Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dennis Kucinich livens up Ohio race for governor, slamming Gov. John Kasich for years of corruption

Ohio media has been reluctant, maybe even afraid, to investigate all the corruption marinating in Gov. John Kasich's two terms. Reporters worth their salt would have a field day diving into them, maybe winning an award or two for uncovering what lies below.

Citizen John Kasich in 2010 with running
mate Mary Taylor 
The crowded field of candidates seeking to follow Kasich, as he leaves office at the end of this year, have held their criticism of the governor and his administration in abeyance.

Republicans, including Kasich's "wicked smart" lieutenant governor, Mary Taylor, as he once called her, will have to figure out how they criticize the sanctimonious but petulant one without actually naming him, for fear of appearing too partisan.

The same reluctance to name names seems to apply to Democrats, who have mountains of reasons to impale the former congressman, Fox News TV pundit and Lehman Brothers banker, yet who have yet to name him as the governor responsible for so much bad government.

But one candidate just might find the gumption to take Kasich on by name. That candidate, Dennis Kucinich, is now an official candidate.

"The same person, battle scars and all, is before you today, with a wealth of experience, no less ready to stand up, to speak out, to take on corrupt interests on behalf of the people of Ohio, ready to be the voice that bridges left and right, a clear voice unafraid to call things like I see them," Kucinich said in published reports.

The political war horse he is, Kucinich has an agenda that isn't unfamiliar to his other primary challengers: infrastructure spending, broadband internet expansion, increasing the minimum wage to $12.50, broadening access to health care and expanding public transportation are part of what he'll campaign on.

What Kucinich can do that Ohio media has failed to do, is to prosecute Gov. Kasich and his like-minded right-wing legislature for the state of corruption in state government. When corruption in state government was all the rage, back in 2006, Democrats won four of Ohio's five statewide seats, including governor. That level of corruption is here now, but Ohio media has little in the way of headlines or investigative reporting to show for it.

"The state has given away billions in tax breaks while destroying programs essential for health and education," the battle-scared politico whose so-called "quirkiness" could be the breath of fresh air this years race for state CEO needs. "You cannot have communities where some people are living in third-world conditions unless the politics of the state itself reflects or tolerates deep corruption."

Kasich has been essentially free of any real attempt to delve into his corrupt practices, from his cabal of inner-circle confidants waging a campaign to derail a potential challenger in 2014 to the obscene fees Wall Street hedge fund managers have raked in from state pension funds whose returns are dismal by comparison, to the billions of dollar in tax breaks and wasted spending on for-profit charter schools.

The barrel of corrupt fish is there for the shooting, but media who endorsed Kasich in 2010 and then again in 2014, and who followed his every move as he mounted a second losing campaign for president, have show their watchdog credentials have expired.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Shitheads probably don't want to recall Trump saying 'shithole countries'

Say something outrageous, vulgar or crude, then deny saying it. That's the now established pattern of President Donald John Trump on what he says from day to day and what he says he didn't say.

Trump T-Shirts at Columbus rally in 2016
Photo credit: John Michael Spinelli
Last week Trump called African nations and others, including El Salvador and Haiti, "shithole countries" and asked why America needs more of them? Maybe it was because the day before he had meet with Norway's prime minister that he wondered why more Norwegians aren't coming to make America great?

After the meeting at which one Democrat and six Republican senators were in attendance in the White House to discuss DACA, Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, the lone Democrat and one of the Republicans confessed the president had indeed used the word shithole in his conversation with them. South Carolina Sen. Lyndsey Graham said he said his piece with Trump at the meeting, while Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin told media Trump used the word not once but several times.

The other Republicans in the room said either nothing or that they didn't recall the use of the word. A spokesman for Durbin is questioning a Republican senator who says President Donald Trump did not refer to African countries using a word the world press was challenged to translate into various languages.

According to the AP, a tweet by Ben Marter Sunday, shortly after Republican Georgia Sen. David Perdue went on ABC’s “This Week” to call reports that Trump used vile language in the meeting a “gross misrepresentation,” questioned Perdue's credibility. Perdue said Durbin and Graham were mistaken in indicating Trump had used that word.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week" show on Sunday, Perdue said, “I am telling you that he did not use that word. And I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation.” GOP Sen. Tom Cotton had weighed in, saying he didn't "recall the President saying those comments specifically” then modified that on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” where he said he “didn’t hear” the word shithole used.

Denying what he said to reporters is now common practice for The Donald, who said he was quoted incorrectly in an interview with the Wall Street Journal about relations with North Korea’s leader. The WSJ, the AP reports, said Trump said he "probably has a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un.” Trump quibbles over the quote, saying what he really said was that "‘I’d have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un,’ a big difference. Fortunately we now record conversations with reporters and they knew exactly what I said and meant. They just wanted a story. FAKE NEWS!'”

Meanwhile, the White House and the WSJ have released separate audio clips and say they stand by their reporting.

In Ohio, Rep. Jim Renacci, who Trump convinced to jump from the race for governor to the race against U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democratic, said Trump was only saying what Americans are thinking.

Brown seized on the comment by a possible challenger this fall. "The President certainly isn't speaking for me and he isn't speaking for a great majority of people across Ohio," said Brown in a statement.

Then there was Ohio's term-limited Gov. John Kasich who as he so often does, had to drag God into it.
"It's a terrible comment," he said, according to reports. "The bottom line is, we're all made in the image of the Lord and we don't want to say disparaging things. We all make mistakes, but there's no excuse and when you do it you have to apologize."
Although he didn't use a swear word like Trump did, Kasich had no problem saying disparaging things about Hillary Clinton in 2016, when he lost all state GOP primary contests except one.

The question reporters should be asking is this: Why would Norwegians want to come to America when their country is so good when compared to the United States? And why aren't more Haitians wising up and asking to immigrant to Norway, where more Americans migrated to than the other way around?

As the AP reported, "Norwegians generally live longer than Americans. There's a generous safety net of health care and pensions. And although it's pricey, the country last year was named the happiest on Earth"

It seems absolutely impossible to conceive that if anybody, especially a politician who holds the grandest office in the land, used the word shithole several times in a short amount of time to refer to you, that anyone present at the meeting, especially you, could possible develop overnight amnesia and pretend that word wasn't used.

If someone called you a shithead more than once in the span of minutes, would you really walk away from that conversation thinking that you weren't referred to in such a vulgar way?

Does that make you a shithead for not remembering you were just called a shithead? Or does that make the shithead who called you a shithead, a shithead?

Maybe? Probably? Who knows? Really? I don't think so.

For a reminder, here's Emma Lazarus' poem at the Statue of Liberty:
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ohio Media Challenged As Gov Race Gets Interesting

For a couple decades now, Ohio Democrats have been the loyal but usually losing party when it comes to statewide elections.

Ohio Statehouse in Columbus
Will that history play out again this year, when Gov. John Kasich wanders off the political radar screen after two terms to some unknown media gig, where his voice will be mostly muted as Republicans seeking to replace him are confronted with defending his terrible record while Democrats attack it as woefully poor?

In the crowded field among Democrats and the less crowded field among Republicans, Ohio media will have to figure out how they cover the candidates. Will media treat DeWine as the inevitable and entitled winner? Will it treat Cordray as "Obama's boy," thereby poking Trump voters who turned out to beat Hillary Clinton by almost five-hundred thousand votes in 2016? Will it treat Kucinich as a sideshow "menace," based on long-ago history as Mayor of Cleveland when he took on the powers that be and got sent packing?

Ohio Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine is seen by some as the likely nominee, made more likely by his union with Secretary of State Jon Husted. The new DeWine-Husted ticket faces a primary, and while Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who will bear all the burdens of her boss Kasich with little of her own accomplishments to crow about, the odds are very long she can beat DeWine-Husted. DeWine would cap his long history in Ohio by being crowned the Buckeye State's next governor.

For Democrats, their race is full of contenders, with the most recent addition of Dennis Kucinich spicing up an otherwise unspicy race. Former Attorney General Richard Cordray, former President Barack Obama's pick to lead the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, went to Washington because he lost a close race for Ohio AG to DeWine. His time in Washington will give him a leg-up on his little known Democratic challengers, and more money to wage his race.

Kucinich adds some charisma where none existed before, on either side. Like DeWine teaming up with Husted, Cordray has done the same with former Rep. Betty Sutton as his running mate. Kucinich is a two-time presidential candidate who until recently could be seen on Fox News as a commentator. With the exception of Sen. Sherrod Brown, Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill was the only other Democratic statewide officeholder. O’Neill likely can't raise any significant funds, as may be the case with the other Democrats in the race: Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni and former state Rep. Connie Pillich.

Political watchers are betting the race comes down to DeWine vs. Cordray. It would represent a rematch of their 2010 battle for attorney general, when DeWine, who lost to Brown in 2006, defeated then-incumbent Cordray by about one percentage point.

It will be interesting to watch how Ohio mainstream media treats DeWine, Cordray or Kucinich. It's now news that DeWine starts with good polling numbers given how long his name has been associated with Buckeye politics. Because of his long history, the University of Virginia's Center for Politics gives DeWine a small general election edge.

In a report on races for governor this year, Sabato's Crystal Ball says this about Democrats netting new seats:
"To really have a strong year, Democrats need to win some of the bigger states, and several major states with Republican governors should be very competitive: Florida, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio all qualify. Democrats realistically have only one big-state governorship that might be tricky to defend, Pennsylvania."

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown calls White House infrastructure spending bill 'Trump Toll Bill'

On his first conference of the year with Ohio media, Ohio senior U.S  Sen. Sherrod Brown outlined his Bridge Investment Act, which calls for significant investment in bridge repair projects.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (right) speaks with Ohio's
leading independent reporter, John Michael Spinelli 
in Columbus in Oct, 2016
President Donald Trump has called for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, but Trump and Republican spending may end up using tolls instead of traditional government-financing.

We need to make robust investments in infrastructure, so people can get to work, kids can get to school, and we can move goods and services that support Ohio jobs,” said Brown in prepared remarks.“That’s why I introduced the Bridge Investment Act, which will put Americans to work repairing and updating Ohio bridges with American iron and steel.”

Trump Toll Bill

Brown is the ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee who co-sponsored the bill with Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The bill would help repair bridges of all sizes in urban and rural areas, and require all projects to use American-made steel and iron for bridge projects funded by the bill.

Sen. Brown, running for his third term this year, wondered where local governments might come up with local match funds. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has withheld billions in local government funds that once upon a time flowed back to local municipalities.

When asked his thoughts on how Washington Republicans will tackle financing infrastructure, now that the president has signed a massive tax cut bill last year that pumped up the nation's debt by estimates that range from $1-2 billion, Brown offered one label that takes into account the use public-private partnerships Republicans are fond of, "Trump Toll Bill." 

Brown’s bill, estimated to cost about $75 billion, of which Ohio might realize as much of a five -percent return on, would also do the following

  • Ensure that a bipartisan infrastructure package could eliminate the national bridge repair backlog, if the new bill is added to such a package.

  • Create an innovative evaluation process for proposed projects to ensure the fair and efficient allocation of federal funding. 

  • Bundle medium and small projects into a single application to cut down on red tape and accelerate repairs.

  • Allow entities of all sizes and scope to apply for funding, including: states, counties, cities, metropolitan planning organizations, special purpose districts, public authorities with transportation functions, federal land management agencies and Indian tribes.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

John Kasich 'not interested' in taking on Sherrod Brown speaks volumes

After term-limited Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel announced Friday that he wouldn't pursue a second chance to take on Ohio's last statewide elected Democrat, Sen. Sherrod Brown in Washington, all eyes turned to the Buckeye State's out-bound governor.

John Kasich ran and won for Ohio governor
in 2010
Gov. John Kasich, who served 18 years as a congressman and used that experience in 2016 to claim he was the most qualified of the 17 GOP candidates running for president, was quick to say through a spokesman that he wasn't interested.

Giving no reasons for his decision to stay sidelined, Kasich squanders a unique opportunity to show his leadership and political skills again in Ohio, where he won back-to-back races for governor. He also hurt Republicans' chances in Washington to keep control of the Senate by more than the current one vote majority.

Recall that in 2010, another midterm election year when voter turnout is historically lower, Kasich squeaked by Gov. Ted Strickland by just two percent with no state record to defend. This year is another midterm election. Kasich could pull off a similar victory if Republicans rally around him, as Democratic voters fail to show up in general or vote for Brown specifically.

Defeating Brown would rock his world, and possibly provide an alternative path to the White House. It would also give him six years, during which time he could run twice for POTUS, first in 2020 and then in his last year, 2024.

A regular on Sunday political talk shows these days, the former Fox News commentator and Lehman Brothers banker, may have angered Ohio and national Republicans more than he has already, now that he's parlayed his disastrous lost in 2016—winning one state (Ohio) and one Electoral College vote—into anti-Trump celebrity. 

While other Ohio Republicans of lesser stature will fill the avoid Mandel created with his sudden departure, Kasich running from the battle out without explanation sends another message that won't help him when 2020 rolls around and his ego drives him to make a third run for the White House. 

Knocking off Sen. Brown, the last Democrat in Ohio to hold a statewide seat, albeit in Washington, would turn Kasich into a political rock star. National media would swarm over him, and he'd be a formidable figure at the center of national public policy, something he's wanted and something he said he was good at, dating back to the late 1990s when then GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich promoted him to House Budget Committee chairman. Kasich took credit for balancing the national budget for the first time since men walked on the moon, and weigh-ed in on his contributions to reforming welfare during the Clinton presidential years. He knew Washington and how to get things done, and says he turned around Ohio, going from being broke to $2 billion in rainy day funds.

Sherrod Brown is likewise a formidable politician who has decades of responsible service in Ohio before voters sent him to Washington in 2006, when he beat Ohio's current attorney general and maybe next governor, Mike DeWine.

Kasich had a similar golden opportunity in 2016 to be a leader, when Republicans, Independents and others sought a messiah to step out of the rubble of that election year and undertake an independent or third-party try to defeat Donald Trump. Kasich, who wrote a book about a divided America following his terrible loss, repeats his honed narrative that he knows how to bring people together to solve big problems. 

Even though the proof of bring people together as he says he can is sorely missing in Ohio, national media has no interest of his record back home, which Brown and Democrats would shred with ease and glee. Kasich would be covered like Jesus returned if he could beat an energized and well-funded Brown back home this year.  

Kasich's silence about why he declined conveys another message state and national media would be uncomfortable writing about. The message Kasich just sent is that he doesn't have the courage or the political chops and popularity in Ohio to beat Brown, as he seeks a third term in the U.S. Senate to represent a red state that voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton by almost five-hundred thousand votes.

If that's the case, avoiding a confrontation with Brown is a smart decision for Kasich for now. Saying how great you are without having to prove it may still work for him as he hibernates over the next three years. 

Brown beat Mandel handily six years ago in 2012, and polling shows the Democratic populist and liberal lion, whose agenda is worker-centric compared to Kasich's and other Republicans' CEO-centric agenda, will be a tough race for any GOP candidate.

History shows that independent candidates and third-parties in presidential elections have a dismal record. It's augers poorly for 2020 to be the exception to the rule. If Kasich is banking on a White House win in three years, declining to jump into this race this year only to wait to run as an independent or Trump challenger in 2020 means he'll be a three-time loser on the national stage.

Friday, January 05, 2018

With Mandel Gone, Which Republican Dares Take On Sherrod Brown For Senate?

The nicest thing Ohio's two-term, senior senator in Washington, Senator Sherrod Brown, has to say about his one-time political rival is that he wishes "Josh, Ilana and their family the best of health. We hope for Ilana's full and speedy recovery."

Those few kind words came Friday from Brown's campaign in response to news that Ohio State Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel is bowing out of his second try to unseat Brown due to his wife's health. The former Marine, now term limited, lost handily to Brown in 2012, when the former congressman and two-term secretary of state won a second six-year term in the U.S. Senate. 

With the GOP candidate long thought to win the right to take on Brown again, Mandel's sudden exit opens up the seat to other Republicans, like Mike Gibbons, a little known acolyte of President Donald Trump who has already received the endorsement of the Franklin County Republican Party. Other possible candidates include Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Congressman Jim Renacci, and even out-going Gov. John Kasich. The Kasich-Taylor ticket won back-to-back victories in 2010 and in 2014.

With Kasich headed off Ohio's political radar screen, and maybe into the political graveyard at the end of this year, the chance to run against Brown in Ohio is his for the asking. Instead of going into a three-year hibernation to wait for 2020 to roll around, when many think the 65-year old might try a third run at the White House, Kasich could dump his unfulfilled dreams since 2000 of being president.

Based on how Kasich's second try turned out in 2016, when he lost 49 states and won just one, Ohio, the establishment-lane leader might want to trade down to U.S Senator now that Mandel is out. Politico reports that Kasich isn't interested in the opportunity, even though it's ripe for him. Kasich, a former Fox News show host and Lehman Brothers banker, could show he still has political capital.

If he ran and beat Brown, he'd earn hero medals, national attention, and a following he could use to run for president again. If Kasich could pull off this election trick in his home state, Sen. Kasich could run for POTUS from cover, in two years in 2020, then again in his last year of 2024 if he fails in 2020. 

Kasich continually rubs people the wrong way, and Republicans in Ohio or Washington have cooled on him since he's become a Trump critic. But discounting his anti-Trump attitude, Kasich could muscle his way into the race if he wants to. Seen by some as yesterday's news, despite his many appearances on national political talk shows where he reliably thumps Trump, Kasich may foreclose on his political future if he passes on the opportunity to show what he's always talking about: bringing people together to solve common problems.

His favorite talking point, one he writes about in his latest book "Two Paths: America Divided or United, could lose its punch if Republicans' lose this seat and potential control of the Senate this year. 

Jim Renacci is independently wealthy and might find switching seats from a crowded GOP field for Ohio governor to the virtually open field Ohio senator. The lead team of Mike DeWine, Ohio's outgoing attorney general, and Jon Husted, Ohio's outgoing secretary of state, is likely too much for Renacci for many reasons. Republicans want to keep the governorship in against a field of Democrats that has yet to shake out.

Mary Taylor also might want to challenge Sen. Brown, since she hasn't buddied up with another viable candidate, and is likely to get routed in the GOP primary this spring.

Kasich, a former 18-year congressman, has already made it clear he wants another bite at the White House apple. He's all but confirmed that, saying he'll keep his voice in the mix even if he's not holding a public position. Kasich's problem comes in running on his record since 2010. That record is full of poor performance holes Brown would nail the former Catholic boy to a political cross of his own creation. 

For students who study Kasich, he's at his best when the deck is stacked in his favor. But his deck isn't as stacked as it once was. Poor job performance, billion-dollar budget shortfalls and signing 20 anti-women bills in to law is rich soil to plow for Brown, who will be forced to change his one-note tune on Kasich, who he's praised for accepting expanded Medicaid then defending it as his Republican brothers tried to blow it up. 

Brown was gearing up for another expensive and even nastier race against Mandel, who lost despite six years ago after $40 million was spent to take the gravely-voiced liberal lion. Many pundits saw the match-up this year as a race for Mandel to settle a score.

Now that Mandel has bailed out, Kasich could decided to not get beat up by passing on the chance to take on an energized, experienced, working-class populist Democrat like Brown, whose agenda favors Trump's forgotten man crowd.

Republicans could toss Taylor or Renacci or even recently retired Congressman Pat Tiberi into the shark tank with Brown. Gibbons, the only Republican in the race so far, could easily peters out as many expect he would, given his lack of name recognition and political inexperience. 

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Ohio's Leading Independent Reporter Returns To Original Roots

It's been a wild and fun ride over the last 18 years covering people, politics, government and beyond.

Spinelli On Assignment: The Ohio Senate
From my small newspaper reporting days in Pickering, Ohio, to my credentialed service in the Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association at the Statehouse, my roller coaster ride of reporting includes long stints at now-defunct—where I wrote 1,500 stories that included coverage of the 2012 presidential race in Ohio and up close and personal interviews with newsmakers at the Chicago, Denver and New York City meetings of the Clinton Global Foundation.

As the senior policial at Plunderbund in Ohio from 2014 to 2018, I authored more than 1,000 reports that included the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016 and the White House. I exited being a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging a provision in an Ohio law related to online abuse and harassment.

The start of 2018 finds me returning to my original 2006 online reporting blog, Spinelli On Assignment.

At The White House Press Room
As Ohio's leading independent reporter, a label others have bestowed upon me that I don't quibble with given my documented portfolio, freedom and independence to take on all quarters, regardless of political persuasion, cannot be underestimated.

My reporting is designed to inform and educate like mainstream media often fails to do. Road Warning: You may encounter long sentences.

If your attention span is limited and you can't handle more than 280 characters, follow me on Twitter @OhioNewsBureau.

If you're able to handle more information, facts, explanations and insightful writing you won't find at other news outlets, Spinelli On Assignment should be your next stop.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Ohio Pension Problems: Big Story Earns Little Coverage

Reports on the oncoming fiscal crisis with Ohio's pension retirement systems  seems to have eluded Ohio mainstream media, that has yet to fully tackle, what should become a top issue for Democrats running for governor and state legislative seats next year.

Now that Ohio's term-limited, lame duck Gov. John R. Kasich only talks to national media, who have fallen in love with him for sounding like a Democrat when he defends expanded Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, even though he's as rightie a Republican as they come, his declaration that state pension programs are "rock solid" bears a deeper dive now that some reporters are finally coming to understand how bad things are and will be for millions of active and retired public workers.

Kasich doesn't like answering questions from state and local media, as his failure to hold any press conferences in Ohio for years attests to. Making news on his terms is basic Kasich strategy, honed over decades of crafting his performance politician aura that avoids topics he's fatally flawed on, including but not limited to taxes, women's issues, budgets, healthcare, jobs and many more.

Readers of Spinelli on Assignment will recall how citizen John Kasich, before he ran for governor, helped sell a bag of bad investments to Ohio pension funds while working as a Wall Street banker for Lehman Brothers before the storied investment house went bankrupt, initiating the meltdown on Wall Street that lead to the Great Recession and Ohio pension funds taking huge losses for the package "rainmaker" Kasich helped sell.

Pension Problems

The Dayton Daily News reported Friday that the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), the largest of the state's five pension plans, is considering options that will probably impact all current and future retirees. Included in this discussion is an attempt to connect the cost of living allowance to inflation, then capping it and delaying the onset of the COLA for new retirees.
"OPERS is the latest of the five public pensions systems in Ohio to consider benefit cuts," DDN reporter Laura Bishoff wrote, adding that the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio in April voted to indefinitely suspend the COLA for retired teachers. "Trustees said they weren’t certain that the cut would be enough to shore up the finances of the $72-billion fund," Bishoff wrote.
According to DDN's report, Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund is expected to hire a consultant to help restructure its health care benefits. The fund "announced in May it would switch in January 2019 to issuing stipends to each retiree, who can then use the money to purchase coverage. School Employees Retirement System, which covers janitors, bus drivers and cafeteria workers, is taking steps to link its cost of living allowance to inflation, cap it at 2.5 percent, and delay its onset for new retirees."
Next year's elections for governor and legislative seats in Ohio are stacking up to be more important for Buckeye Staters than the next presidential election in 2020. If Republicans continue to hold the governor's office and the party's stranglehold majority control in the legislature, Ohio can expect to suffer the same kind of Kasich-supported programs and policies through another decade or more that have hobbled the state over the last two decades.

Dems' Golden Issue To Campaign On

As Democratic candidates running for governor tout their strengths and what they will do if elected, some wonder when they will seize on the crisis now blooming and use it to their advantage, since it cuts across the grain of working families who don't want to be shortchanged after working all their lives for a decent retirement that offers healthcare benefits if funds above and beyond actual pension payments are available. As it is, Democratic fortunes at winning are long, given Ohio's terribly gerrymandered districts and the sound thumping Donald Trump delivered to Hillary Clinton by last year.

In contrast to Kasich's claim while running his losing campaign for president last year that Ohio's pension systems were "rock solid," the reality Plunderbund has reported on is alive and well. It should be added to the long list of reforms Democrats will make if common fiscal sense returns as a factor Ohio voters will use when they go to vote next year to keep 1.9 million members, beneficiaries and retirees, the cumulative total for all five funds, from having their golden years turn into their pyrite or fool's gold years.

In their first Democratic debate held recently in struggling eastern Ohio, the four declared candidates so far—former congressman Betty Sutton, former state representative Connie Pillich, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and State Sen. Joe Schiavoni—talked about many things, but not about Ohio's looming pension system crisis.

Gov. Kasich and his Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, the only GOP woman who has declared her candidacy for governor next year, the Republican-led state legislature and the other three declared GOP candidates—Attorney General Mike Dewine, Secretary of State Jon Husted and Congressman Jim Renacci—will have a hard time defending why it's good that cutbacks and shorting COLAs is what Republican control over the decades has produced for hard-working Ohioans.

The big issue that's earned little attention from Ohio media, especially the Big Eight legacy newspapers, is ripe for the picking for Democrats. The issue should also be ripe for Buckeye voters to understand and rally around if nearly two million beneficiaries of these funds are to have confidence in a livable future they've earned.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Plain Dealer Endorsed Rob Portman Votes To Hurt Ohioans On Healthcare

The Cleveland Plain Dealer (PD) has done nothing to atone for its shameful removal of a video in 2014 showing Gov. John Kasich acting like a petulant, spoiled teenager instead of the adult in the room by capitulating to political pressure from Team Kasich. Now the shrinking paper by Lake Erie finds itself in another embarrassing dilemma of its own making.

On Tuesday, junior Ohio Senator Rob Portman voted to essentially repeal the Affordable Care Act by voting to proceed with floor debate on a bill that would gut or kill Obamacare for tens of millions. The paper up north apparently forgot all the laudatory rhetoric it used to complement the 60-year old "commonsense conservative" from Cincinnati when it endorsed Portman instead of former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland.

Fifty Senate Republicans, including Sen. Portman, acted like kamikaze pilots trying to sink Obamacare instead of thoughtful, commonsense lawmakers looking out for the best interests of their constituents. The bill Portman did not object to will hurt tens of millions across the nation and maybe a million or more Ohioans poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.

In their silly editorial dinging Portman for his vote, which enabled Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote, the PD had the gall to say to Mr. Portman, "You let us down."
"Sen. Rob Portman cast the wrong vote Tuesday in supporting a hasty, politically motivated effort to allow Senate debate and, presumably, a vote on one or a series of ill-considered, narrowly partisan measures likely to devastate health care in Ohio," said the tired paper whose constant support of Cleveland's powerful ruling corporate oligarchy is now embarrassing.
Really? But it was just last year when the PD gushed on Portman, sucking up to the silver-haired human waffle in an endorsement article that said, "Portman has the proven ability, understanding and energy to help Ohio citizens and businesses prosper and to do his part to make the U.S. Senate a place where competence, not churlish partisanship, matters most."
The only thing Sen. Portman proves he has the ability to do is misunderstand policy on issues critical to Ohio and Ohioans and kowtow to the partisan interests of his own political party.
"It's hard to believe Strickland could make a difference in the Senate," the PD wrote about a Democrat governor who made a huge difference as the Great Recession rolled over Ohio, and who would have made another huge difference had he moved to the Senate to defuse the ticking time bomb that Republicans want to exploded as soon as possible.
Writing about the PD's soft treatment of Cleveland Mayor Frank, Ohio's senior and leading independent reporter, Roldo Bartimole, who has reported on inside Cleveland politics for scores of years, said the Plain Dealer has played a supporting role in promoting the interests of downtown corporate players over neighborhoods. What Mr. Bartimole said about the paper's cozy relationship with Cleveland's mighty can equally apply to its dopey treatment of Portman.
"The PD Editorial section, free to express opinions and uninhibited to voice criticism, appears docile and weak. Not up to the job. Columnists—unbound from the strictures of normal balanced reportage—likewise appear feeble or preoccupied with less essential coverage."
Sen. Portman not only voted to proceed to discuss the Better Care Reconciliation Act, but he wasn't among the nine Republican senators who voted no on the bill itself.
American Bridge President Jessica Mackler released the following statement after Republicans in the Senate voted with Donald Trump to take healthcare from millions of Americans:
“Every Republican in Washington will own this plan to gut healthcare for the American people in order to cut taxes for the rich. Pushing this reckless plan, while exempting themselves from the pain they plan to inflict upon the country, just to give the scandal-plagued President a poisoned political ‘win’ is a gross display of misplaced priorities, and the country isn’t going to stand for it. Today Republicans chose to ignore the country’s overwhelming opposition to Trumpcare, and the consequences will be felt by every Republican running for Senate or House in 2018 — and for years to come.”
Ted Strickland got clobbered last year, and the PD's reporting, or lack thereof, helped Portman clinch a second term shortly after voting stopped.

You reap what you sow, it's said, and the PD has sowed seeds of discontent for Ohio when it gave Portman a pass last year. Sen. Portman will continue to hurt Buckeyes and Ohio's economy and its future, so don't look for the PD and other Ohio media that became part of the pro-Portman herd to find their journalistic spine anytime soon.

'PensionGate' Can Make Ohio Dems Winners In 2018

 Virtually no Ohio newspaper, television or radio station or even political blog has figured out what the single biggest issue, that if prosecuted properly by Ohio Democrats between now and Election Day next year, could install them back in the winner's circle in Columbus.

After two terms of a hard-right, Christian conservative turned Wall Street banker like Gov. John Kasich and his CPA sidekick Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Ohio is the worse for wear.

Lousy Ingredients, Lousy Government

One national ranking of states after another shows Kasich the reformer and complicit accomplice Taylor, a former state auditor, have colluded to rob cities and schools of billions, while gifting billions to poor performing for-profit charter schools whose owners kickback in campaign contributions with the same appreciation credit card companies offer cash-back when a purchase is made.

Under the guise of balancing a state budget racked from devastating effects delivered courtesy of the 2007 Great Recession, put in play lest it be forgotten from trillions of income tax cuts financed on the national credit card by then President George W. Bush and his then budget director, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Team Kasich sold his flim flam budgeting ideas and misguided public policies as smart, business-based reforms, when what they did was to stall the economy when other states slipstreamed a rising national economy. They also bloomed into a billion-dollar-plus budget shortfall that plagued Gov. Kasich's last budget, which austerity-minded Republicans filled with cuts from elsewhere. Team Kasich reversed Papa John Pizza's sales pitch—Lousy ingredients, lousy government. But it was part of the great reformer's elaborate political showmanship.

A Better Issue

Sen. Portman waltzed to an early and resounding victory last year over the governor Ohioans elected in 2006 to turnaround the state from an array of economic problems decades in the making, incubated in the GOP hothouse that favors private interest growth over safeguarding the public interest.
Voters recoiled in 2006 after years of overt corruption and pay-to-play politics culminated in the now famous scandal called Coingate. Like Rip Van Winkle, voters woke up from a long sleep, as Ohio Republicans fleeced their constituents with media going along for the ride.
"Coingate is a nickname for the Tom Noe investment scandal in Ohio revealed in early 2005 in part by Toledo, Ohio newspaper The Blade. The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) invested hundreds of millions of dollars in high risk or unconventional investment vehicles run by people closely connected to the Ohio Republican Party who had made large campaign contributions to many senior Republican party officials.
"A rare coin investment fund has attracted particular scrutiny after it was reported that two coins worth more than $300,000 had been lost. Further investigation then revealed that coins worth $10–$12 million were missing and that only $13 million of the original $50 million invested could be accounted for. Tom Noe was convicted of running a criminal enterprise, the theft of $13 million from the fund, and of keeping a second set of books to cover for it." [Source:]
Tom Noe is still in stir in a state correctional facility after he and accomplices defrauded the state in the pay-to-play corruption drama known as Coingate. Voters in 2006 had enough of GOP control of state government that enabled political insiders like Mr. Noe to run roughshod with Ohio funds. Mark D. Lay, an investment banker from Pittsburgh also involved in Coingate, found himself behind bars like Mr. Noe after the dust settled.

After two-consecutive terms each, first by George V. Voinovich then Robert Taft, Ted Strickland, a pragmatic former Democratic congressman representing a large swath of Appalachia Ohio, was elected governor in 2006 by a wide margin. It was an electoral feat Democrats have been unable to duplicate since, not just for governor but for auditor, treasurer, secretary of state or attorney general.
Statewide Democratic candidates got shellacked in 2010 and 2014, as they continued their run of failures to take control in the House or Senate, with the exception of a two-year period from 2008-2010 when Democrats took majority control of the House. Meanwhile, some political pundits believe outdated political history augers well for a switch next year from Republican to Democrat as all statewide offices become open seats now that current GOP incumbents become term-limited.
Why would voters who have turned Columbus red by trashing Democrats in election after election for decades—dating back 33 years to when Democrats last controlled the Ohio Senate—suddenly vote in Democrats? Will the new national Democratic agenda dubbed "A Better Deal" win the new political war, with all its new contours and non-traditional markers, that's been brewing from Election Day last year when Donald Trump thumped Hillary Clinton in red Ohio by nearly nine points or almost one-half million votes?

Is there any issue that would so rile Buckeye voters, Republican, Democrat or in between, that they would vote out Republicans by voting a Democrat back into the governor's office, especially after eight years of Gov. Kasich talking a good game about jobs and progress but delivering little on wages or the quantity and quality of jobs or education performance their the average wage earner can look to with pride on how his taxes are being spent?

If Ohio Democrats want an issue that can work to their advantage again, like Coingate did 11 years ago, and comes with a built-in constituency of millions of Ohio current and retired workers who vote, it's starring them in the face. So far they've failed to see it and assess it, so using it to batter ram a message that political change is needed to protect the funds from vulture managers who would fly off with billions and leave little behind may not be imminent.

Hedge Fund Fees

Gov. John Kasich spent years working on Wall Street for Lehman Brothers before running for governor in 2010. He's stated without equivocation that Ohio's retirement pension systems are "rock solid." That claim is fake news on par with declarations that come from the Trump White House on a daily basis on matters easily fact checked as false.

But for all the words Ohio's Big Eight newspapers print every day on issues big and small, the story that looms for Democrats, if they choose to seize the day on it despite it not garnering much ink with Buckeye media so far, is just how hollow, or overvalued as experts might call some of its key holdings are, that jeopardize retirement pension funds that suffered low investment returns throughout Gov. Kasich's seven years. While returns for retirees were low, the returns for hedge fund managers in the form of fees was high. Ohio retirees have been sold a bill of goods whose value is far lower than it should be.
"Ohio’s largest pension plans are at risk of falling significantly short on their obligations to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans. In fact, Ohio ranks ahead of only Mississippi in terms of the level of unfunded liabilities relative to the size of the state’s income." [Source:]
Mr. Kasich built a reputation over 40 years in elected politics as a great reformer who's now allowed state pension funds to be looted by Wall Street money managers of the ilk he worked with while at Lehman Brothers. The theft of millions in management fees is akin to the graft Tom Noe engaged in when Robert Taft was governor. The caper isn't that dissimilar to the more recent scandal of people being drained of lifetime earnings by Bernie Madoff, the New York investment man who ran a Ponzi scheme of historic proportions.

If the problem in Ohio is anything like it is in Rhode Island, where the Security and Exchange Commission has been called in to investigate whether "individuals are criminally responsible for the mismanagement of the state’s pension fund which has since cost Rhode Island 'nearly a billion dollars,'” Democrats have a real dragon that can breath the kind of fire that could motivate voters to wake up the sleeping giant of self-interest.

Are there issues that play to the Democratic agenda of a better deal on education or jobs or healthcare or infrastructure? Yes. Will selling these issues work for Democrats next year? Maybe and maybe not, given the reluctance of Ohio media to crank up outrage over misspent funds or misguided policy by the Kasich Administration, which has stiff-armed reporters at all levels who tried to warn Republican voters last year that John Kasich's run for president was ginned up as something different, when it was just Donald Trump's agenda without Trump's over-the-top bombast and outlandish attitude. Kasich's run, and his claim of being the "adult in the room" was fake news anyone could figure out with a little research.

Dems Have The Issue, But Can They See and Seize It?

Democrats have an issue that cuts across all segments of society and all political persuasions that can win the day for them next year. The sooner they figure out how to communicate how bad off Ohio's pension retirement funds really are, the better off they will be in pushing Kasich-friendly Republicans and media into a corner from which they can see no other culprit but themselves. Gov. Kasich and his team have sold pensioners down the Ohio river who will pay more during their working lives, only to receive less when they eventually retire.

Hedge fund managers showed up when Kasich won his first term in 2010, and have taken the most while delivering the least, under the cover of night as media fails to dig down to find out why the state's pension funds are in such terrible shape, based on hedge fund investments that could be as hollow as Mr. Kasich's claim of being the adult in the room.
"Despite having assets of more than $150 billion, some estimates show that Ohio needs to increase pension funding by at least $275 billion to be fully funded—that’s almost $25,000 per Ohio citizen. If lawmakers fail to make the decision about how to close the gap now, future generations will bear the burden of higher taxes, reduced government services, or even reduced benefits." Source:]
Republicans have no one else to blame but themselves for the deplorable plight Ohio's retirees face. If Coingate helped Democrats win some statewide seats in 2006, surely PensionGate can help them do the same next year.

Former Fox News investigative reporter John Damschroder has sounded the alarm.
"It's politically crazy Ohio Republicans are taking this sort of risk after Coingate and Crofters," he said, calling it a sign of political incompetence by Ohio Democrats that the issue is ignored.
Writing for the Fremont News Messenger, Damschroder sees a breakdown in media scrutiny that such an investment strategy executed during record highs for the stock markets have forced pension cuts for more than a million Ohioans without much coverage.
During his run for president on the Republican Party platform last year, Gov. Kasich called Ohio's pension funds rock solid, when they are in fact a national leader in high risk low reward investment, according to Mr. Damschroder, a Fremont native who worked in Gov. George Voinovich’s administration, writes about business and economic development in Sandusky County. He notes that no Ohio political or media figure has said word one about Kasich's fiction on how rock solid the pension is for millions of Buckeyes.
Democratic candidates for governor and auditor can led the charge on restoring the value Ohioans deserve who have worked and contributed to a state retirement system that has fallen flat on Kasich's watch.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Kasich Talks To The Mirror Again, Ignorant About Other, Better Healthcare Systems

What a waste. It's a real shame that someone who's gained fame and fortune over 40 years as a professional political showman is so ignorant about healthcare delivery in America.

It's worse when such politicians are willfully blind to how healthcare is delivered in other nations, where it's so far superior to America's exceptionally harsh and uncompassionate system that leaves so many who are poor, elderly and sick to fend for themselves.

But that's basic Kasich. Always at the center of his one-man universe, Ohio's term-limited governor coos about his so-called Ohio-model formula for lowering Medicaid costs and improving the quality of health care. Gov. John Kasich, the lame-duck governor who got pummeled in last year's race for president after losing 49 state or caucus primaries, continues to pop up on national TV shows as some-kind of expert on government policy and spending. Mr. Kasich's routine is to repeat his misbegotten and misguided belief that repealing and replacing The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare] is the way to  move forward, even when doing so would endanger the very people he cries crocodile tears about as the "vulnerable citizens...left behind."

Talking into the mirror again, because mirrors don't talk like a good reporter would, Gov. Kasich offered his unverified and unspecific vision of how to fix Obamacare while ensuring the most vulnerable of people—drug addicted, mentally ill and the working poor—get the quality care they need.

A Wasteland Mind

It's too bad that Gov. Kasich doesn't read more articles in the newspaper of record that endorsed him for president in the Republican primary last year. Had the Buckeye State's crusty CEO done so last week, he might have learned a thing or two from an opinion piece called "The Fake Freedom of American Health Care." As it is, the great reformers vision for healthcare reform is just more of the awful belief that healthcare is a privilege, not a right, and that all those vulnerable people he pretends to care about will end up far worse off under the destructive ways he and his Republican colleagues want to pursue healthcare compared to retaining, then building on the ACA in a positive way.

Author Anu Partanen, who lived in Finland for eight years before returning to the United States, wrote about the belief among Republicans like Mr. Kasich and others that there is "an appealing logic to such thinking...that buying health care is like buying anything else," when it is anything but the same. Mr. Partanen admits that America is home to some of the world’s best medical schools, doctors, research institutes and hospitals. He says this is good if "you have the money for the coverage and procedures you want..." At the same time, he argues, it "likely results in extreme inequalities and it might be expensive, but it definitely buys you the best medical treatment anywhere."

Odds are the governor didn't read Mr. Partanen's enlightened analysis or digest the troubles low-wage Ohio workers suffer as they work long hours, hoping their paychecks are enough to keep them from resorting to government safety-net programs Mr. Kasich has been so stingy about throughout his life in politics. Ohio job creation numbers on the governor's watch show he's failed to meet or exceed the national average for 49 or the last 50 months, a record fraught with embarrassment.

America lauds itself as the land of freedom. But the freedom Gov. Kasich would claim, and that House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted "is the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need,” is also the freedom to dig your own grave. The kind of freedom Ryan and Kasich fantasize about, according to Mr. Partanen, "requires most Americans to spend not just money, but also time and energy agonizing over the bewildering logistics of coverage and treatment — confusing plans, exorbitant premiums and deductibles, exclusive networks, mysterious tests, outrageous drug prices....And more often than not, individual choices are severely restricted by decisions made by employers, insurers, doctors, pharmaceutical companies and other private players...Those interest groups, not the consumer, decide which plans are available, what those plans cover, which doctors patients can see and how much it will cost."

Corporate Bureaucrats

It's telling for anyone who falls into America's healthcare tiger-pit system that the person standing between you and your doctor isn't a government bureaucrat, as Gov. Kasich would likely bemoan, but a corporate bureaucrat who actually determines what procedure or drug that could save your life the company will pay for.

Meanwhile, Gov. Kasich touts his smart management. It doesn't take a healthcare expert to know that when a state pays nursing homes far less for the care they provide than before, state costs go down. But that's a simplified version of Gov. Kasich reducing Ohio's share of Medicaid costs, since Medicare doesn't pay for nursing home care like Medicaid does. Ohio's 69th governor's reforms have only exacerbated income inequality since 2011 through a tax distribution system that makes everyone but top earners pay more.

With the Ohio House of Representatives planning to vote on the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the ACA, there's zero reason to believe Mr. Kasich will show up to offer his own testimony, the kind he reserves for largely forgotten-politico cameos on Sunday morning TV talk shows.

Whether its income tax giveaways of $5-plus billion or $6 billion in reduced workers' compensation costs, that ironically have not produced the quantity or quality or jobs Mr. Kasich promised to deliver when voters first elected him governor in 2010, Mr. Kasich loves talking policy to his reflection in the mirror. And media, in love with access to him, repeats his blather with little push back on his bogus beliefs that being stingy [read as "personal responsibility"] to those who need compassion is wrong on every account.
During his days living in Finland, Mr. Partanen learned this: "In Finland I never worried about where my medical care came from or whether I could afford it. I paid my income taxes — which, again despite the stereotypes, were about the same as what I pay in federal, state and local income taxes in New York City — and if I needed to see a doctor, I had several options."

Does Gov. Kasich even know that virtually every wealthy capitalist democracy in the world has decided that some form of government-managed universal health care is the most sensible and effective option?
Does Gov. Kasich even know that Americans spend far more on health care than citizens of any other country?

Does Gov. Kasich even know that Americans get a raw deal because they pay much more than people in other countries yet get much worse results? American-style healthcare, as the author of the NYC opinion piece sees it, imprisons people, not liberates them, as speaker Ryan and Gov. Kasich would argue. Mr. Kasich's plan, in reality, would put all people, especially those he uses as rhetorical props to promote his trickle-down ideas, in a constant state of stress.

Gov. Kasich is so full of his own bad beliefs that he would dismiss without consideration Mr. Partanen's appeal to politicos of his radical right-wing ilk. "Here is my appeal to Republicans: If you really want to free Americans and unburden American employers, why not try, or at least seriously consider, some form of government-managed health care, like almost every other capitalist democracy? There are many ways of giving people choice and excellent care under government management. Universal publicly managed health coverage would even free America’s corporations and businesses to streamline their operations, releasing them from bureaucratic obligations that to me, coming from Finland, I have to say look weirdly socialist. Would this mean they would have to pay more in taxes?"

Americans are afraid of what's coming, either from Trumpcare as proposed and in the U.S. House now or reforms proposed by great reformers like Gov. Kasich. Americans know how inefficient healthcare is today, in light of the fact they pay far more in money, worry and hassle for the same, and sometimes worse, care than people in other wealthy capitalist democracies.

It would take a real leader to admit the obvious, that healthcare in America has been helped by Obamacare, and that returning to the days before it would be a disaster. For lovers of freedom, as Gov. Kasich would surely agree identify with, freedom from worry and stress would be real freedom. False freedoms, as Ohio's petulant governor and his ilk like, would further imprison the very populations that say they want to help.

Liar Tapping John Kasich On Bi-Partisanship, Obamacare

Is Donald Trump's claim that President Obama wire tapped him true or a lie? In Trump world, a lie is as good as the truth if Trump believes it, even if the Big Orange Machine provides no evidence or proof to back it up.

When other public officials make claims based on equally flimsy proof about one topic or another, holding them to account could by liar tapping them is a duty for all citizen patriots. Liar tapping would be a fitting description about Ohio Gov. John Kasich's often repeated claim that everyone but the great reformer is a partisan engaged in partisanship.

Yet again, Ohio's gaffe-prone governor, who's as partisan as the day is long, has rolled out the same stream of lies he's become so fond of, that media seem incapable of liar tapping with any consistency or strength.

Writing in The New York Times Friday, Ohio's lame-duck CEO is again shoveling his easily debunked claims that his way is the best way, and that everyone else, be they Republicans or Democrats, are less politicians than he is.

Liar Tapping Doesn't Require A FISA Warrant

You don't need a FISA warrant to liar tap the former Lehman Brothers banker on his view of history, from his days in Congress to his more than six years as governor. The 65-year old says that Democrats, in 2010, fixed health care unilaterally, without bipartisan support. "The result was Obamacare, which has run up government spending while failing to drive down the cost of health care."

Liar tapping Kasich shows that Republicans were politically opposed to anything the Obama Administration advanced, so they carped and whines and didn't go along with the leader the nation had overwhelmingly picked over the GOP challenger, Arizona Sen. John McCain. It takes a lot of brass for Mr. Kasich to talk about working with others who are political rivals when he voted, along with all other Republicans at the time, to approve President Bill Clinton's first budget that raised taxes on the wealthy. Kasich claimed it would be lead to end days, but instead it lead to a decade of prosperity and record job creation.

In his editorial, Kasich's claim that Obamacare is a failure is an easily corrected lie. The historic healthcare law has now insured 20 million who didn't have insurance before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law. The cost curve on medical cost growth is the lowest in decades, due to the ACA, and states who accepted expanded Medicaid coverage through the ACA have populations that have coverage where they didn't before. John Kasich was one of 16 Republican governors who broke ranks to take billions from Washington so Ohio's rising population of low-income workers, seniors, disabled, mothers and children would have access to doctors where they didn't before.

Another chestnut Kasich has trotted out repeatedly, that he does again in his NYT op-ed, is his version of history of when he was in Congress and chaired the House Budget Committee in the sunset years of his time in the U.S. House of Representatives. "When I was chairman of the House Budget Committee in the 1990s, we were able to make over Pentagon spending, revamp welfare and balance the federal budget for the first time in decades because Democrats and Republicans made a commitment to work together." As noted above, Kasich voted against Clinton's budget, the one that produced all that extra money that produced a so-called balanced budget. Has Kasich and his GOP comrades won the day, there would not have been any surplus to balance any budget.

Kasich claims that throughout his career he's "learned that meaningful change happens only with bipartisan support." Ask any Ohio Democrat when and where Mr. Kasich has involved them in his deliberations, and you'll find it slim to none. He's learned to talk a good game, but the proof of the pudding of working across the isle is a rare bird indeed.

When the term-limited governor claims that conservative, market-driven reforms control health care costs, liar tapping that one is easy: there are no examples to point to. Before the ACA became a reality, Republicans like Kasich were in a fever pitch over the skyrocketing costs of all medical costs, from doctors to drugs to procedures. Republicans controlled congress in Clinton's days and for a majority of President George W. Bush's time in the White House, but they did zero to reign in costs when they had the power to do so.

As he always does, the self-righteous leader can always find answers to what ails the nation in what he's done, either in Washington or Columbus. He does it again, pointing to his Ohio model as the bi-partisan solution devoid of bi-partisanship. "States often serve as the laboratories of change," he says, refusing to admit that laboratories sometimes blow up when chemists don't know what they're doing.
Liar tapping his claim on a good job being the "best anti-poverty program" is as easy as looking what he's done to create jobs over the last 50 months. For 48 of those months, Gov. Kasich has fallen woefully short of creating jobs in sufficient quantity to give every Ohio worker who needs a good paying job one. He's done so poorly, in fact, that Ohio's workforce has shrunk significantly on his watch, as discouraged workers bow out.

Republicans should reach across the aisle for help, and Democrats should accept the offer, he said. Really? Where was that spirit of bi-partisanship in 2010 when the ACA was working its way through Washington? Why didn't Republicans reach out to Democrats in 2008 and 2009, when the nation put them in charge by big margins? John Kasich has never believed that what's good for the goose is good for the gander, because if he did, he would have a long list of policies he could point to where he was willing to work with Democrats. But the hyper-partisan governor has little to point to on that score.

Commenters Liar Tap The Great Reformer

One commenter liar tapped Mr. Kasich with precision guidance. "Setting aside the fact that it's a bit rich to hear a Republican leader suddenly call for an end to partisan warfare after eight dirty years of GOP warfare - you then go on to make your case using your partisan opinion as facts," Dana in Santa Monica notes.

Den Barn, writing from Brussels, liar tapped Ohio's CEO this way on his GOP-centric view of the magic of the market: "So the idea of market based affordable health care is an oxymoron. It's like a government where people could individually choose how much tax they pay and how much service they get."

Gordon MacDowell of Kent, Ohio, knows this about Kasich's kind of politics: "All my life, the Republican party policy towards national health care has been that there should be NONE." Mr. MacDowell then liar taps Kasich, saying, "Since passing of the ACA, Republicans have confirmed the position that there be NO national health care by voting in Congress many times to repeal it, with no substitute. I guess that if Gov. Kasich and enough other Republicans now accept the notion of SOME national health care obligation, then Pres. Obama has won."

VJR outed Mr. Kasich for the partisan he is. Riffing off Kasich's intro, he translated it this way: "America, we need to be bipartisan, so I'll be partisan and start by blaming Democrats. Not a nice way to open up an opinion piece, Governor Kasich."

Longestaffe liar taps Kasich in similar fashion to VJR: "I must say he [Kasich] gets off on the wrong foot in this opinion piece by making the Democrats' supposed disregard for bipartisanship central to his argument."

Kathy in Hopewell Junction told John Kasich exactly what he refuses to admit: "Like it or not, Governor Kasich, the government is the solution not the problem.

Bite the bullet and recognize that the more we unravel health care from payroll, the more we will employ."
John Kasich knows he can get away with with his outlandish and preposterous claims because Media lets him. Plunderbund has held his feet to the fire throughout his governorship. And we'll keep the home fires burning so we can scorch him again when he wants to defy the truth with blatant lies.

In Reversal Of Fortune, Obamacare Kills GOP House Death Panel

The death panels Sarah Palin concocted in 2008 after then GOP presidential nominee John McCain picked her as his vice presidential running mate never existed in reality. Even though the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [ACA] contained no real language that actually created her so-called death panels, that wasn't a problem for the winking girl from Wasilla, Alaska, who parlayed her time in the national spotlight into fame and fortune.

A real life death panel Palin missed talking about—the GOP Majority Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives—engaged in an act of Hari Kari. Sudden death came when House speaker Paul Ryan, who like Palin in 2008 became the GOP's pick for vice president in 2012, admitted defeat at repealing and replacing the ACA, best known as Obamacare, by his bill—The American Health Care Act—from a floor vote. Had Mr. Ryan let that vote proceed, it  would have killed it dead like Palin said her fictional death panels would do to so many Americans forced to live under President Barack Obama's signature legislative accomplishment.

As people from across the nation swarmed into town hall meetings called by their elected representatives in Washington, speaker Ryan and his partner in crime, President Donald Trump, learned that all their misleading, misguiding and misbegotten lore about how big a disaster Obamacare has been, America's fondness for the program that reined in the excesses of the private for-profit health care market reached new highs, as calls to some Republicans reached 1,000 to keep it versus 1 to toss it out.

Republicans were doomed either way they went. If they ran off the cliff to placate the Big Orange Man in the White House who called for an up-or-down vote, they would have shown how craven they were to the lives of so many millions who before Obamacare lived in fear of going bankrupt or dying. Had a vote been taken and as many as 30 or more Republicans balked at supporting Ryancare or Trumpcare, the aura of infallibility the White House has draped itself in would have exploded like a North Korean missile shortly after launch.

President Trump wants to move on now, but investigation by the FBI of him and his campaign cronies ties to Russia could be another death panel for the 70-old New York billionaire whose inexperience and fumbling in the art of the public deal killed passing a very bad bill.

Democrats, independents and progressives can bask in the satisfaction that they defeated the Big Orange Machine and its army of Republican senators and House members on an issue so central to their core being that they spent seven years battling against it, only to fall victim to it in the end.

But now, with victory fresh in their rear view mirror, everyone opposed to Ryancare or Trumpcare should gear up for the coming battles of the budget and tax reform. The same people that brought you a decidedly disastrous bill on health care will be pushing for equally bad bills to trim the budget in harmful ways to nearly everyone but the super wealthy and reform an already disastrous tax code that subsidizes the rich at the expense of the poor.

Revel in yesterday's defeat, but remember that tomorrow will be equally dangerous if the resistance pulls up short in energy or commitment.