the federal government to the same standards as virtually all states, businesses and families,” Ohio’s go-go CEO said.
For an 18-year Congressman who basks in the glory of once chairing the House Budget Committee in the late 1990s, Gov. Kasich is remarkable lame when it comes to saying what cuts he would make to balance federal budget books. Asked more than once what he would do, Ohio’s 69th governor offers no details on how he’d balance the federal budget. Gov. Kasich understands the tremendous treasury Washington sends to Ohio each year, but playing dumb on such an important issue, one he’s been lambasted for by the likes of Forbes Magazine and The Wall Street Journal, among other powerful players, is embarrassing, not cagey.
John Kasich has a nose for money, even if its money he voted against. Mr. Kasich’s hypocrisy was perfectly presented when he talked about the Affordable Care Act being fatally flawed, but nonetheless accepted $2.5 billion in federal funding to expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans, whose access to health care before Obamacare was made either impossible or too expense for people who private insurers tricked and trapped into expensive, poor healthcare policies.
The group sending Gov. Kasich on his safe state rounds isn’t required to disclose its donors, and Gov. Kasich has no intention to say who’s paying his travel tab, a failure to disclose that would be front-page headlines at some Ohio newspapers if it was a candidate other than Gov. John Kasich.
Gov. Kasich is in good company, as more than 140 federal lawmakers are co-sponsoring legislation from Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, that would bar Congress from spending more money than the government takes in. The plan would require a majority in the House and Senate to pass tax increases and a three-fifths majority to raise the debt limit.
President Obama, in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, has plans to help the government take in more money, by taxing millionaires like Gov. Kasich and some close friends like Mark Kvamme to pay their fair share. The president will ask for higher income taxes on the nation’s wealthiest, including corporations, to pay for more help for America’s shrinking middle-class.