From The New York Times to The Washington Post and now the National Journal, Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich’s self-basting story of a rebounding state is repeated in spirit if not word by reporters who become fixated on the governor’s razzle dazzle personality, which to some are as varied as the personalities of Billy Milligan.
Ohio’s governor—explosive, erratic and aggressive with a touch of ADD thrown in—has been tremendously successful in selling the now polished narrative that he’s a conservatives conservative. And because he invokes the Lord into his ramblings from time to time, he lays claim to being compassionate, at least as it relates to his decision to accept Medicaid expansion, which coincidentally came with $2.5 billion in federal funding attached to it.
What Gov. Kasich’s story doesn’t include is just how poorly he’s done on creating good-paying jobs. Mr. Kasich, who won a close race in 2010 and was reelected last year by fewer than one in four registered voters, has seen poverty rise on his watch as incomes have declined. We here at Plunderbund know all too well that the Buckeye State is 37th in job creation, as the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University ranks it, and has more than 100,000 jobs to go before Gov. Kasich can truly say he’s turned the state around.
The so-called “Ohio Story” Gov. Kasich is out shilling to ruby red western and southern states will never include the kind of statistics reveled Friday in a report by the Pew Charitable Trust [PCT], which painted a different portrait of the state.
“The struggles of middle-class American families and growing income inequality have risen to the top of the national agenda,” the report notes in its new 50-state analysis. PCT looked at the percentage of “middle-class” households, defined as those making between 67 percent and 200 percent of the state’s median income. Between 2000 and 2013, that population has dwindled. The median income in most states including Ohio declined when adjusted for inflation. PCT said its analysis “illustrates that it is increasingly difficult for many American families to make ends meet.
- In John Kasich’s Ohio, the share of households that are middle class has fallen from 50.9 percent in 2000 to 45.7 percent in 2013.
- Meanwhile, median income has also taken a dive under Gov. Kasich, from an inflation-adjusted amount of $56,437 in 2000 to $48,081 in 2013, a dip of nearly 15 percent.
- And the share of households spending at least 30 percent of income on housing as gone up, from 25 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2013.
A report Friday from the Department of Job and Family Services shows Ohio had 291,000 unemployed workers in February. It also revised Ohio’s January job gain downward by 11,200 jobs. The gain in January was still healthy, but now amounts to 14,000, said a review by a Cleveland-based economic think tank. Over the last year, Policy Matters Ohio said, jobs in the Buckeye State grew by 1.6 percent, compared to a national average of 2.4 percent over that time. “Since the recession began the nation as a whole has grown by 2 percent. Ohio has yet to break even,” PMO reported.
“Ohio is adding jobs, but at a frustratingly slow pace,” said PMO’s Hannah Halbert. “More robust infrastructure investment and restoration of state aid to local governments would give us a boost.”
So while Beltway reporters like George Will and others write essentially the same story of Gov. Kasich’s antics, which include a push for a federal balanced budget amendment and half-truths about what he’s done on his own steam as chief executive, his bombastic style, combined with an abrasive personality that might lead watchers to believe he might not be playing with a full deck anymore, is what makes him an exciting novelty to the herd of political reporters who choose to focus on style and flash over substance and merit.