For a politician who has spent decades in the public eye as a high-paid government employee—18 of them in Congress and eight-plus so far in Ohio—Kasich’s continuing peek-a-boo campaign to land the title of GOP presidential nominee in 2016 relies on vague answers coupled with his standard battle cry to reform.
Following up on their successful efforts last year to scuttle Kasich’s Democratic opponent’s campaign, Kasich’s friendly camp-followers have trailed him of late to early primary states South Carolina and New Hampshire. At these spring-training gatherings, the governor brings his special blend of political theater. Ohioans know it all to well for being bombastic, caustic and abrasive, with occasional touches of evangelical compassion for the less fortunate thrown in for good measure.
Reports about these so-called “vetting” appearances made on trips paid for by the Ohio Republican Party, show he really has little to offer on national subjects including income equality, the minimum wage, Social Security, healthcare including Medicare and Medicaid, rights for women and workers and reforming Wall Street, among others. There are more questions to ask, of course, but to do that would only make him bristle.
When one AARP member asked him about the future of Social Security, Gov. Kasich could only say he offered a proposal while in the U.S. House—which among other bad policy choices included means testing seniors. “I don’t have a Social Security plan in front of me. It’s going to have to be changed. All of the entitlements are going to have to be changed,” he said, the Dispatch reported.
Gov. Kasich, now age 62, is the senior version of Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who Mitt Romney picked for his VP running mate two years ago. Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget, much like the austerity budget House Republicans passed this week, aims to increase the age of retirement and trims down benefits. It’s no surprise to Kasich watchers that his reforms for seniors will include these same hurtful strategies. He appears to not know that the simplest way to guarantee Social Security remains healthy is to remove the tax cap on high earners, so they can contribute Social Security’s dedicated tax on all their income. Doing so would set Social Security sold to the end of the century.
Curiously, he may have disqualified himself from the race if not answering questions is his metric to exclude possible presidential hopefuls. “Anybody who (wants) to be president ought to be asked this question: ‘Are you willing to deal with it?’ And if they’re not willing to deal with it, they’re not fit for office,” the Dispatch reported. Sounds like Gov. Kasich just called himself out based on his non-answer responses.
Asked a question about money in politics, Gov. Kasich, who once said transparency, not the amount, of money was his concern, had no answer. “I’m not opposed to some way to do this. I just don’t know what it is.” Thanks for that great answer, governor.
For someone who likely never gave a thought about serving his country with military service, Gov. Kasich—who coincidentally is so upset with spending discipline in Washington that he’s out pushing a proposal for a federal balanced budget amendment [BBA]—appears to not understand war costs produces deficits. Military spending was boosted by Republicans in their latest passed budget to $96 billion, while cutting virtually everything else except tax loopholes and giveaways. This wasteful spending maybe Okay with Gov. Kasich who dreams the impossible dream of being commander-in-chief and leader of the free world by 2017.
His opinion on what to do about rampaging Islamic State forces is to spend more taxpayer money and endanger more American lives. “There ought to be boots on the ground to deal with this problem before it gets worse and worse, and those can include American boots,” he said.
Now that he’s out pushing his BBA—with travel arrangements made through a special non-profit set up for him by strong backers including his White Whale, Mark Kvamme—the governor who proclaims himself a budget expert can’t name one program he would cut, even though he’s been repeatedly asked to do so. Gov. Kasich’s evasiveness echoes that of Paul Ryan, who was asked in 2012 about what he would cut in the budget were he to become vice president? Congressman Ryan didn’t answer, of course, choosing to say that would all be worked out behind closed doors. Gov. Kasich likes closed door conversations, too.
Meanwhile, in New York City this week, Gov. Kasich took flak for his pious proclamations on Medicaid and morality. One prominent conservative said he holds confusing positions on Obamacare and Medicaid expansion. Avik Roy, Manhattan Institute senior fellow and a Forbes opinion editor, said “Medicaid expansion is the most government-centric part of the law. To say that Obamacare is bad because it’s a top-down, government-dictated program and simultaneously argue that the Medicaid expansion is terrific — that’s just a nonsensical position to hold.” Roy took it a step further, saying it’s “highly probable that many conservative Christians will be offended that they’re not good Christians if they don’t support a massive expansion of government health care. I would say that’s almost disqualifying in a Republican primary.”
Classic Kasich scolded Roy just like he did the Associated Press last year in his reelection campaign when he made a statement that called into question his real understand of the nation’s healthcare law. “I’m gonna send you the transcript so you can get it right,” the combative Kasich responded. Kasich told the AP it “got it wrong” when it reported on what he said about the relationship between Medicaid expansion and Obamacare.
Not everyone knows how to jump in front of a parade, but Gov. Kasich does, as he proved in 2010 when he befriended the Tea Party to help push him over the election finish line. As President Clinton said in endorsement speech of President Barack Obama, in Charlotte, NC in 2012, it takes a lot of brass to accuse someone of doing what they’ve done.
Kasich’s brass shined bright when he poo-pooed President Bill Clinton remarkable feat to both balance the federal budget and produce surpluses for years to come. Kasich knocked the former president, saying he gets too much credit for the fiscal discipline of the 1990s. As a member of congress at the time, Kasich voted against Clinton’s budget, the one that produced surpluses many, including Kasich, used to balance the federal budget. Gov. Kasich lauds his time as Chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, even though reports don’t put him at the center of budget deals of the day. Speaking derisively of President Clinton, Ohio’s White House wannabe said, “He was there, but this idea that he balanced the budget is a joke,” Bloomberg News reported. “He’s [Clinton] very good at getting in front of a parade.” Gov. Kasich hasn’t said much about the trillions in war costs run up by George W. Bush, who signed every spending bill that cross his desk. Bush’s trillions in tax cuts also don’t merit a mention by Ohio’s “deficit hawk” governor.
But true believers of Gov. Kasich think his non-answers to real questions are just fine. One GOP New Hampshire buddy of Mr. Kasich remarked on his response to questions posed to him, saying he “handled them well.”