Continuing to campaign in New Hampshire, the early primary state he’s betting his presidential run on, Ohio Gov. John Kasich revealed his plan to fix Social Security, the most important social safety net program in the nation’s history that is celebrating its 80th birthday.

Trying to sell himself as a budget balancer, compassionate conservative, military expert and man of faith to Granite State voters who don’t know him like Ohioans do, recent polls show that after spending $3 million in TV ads to introduce himself, the Ohio governor has moved up in state polls. Mr. Kasich is now in third place, a point behind second place candidate Jeb! Bush, who trails state poll leader Donald Trump.

Robber Baron Kasich

The governor’s upbeat, positive message about his vision for a new day in America almost never includes actual plans to achieve what he would do were he to be elected president next year. Based on what Gov. Kasich said to a group of New Hampshire voters yesterday, his recipe going forward has changed little from what he’s advocated over the course of his long and lucrative career in politics, which relies more on tearing down than building up.

Speaking on the topic of entitlements, Gov. Kasich, said, “On entitlements, they all need to be—so let me give you my basic feeling on it. If you’re on it, we don’t want to take it away. The baby boomers are going to have to give some on it. Not sure what it’s going to be yet, because I gotta go back and do all the numbers again. And for the younger people I still like the idea of giving them an opportunity to earn money through the strength of our American economy, with Social Security included in that.”

Kasich’s comments could be very problematic for him, since he voted for the 1983 Social Security tax hike that was supposed to put a surplus in place to secure Baby Boomer retirements. As one political watcher said, “It takes a special sort of Chutzpa to vote a big tax hike on a generation’s entire working life and then steal the benefit at the last minute.”

Gov. Kasich, whose value on FEC financial disclosure documents could be as high as $22 million, wants the Baby Boom generation [1946-1964] to give up some of its hard-earned Social Security benefits, while he privatizes the system for future generations. In the past, Congressman Kasich has proposed cutting Social Security benefits and been a supporter of privatizing Social Security since his days in Congress. Sources say he introduced legislation that would implement a new retirement program that has been called “stealth privatization.”

President George W. Bush, who forced Kasich out of the race for president in 2000, also wanted to privatize the program created in 1935 by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. But Bush’s effort to tamper with the so-called third-rail of politics went no where.

Kath Allen of Peterborough asked Kasich how it’s fair that Americans earning over $118,500 are only taxed up to that amount for Social Security, Benji Rosen of the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript reported. Kasich said he wasn’t for raising taxes, and instead spoke about his 1998 plan as a U.S. representative to fix Social Security. Gov. Kasich doesn’t count raising use taxes as raising taxes. It’s true he has cut Ohio’s income tax rates, but it’s also true he has raised other taxes in order to amass the funds he gives back to his wealthiest donor base in state subsidies.

Kasich Wants Wall Street In Charge

Asked to comment on Gov. Kasich’s plan, Brad Wright of the The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare said, “Privatizing Social Security means handing it over to Wall St. And it’s just another way to cut the benefits of the American men and women who contribute to social security. It is perhaps the most successful of all government programs which and pays for itself. It has never contributed a dime to the national debt.

Ohio senior U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, a strong voice for Social Security, said on its birthday, “For the better part of a century, Social Security has been crucial to the financial security of millions of Americans of all income levels – including retirees, workers with disabilities, and children whose parents can no longer provide for them because of death or disability. While its benefits remain relatively modest, some in Washington are calling for cuts to Social Security.”

With fewer defined pensions and more seniors relying on Social Security for the majority of their incomes, Brown said “we should be expanding Social Security instead of cutting it.” He added, “Social Security’s continued success relies on Congress’s ability to work together. We must take steps to ensure that it remains strong for another eight decades and beyond.”

DNC National Press Secretary Holly Shulman didn’t let any dust settle on Kasich’s candid comments. “Asking baby boomers to face cuts on the Social Security benefits they’ve earned over their entire lives is the exact opposite of what they need to hear from a White House contender,” she said via email Wednesday. “We need to be doing more to protect our seniors who are so close to retirement and counting on a system they’ve paid into. Instead of doing the time warp on Social Security, Republicans should join Democrats and fight to protect and preserve this promise to our seniors.”

“The Governor better look again at the numbers,” said Robert Borosage, founder and current president of Campaign for America’s Future, a Washington based progressive advocacy group. “He [Kasich] seems to think the US has an entitlements crisis,” Mr. Borosage, an Ohioan by birth, told me via email today.
Social Security was never in crisis, Mr. Bososage argues.  In fact, it contributes virtually nothing to the “scary long-range projections about deficits … and even on its own bottom, only minor reforms are needed to sustain it.” For Mr. Borosage, who played a large role in hammering out a People’s Platform that more aligns with Bernie Sanders than Hillary Clinton now, a larger concern is handling the demographic change as Baby Boomers retire out of the workforce.
“The real question is the retirement crisis we’re headed into, with too many Americans without pensions or savings, suggesting that we ought to be planning ways to expand Social Security not cut it,” he said.
Mr. Borosage said the driver of long-term deficits is and has been health care costs.  “Obamacare — and the recession — has had greater effects in slowing the rise of health care costs than any expected,” he said, adding, “But much more needs to be done, starting with repealing the absurd ban on Medicare negotiating bulk discounts on prescription drugs.”
To Mr. Borosage, Ohio’s go-go CEO governor sounds like someone who thinks the question is how to cut entitlements.  “The question is how to get the economy growing — and cutting Social Security would be truly counterproductive towards that end.”
Does Kasich Understand Social Security?
As Chairman of the House Budget Committee in the late 1990s, Gov. Kasich is claiming near sole credit for balancing the federal budget, even though he voted against the 1993 Clinton budget that made it all possible. Before he declared for president, Ohio’s term-limited governor was out peddling a federal balanced budget amendment that budget experts say is a bad idea at best and a disaster of an idea at worst. Gov. Kasich is a signatory to Grover Norquist’s no new tax pledge, which means the obvious and easy solution to shoring up Social Security’s solvency to the end of the century, raising the income cap on paying into Social Security, is a non-starter for him.

He would rather spend billions on bulking up American military might, even sending more boots on the ground to Iraq and Syria, then balance the budget by taking benefits from retirees’ earned benefits when they are just ready to start to enjoy them. If that’s not a bait and switch recipe, then Gov. Kasich needs to explain the madness of his method clearly for everyone to understand.

Democratic candidates, on the other hand, are campaigning to strengthen and boost programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Talking first and thinking later, Gov. Kasich will have an uphill climb to convince the majority of Americans who want social safety net programs they pay into to be around when they need them that his recipe to whittle them down and privatize them is the absolute wrong policy.

When St. Peter asks John Kasich what he did for the poor, his answer better not be that he took programs that keep them alive, fed and healthy down in order to balance budgets out of whack from his costly military spending and crony capitalism.