Ohio Gov. John Kasich gets little national attention these days after he bowed out of the Republican race for president in early May after losing 49 state primary contests.
In about 27 months he’ll no longer be the state’s top leader, a constitutional fate he can’t change but a political destiny many who have watched him radicalize state government maybe for decades to come can’t wait for.
The normally crusty governor whose off-putting persona became a well known facet of his campaign by national media types who covered his every quirky outburst and universally confused his brash style with sound public policy, hasn’t held an actual press conference in over 150 days. But while he’s been out of sight in Ohio, he bobs to the surface from time to time on his favorite news network, Fox, and gets to ink an occasional article in pro-free trade publications like the Washington Post, as happened Tuesday.
In an opinion piece appearing in The Washington Post, titled “Refusing to ratify TPP risks America’s role as the world leader,” Ohio’s term-limited chief executive was raised from the political graveyard again.
Pictured with lips pursed and looking up, ostensibly for guidance from his Lord and master, John Kasich parlayed his recent invitation to the White House by President Obama to push for passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership into another homily about free trade and the dangers of not doing it if Congress doesn’t wake up and pass TPP before the next president arrives. That next president, of course, will be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and both don’t like the 12-country agreement that does a lot for corporations but precious little for workers, here or abroad.
“Does the United States still have the ability — or the will — to be the undisputed global leader, a role it has held since World War?II?” Kasich lead sentence asked. “It’s a question to be answered soon by members of Congress as they approve or reject an initiative to give the United States expanded access to 11 countries that represent more than a quarter of the world’s trade, while leveling the playing field for U.S. workers and businesses,” Kasich opined. How they vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, he said, “will affect the course of the United States’ security, prosperity and global influence for the rest of the 21st century and determine whether we advance or retreat from our leadership role at a time of worldwide turmoil and uncertainty.”
How they vote will be more about not voting on TPP, if the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a say in what legislation he’ll allow members to vote on before President Obama leaves office in 100 days. McConnell, who worked furiously to limit Obama to one term but failed to achieve his goal, said the TPP trade deal is dead until a new president revives it. So not only is Gov. Kasich on the outs with his party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, but it seems like he’s out of touch his party’s dominate lawmaker in the Senate as well.
For Gov. Kasich, TPP is about trading goods and service for peace and national security. For corporations, TPP is about grabbing even more power than they have now. For astute economists, TPP is not about free trade, as Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research writes. In most cases, he says, “the formal trade barriers between the countries negotiating the pact are relatively low, and the main thrust of the negotiations is to impose a regulator structure in a wide range of areas — health, safety, environmental — which will override national and sub-national rules. This has little to do with trade and in some cases, such as the increased patent protection for prescription drugs being pushed as part of the deal will actually involve increased barriers to trade.”
Baker argues that embracing TPP as Gov. Kasich has done, for all the wrong reasons, is actually bad for workers in light of decades of trade patterns that have depressed the wages of a large segment of the U.S. workforce. Gov. Kasich, whose love of corporations over their workers has been apparent throughout his long political career, promised jobs when first elected in 22010 but has, for most of his time in office, under performed the national job creation average even though he’s privatized Ohio’s economic development efforts with a well-funded, private group that is exempt from public record checks. JobsOhio, the governor’s pet project, one he wanted to head himself until the Ohio constitution said he couldn’t do that, is his effort to Lehmanize Ohio after his former employer, Lehman Brothers, went bust, sending the country spiraling into the Great Recession.
While John Kasich talks a good game on the TPP as part of national security and showing the world America can still be a leader, he is blind to how it will work out in reality. That view was detailed by David Rosnick, who wrote that estimates of the U.S. economic gains that would result from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are very small. So small, in fact, that he says “the median wage earner will probably lose as a result of any such agreement.”
It’s hard to imagine John Kasich changing his mind on TPP, as Hillary Clinton has done. Instead of helping, “the long-term losses, going forward over the same period (to 2025), from the failure to restore full employment to the United States have been some 25 times greater than the potential gains of the TPP, and more than five times as large as the possible gains resulting from a much broader trade agenda.”
Now that John Kasich knows he won’t be the leader of the free world anytime soon, and won’t be governor of Ohio past Dec. 31 of 2018, he might have time to really read TPP as it’s currently configured so he can understand that being a world leader doesn’t mean throwing the workforce under the bus.