“There is always an effort to punish the poor. There is always the belief that they are not deserving. Why is it that some elected officials find it so important that we add to the struggles of the poor?” That’s a statement made Thursday at a press conference by Philip Cole, the executive director of The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, to announce the release of a new report on poverty in Ohio, according to published reports.
Without naming names, Mr. Cole’s concerns should be laid at the feet of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has promised much but fallen far short of delivering on his promises of more and better jobs and prosperity coming to more Ohioans.
The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies’ annual State of Poverty report examines census data and other research that paints a troubling picture of poverty in the Buckeye State.
Mr. Cole’s group exists to support, unify, and strengthen the Community Action Network in Ohio by serving the needs of low-income families and individuals. The report about the rising tide of poverty in Ohio shows the growing struggles faced by many that won’t be going away anytime soon.
Special attention is given to grandparent caregivers who are surviving on a fixed income as well as the growing number of food insecure college students and the campuses that are working to satisfy their immediate food needs is another troubling aspect to the report.
In his opening letter, Mr. Cole says “families and individuals can slip into poverty for any number of reasons, but by providing emergency assistance when necessary, and backing that up with tools and resources to build long-term success, Community Action continues to make a difference.”
In 2010 Gov. Kasich promised to create jobs if elected. In 2014 he promised to lift up everyone, regardless of circumstances, if given a second term. With nearly half of Ohio households lacking the liquid assets needed to stay out of poverty for 3 months, the governor has a lot of explaining to do for why poverty is up under his watch.
The report says a family of two adults and two school-age children in Ohio needs an annual incoome of at least 146 percent of the federal poverty level to be self-sufficient. Mr. Kasich is well known for wanting others to be self-sufficient, as he calls for more “personal responsibility” so people don’t become “dependent” on government safety-net programs. But the governor and politicos with his stingy, fiscal-social mindset always want to dispense bitter medicine along with safety-net help.
A perfect example of this thinking is the health care bill up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives today, which if passed into law would lead to 14 million Americans going without access to affordable health care insurance as soon as next year, and as many as 24 million by 2026. Gov. Kasich wants Medicaid-eligible Ohioans to pay a monthly premium for their insurance, and would likely agree that a work requirement to qualify for that care is appropriate.
It’s hard to believe, but 12 Ohio colleges and universities have food pantries on campus. These findings are among the sad statistics found in the new poverty report:
Housing insecurity and food insecurity often overlap, with 64 percent of food insecure students also reporting housing insecurity,
- One in four college students are “highly nontraditional” and may struggle to pay for food because they have four of the following characteristics: financially independent, employed full time, a single parent, provide for dependents, attend college part-time, or do not have a standard high school diploma,
- “Nontraditional” and “highly nontraditional” students have a number of barriers to food security that traditional college students often do not encounter.
- Most (three-quarters) of food insecure students receive some form of financial aid
A single parent with two children must work 109 hours per week to reach self-sufficiency at minimum wage. Gov. Kasich not only hasn’t delivered on the quantity of jobs Ohio needs, but the quality of jobs he takes credit for are mostly jobs that pay the minimum wage or slightly above.
That grim fact is backed up by the report’s finding that nearly one third of households led by a single female live in poverty; that rate increases to 43.1 percent among single women with children under 18.
Almost 40,000 grandparent households in Ohio live in poverty, because many grandparents live on a fixed income, when they become grandparent caregivers they often struggle because their income does not increase.
Fortune’s Unfortunate Love Fest With John Kasich
Notwithstanding this dire report about poverty in Ohio, Gov. Kasich continues to receive acclaim he doesn’t deserve. The most recent example of that comes in a ranking by Fortune Magazine of the 50 top world leaders.
Here’s what Fortune found about Ohio’s petulant and intemperate governor: “As the leader of a politically consequential state, the Trump skeptic commands a key platform. Lately he has used it to rally GOP governors behind preserving the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which allowed him to secure coverage for nearly 700,000 Ohioans. Kasich made his case directly to Trump in February.”
How far off is Fortune on its understanding of Mr. Kasich? Way off, given how it compliments him with the “ability to acknowledge reality and offer hope, bring followers physically together and build bridges.”
Fortune obviously didn’t read Mr. Cole’s report, choosing instead to focus on beltway reporter beliefs about the career politician who has stiffed cities and schools, made life for women harder, and added to income inequality.
Kasich Extends Poor Jobs Streak
Meanwhile, Friday morning saw the release of new data on employment and unemployment in Ohio for February 2017. Gov. Kasich has extended his inability to meet or out perform the national job creation average to 51 consecutive months. Sad.