Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich is all about the money, always has been, always will be. He finds himself at odds, though, with home-state lawmakers and business interests.His executive budget has been demolished and rebuilt by the Ohio House, and the Senate is expected to do the same soon. It’s another embarrassment to the governor that Republican State Treasurer Josh Mandel ditched his governor to endorse Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio for president.

With budget battles at home, and little known outside Buckeye State borders, the Kasich juggernaut to the White House needs  some fuel, and a cache of golden California campaign cash would grease a lot of wheels. 

“We’re trying to find out if we can get the resources. If we get the resources, I would expect we would move forward. If we don’t, then I will not,” the 62-year old governor said about why he’s headed west to prospect for gold.

Governor Blip

Barely a blip on anybody’s radar for president, Ohio’s go-go CEO-style governor is out trying to sell himself and his so-called “Ohio Story” to donors in California and in Georgia, reports on the governor’s travel schedule indicate. Kasich’s own personal white whale, Mark Kvamme, who Kasich tapped to move from Silicon Valley to Ohio to orchestrate the creation of the private job creation group JobsOhio, will fly his friend-and-now state chief executive to the Golden State to solicit large chunks of campaign contributions.

Always driven by the money, Gov. Kasich has already supplicated himself before Las Vegas-based GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson, who can rain millions down on any candidate of his choosing. Adelson spent upwards of $100 million to defeat President Barack Obama in 2012.


Ohio Gov. John Kasich

“That would be good. I would love to have someone step up and offer me multiple millions.” That’s basic Kasich, admitting the obvious, and the understatement of the year. A politician’s politician for nearly four decades, the former Fox TV talk show host and Lehman Brother banker knows the Golden Rule: those with the gold make the rule.

California Dreaming

Ohio’s governor likely won’t be having any conversations with California’s governor, Jerry Brown, who along with a Democratic legislature and the will of the people raised taxes to balance its budget, and is among the top states for job creation. Back in Buckeyeville, Mr. Kasich is 29 months into a string of monthly job creation reports that shows he can’t even break even with the national average, by as much as 40 percent in some months.

As Gov. Kasich stays tethered to his easily debunked story of how he turned around Ohio, were he to be asked to remark on any of the agenda items articulated yesterday in Washington by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio as the kind of budget that can protect the middle class and help others move up into it, he’d be scratching his head, wondering how to avoid answering since he has little to nothing to offer on policy he’d pursue as president.

Last weekend, when he was the commencement speaker at Ohio Dominican University, Gov. Kasich offered not one comment to graduates about public policy that could help them have a better future. Instead,  Gov. Kasich, who fancies himself a deep think and policy guru, suited up again as Pastor Kasich,  rambling on from his now familiar religious redoubt about being created by god and living up to the potential He gave. “Lifting everyone up no matter their circumstance” was his promise in his last campaign commercial from last year. As poverty inches up on his watch, his constituency to be lifted up grows larger by the day.

Others, like NYC’s Mayor de Blasio, now on a national tour to push the need to fight income inequality as contrasted with Mr. Kasich’s national push for a federal balanced budget amendment, actually have policies to lift people out of poverty and into the middle class.

“Something different is happening. It’s a movement from the grass roots. It’s an urgent call for change,” de Blasio said during a news conference in the District of Columbia, where he was joined by dozens of fellow liberals, including former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro and civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton, the AP reported. “It’s time to take that energy and crystalize it into an agenda that will make a difference. It’s time to put people ahead of profits and value work over wealth.”

Unfortunately, for someone who has spent his political career catering to the wealthy at the expense of the not-wealthy, as Gov. Kasich’s four-plus years running the nation’s seventh most populace state shows, he has little to say on the growing popularity of progressive agendas and platforms that take him to task on every big issue of the day.

His love for income tax cuts remains based on his Reagan-era notion that they produce jobs and more government revenue, which helps explain why he withheld billions from transfer payments to local governments and schools and others. His claim is that he balanced the state budget without raising taxes, and has a $2 billion surplus to show for it. He’s raised plenty of taxes, that’s undeniable, just not the income tax. With Gov. Kasich as their wing man, Ohio’s wealthiest cashed in while the shrinking middle class and growing poor get a teeny return or end up paying more.

The Progressive Agenda

Lift the Floor for Working People:

Raise the federal minimum wage, so that it reaches $15/hour, while indexing it to inflation.
Reform the National Labor Relations Act, to enhance workers’ right to organize and rebuild the middle class.
Pass comprehensive immigration reform to grow the economy and protect against exploitation of low-wage workers.
Oppose trade deals that hand more power to corporations at the expense of American jobs, workers’ rights, and the environment.

Support Working Families:

Pass national paid sick leave.
Pass national paid family leave.
Make Pre-K, after-school programs and childcare universal.
Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Allow students to refinance student loan debt to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Tax Fairness:

Close the carried interest loophole.
End tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
Implement the “Buffett Rule” so millionaires pay their fair share.
Close the CEO tax loophole that allows corporations to take advantage of “performance pay” write-offs.

Gov. Kasich needs money to tell people who he is he says. “For me to get out there and be patient and tell people who I am and what I am and what I intend to do. I think it’s about being me, and trying to, in the course of countless miles of travel – I think the key is to just be who I am and to take it very seriously without taking myself too seriously,” he told a reporter.

His fear, he says, is that kids will have it worse off. The governor should know, since so many of his policies at the federal level from his 18 years in Congress as a hard-right Republican on social policy have hurt people. Entering his second and final term as governor, Gov. Kasich hides from his record on social issues, and finds current data on his economic prowess debunking his steady sermon on being the great job creator challenging his claims of being a turnaround governor.

“If there’s anything I would say is that the country needs a large dose of positive, coupled with that a realistic approach to restoring a positive sense among the public,” he said. Whether it’s the Progressive Agenda or the People’s Platform, Gov. John Kasich has nothing to offer other than his record, which for many is more than enough to keep him as a term-limited chief executive.