Fake news was on display this past weekend in Columbus like it was the 4th of July all over again. Vice President Mike Pence, who has made three visits to the Buckeye State since assuming his second-in-command duties on Jan. 20, was the featured speaker at the dinner-fundraiser event Ohio Republicans held Saturday night at The Union on the campus of The Ohio State University.
Pence, whose last job was being a conservative, hard-right governor of neighboring Indiana, launched the first of many colorful fireworks that were factually wrong, starting with his applause for Ohio Gov. John Kasich for doing a great job.
“I’ve known your governor a long time,” Pence told about 1,000 GOP attendees, the Dayton Daily News reported. “John and I occasionally have differences of opinion,” he said, making a clear reference to the on-going, bitter standoff between Kasich and Pence’s immediate superior, President Donald Trump, and a Republican-led Congress hell bent on repealing the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) that Americans across the nation want fixed, not subjected to a death panel of Republicans who want to pronounce it DOA and bury it.
As for Kasich doing a great job for Ohio, opinions outside Republican circles hold just the opposite is true, as his administration has produced 55 months of under performing the national job creation average, that he’s allowed hundreds of millions of public education dollars to be wasted on for-profit charter schools that perform poorly, and overseeing the drift downward to the bottom half of states in five of seven key categories analysed in a ranking of best states by U.S. News. That isn’t making Ohio Great Again by any legitimate standards.
One report of the meeting said that Pence pushed the president’s agenda of cutting taxes, shutting down illegal immigration, and rebuilding the U.S. military. While Pence and Kasich are at loggerheads on Medicaid and its expansion under the ACA, they are soul mates on cutting taxes, especially the income tax, a strategy Kasich has used from his first year in office that, unfortunately, shows that it takes from the poor and gives to the rich.
Among other programs that produce little of value for the general population but bring big rewards for some industry sectors, Kasich’s budget razzle dazzle helped create a billion-dollar hole in his final state budget, which GOP lawmakers in Columbus filled using the only tool available to them, cutting even more government spending despite the fact that $2 billion sits unused in the state’s rainy day emergency fund.
The vice president sent another fake news rocket into the air when he promised the president “will rebuild our military, we will restore the arsenal of democracy and we will once again give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard the resources and training they need to accomplish their mission and come home safe.”
The White House seems oblivious to the fact that President Barack Obama, who was forced by a Bush Administration agreement with Iraq to withdraw troops from the war-torn country, didn’t let the arsenal of democracy deteriorate, far from it actually. As National Public Radio reported, American military might “remains far and away the world’s foremost military power.”
What Pence intentionally got wrong is that America’s total military might is smaller than at its height throughout the post-9/11 build up, but military spending is up. Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies observed that the so-called “smaller force” consumes a budget more than 50 percent larger in real terms than before 9/11. “The military is spending more on a smaller force,” he said.
The loudest and scariest fireworks Pence fired off in Columbus was his vow that “President Donald Trump and I are going to keep fighting every single day until this Congress puts on his desk a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.” Echoing Trump’s self-made fake news, Pence said, “Obamacare is dead… Democrats are obstructionists, and it’s solely up to Republican Senators to rescue the American people from that disastrous policy.”
In Ohio, Pence knows that senior U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown wants to keep the ACA by adding a few corrections. Pence also knows that Ohio’s junior senator in Washington, Rob Portman, who voters rewarded with a second term last year, is a human waffle on the subject. Portman opposes Obamacare, like Kasich and all the other Republicans in the room Saturday do, but he wants to keep all the good parts of the law, most especially the expansion of Medicaid that Indiana did not accept when Pence was governor.
Portman, by the way, is one of the all-male senator writing an ACA replacement bill, but he pretends to have concerns sufficient to prevent him from outright endorsing or opposing the terrible bill that could see a vote as early as next week.
In his awkward comment about how well Ohio has done under the leadership of his good buddy and political soul mate Kasich, Pence forgot to mention all the local taxes that have been raised to make up for the billions in state revenue sharing money that Kasich didn’t share with local governments. He also failed to mention that no-new-taxes Kasich had no problem raising news taxes when it came to hiking the regressive sales tax to offset what he gave away to Ohio’s richest individuals and corporations.
On cutting government regulation, Pence conveniently failed to mention nearly a billion dollars in corporate tax loopholes that have been allowed to go unchallenged for decades, as Ohio now earns most of its general revenue from individuals instead of corporations, a switch that’s been on-going for decades.
Ohioans know all too well from the last economic recession started in 2007 that tore Ohio apart at the seams, if it’s good for Wall Street it probably won’t be good for Bill and Betty Buckeye, nearly three million of whom have income small enough to qualify for Medicaid, the federal-state social safety net program created to help children, women, seniors, the disabled, and mentally ill.
Next year will be the biggest election for Ohio, and Ohio Democrats, in maybe a generation. After two years of a Trump-Pence White House doing it’s best to subvert normalcy by creating chaos, if Trump Republicans show up in numbers greater than those for Democrats and independents suffering from buyer’s remorse as a result of switching party affiliations last year, the political party that could be DOA then will be the Ohio Democratic Party.
If it loses in 2018 like it did in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, these five consecutive election loses will relegate the party to maybe winning seats for mayor and county commissioner since they can’t win statewide anymore.
Democrats To Offer ‘Better Deal Agenda’
In Washington Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, revealed the new message some Democrats have called for: “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future”
“In the past, we were too cautious; we were too namby-pamby. This is sharp and bold,” Schumer said, Vox reported.
Included in its key planks will be a“$15 an hour minimum wage, a sweeping child care proposal, and a $1 trillion infrastructure package.”
If Trump and Pence have their way, what will be good for them will mostly likely be bad for Ohio and Buckeyes, both of which are still hurting from the last two recessions, by letting Wall Street run free again. It’s a strategy that tees Ohio and all other states up for another downfall. Given Ohio leadership’s red state of mind, Schumer’s agenda will undergo a hard test. If it fails, so will Ohio.