Gov. John Kasich visited New Hampshire this week, bragging that he could do for it what he has done for Ohio. For Republican primary voters who don’t know how Kasich rolls, here’s a tip: his carefully crafted story is big-time bogus. But that’s basic Kasich, deceive and mislead when you can to avoid telling the truth, especially when the truth hurts.
Politico reports Saturday that John Kasich’s super PAC, New Day for America, is running a full-page, color ad in the New Hampshire Union Leader Sunday repeating the same primary talking points that may sound great to low- or no-information voters. To those who followed him in Congress and now, as governor of Ohio, his song is wrong.
Style Over Substance
As he’s done for the last four and one-half years as Ohio’s 69th governor, the 63-year old performance politician, best known for his TV showmanship tactics that always puts style over substance, is brimming with easily deflated or debunked Kasichlore, when what he says is verified with what he doesn’t say, because that would reveal the inevitable discrepancies between fiction and fact.
“Taxes can be cut, Budgets can be balanced, Prosperity can be restored, people can be inspired,” his ad proclaims.
Balanced Budgets: It adds, John Kasich balanced America’s budget, as Chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee and chief architect of the first balanced budget since man walked on the moon. Sounds super, until you learn Kasich voted against President Bill Clinton’s first budget, along with every other Republican in congress at the time. Had Kasich’s side won that vote, he wouldn’t have had a surplus to balance any budget. Clinton, who won Ohio twice, was the president at the time, not Congressman Kasich. The hard-right governor is on record taking pride in shutting down the federal government, when New Gingrich, his promoter in chief, used the Contract With America, a manifesto of Republican action if elected that included not one word about healthcare, to take control of the House. Gingrich gave ambitious politicos like Kasich a chance to perform before the nation. Kasich was one of many people involved, but his claim of being at the top of the heap is preposterous on its face. Yet, it’s another talking point Ohio media, and now New Hampshire and national media, are swallowing without due diligence to its veracity.
Tax Cuts: Kasichlore says he cut taxes by $5 billion, the largest tax cut in America, proving that Conservative principles work. Sounds super, until a deeper dive shows that his income tax cuts, which any economist worth their salt knows disproportionately helped Kasich’s already wealthy donor base take away even more income from state coffers, has done little if anything to create jobs. Those billions in tax cuts were made possible only by shifting taxes to use and other taxes, which any economist worth their salt will tell you cost low-income tax payers more in income tax and consumption taxes. Kasich is an expert at tax shifting, and those Conservative principles he speaks of working have largely hollowed out America’s middle class since the days of Kasich’s political saint, Ronald Reagan, who reduced taxes in the mid-1980s. He also bloated the national debt to records amounts with military spending. Kasich voted for all those bloated Reagan spending bills signed into law, and now wants to walk that road again. He’s called for expanding the Navy’s armada of ships to even higher levels. Even Gov. Kasich knows that military spending is the most expensive spending of all. When it comes to balancing the budget, Kasich would radically change Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, reducing all of them as he tries to do what Conservative principles have long sought to do; privatize or eliminate them, to the great disadvantage of American workers and seniors.
Restoring Prosperity: New Day’s add says Gov. Kasich restored prosperity in Ohio, that he eliminated an $8 billion budget hole, that he took the state’s rainy day fund from 89 cents to $2 billion, that he created 350,000 jobs and won a second term with 64 percent of the vote. Sounds super, until one understands that there was no $8 billion budget hole to begin with, because that figure was produced by a Republican state auditor who projected the short fall. That auditor, Mary Taylor, was picked by Kasich to be his Lt. Governor and her projection was part of the coordinated Republican strategy at the time to trash the efforts by former Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat and the first one to hold the job since Dick Celeste left it in 1991. Strickland, using the tools available to him, used the rainy day fund for what it was designed for, keeping the ship of state afloat during hard economic times. Indeed, the Great Recession, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, seems an event that Gov. Kasich can’t recall. If he did, he has never been asked what he would do differently than what Gov. Strickland did, which was to save the state from falling into a true economic depression. As for the jobs Kasich had added, a good chunk came from Strickland’s policies, while the rest are mostly lower paying jobs created at a rate too slow to meet demand. Gov. Kasich is now 32 months into a string of sequential months during which he has failed to even meet the national average for job creation. He did have a big win last year, but with only 36.2 percent of Ohio’s registered voters voting, the governor actually had fewer than one in four registered voters vote for him. The win margin is impressive, but the dynamics of it are troubling and suspect.
Inspiration: His inspiration, it seems, doesn’t go so far as to restore all the funding he robbed from local governments. It doesn’t extend to helping residents of developmental disability centers from being forced into the street from the bench-mark care the state delivers. His inspiration seems more for him, his friends and supporters to cash-in, because they can, on the fluid race for president where perception is worth a pound of production. It’s a good tale, like the one the governor presents today, designed to open wallets for Kasich acolytes who owe their lucrative livelihood to the gabby governor who says the Lord is on his side.
As it stands now, Ohio is in the lower half of states, at 31 according to the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, a top ranker of state economic performance. As for prosperity, Ohio’s median wage has dropped under Gov. Kasich, while child poverty has risen. Ohio’s is regularly ridiculed national for its terrible charter school program, which the governor has funded with billions in taxpayer dollars. Gov. Kasich has sidestepped the whole issue, even though he’s been a full out supporter of hurting public schools by shifting their funds to charters even though their performance is deplorable. Kasich’s hand-picked administrator for charters was forced to resign last week when it was discovered he scrubbed bad data for charters from a state education scorecard. That administrator, David Hansen, is the husband of Kasich’s chief of staff, Beth Hansen, who has been reassigned to manage his presidential campaign.
Granite Staters: If You’re Not A Fool, Don’t Get Fooled
Advice to Granite State voters: read up on Mr. Kasich before swallowing his wrong song on how well Ohio is doing under his administration. If he does for New Hampshire what he’s done for Ohio, Vermont might want to acquire its neighbor after it drifts downward to Buckeye State status.
John Michael Spinelli is Ohio’s leading independent reporter. He contributes regularly to Plunderbund, the largest and most influential political website in Ohio. For the past couple of years, Plunderbund has been voted the most influential statewide political website in Ohio at The Fix at The Washington Post. Previously, at Examiner.com, Spinelli covered people, politics, government and beyond. He created PoliticalPuzzle and produces “60 Seconds” series video interviews.