Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) Runner Up For the Malicious Republican Jerk of The Week

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) Runner Up For the Malicious Republican Jerk of The Week

It took Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) less than three months to use state-owned private planes more than former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) used them in 13 months, according to a new report from the Dayton Daily News. Despite unveiling a budget full of painful cuts to vital programs, including education and health care, Kasich has cost taxpayers $31,400 for 20 total trips in his first 81 days in office. In contrast, Strickland spent $31,849 in his first 13 months in office. Ohioans are spending $387.65 a day to support Kasich’s plane habit, compared to just $77.58 a day for Strickland.

But during his 2010 campaign against Strickland, Kasich, through spokesperson Rob Nichols, criticized the incumbent’s use of the plane and questioned whether funding the plane was justifiable at all:

    “But because [Strickland] likes hitting the snooze button, he makes a small army of people fire up his plane, get it ready and then fly it from one airport to another so he won’t have to drive an extra 15 minutes to the airport. … Putting aside the wasted money and extra wear and tear, could the guy do something more arrogant? … Frankly, there needs to be a closer review of whether the plane’s cost can even still be justified at all.”

But now Nichols has changed his tune, saying the plane is vital to keeping jobs in Ohio:

    “The lesson of the loss of NCR and its 1,600 jobs is that keeping — and growing — jobs and companies in Ohio requires a governor with the initiative to get out of the Statehouse, go meet face-to-face with leaders across the state to see what they need to be successful and then work to help them hire more Ohioans. If the trade-off for that degree of personal engagement and the jobs it seeks to create for our communities is some sniping that the governor gets around the state too much, we’re comfortable with it.”

But according to the Daily News, several of Kasich’s trips haven’t involved jobs at all. He’s flown across the state to Canton and Cincinnati to announce staff appointments; to Youngstown, Akron, and Toledo to speak to chambers of commerce and Rotary Clubs; and to Washington D.C. to meet with other governors.

Kasich’s unprecedented spending on travel at the beginning of his term comes during a period when he passed a budget that cut services beneficial to low- and middle-income Ohioans. With the state facing an $8 billion budget gap, Kasich’s budget featured steep cuts in education, children’s health, public libraries, and local governments. His union-busting legislation, SB 5, made cuts from public employee pensions and has widespread effects on teachers and public safety officials, including firefighters and police officers. And he’s attempting to save more money by making cuts to the state’s prison system, which is among the program he would like to privatize.

While Kasich cut services and programs important to millions of Ohioans, his own office wasn’t nearly as unfortunate. He pays his staff more than Strickland paid his, and the governor’s office had to swallow only $176,000 in budget cuts — a far cry from the $3.14 billion cut from education over the next two years.

Kasich tells Ohio voters that a little shared sacrifice now will ensure that “kids have a future in this state. That they can have jobs in this state and that your family can be prosperous.” But judging by his actions, everyone has to share in the sacrifice except the governor himself.

Like his ideological twin, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Kasich is owned and operated by the far right Tea Pee Party and the Koch brothers. Kasich is utterly incapable of relating to the average worker or parent in Ohio.

Priorities? GOP Governors Shift Burden To Poor, Middle Class To Pay For Tax Breaks For Rich, Corporations

Ohio: Gov. John Kasich demonstrated an early propensity for making future-losing choices when he made good on a campaign promise to kill Ohio’s federally-funded high-speed rail project — a move that will cost Ohio $400 million in badly-needed infrastructure investment, cost thousands of jobs, and derail millions of dollars in related private sector investments in economic development. Kasich, along with numerous other Ohio Republicans, has signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge that rules out any tax increases to help the state make ends meet. Even though the state has an $8 billion budget shortfall, Kasich has gone even further in proposing a variety of tax cuts that would benefit corporations and the wealthy. In addition to going after public employees (who Kasich thinks should not ever have the right to strike) and essential government programs, he has proposed a variety dubious privatization schemes to finance such massive tax breaks.

Kasich has voiced support for radical Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s assault on the middle class and workers. The Ohio Senate takes up SB5, its version of anti-union legislation, today; at least 8 Republican Ohio state senators have already come out in opposition to the current proposal. The current proposal goes even further than the Walker plan in eliminating collective bargaining rights for Ohio’s public employees.

Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker first gained national headlines for joining Ohio’s Kasich in a future-losing decision to cancel an $800 million investment — fully paid for the by the federal government — in high-speed rail. This decision prompted train manufacturer Talgo to announce it was leaving the state and will likely cost the state thousands of jobs.

Walker is of course now famous for his high-stakes war against Wisconsin’s workers. Walker has used a very small short-term shortfall and larger shortfall to come (which is still smaller than shortfalls the state has faced in recent years) to move forward with an unpopular plan to destroy the state’s public employee unions. As Ezra Klein and many others have noted, Wisconsin’s unions aren’t to blame for the state’s budget problems and taking away their collective bargaining rights will have no impact on the state’s fiscal situation. Indeed, the unions offered to concede to all of Walker’s financial demands, so long as they could retain their collective bargaining rights. Walker balked at this offer, betraying his true motive: busting unions. Walker is also late in offering his budget, but it is believed that in spite of the supposed “crisis” and being “broke,” as Walker himself has said, his budget plans will include “a LOT more tax breaks” for the rich and corporations that will have to be balanced on the backs of workers or with painful cuts to state services and the state’s Medicaid programs, BadgerCare. It’s also worth noting that the last time Scott Walker went union busting, it turned into a massive boondoggle when he was overruled by an arbiter, wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars in the process.

When Republican governors speak of “shared sacrifice,” it seems that the only thing they mean is sacrifices by the poor and middle class in order to fund massive tax breaks for the rich and corporations.