When John Kasich says others need to hear Ohio’s story, he’s really saying others need to hear John Kasich’s largely self-serving, self-constructed, purposely partial story of catering to special interests and the status quo. In his first term, Gov. Kasich signed one bad law after another that took from the poor to give to the rich and put women behind the eight ball when it comes to their reproductive health decisions. Gov. Kasich and his expert PR handlers know they can spew easily disproved malarkey and Ohio media will swallow it whole like a hungry dog wolfing down a can of Alpo in one big gulp with out chewing on it.
It’s all too clear to anyone who has even half-way followed his long and lucrative career as a government employee, which includes four-plus years as Ohio’s CEO, that Gov. Kasich is as Republican as they come. He talks a good game on job creation, but Ohio is 37th among states in that category, even though he has privatized a formerly public agency that routinely out-performed the national average as Ohio rolled along on the road to recovery following the Great Recession, an economic calamity of historic proportions Team Kasich and allies pretend didn’t happen. Even lazy minds know Mr. Kasich inherited a state already on the road to recovery when he squeaked to a win in 2010.
As Ohio’s governor actively engages in teasing, hinting and suggestions about his desire to be President of the United States, a clear imperative to him that continues to elude many members of sanctioned state media who breathlessly await his next verbal gaffe that helps explain why nearly zero Americans consider him presidential material, other experts know that a Kasich presidency would spell disaster for minorities, women, seniors, the poor and those struggling to stay in what passes as the middle class these days.
This recognition was made perfectly clear by Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock, who outed Republican politicians for their bad deeds at a recent celebration of the group’s 30th anniversary. “Make no mistake, this is your father’s Republican Party. This is the exact same trans-vaginal ultrasound, all white-guy committee chair, aspirin between your knees Republican Party we have been fighting for thirty years,” she said. “They don’t support women. They don’t trust women. They don’t respect women so don’t tell me that there is no war on women. And don’t bother asking for a truce. We didn’t start this fight but mark my words. We are going to win it.”
In his latest budget, the biggest in Ohio history, Gov. Kasich wants to eliminate key Medicaid optional programs for women above 138 percent of the federal poverty level that include a program to provide family planning coverage, a breast and cervical cancer program, and a program that covers pregnant women. In June of 2013, Gov. Kasich signed a state budget that included multiple attacks on family planning and abortion providers. A strong voice for women’s health rights, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio notes that the governor and his compliant GOP-led legislature are forcing clinics to close, “leaving millions of Ohioans without access to safe, legal abortion services in their community.” The so-called “Heartbeat” bill, HB 69, pending in committee, would prohibit an abortion when there is a fetal heartbeat. Gov. Kasich has been protected by legislative leaders who kept this bill, and a right-to-work bill, from reaching his desk. Demonstrating exactly how vulnerable he is on this topic, Gov. Kasich refuses to say more than he’s “pro-life.” It’s hard to imagine, as he caters to his core base of voters, that he would veto this bill or others like it given the bills he has signed, one of which never had a minute in committee before it was injected at the 11th hour into a budget he signed into law.
Schriock, the leader of Emily’s list, wondered what a Republican president and a Republican Congress would do if 2016 turns out to be a GOP year. She answered her own question, saying, “Just look at what Republican governors and Republican legislatures have already done. They will raise taxes on middle-class families and cut funding for public schools to fund more tax breaks for the wealthy. And we know they will do it because they’ve already done it in Kansas. And they will strip away basic bargaining rights that help working men and women secure fair treatment in the workplace. And we know they’ll do it because they’ve already done that in Wisconsin. And they will mandate that a woman seeking an abortion undergo an invasive ultrasound against her will. And we know they’ll do it because they’ve already done it in Texas and in North Carolina.”
Although Schriock did not specifically mention Ohio, Gov. Kasich is kindred-spirit to Walker in Wisconsin, Perry in Texas, Scott in Florida and Haley in South Carolina, all of whom beat the same drum and have fallen in love with their goal of raising taxes on those who can least afford it to subsidize income tax cuts to those who least need tax relief. Gov. Kasich, in Washington last week for a politically motivated slap to President Obama by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress just weeks before his reelection run, warned the White House to “not fall in love” with their goal of reaching a multi-nation agreement with Iran on that countries nuclear energy program. Kasich, not taking his own advice, as he does with regularity, has fallen in love with his goal of reducing income tax rates, which every respectable economic group knows disproportionately benefits the wealthy over the not wealthy class.
“So we’ve already seen what Republicans would do when they have full control over our states. What do you think they will do when they get full control of Washington? What do you think will happen if they get their hands on Medicare or Social Security, or the Environmental Protection Agency, or the Department of Justice, or the courts?” Schriock asked. “A Republican president and a Republican Congress would mean the end of the Affordable Care Act. The end of Roe v. Wade, the end of every right we have won through struggle and sacrifice. Every opportunity we have fought so hard to earn so we could pass it on to our own daughters and sons as their birthright. Give them a chance and they will destroy generations of hard work just like that. We can’t give them that chance.”
Kasich will have a hard time pointing to his anti-women agenda as proof he’s for women and women’s rights. In the legislature so far this biennium, there are six new attacks on access to reproductive health care, which includes four new bans on abortion care, defunding of an infant mortality program conducted by Planned Parenthood and provisions for additional tax dollars to unregulated anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers.
Like Schriock of Emily’s List, Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, didn’t spare the rod to spoil the governor. “The agenda of anti-choice leaders in Ohio is clear, they are working to outlaw abortion access in our state and are poised to once again hijack the budget process to avoid public debate about their unpopular and dangerous policies,” she said, adding, “These legislative proposals interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and exploit complicated issues that can arise during pregnancy in the worst way.”
So when John Kasich wants to tell Ohio’s story, he really means that he wants to hide the harms he’s already signed into law that won’t be reversed anytime soon. Recent national polls show Kasich trending near zero in the percent of Americans who know who he is enough to weigh-in on his as yet unannounced campaign to live in the White House.
Maybe one reporter should ask Gov. Kasich what he would say to a women CEO who would consider locating in Ohio, but who doesn’t want to move her, her daughters, her female employees and their daughters to a state where they are denied by law access to rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution? Maybe the governor doesn’t think there’s a connection between bad social policy and good economic policy outcomes. But that would again underscore why he and other GOP officials who share all his beliefs would be a big step backward for America were they and a like-minded Congress come to power.