Gov. John Kasich spent an hour being interviewed by a National Journal reporter as part of several days spent in early February shadowing him. In her article, “The Case for Kasich,” Michelle Cottle appeared as amused at the governor’s legendary quirky, neurotic antics as she was smitten by his brassy boldness, a personality trait that has served him well throughout his nearly 40 years as a career politician. Make no mistake, John Kasich marches in the Republican band, plays all its favorite songs and, from time to time, marches out of step and plays out of tune on selected issues to show he’s not a total GOP zombie.
The Case For The Teflon Governor
Largely reiterating the tough, combative, straight-talker narrative he’s carefully constructed over the years, which was upheld by close friends and party faithfuls including his former Washington boss Newt Gingrich and close friend Franklin Republican Party Chairman Doug Preisse with a few close staffers thrown in for good measure, Cottle’s 5,000-plus word review of his chances of emerging as the GOP presidential nominee in 2016 failed to mention the many issues he failed in, including his 27 months of subpar job growth or how hard it is for many Ohioans to find jobs that pay enough to stay out of the jaws of poverty.
She spent time on the governor’s Evangelical calling to help the poor and all those Buckeyes “living in the shadows,” a front-pocket phrase he deploys whenever and wherever possible, as anyone who has paid any attention to him knows all too well. Kasich has made a mission of “lifting people up no matter their circumstances,” a reelection campaign promise he made last year as he cruised to a big win against candidates that didn’t cross the finish line because they tripped coming out of the starting gate.
Kasich’s Lift Just Got Heavier
In a report Tuesday from the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies and Community Research Partners, the size of Gov. Kasich’s promised “lift” was described in great detail, casting even more doubt of whether Kasich’s “Ohio Model” is really a model any state, or the nation for that matter, should follow. Ohio’s Teflon governor, who railed against the jobs lost under the previous administration as the Great Recession decked Ohio and nearly every other state in the union, for good reasons won’t assume any responsibility for the sad statistics, and hope they won’t to stick to him.
Kasich’s lift, despite his claims to have turned the Buckeye State around, now includes about half of Ohio households whose financial savings are so low that they would sink into poverty after three months should they lose their job or have a medical episode sweep away their puny assets.
“The number of Ohioans now in poverty would fill The Ohio State University football stadium more than 17 times,” the report said, using “The Shoe” as its measuring cup of woe. One in six Ohioans, or nearly two million people, lives below the federal poverty level. At 16.4 percent, the statewide poverty rate exceeds the overall national rate of 15.9 percent, while nearly 61 percent of veterans are in the same leaky boat. For children, nearly one out of every four lives in poverty and one in three children under age 6 lives in poverty. The percent of Buckeyes who can’t keep up enough to stay out of poverty for three months has gone up from 40 to 45 percent. Single women with children, about 115,000 of them who worked full or part-time, didn’t make enough money to stay above the poverty level. People above the age of 25 with a bachelor’s degree or higher, nearly 77,000 of them, are living in poverty, which means they cannot afford basic needs. And as the report says, basic needs do not include going to the movies, eating out, owning a second vehicle or contributing to a savings account.
Cottle replayed Gov. Kasich’s odyssey to expand Medicaid, which remains his big front-window example of how he pushes back on members of his own political party. With about three million Ohioans now using Medicaid, it sadly seems to also serve as a reverse measure for many lives in Ohio under Mr. Kasich.
If Gov. Kasich thinks his Ohio Model is working, maybe he should be less impatient to do the wrong thing, as he’s done with regularity over the last four years, and be more patient to read the report in order to learn that if he’s doing the Lord’s work, he had better change his mission from siphoning from the poor to give to the rich.