John Kasich has the luck of the Croatians. He can say about anything without fear of challenge. That’s fortunate because it makes his sweet Kool-Aid concoction of being the adult in the room who unites people to solve problems easy to swallow for low-information voters.
His false narrative of Ohio rebounding solely because of his leadership and policies is a a bedtime lullaby to an electorate that’s none the wiser. Journalistic misfeasance, or malfeasance as the case may be, has been steady as mainstream media hides his real record as guidance for what he would do if elected president.
Without mentioning his name once in the body of an article The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote in July of 2014 on Ohio’s progress with jobs, the opening lines said, “Ohio has yet to regain at least 120,000 jobs it lost since the recession began more than six years ago.” The fanfare accompanying the release of data for May two years ago was misplaced and premature, for at least Ohio under Kasich. Veronica Kalich, an economics professor at Baldwin Wallace University, who spoke the a PD reporter, tossed cold water on Kasich’s evolving narrative that being up 400,000 jobs was somehow better than other states.
“The big headline was that the U.S. was back. I am sorry, but Ohio is not back to where we were in December 2007,” she said.
Send In The Dots
In 2010, Kasich flim-flammed voters by promising to create jobs, but his deliver has been less than average as job numbers clearly show and Plunderbund has reported on more than any other legitimate news source. Kasich even admitted a few years ago on “Meet the Press” that Ohio’s economy had stalled, then blamed his poor performance on “headwinds from Washington.” Ohio under Gov. Kasich has now underperformed the national average for job creation for more than three straight years. When compared to the other 50 states, Ohio’s so-called “miracle,” as Kasich claimed it was, sequesters the Buckeye State among the bottom 25 states.
The governor’s patchy record at best on jobs offers more dots that show ideological power plays for his priorities. Readers looking to connect some dots need only consider what he did to help Bob Evans Farms corporation back in 2011, during his first term. Kasich cooed about the down-home food chain’s “chicken noodle soup” on the stump, all part of his folksy-guy-next-door fallacy that’s morphed into the sunny-side-up shtick he’s peddling on the road.
At the time, Bob Evans decided to move its corporate headquarters from the Columbus’ downtrodden, worker-class South Side, home to landfills, rendering plants and paper mills, to the very upscale glitter and glitz of New Albany, made possible by Limited founder and billionaire Leslie Wexner, who turned a tiny rural stop into central Ohio’s top residential development.
Camp Kasich provided $7.7 million in incentives as part of the deal to relocate the company’s headquarters from Columbus to the wealthy New Albany. Run at the time by Steve Davis, hand-picked by Kasich to sit on the board of JobsOhio, his secret, privatized economic-development agency that negotiates on behalf of the state with companies for state incentive even though it is likely unconstitutional, Bob Evans Farms turned down competing incentives from Columbus to stay. The city was disappointed, but Kasich, who said he’s be chairman of JobsOhio until the state constitutional said he couldn’t, defended the offer as a way to prevent Bob Evans from moving to Texas. The Kasich Administration was ripe for the picking, and Bob Evans enjoyed low-hanging fruit, courtesy of Gov. Kasich.
Critics of the deal included Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, who said the threat of Bob Evans moving out of state, to Texas, wasn’t credible to begin with. “Their deal here was better than it was elsewhere, and they left for reasons unknown to us,” Mayor Mike said at the time.
Add another dot. Bob Evans was among some of Ohio’s biggest corporations that were notorious for paying their employees so poorly that Medicaid was their access to health insurance. Less than six months into his first year, Gov.Kasich made a gaffe that was so true he apologized to the company for making it.
According to a report by the AP, Gov. Kasich said “a woman working at Bob Evans probably had no pension and health care benefits that were ‘shabby at best.'” Not long thereafter, a former marketing executive for Bob Evans Farms was selected by Team Kasich as director for the state’s new TourismOhio.
Critics have long complained that big corporations like Bob Evans and others, including Wendy’s and Kroger, need scrutiny because they rely on public support to assist their low-wage workers as state officials hand them taxpayer dollars for investments in economic development. Wendy’s has nearly 5,700 employees and their dependents insured through the state’s Medicaid program, Ohio’s Office of Medical Assistance reported. Based in central Ohio, Wendy’s benefited from a state tax credit worth up to $3.9 million after promising to create 223 jobs, Department of Development records show.
Medicaid Backstops Shabby Benefits
When Bob Evans was looking to relocate its headquarters two years ago, the company received an incentive package from Gov. Kasich that included a research-and-development investment loan of $3 million and tax credits for job creation and research and development totaling nearly $2.5 million, according to reports. Three years ago in mid-Aril, Bob Evans had more than 5,000 workers and dependents on Medicaid.
One outspoken critic was Rep. Robert F. Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat. “These multimillion-dollar companies are getting tax breaks and forcing their employees to use public assistance. They should cover their employees, or they shouldn’t be asking for help,” he said. Rep. Hagan saw the tax funding these big, profitable corporations were skimming from the state and spoke out. A state development official, at the time, explained the situation: “The employees qualify for assistance because they don’t earn a lot, their employer might not offer health-care coverage, or workers might not be able to afford their share of the benefit.”
Wal-Mart is a perennial leader, and at the time had nearly 18,000 Ohio employees covered by Medicaid, followed by McDonald’s with over 14,000 jobs. Next in line, respectively, came Kroger, Wendy’s and Bob Evans with a combined 17,000 plus workers using Medicaid.
So when Gov. Kasich went around his very right-wing legislature, which didn’t want to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, he was thinking about more than the normal people “living in the shadows.” He saw $2.5 billion a year in federal money and knew he could both shed state expenses and give aid and support to a few of Ohio’s biggest corporations, which are too cheap to pay their workers a living wage, defined by enough income to pay their expenses without being “dependent” on government safety net programs like Medicaid. John Kasich loves to talk about personal responsibility for individuals, but has nothing to say about the same responsibility to the biggest, richest corporations.
This observation on what Gov. Kasich was doing came from a progressive economic think tank that gets little attention at the legislature. Zach Schiller, a spokesman for Policy Matters Ohio, said Ohio’s safety-net services, including Medicaid, food stamps and cash assistance, “shouldn’t have to be used in significant ways by multimillion-dollar companies getting tax breaks. They should be able to adequately pay their employees.”
All this helps reveal a new dot. Reports say that Bob Evans Farms is mortgaging its New Albany headquarters to pay bills. The company took out a 10-year, $30 million mortgage on the headquarters Kasich helped pay for. Reason given, tapping into equity from the property to make debt payments.
Will it hike wages for its thousands of low-paid employees? Probably not. Gov. Kasich, as we know, is against raising the minimum wage or passing family and paid sick leave. So much for lifting people up no matter their condition, another failed promise John Kasich made running for a second term and final term.
Kasich Driving Out More Jobs?
As recently as yesterday, the PD reported that “the world’s largest steelmaker, its largest chemical company and its largest appliance maker” are opposing FirstEnergy and AEP Ohio’s requests to raise rates for up to eight years to subsidize operations of some of their old power plants. “ArcelorMittal, which provides 3,000 Ohio jobs, the chemical giant BASF Corp., with 10 Ohio facilities, and the Whirlpool Corp. which employs 10,000 in Ohio, have each written to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in opposition,” the paper said. Keep in mind that Gov. Kasich has made the PUCO another nest for his posse of wrong-minded energy regulators.
The dots are there. Connect them. Plunderbund will.