It’s highly unlikely that any New Hampshire reporters will ask Ohio Gov. John Kasich whether he thinks new Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan makes a solid case for his leadership in brokering the passage of a $1.1 trillion budget bill, or whether his friend and political compatriot, Ohio junior U.S. Senator Rob Portman, was right to stand up for his commonsense conservative principles when he crowed about all the Washington goodies coming Ohio’s way in a bill he voted against?
With his poll numbers sinking nationally, Gov. Kasich is again campaigning in New Hampshire, this time with his wife and daughters in tow. On the campaign trail Monday, the crusty 63-year old state leader held two more town halls and launched his “Women for Kasich” in Greenland, reports say.
Ohio’s term-limited governor is even letting his twin daughters take over his Instagram account as he undertakes his 37th town hall in a state that holds his collapsing future in its hands, as early primary voting starts there on Feb. 9.
Rob Portman, running for his second term next year, and John Kasich are on the same balance-the-federal-budget page. Mr. Kasich has pushed for a federal balanced budget amendment even though critics, right and left, say it’s a terrible idea at best and potentially catastrophic at worst.
Speaker Ryan, who ran and lost in 2012 as Mitt Romney’s pick for Vice President, talked about the end-of-year deal to fund the government and solidify hundreds of billions of dollars of tax relief. He said the bi-partisan agreement was a “cake already baked” before he stepped into leadership. He made the best of it and seized key GOP wins that set the table for a productive 2016, the very conservative Washington Times reported.
“In divided government, you don’t get everything you want,” Mr. Ryan said Sunday on TV. “So we fought for as much as we could get. We advanced our priorities and principles. Not every single one of them, but many of them. And then we’re going to pick up next year and pick up where we left off and keep going for more.”
Portman Votes ‘No’ But Takes Credit For Spending
In a statement explaining his vote against the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, Sen. Portman said, “While I appreciate the hard work by colleagues to put together this massive Omnibus Appropriations bill, I believe the total spending is too much during this time of unacceptably high annual deficits and record debt.”
Portman, who served first as George W. Bush’s budget director then his trade representative, pointed to “budget gimmicks” in the bill for why he said no. “These gimmicks allow Congress to count artificial offsets against new spending, thus circumventing the spending caps by about $18 billion,” he said in a press release following the vote last week.
Lamenting that the bill didn’t go through an open process, Mr. Portman, who recent polling shows either losing to or tied with his primary challenger next year, former Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, said Congress should get back to regular order, including passing appropriations bills based on a budget and having an open amendment process.
Sen. Portman offers one release after another on how Ohio will benefit from the bill even though he ended up being one of the 33 senators who voted against it.
David Bergstein, spokesman for former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, commented on Sen. Portman’s vote. “For the past week, Senator Portman has sent press release after press release taking credit for parts of this budget bill, and then he voted against it — a clear example of the kind of double-speak and political games that working people in Ohio hate about Washington politicians,” he said, according to reports.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio’s two-term senior senator, was among the 65 who voted for it. In the House, it passed 316 to 113 with nearly all of Ohio’s House delegation voting for it.
Voting against it, Sen. Portman was nonetheless very happy federal funds are coming to Ohio. He didn’t say what, exactly, he would veto from the bill, but he liked a lot of it. Portman said spending will avoid significant layoffs otherwise scheduled for the clean up effort at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Pike County, fund the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, fund security costs for the Republican National Convention, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Stryker vehicles to be produced at the Lima tank plant, upgrades to the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and substantial new funding for Ohio for abandoned homes in the Hardest Hit Fund which will help to address blight in low-income neighborhoods.
“I am also pleased that additional support was provided to our troops and intelligence agencies at a time when the terrorist threat is increasing,” Sen. Portman said, adding, “Finally, I was supportive of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act, which provided important relief for American families and small businesses.”
Federal Spending Under Control Again
Gov. Kasich loves to show his ticking debt bomb clock as he tries to fight his way into America’s and New Hampshire”s stream of consciousness. But while trillions in national debt sounds catastrophic, the catastrophic economy President Obama inherited from the Bush Administration, due largely to trillions and trillions in unpaid for war costs and income tax giveaways, has been steadily rebounding back to normal percentages of yearly deficits as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product.
And it’s always fun, of course, to watch Gov. Kasich talk fiscal conservatism on the campaign trail, especially to small turnouts in some homes of his supporters. Kasich talks a good game about balanced budgets, which every Ohio governor has produced since its required by the constitution, but his state budgets so far, one after another, have set spending records.
Meanwhile, Ohio is now 37 months into subpar performing the national job creation average on his watch, as Ohio workers leave the workforce waiting for Mr. Kasich to create the kind of good-paying jobs, at a stepped up pace, to return Ohio to full economic health.