The trench between proven reality and Republican fairy tale thinking about the magical powers reducing income taxes has on budgets is so wide and deep that it rightfully should be called The Gulf of Ohio.
That gulf of thinking became apparent again when Ohio’s term-limited governor justified in basic Kasich a small business tax giveaway that costs the state one billion in “tax expenditures” each budget cycle. This could better be spent on other higher ROI investments, including more investing in needed infrastructure, restoring public education, tackling the opioid epidemic, and the return of billions the governor stole from local governments and schools back in 2011 – under the guise of budget balancing that would lower state overhead and help Ohio create more jobs at a faster pace.
When the Toledo Blade asked the governor about his tax giveaway that’s done nothing to create jobs but much to push the state into fiscal crisis, as revenues drift downward from rosy administrative estimates each month, Kasich’s answered with a pile of Swiss cheese reasoning.
“To raise taxes? No, we don’t want to raise taxes in this state,” he said, the Blade reported. “Frankly, Kansas — what they did is they operated on the basis that we’ll cut taxes, but we won’t cut spending. That’s not what we did. What we said is ‘we’re running surpluses here, and we could either spend it, which would put us even farther in the hole, we could have saved it and we’ve got $2 billion in the bank, or we could give it back,'” he said. “By giving it back it’s been a good thing.”
Running surpluses with a budget now almost $1 billion out of whack is the kind of double-think economics Kasich has crafted over his four decades in public politics that’s brought him fame and fortune. Even though he’s twice fallen flat on achieving his rightful purpose in life – if you believe his Biblical flim flam that running for president is trying to figure out the Lord’s prescribed purpose in life for him – he lifts himself up with the same poor political posture that put the Buckeye State in retrograde motion for the last six years.
For a governor who has proposed the largest spending budgets in state history, it’s curious at best and a bold-faced deception at worst that he’s cut spending. Former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, whose bad timing on being elected state CEO in 2006 happened to coincide with the Great Recession of 2007, actually proposed a second budget that was smaller than his first biennial budget.
When Kasich became governor, running a campaign that relied on mocking Strickland for spending down the state’s emergency fund to 89 cents in order to keep the ship of state afloat, he immediately jacked up spending on his first budget by more than $10 billion over Strickland’s last spending blueprint. For Kasich to claim that his history-busting budgets are examples of spending less is pure fairy tale fantasy.
Dismissing calls from Democrats, independents and others to tap into all that surplus in order to better address an opiate crisis that’s ballooned on his watch is just the latest example of why Kasich, for all his talk on the campaign trail and in his new book about his losing campaign for the White House last year, has no intention of listening to other voices, as he says the country needs to do in the era of President Donald Trump, where the gulf between reasonable and unreasonable is widening by the day.
The Gulf of Ohio isn’t a geographic reality, but a gulf of the mind. It measures the giant gap of understanding between harsh reality and magical thinking that tax cuts for the wealthy produce prosperity and jobs for everyone else. History shows through the lens of Kansas that Kasich’s scenario has played out terribly. Following the actions of a fiscally conservative governor (Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback) with the same mindset has shown in real time that the magic Kasich believes in doesn’t work as advertised.
Ohio lawmakers are still floating in the Gulf of Ohio, so raising taxes to fill budget holes, as Ohio’s conservative Kansas cousins did, won’t come from Columbus. But on the bright side, even hard-core Republicans who believe in long-held fairy tales about economics, have corralled or slaughtered many of Kasich’s best-sounding but worst-performing executive proposals.
The political gulf in Ohio will be tested next year, when Kasich wanders off the political radar screen to a political graveyard that could bury him or offer him a gravesite to emerge from like Carrie did in the 1976 Stephen King movie of the same name.