Politics

The Truth About John Kasich

CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) will announce today at The Ohio State University that he is running for the Republican nomination for president, likely becoming the last major contender to enter the race.

A former U.S. congressman, Kasich has long touted his economic credentials and his success in balancing the budget as the chair of the House Budget Committee, an accomplishment he hoped would help secure him his party’s nomination for the presidency in 2000. He ultimately quit the race, but has had his eye on another try ever since.

As Ohio’s governor, a position he has held since 2011, Kasich pushed through extreme tax cuts and enacted other measures to balance the state’s budget. While he has been called a moderate conservative and may be considered more centrist than some of the other Republican presidential candidates, his track record in Ohio proves otherwise.

Here are four policies the former Lehman Brothers executive has supported that prove he is just as conservative, or even more conservative, than his Republican challengers:

Enacted sweeping tax cuts that devastated Ohio’s poor: While Kasich has said that his Christian faith calls him to help the poor and try to lift them up, the massive tax cuts he enacted in Ohio have had detrimental effects for low-income Ohioans. The tax plan he championed effectively slashed taxes for the wealthiest and increased them for the state’s poor and middle class. In total, Kasich cut taxes in Ohio by more than $3 billion including several income tax cuts and an income tax cut for small businesses. But the small business tax cut mostly benefited a few high-income business entities — not those that hire people and generate economic activity — and did little to help the majority of people.

Signed a budget that included restrictive anti-choice measures: In 2013, Kasich signed a budget that included a number of anti-women’s health provisions including language that ultimately defunded Planned Parenthood, redirected funding to right-wing “crisis pregnancy centers,” threatened to shut down abortion clinics, and stripped funding from rape crisis centers that provide women with vital information about abortion services. Polling at the time he signed the restrictions showed that the majority of Ohio voters didn’t support the provisions limiting women’s reproductive rights.

Dealt a blow to labor by supporting pro-business legislation: Early in his governorship in 2011, Kasich supported a bill to limit the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions. Voters ultimately repealed the bill with 62 percent of people voting against it, a slap to Kasich who had championed the legislation as a cost-cutting measure. But then this year, finally making good on his promise, he rescinded two executive orders which made two kinds of independent, self-employed contractors – home health care contractors and in-home child care contractors — eligible for collective bargaining with the state even though they are not employed by the state.

Pushed through charter school reform while ignoring failing schools: Ohio has about 123,000 kids attending nearly 400 charter schools, but the privately-run, publicly-funded schools have been performing terribly and have been criticized by education leaders across the country. Research has found that students in Ohio’s charter schools learn less than those in traditional public schools and sponsors of the state’s charter schools have come under scrutiny for using the position as a money-grab. Kasich proposed a series of fixes earlier this year, but things have only gotten worse as the year has progressed. This week, the Ohio Education Department official responsible for school choice and charter schools resigned after admitting that he gave help to charter schools to make them look better in state evaluations.

But in a few areas, Kasich stands out from the ultra-conservative pack. The governor has employed moral and religious rhetoric to explain why he feels it’s important for the government to help the poor. For example, Kasich opted to expand Medicaid after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, justifying his decision by referring to his Christian faith. “If you go through the Old and New testaments, there’s one thing that’s very clear,” he said at the time. “You’ve got to help people that are downtrodden and poor, and I just think that that’s part of our culture. You’ve got to help people that can’t help themselves.” He repeated a similar line at a closed-door Koch brother conference, drawing disapproval from other conservatives in attendance.