Thursday, August 16, 2018

John Kasich's White House plans include being the next presidential 'asterisk' candidate.

After two terms of questionable policies, programs and initiatives that have left the once-great State of Ohio ranking in the lower half or near the bottom of states on so many issues, term-limited Gov. John Kasich will soon find himself wandering the political graveyard like a lost soul in search of a new promised land.

On election night in 2010, governor-elect
John Kasich addresses Republicans in
downtown Columbus.
For his early years in hometown McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, Ohio was Kasich's promised land. One of Kasich's favorite family stories tells of his uncle calling Ohio the promised land. And for most of Kasich's nearly 40 years in politics, the 17th state in the union was that promised land, indeed.

He represented the 12th Congressional District close to nearby Columbus in Washington for 18 years. After resigning to run his first failed campaign for president in 2000, Kasich spent most of the next decade either working for Lehman Brothers on Wall Street or hosting his own political talk show on Fox News. The crusty 64-year's eyes are still set on winning the White House.

Kasich mounted a second campaign two years ago to win the hearts and minds of GOP primary voters, but like 15 other candidates, he fell far short to New York real estate magnet and reality TV star Donald J. Trump. Kasich had never tasted defeat in a real political race until then, when he only won one state--Ohio--and collected only one Electoral College vote, leaving him 269 votes short of becoming the 45th President of The United States.

From the day he bowed out of presidential contention in 2016, having stayed the longest of any other candidate in the race even though he had little money and less support for voters, Kasich's new reputation is built around criticising the president.

In his role as critic, Kasich relishes cameo appearances on national TV pundit shows as the dancing bear who will criticize Trump. As a sitting governor for a few months more, Kasich receives the respect he so desperately needs from pundits who keep him on their list of guests because they know he has to keep the notion alive that he will challenge Trump in 2020 and be successful at it. But with Trump winning the support of 80 percent or more of Republican voters, as polls show he has, the disgruntled Kasich seeks media attention wherever and whenever he can.

Now that President Trump has been announced as the keynote speaker at the Ohio Republican Party's main event later in August, betting has already started on where the two politicos will sit when POTUS comes to town to rally his faithful and bash his critics, among whom Kasich has a front row seat.

While Democrats are poking Kasich on Trump sucking all the oxygen out of the room, for this very reason, Kasich may not even be there. Look for the petulant state CEO to be in New Hampshire, where he finished a distant second to Trump, drumming up support in this tiny libertarian-leaning state. And if he's not in the Granite State, Kasich, who's been auditioning for a media gig post being governor, will be on a national TV show doing analysis of what's going on back home in Columbus.

There is one thing that is certain. When 2020 arrives and Trump launches his re-election, which has already started, Kasich will be forced to run as either an ant-Trump Republican or gin up an independent run for Commander-in-chief.

Based on history from 2016, Kasich will assure himself a place on the list of failed candidates who mounted campaigns outside their party or as independents. Others pundits, like Ramesh Ponnuru writing at Bloomberg News, have multiple reasons why Kasich and his Master (The Lord) won't be showing up for work in the Oval Office.

Just like so many other failed candidates, from recent losers like Gary Johnson or Bill Weld or Jill Stein to older attempts by Jon Anderson or Ross Perot, who won about 20 percent of the vote in 1992, John Richard Kasich will have an asterisk next to his name in the graveyard of politicos who couldn't make the grade.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ohio Dems adore Kasich on healthcare even as he mocks them on everything else

Ohio's crusty, petulant and now term-limited governor had yet another softball cameo appearance on national television Sunday, on Meet the Press with host Chuck Todd, where he sounded like a Democrat on health care.

Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich in The
Lincoln Room of the Ohio Statehouse.
At the same time, the former Fox News host got to browbeat and shame President Donald Trump by invoking his favorite Superhero and Master, The Almighty, The Lord!

Kasich told Todd he's just trying to lead the best life he can by lifting people up through divine pathways. A media hound by training, after 40 years of winning impossible-to-lose elections, the easily angered governor who got shellacked two years ago by Trump said he doesn't know what Democrats stand for.

Meanwhile, Democrats, who currently hold no statewide seats in Ohio and who have no legislative clout in Columbus, quote Kasich like he's Moses leading seniors with pre-conditions to the promised land, making him sound as if he's one of their very own lambs, just gone astray, as he did Sunday.


"You can’t be talking about being in a fight here where maybe people could lose their health care if they have a pre-existing condition… these kinds of messages, plus the overall chaos, the chaos here, the chaos overseas. Chuck, people just want the government to do its job to improve the situation for them," Kasich said.

Kasich has cleverly used his acceptance of expanded Medicaid to batter Republicans and Democrats alike. He said while campaigning for the Oval that Obamacare would probably go if he were elected, that for-profit market places are America's solution to its unfair, unjust and immensely complicated health care system, as T. R. Reid eloquently explained in 2010 in his seminal work, "The Healing of America: A Global Quest For Better, Cheaper And Fairer Health Care."
"There's no question that people sent a message to the Party, to Republicans to knock it off; the chaos, the divisions. I mean kids being separated from their parents at the border. These crazy tariffs, and we're gonna take your health care. We're gonna kill Obamacare. Which means you're not gonna have any health care. You know if you have a pre-existing condition, well you know, you might be out of luck," Kasich said on MSNBC.
Trump won the got-to-win Buckeye State over Hillary Clinton by more than eight points. As Kasich heads for the exit come year's end, after eight years of lagging job growth and questionable policies, Ohio's gerrymandered legislative districts--made possible by Kasich in 2011--appear ready to function as the chief tool to elect another Republican chief executive despite so-called Democrat "Blue Wave" enthusiasm.

When Kasich repeats his unbelievable mindset that he doesn't know what Democrats stand for anymore, his ego reveals its history of panning others, especially when his long-held but unworkable ideas--conveniently dubbed "The Ohio Model"--aren't credited or listened to.

Kasich's favorite gambit when asked about whether his presidential aspirations include making a third run at the Oval Office in 2020, is to say he doesn't know what he's going to do tomorrow, let alone two years from now. If his third try to capture today's hearts and minds of primary Trump Republican voters is undertaken without protection of public office, it will be his great loss, one that will extinguish any devine hopes he holds of the Lord lifting him up to be president. 

Trumpism, long in the making, just waiting for the right Trump to come along, has captured the soul of the GOP, leaving old-school politicos and new political bi-sexuals like Kasich to wonder where his next political meal will come from.

In the recent special election between Franklin County Recorder, Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican State Senator Troy Balderson, to determines who fills the unexpired term of Pat Tiberi--a one-time driver for then Congressman John Kasich--who represented the 12th Congressional District
as long as Kasich did before him, Balderson thanked many people, most especially President Trump. But Balderson didn't mention Kasich's name, even though the two-term governor endorsed him late in the election cycle.

Democrats are so enthralled with Kasich on healthcare that they've lost their voice on assailing him on so many other policies where he hurts or harms workers, teachers, women, seniors and others who the Lord would otherwise want to lift up. 

A cold and grueling assessment of Kasich mocked him as founder of the "Independent Weasel Party." Writing for Ohio GOP blog "3rd Rail Politics," author Scott Pullins reams the Wizard of Westerville on 2nd Amendment rights versus his gun-control plan, then uses Kasich's own reported campaign financing statistics to argue Kasich is dead in the water now and going forward, unless the Lord delivers a miracle.

As Pullins puts it, after declaring Kasich wouldn't run as a Democrat, he only has one extremely narrow path forward, and that path is hooking up with a billionaire running mate.  
"If one of these billionaires would join him on an independent ticket as running mate, Kasich would be free to use their personal funds on the campaign to fund the primary and general election efforts.  And perhaps that’s why he really has weaseled his way towards the left," Pullins speculates on why Kasich drifts leftward, at least in rhetoric. 
The Ohio Democratic Party and its top candidates feel they can't and shouldn't attack Kasich, since they says he's not on the ballot and the so-called "popular governor" polls above 50 percent. ODP hasn't learned what Republicans know, that it's never too early to demonize your opponent. Dredging Ted Strickland up after he's been gone for eight years is a classic example of never let go on a winning narrative, or as some might call it, the "Ohio Model." O'Connor had to fess up on whether he'd vote for the dreaded and much defiled former Democratic House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. The San Francisco liberal won acclaim for guiding the Affordable Care Act through to President Barack Obama's desk in 2010, the year Tea Party fervor got ginned up over it, enough that Kasich saw his opening and used anti-Washington energy to eek out a two-percentage-point win as hurricane winds from the Great Recession had subsided.
Kasich, who claims Democrats have no agenda, won't like what one Republican is calling on other Republicans to do to save The Republican Party. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post by Michael Gerson titled "The only way to save the GOP is to defeat it," the author asks the question of "What should they do" when reality is that President Trump "is a rolling disaster of mendacity, corruption and prejudice."
Gerson's answer is simple: "They should vote Democratic in their House race, no matter who the Democrats put forward." After explaining why the House should flip but the Senate remain in GOP hands, Gerson ends this way: " ... a Republican vote for a Democratic representative will be an act of conscience."
Will Kasich's conscience win out over his inability to say one positive word about Democrats in general or certain office holders in particular, even though they herald him on high for one stand on one issue, that while terribly important isn't the whole ball game.


Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Ohio's 12th District: Danny O'Connor did great, if you don't count losing to Balderson

A friend asked me to call Tuesday's special election between Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson to fill the unexpired term of 12 District Congressman Pat Tiberi.

Kasich likes expanded Medicaid while 
Balderson doesn't.
With all the enthusiasm for O'Connor, Franklin County's Recorder, so-called Blue Wave Democrats hope their momentum will crash over the country in November to put a check on President Donald Trump by reclaiming the U.S. House of Representatives.

By the end of the night on special election Tuesday, the blue wave crashed short of winning.

Before midnight, O'Connor trailed Balderson, a state senator, 50.2 percent to 49.3 percent. By fewer than 2,000 votes out of 202,521, according to unofficial voting statistics posted at the Ohio Secretary of State's website, Balderson captured the rural red vote outside of Franklin County, where O'Connor crushed his opponent.

The winning votes for Balderson came from Delaware County, Ohio's fastest growing county for decades, where GOP voters may have been inspired by a visit last week by Trump or by a late endorsement from Gov. John Kasich, who wins coverage by being the anti-Trump dancing bear national media love, as he tries to keep his hopes to be a presidential contender in 2020 alive after he leaves office in just four short months.

Balderson thanked President Trump for his fly-in endorsement as well as Tiberi, who turned down another guaranteed term to take a job in the private sector. 

My election prediction
"When the theory (based on decades of voter statistics) that D turnout in midterms is lower meets the theory that Rs enthralled by Trump will vote for anyone except a D, I think Balderson squeaks out a narrow victory today."
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken said in a statement that Balderson's win today reflects the nation's thinking that President Trump is on the right track.
"Tonight, Troy Balderson and the constitutents of Ohio's twelfth congressional district sent a message to Democrats and media pundits across the country. America is on the right track under President Trump and Republican leadership., and the so-called 'blue wave' is nothing more than wishful thinking. Troy Balderson will prove himself to be an incredible Congressman by working tirelessly for his district and come November, will win by an even bigger margin." 
The crescendo of campaigning and the crash of not winning will signal to Republicans that they can win Ohio's other statewide seats in November, especially the open seat for governor, where Richard Cordray, the Democrat, goes up against Mike DeWine, the Republican and current Ohio Attorney General.

Campaign spending by GOP allied sources dwarfed spending by Democratic allies by a 5-1 margin in this special election. Before November 6, the real fall General Election when the winner between O'Connor and Balderson wins a two-year seat in Congress, spending will be even higher when the stakes are the highest.

The O’Connor campaign released the following statement on tonight’s special election victory in OH-12:
“We always knew this was going to be a close race, and while we don’t know the results quite yet, I know that this campaign left it all on the field. There’s a lot at stake this November for the 12th District. The Republican notion that it’s more important to cut taxes for big corporations and the wealthiest among us, flies in the face of our belief that tax relief should be targeted to the working class, and that we should protect Social Security and Medicare benefits instead of showering the uber-rich with new tax cuts they don’t need. No matter what happens next, I’m proud to stand beside the thousands of volunteers who have made this campaign possible.”
Kasich v Trump

Gov. Kasich is as responsible as any politician can be for gerrymandering that took place in Ohio in 2011, when he went along with the terrible tilting of the electoral playing field that has benefited Republicans from then to today.

O'Connor won big in blue Franklin County, but lost, albeit by smaller margins than Trump won the district in 2016 or Mitt Romney won it in 2012.

Can Democrats cheer that the race in a ruby red district was as close as it was today? Yes the can. Can Democrats relish a win in a race that was supposed to verify that the blue wave was waving blue? No they can't.

In close races, it's always nice to win rather than lose. Democrats lost again. They will have another bite at the 12th District in November, but unless they raise more money or hit on issues not hit on before that resonate with more voters, Trump Republicans may be even more energized to not lose this fall. 

Another question to answer is will Kasich, who dislikes Trump, or Trump, who pans Kasich, earn the real laurels for endorsing Balderson? Of all the people Balderson thanked, John Kasich was not one of them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sherrod Brown says Trump-Putin meeting taped by Russians

In his weekly Wednesday call with reporters, Ohio's senior senator in Washington said he "would love to know more about that meeting," the details of which no one but Trump, Russian leader Vladimir Putin and two translators supposedly know about.

Brown: Russians Taped Private Trump-Putin Meeting

Sen. Sherrod Brown (right)
talks to me in 2016
Brown told reporters that the intelligence officials he's talked with all believe the private meeting was taped by Russia. "They have Trump's reaction on video tape," he told me.

When I asked Sen. Sherrod Brown this question, "Do you believe Trump would have won without Russia's interference?," he paused, then responded, saying "Clearly, Russia intervened on one side."

Brown, who's running for a third term this year, said he doesn't know the answer to my question, but hopes the special council investigation undertaken by former FBI chief Robert Mueller into the issue will provide the evidence that proves or disproves the belief held by many, especially Democrats, that Russia's vast meddling in the 2016 presidential election tipped the table to favor Donald Trump.

When asked if anything the President Trump has done or said so far justifies anyone leveling a charge of treason against him, Sen. Brown asked cautiously. "I did not levy that charge and I'm not going to judge what others say about him (Trump)."

Brown did say he doesn't understand Trump's attacks on long-standing allies and why he would make comments that undermine NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and then "throwing in with the KGB (Russia's equivalent of the CIA). Why would the president do that?"

Brown's view is that the nation is "overwhelmingly disturbed by this" and that the only people not disturbed by it  are members of congress (virtually all Republicans) and a sliver in trump's political base.

"Virtually everyone I talk to is concerned what trump does for and with Russia," he said, adding, "NATO is the best idea post war that keeps Europe safe ... and more prosperous."

Responding to my question on the call that "Rob Portman said he takes Trump at his word that the president misspoke in his press conference with Putin. Do you agree with Portman's hold harmless comment on what Trump said he should have said about Russian interference in the 2016 elections?," Brown did not respond directly. He chose instead to say "the stakes are too high ... when talking about national security."

Meanwhile, Sen. Brown is still waiting for President Trump to say Russia hacked the election, as every Republican he said he's 's talked to believes happened.

Poll: Brown-Renacci tied among 'definite voters.'

President Barack Obama speaks to a
large crowd at OSU in 2012.
In the most recent Axios/Survey Monkey poll of over 12,000 people, Sen. Brown's once large advantage over his Republican rival Congressman Jim Renacci has narrowed to within the margin of error among definite voters. This means that the race that Brown once enjoyed a comfortable lead in has narrowed considerably with this metric. Among just registered voters, Brown holds an eight-point lead over Renacci, whose name ID across Ohio is relatively poor compared to Brown's.

"Would it be a plus or minus for Democratic candidates including yourself if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton hit the campaign and didn't go into hiding as some might want them to do?"

Brown responded to my last question of the day by not responding to it. He said the question fell into the category of a political question and he wasn't going to use public resources to answer it, although he might do so if we were to meet in person.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Rob Portman ignores his own history on tax cut benefits

The worst economic meltdown since 1929 happened in 2007, at the end of President George W. Bush's eight years in office. Bush's billions of unnecessary and un-budgeted tax cuts were enabled by his then budget direction, former Ohio Congressman Rob Portman from Cincinnati.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman at an
energy conference at The Ohio
State University. Portman served
President George W. Bush as his
budget director when $2.3
trillion in un-budgeted, 
unnecessary tax cuts
were approved. 
Winning in 2016, Portman crafted a campaign that distanced himself from close association with Donald Trump without being tagged as an opponent. Portman moves through his second term as Ohio's junior senator in Washington.

A leader in the vanguard of those who advocated for robbing the national treasury nearly two decades ago, Portman, quite wrongly in hindsight, promised job and growth miracles would result from the approval of $2.3 billion in tax cuts convenient charged on the national credit card by a compliant and equally deceived GOP congress that believes, despite ample economic history to the contrary, that tax cuts to the wealthy, or the top 20 percent of earners, trickles down to those 80 percent below.

Texas Gov. Bush when he became president after a conservative Supreme Court effectively appointed him when they prohibited a recount of votes in Florida, inherited an expanding national economy from policies and programs pushed by then President Bill Clinton that produced an astounding prize: the virtual elimination of the national debt.

That Holy Grail of policy performance, adored by so-called fiscal hawks like Portman or Ohio Gov. John Kasich who based their political careers on it, was at hand. Members of the Grover Norquist "no new taxes" crowd includes Portman and Kasich, career politicos who prefer Norquist's famous calling "to starve the beast" of government rather than feed it so tens of millions over their lifetimes can enjoy economic and social justice.

When the Bush-Portman tax cut debacle teamed up with other congressional attempts to deregulate certain industries, including the financial industry, the worse economic meltdown since 1929 happened. It dealt mortal blows to virtually every state in the nation, as jobs disappeared by the tens of thousands overnight. The Reagan tax cuts, among the biggest in history, pushed the door open to income inequality, stagnant worker pay checks, and the resurgence of corporations as more important to people.

Never ashamed of how wrong his support for tax cuts in the past has been, Sen. Portman now highlights the benefits of President Trumps tax reform bill after six months of its passage and more than a year of demonstrating how scary he will be to our teenage democracy.

Reports say Portman recently spoke on the Senate floor highlighting the sixth-month anniversary of tax reform. The commonsense conservative he claimed to be two years ago said he's visited "nearly two dozen businesses across Ohio that have benefited from the new tax code and either created more jobs, increased wages, expanded benefits or reinvested in their businesses as a result." Some business, he said, "have done a combination of these things."

Reality Ranch

Meanwhile, back at reality ranch, one Noble Prize winning economist wrote that Trumps "tax cut isn’t producing the promised surge in business investment, let alone the promised wage gains; all it has really done is lead to a lot of stock buybacks." New York Times editorial writer Paul Krugman, said about reflecting on this reality, "the tax cut is becoming less popular over time."

Portman may or may not be aware of an internal report done by the Council of Economic Advisers that conclude that Trump's "trade policy will cost jobs, not create them. If he's ignoring this report, because he's back in the saddle of proselytizing about the magic of tax cuts, he ought to stop deceiving everyone else, especially the media who offers little if any pushback on what the senator says or does. In contrast to the false or fake news promulgated by Trump's top economic official, that the budget deficit is “coming down rapidly” as “those revenues come rolling in,” the exact opposite is happening. "Actually, the deficit is rising fast, mainly because of a plunge in corporate tax receipts — the direct result of the tax cut," Krugman, the economist, writes.

Portman Safe With Ohio Media Reporting

It's hard to imagine Ohio media, so enthralled with Portman's stump about overdosed Buckeyes, questioning Trump and company's claims about how good things are going, But Krugman has no such shyness, arguing the results of Trumps policies bear no relationship to reality. "But reality has a well-known liberal bias. Will Trump’s habit of making things up, and his advisors’ willingness to celebrate imaginary policy triumphs, make any difference?" he asks.

He answers his own question, this way: "Actually, I think they might. The trade war is rapidly escalating, with our trading partners retaliating against US actions and reports that Trump wants to withdraw from the World Trade Organization. The best hope for breaking the cycle of retaliation would be for Trump to realize that the trade war is going badly, take a deep breath, and step back from the brink."

But who will tell Trump how things are really going? he wonders? Certainly not Rob Portman, who was on the GOP-only Senate committee that brought a bill to the floor devoid of Democratic input, then passed by party line voting.

Obhof Takes On Kasich

And simultaneous to Portman cheering on Trump and his tax reform bill, it seems Gov. Kasich's eight years of deregulation and tax cuts aren't working to the satisfaction to Sen. Larry Obhof. Obhof, President of the Ohio Senate, blessed the passage of two bills by the Ohio Senate designed to reduce government bureaucracy and encourage job creation.

Ohio's imperial commander, Gov. John 
Kasich, seen here at the Ohio State House in 
the Lincoln Room is like Portman since each
thinks tax cuts trickle down to the poor, when
they don't. America's and Ohio's income 
inequality is the largest in history.
"Unnecessary red tape and regulation stifles the potential of Ohio's small businesses, limiting job opportunities for Ohioans," Obhof said. "The legislature has a responsibility to make sure any rules or regulations created by state government have a specific purpose and intent to protect our citizens and do not create needless barriers to growth and opportunity.”

What has Gov. Kasich been up to these past eight years? he promised voters that if they elected him in 2010 he would make Ohio move "at the speed of business" and rain down good paying jobs for all those people who stilled one, even after Portman and Bush's terrible economic policies produced the second worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression of 1929.

Ohio under Kasich has failed for over five years to even meet the national average for job creation. The jobs he can claim credit for mostly pay minimum wage or slightly above. Meanwhile, he gave a way billions in tax cuts that have done little if anything to make state revenues roll in. In fact, the last budget cycle came up a billion short, a gap which Obhof and company filled with more cuts instead of revenue.

Portman Ignores His Own History

Portman like Kasich knows media seems incapable of challenging their actions by holding them accountable for how their policies don't pan out for the average Billy Buckeye. What they say or do today, whether it's what they said or did yesterday, makes today's headlines, leaving readers ignorant of how their policies turned out not to their benefit before.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Will high court decisions help Democrats bite the dust?

In recent weeks the nation's uber-conservative high court, with its newest Trump acolyte Neil Gorsuch playing rookie of the year for the magnificent nine, has thrown some curve balls that could strike Democrats out for years or even decades to come.

President Obama speaks at an Early Vote 
rally at The Ohio State University
in 2012.
Democrats lost the opportunity to craft the court to its values and principles when it let a New York billionaire who made his fame and fortune by stiffing contractors before he declared bankruptcy, as records and lawsuits showed he often did, win the presidential election in 2010, by winning three key mid-western states by fewer than 80,000 votes total.

When Donald beat Hillary, the real prize won wasn't control of the White House but control of life-time appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That court could have installed President Barack Obama's moderate nominee Merrick Garland, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky put Garland on ice for a year, effectively freezing the court 4-4. The undertaker, as McConnell has been called, banked on a Republican winning so the next nominee would be a loyal member of the conservative platoon of judges who by one vote would tilt the court to the right on so many cases that reflect the heart and soul of this aging and deflating democracy.

In recent weeks the court has delivered in spades on McConnell's gamble, as it churns out split 5-4 decisions. One of these slim wins essentially told Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and his successor that a method of purging voting lists based on a voter's history of voting in federal elections and whether they returned a letter from the state on their status was in complete compliance with federal law is constitutional. That decision, Husted, Ohio Secretary of State v A. Phillip Randolph Institute., essentially said it's okay to "cage" voters with a piece of mail that, if they didn't see it or respond to it for one of many valid reasons, would remove them from voter rolls. Democratic base voters take the brunt of this decision, since they mostly represent minorities, youth and elders.

In another recent decision, Abbott v Perez, the court's five conservative justices kept Texas’ voting maps largely intact.

As the AP reported on the travel ban case, the 5-4 decision dealt "an election-year blow to Democrats by reversing earlier findings that intentional racial discrimination continues to stain several statehouse and congressional districts." Districts gerrymandered after the 2010 election when Tea Party Republicans turned their ire at Obama's Affordable Care Act into a tornado that won them control of the House and Senate. In Ohio, where districts are as rigged as they are in Texas, it won't be anytime soon when the electoral playing field is leveled again. With midterm elections in process now, the only miracle Buckeyes might see is for Ohio's only statewide elected Democrat, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, to win his third term.

And with Tuesday's 5-4 decision in Trump v Hawaii, a case that tested whether the president could place entry restrictions on the nationals of eight foreign states whose systems for managing and sharing information about their nationals the President deemed inadequate, Democrats saw another issue key to their party bite the dust.

Arguably one of the biggest but expected blows to Democrats arrived on Wednesday in a case called Janus v American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Two years ago after Justice Antonin Scalia died, the court tied in this case 4-4. The petitioner in this case, Mr. Janus, challenged a state law requiring him as a non-union member to pay a fair share fee to the union that was required to represent him in the workplace as a violation of his First Amendment rights.

Justice Gorsuch, doing what he was nominated to do, broke the tie against union power. The Illinois case also saw another split 5-4 decision that will go a long way to further hobbling Democratic candidates who previously benefited from public sector unions that bargained collectively for higher wages. Now, as a matter of free speech, members of such unions do not have to pay a penny for costs associated with collective bargaining.

“Today’s decision by this anti-worker Supreme Court is an attack on workers’ freedom to advocate for themselves,” said two-term Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. Hoping to win a third term this year, Brown continued, “Workers produce more than ever, but don’t share in the wealth they create. Our economy doesn’t value work. We change that by giving workers a voice in the businesses they help build – not silencing them. The decision is shameful, and it’s a setback – but we’re not going to stop organizing and fighting back for workers who build the middle class.”

As the special investigation undertaken by special counsel Robert Mueller into President Trump's campaign connections and collusion with Russians during the 2016 race moves forward into the second half, the president has wondered with the help of his legal team whether he can pardon himself before or after any evidence is revealed by Mueller that he violated law?

Will Democrats Bite the Dust?

With these three decisions in mind, with more like-minded ones probably waiting in the wings, will it be a real surprise to anyone that a president pardoning himself with a power explicitly given to him by the nation's founders when they penned the Constitution will also be okay?

Democrats who can't seem to convince their voters, hard-wired or sympathetic, to turnout to vote in any election face a grim future of being losers on a grand scale. In a new Gallup poll, only 56 percent of U.S. adults say they are currently "absolutely certain" they will vote in the November elections for Congress. "That's on the low side in Gallup's trend of final pre-election midterm polls since 1954 and is similar to the 58% recorded just before the 2014 midterms, which had the lowest turnout rate since 1942," the poll reports.

With Justice Anthony Kennedy rumored to be ready to step down, and with odds makers giving long odds for this Republican congress to challenge Trump on anything, it's a foregone conclusion that impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate is a pipe dreamers pipe dream.

If Democrats fail to take control of the House of Representatives this fall, and if Trump can keep the Senate on his team if even by a single seat, his re-election may be more likely than him losing to a nation that turned it's severe case of buyer's remorse into a win at the ballot box.

Justice Kennedy, who is seen by many as someone who can swing both ways, as he showed he can by upholding same sex marriage, will be replace by another conservative droid on the scale of Justice Gorsuch.

If Kennedy is replace by Trump, and the president wins a second term, it might be all over for liberals, progressive and intelligent independent thinkers, as a stalwart of the court Like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, now in her 90s, retired or dies, giving Trump a third pick that will pollute the court for the next half century.

When President Trump pardons himself, as he says he can, following any damning findings flushed out by Mueller, the days of Dred Scott, Plessy v Ferguson and even Brown v Board of Education might not be relegated to the history books as they are now.

Trump's new version of old fascism may very well be the country's future, as Democrats fade away to winning little races for city mayor and county commissioner while the highest offices are dominated by Trump's cult members.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kasich tells GOP to run on his job's record. Why aren't Democrats running against it?

Making another of his now frequent cameo appearances on national TV, this time with host Brian Williams on "The 11th Hour," Ohio Gov. John Kasich got french kissed by Williams who gushed over the out-going CEO's comments about Trumpworld, especially its family separation policy.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar
speaks at a dinner fundraiser for the
Ohio Democratic Party.
Kasich loves big media and its big name stars like Williams, who couldn't get enough of the state's 69th and now term-limited CEO calling Trump's family separation policy as "insane." Ohio's National Chaplain was asked his favorite question by Williams: Will you run for president in 2020?

Asking that question is like serving up a slow, center of the plate pitch a strong hitter can blast over the center field wall. Kasich donned his pensive look, then delivered his patented response: I don't know what I'm going to do. But I want to keep my voice in the mix. Kasich leaves office early in January.

While the Buckeye State's lame-duck governor was positing  pertinent on worldly issues from North Korea to economic tariffs that might harm more Ohioans than it helps, new monthly jobs numbers were released showing Ohio again falling behind the national average, this time for the 66th consecutive month.

Simultaneous to BLS statistics showing up, Kasich used positive numbers from secret jobs data JobsOhio gave to McKinsey & Company that is not available for public analysis.

With about four months to go until the mid-term elections, Kasich is now taunting Republicans, especially Ohio's Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine who hopes win his first term as governor this year, to use his "administration's economic success to cheer people up and win votes this fall," according to The Vindicator.
At a news conference with budget director Tim Keen and John Minor, the head of JobsOhio who Kasich met while working at Lehman Brothers before it failed and he ran for governor, positive trends, including Ohio's job-creation rate outpacing the nation's, falling unemployment and growing wages, and the addition of 520,000 since the Great Recession technically ended as Kasich took office.
"You run on this record," Kasich said to 2018 GOP candidates, some of whom have distanced themselves from him.
A new Quinnipiac University poll released recently showed 69 percent of Ohioans are happy with the direction the state is moving in, giving Kasich good job approval rating. That news needs explanation, as Kasich is more popular with Democrats than with Republicans, who by margins of 85 percent or more support Trump.
Kasich pointed to tax cuts and spending reductions as his legacies. Democrats have held back taking him to task for those same tax cuts and spending reductions, while making him a saint because he bucked the GOP trend and accepted expanded Medicaid and the $2.5 billion in federal largess than came with it.
"When you get to an election, I think everybody votes," Kasich said, failing to remember that he won a second term in 2014 when 63 percent of registered voters didn't vote. 
"And so, I'll just say it to you, if you're up jobs, if your wages are growing, if your budgets are balanced and people are getting health care, what else would you have?" he said. "We didn't throw all the immigrants out of Ohio. What would be bad about that [record)]? I don't understand it."
Williams had no clue that Ohio under Kasich has fewer jobs today than it did in 1980, before NAFTA drained thousands of jobs from Ohio and other states. Williams also had no clue that another new report by an Ohio affordable housing advocacy group lamented Kasich's record of creating low-paying minimum wage jobs that don't provide enough money for workers to pay all their bills.

In that report, "Out of Reach," only two of the top 10 occupations in Ohio actually pay their employees enough to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. Meanwhile, Ohio’s housing wage increased again this year to $15.25 – the hourly amount renters need to earn to afford the rent for a basic, two-bedroom unit.

So while the likes of Williams and other millionaire TV pundits look to Ohio's glib governor as reliable dancing bear to bash Trump on his daily transgressions, they are woefully neglect in knowing the real numbers behind his many boasts of progress and prosperity that many Ohioans are not experiencing.

Democrats should be attacking Kasich on his record instead of canonizing him for his one-trick pony move to accept Medicaid expansion. Democrats from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown to the leader of the Ohio Democratic Party routinely refuse to say a discouraging word about Kasich's very discouraging record. By letting him take credit instead of challenging him, Democrats have relinquished their trump card on him and his record, a record he wants his establishment GOP allies to run on.

If DeWine wins, as I predict he will because Ohio's legislative districts are too gerrymandered to favor the GOP, Democrats won't have anyone to blame but themselves for letting Kasich out of jobs jail.

And if 2018 turns out to be a replay of 2016 as the White House and money-rich Republicans dumps millions into anti-Democratic ads, ODP could be relegated to Ohio's political graveyard as a once-powerful but now weak political force.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Ohio's 'Speed of Business' falls below national average for 66th straight month

When citizen John Kasich was running for governor of Ohio in 2010, he claimed former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland's development department ran at the speed of regulation, and that he would privatize the former public agency so it could run at "the speed of business."

Media lapped up the juicy bumper sticker slogan showing Kasich's craft in devising a tag line that sounded great but had yet to prove it's worth and validity

Gov. Kasich hired Silicon Valley
friend, follower and campaign 
confidant Mark D. Kvamme to run
jobs development at the "speed of business." 
For the past 66 straight months, Ohio's two-term lame duck CEO has fallen below the national average speed of business for over five and one-half years, even though his privatized and secret pet project group JobsOhio, a group of hand-picked CEOs he once said he would lead that has a billion in the funding pipeline after leasing the state's liquor profits for decades into the future, has yet to prove its worth.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services released employment and unemployment data for Ohio Friday, showing the speed of job growth in Ohio remains below the USA national average.

The May 2017 year over year Ohio job growth rate is 1.32 percent compared to the USA job growth rate during the same period of is 1.61 percent.
"This horrible sub-par job growth streak in Ohio has now been every month for five full years and six additional months," Ohio's preeminent jobs number guru George Zeller of Cleveland wrote in a monthly posting.
Zeller notes that 22,600 seasonally adjusted jobs were added in May 2018 seasonally adjusted. There were widespread employment increases in Ohio industries in May 2017, and a 700 downward revision to last month's April 2017 figure also caused an improvement to the May 2017 figure, Zeller said, noting that manufacturing increased by 500 jobs in May and government also increased by 2,500 in May (mostly in Local Government).

"Losses in manufacturing and government had been the key cause of slow job growth in numerous prior months, so a welcome improvement in these industries contributed strongly to the robust May 2017 Ohio job figure," Zeller said.

Annual revisions to the statistics show that Ohio gained only 32,200 jobs, the weakest annual year for job growth in Ohio since the end of the "Great Recession." A welcomed correction is that Ohio has already gained 64,300 jobs, a figure nearly double the number of jobs Ohio gained during the entire twelve months of last year.

Kasich Cites Secret Information

Kasich sees the numbers wearing a different set of reading glasses. A performance assessment of JobsOhio for this year only, as reported by The Business Journal, finds that it “consistently performed at or near the top five” of its peer organizations across core performance indicators.
"With today's jobs report, Ohio is now creating jobs 48 percent faster than the national rate since the start of the year, Kasich said. "The Ohio Model is working. Let's keep our foot on the gas."
What all other media reporting on Kasich's claim don't know or won't tell their readers, is that McKinsey has apparently been given access to a variety of "secret" databases that Jobs Ohio has long refused to release to the public.

Because it's a secret non-profit that's exempt from public records requests, Jobs Ohio refuses to make this information public. It's therefor difficult to evaluate whether or not McKinsey came to proper conclusions, since the data sources cited over and over in their report are not available to the public.

Small employment increases in May were seen on a widespread basis in other industries, including the normally rapidly growing Health Care and Social Assistance industry where 1,400 jobs in May were added. Normally low wage retail trade jobs increased by 4,000 jobs, the largest one month increase among Ohio industries, while nearly all other industries experienced at least some increase.

The 4.3 percent May unemployment rate in Ohio is higher than the 3.8 percent USA unemployment rate in May, Zeller notes as "the 18th consecutive month when Ohio's unemployment rate has exceeded the national average, even though both Ohio's unemployment rate and the USA unemployment rate have been steadily declining in recent months."

"The new data once again point out the vital importance of speeding up Ohio's rate of recovery," Zeller stressed, adding, "It will be more difficult to do that next month in the June data, since large mass layoffs at the General Motors Lordstown assembly plant have already been announced for implementation this week, but which are not yet measured in the new May 2018 data for either Lordstown or its suppliers."

Running His Mouth At The Speed Of Deception

It's bad enough that Ohio has fallen below the national job creation average for nearly six years, but when the report jointly released Thursday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio hit headlines, outgoing Gov. Kasich's verbal razzle dazzle from 2010 that wowed media showed that running at the speed of business was so much hype when it comes to jobs paying a living wage.

The report, Out of Reach, found that only two of the top 10 occupations in Ohio actually pay their employees enough to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment, the report released last Wednesday revealed. The wage to afford housing in Ohio increased again this year to $15.25 – the hourly amount renters need to earn to afford the rent for a basic, two-bedroom unit.

Of the 10 occupations in Ohio with the most employees, only registered nurses and customer service representatives earn more than the two-bedroom housing wage. The median wage for nurses is $30.59/hour and $15.34/hour for customer services reps.

“Ohio’s economy is recovering and our state has added new jobs in recent years. But the lack of affordable housing is a real barrier to continued growth when so many people holding these new jobs can’t afford a place to live. Just like home is essential for family stability, housing is the foundation of our economy,” said COHHIO Executive Director Bill Faith.

Faith added, “The affordable housing gap is bad enough for working families, but it’s even worse for people with disabilities, homeless veterans, and those struggling to recover from mental illness and addiction issues. That’s why we need state and federal leaders to step up and expand access to affordable homes.

Kasich has been distilling a future after governor for himself by writing editorials on world events and other topics for major print publications media outlets and appearing on national TV talk shows as a critic of President Donald Trump, who won Ohio handily and mocks Kasich when time and opportunity permit.

Were Washington and New York based political pundits to review why Kasich's glibness hasn't turned into better paying jobs for more Ohioans still wondering when the national recovery will recover them to better paying jobs, they would find Kasich is running his mouth at the speed of speculation while his record of governance has so many faults and failures in it.

Sources tell SOA that the Lordstown layoffs are anticipated as soon today, meaning they may not show up in the actual official figures until July even if the layoffs are this month in June, since the survey date for July may be just prior to the actual date of the Lordstown mass layoffs.

As much as Kasich has let Ohio down over the past 66 months, there's more worry ahead that's coming out of Washington than Columbus. Zeller notes that the trade war President Trump has embarked on won't "help matters in future months, either."

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

High court ruling for Husted in voter purging case is bad news for Ohio Democrats

As if Ohio Democrats didn't have enough to worry about this mid-term election cycle, Monday's ruling by the court's conservative justices agreeing that canceling the registration of voters who don't go to the polls and then fail to respond to a state notice sent to them about voting doesn't violate federal provisions that regulate voter registration just might make it impossible for Democrats to win any statewide seat this year.

Former State Sen. Jon Husted, now Ohio's
Secretary of State, is GOP candidate for
governor Mike DeWine's Lt. Gov. running mate.
I have already predicted that Ohio Republicans will sweep Democrats in the fall again this year, which only begs the question of whether the state party is good for anything except local races?

The ruling that will only vindicate what Secretary of State Jon Husted did to "follow to the letter," as Justice Samuel Alito wrote to show how much in agreement the majority was with what Husted did and Attorney General Mike Dewine did to defend the action, that by a different name is "voting caging,' the practice of trapping and tagging unwary voters by mail schemes, but on a state-wide level. Upholding Ohio's voter "list maintenance," practice by Husted and challenged as violating federal voting rights laws, unleashes the kind of purging power that will doom Buckeye Democrats.

Of practical concern is how many Democratic-leaning voters might be purged if one statistic used by the court to measure fall off is valid here. A dissenting Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that "roughly one in eight voter registrations is 'either invalid or significantly inaccurate.'” She criticized the ruling because she predicts it will disproportionate effect on the poor, the elderly and minorities.

If one-eighth or 12.5 percent is applied to the total number of voters who voted for the party's endorsed candidate Richard Cordray this primary season (428,159), that could mean about 54,000 fewer voters can cast ballots for party candidates.

Immigrantphobic Trumpoids who sent Trump to the White House in 2016 after crushing Hillary Clinton by almost nine percentage points will revel in what the court's ruling could mean for separating the wheat from the chaff among Democrats. The chaff will be tens of thousands of urban dwellers who may fall prey to Ohio's legal list management practice as practiced by Husted, who is running for Lt. Gov. on DeWine's ticket. Guaranteeing “accurate and current” registration lists, as the court ruled Husted is doing, wasn't in violation of both the 2002 Help America Vote Act, directed the states to maintain a system to cull ineligible voters from their lists, or the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

This could be a recipe from hell for Democrats if the wrong hands are in charge. Husted is directing counties not to purge Ohio voters ahead of the midterm elections, according to reports. In Alito's opinion, Congress indicated that states can remove voters “who have not responded to a notice and who have not voted in 2 consecutive” federal elections are subject to Husted's list maintenance plan. The argument made by plaintiff lawyers that “no registrant may be removed solely by reason of a failure to vote” was dismissed by the majority.

Alito's majority decision said that Ohio followed "the law to the letter," adding, “It is undisputed that Ohio does not remove a registrant on change-of-residence grounds unless the registrant is sent and fails to mail back a return card and then fails to vote for an additional four years."

Sotomayor made the very obvious point the ruling will have on minority voting behavior. She noted that “African-American-majority neighborhoods in downtown Cincinnati had 10% of their voters removed due to inactivity” in the last few years, as “compared to only 4% of voters in a suburban, majority-white neighborhood,” according to Scotusblog. She added that most states have found a way to keep their voter-registration lists accurate without relying on the failure to vote as a trigger for their schemes.

Amy Howe writes that Sotomayor concluded that the ruling will force "these communities and their allies to be even more proactive and vigilant in holding their States accountable and working to dismantle the obstacles they face in exercising the fundamental right to vote.”

Running to replace Husted as Secretary of State, Democratic candidate State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) issued a statement commending Husted for holding off doing the court said he could do. 

"I commend Secretary Husted for directing counties not to purge Ohio voters ahead of the midterm elections," Clyde said after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. She said it's up to the state to decide how its rolls and it can decide not to purge infrequent voters. 

"The process of purging people for choosing not to vote is properly on hold until after the November election, and it should be postponed indefinitely." 

Based on primary voting statistics published by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Democrats outvoted Republicans in only 12 of Ohio's 88 counties. By a margin of about 71,000 votes, GOP voters were more motivated to vote than Democrats.

Even though talk of a "Blue wave" earlier this year crashing over the country this fall has become a widely debated topic, the margin between Republicans and Democrats is narrowing so much that the once double-digit Dems had over Republicans is now a single digit. With spending for Republican candidates and against Democratic candidates projected to be massive, the blue wave may ebb before it hits Ohio, where gerrymandered districts may be too high an obstacle for Democrats to overcome this year.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

New York Times quietly castigates Kasich on Medicaid work requirements


Without once mentioning the current governor of Ohio, the Wednesday New York Times' editorial "Medicaid’s Nickel-and-Dime Routine" castigates Kasich in ways Ohio Democrats have failed, feared or forgotten to do.

It's a wonder Kasich isn't on the Democratic ticket for governor this year, given the adulation Ohio Democrats have lathered on the 69th governor since he accepted expanded Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in an administrative end run. The 44th president, Barack Obama, signed the ACA into law in 2010, lighting the fuse Tea Party Republicans wanted so bad to blow up the best effort yet for America to move an inch closer to the national policies all other advanced nations have found work much better.

Proponents of work requirements, like Ohio's hard-right state CEO Kasich who ran for re-election in 2014 on the promise of lifting everyone up no matter their circumstances, "say that the goal is not to punish the poor, but to lift them out of poverty by nudging them into the work force," the Times editorial argues. "But decades of experience with similar social experiments tell us that it will not play out that way," it says, adding, "The welfare-to-work strategies of the 1980s and 1990s succeeded at getting people off government rosters — but without alleviating their poverty."

Congressman Kasich, who served a reliably Republican district near Columbus for 18 years in Congress, boasts about his role in shaping the welfare-to-work bill then President Bill Clinton signed into law in the wake of the Gingrich revolution that brought eager GOP ideologues like Kasich to the forefront of backroom DC dealing.

What The Urban Institute found in Arkansas is what will be found in Ohio if Kasich's Medicaid waiver request to federal Medicaid officials to add work requirements to stay eligible for expanded Medicaid is granted. What those findings showed, as the Times reported, is that "nearly 80 percent of Medicaid enrollees who would be subject to the new work requirements face limitations that include significant health problems, a seriously ill family member, no vehicle or a lack of education. These barriers would make it difficult to impossible for many of them to meet the new rule’s monthly reporting requirements, even if they managed to secure the required 80 hours of work each month."

Ohio Democrats who have been shut out of statewide politics for decades, with the exception of a stint in 2006, are desperate for a win this year, but the party and its candidates seem incapable of raining down any criticism on Kasich, who has basked in the warmth of praise heaped on him for his one-trick pony acceptance of expanded Medicaid. Democrat insiders have said they won't Kasich on by name because he's still popular and because he's not on the ballot. While his name won't be on the ballot, his last eight years and all its misguided or misbegotten policies and programs are. So why do Ohio Democrats tread lightly on Kasich is a question worth an answer, given the close political ties Kasich has to all the other GOP candidates this year that ODP has gone after in its new website "The Statehouse Gang."

A Medicaid waiver was submitted by the Kasich administration in early May detailing Ohio's plan for imposing a work and community engagement requirement lawmakers passed last summer, the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote. The waiver requires Medicaid expansion enrollees to work unless they're over age 55, a student, seeking substance abuse treatment or have serious physical or mental health issues. State officials downplayed the number who will be harmed by the waiver if it's granted, but as is the case in Arkansas and other states where new work requirements have been approved, those numbers underestimate the true population of people who will have more than just not enough money to worry about.

One progressive advocacy group, Policy Matters Ohio, wants Kasich to scrap his waiver request. Policy Matters Ohio's Executive Director sent a letter to Ohio Department of Medicaid Director Barbara Sears, asking the Kasich administration to reconsider submitting the proposal to the Trump Administration.

That letter, from Amy Hanauer, argued the proposal "could cause many people to lose access to medical care" because the "proposal is unnecessary, because the vast majority of Medicaid patients are working, disabled or caring for someone who is disabled." The proposed requirement, Hanauer said, "is ill-suited to the uncertain schedules and other realities of the low-wage work place. The state fails to fund necessary components of the program. Finally, the proposed program may violate labor laws.”

Prior to the work waiver request, recall that Kasich quietly pushed for a federal waiver so Ohio can bill Medicaid recipients poor enough to qualify for it a monthly premium. It’s basic Kasich to dispense a dose of bitter medicine to wean the takers off so-called “dependency” on government support.

When Ohio’s senior senator in Washington, Sherrod Brown, spoke on the Senate floor to rail against passing the GOP-designed repeal of the ACA, he made reference to Kasich three times in one short talk.

“I agree with Governor Kasich: We must put politics aside and work together to come up with bipartisan solutions to bring down costs and make healthcare work better for everyone,” Brown said, previously telling reporters he salutes Kasich for his stance on Medicaid.

When a party and its candidates are running to reverse course on eight years of policies championed and pushed by Kasich, but are fearful or have forgotten how to tie him directly to his own record, it may offer a glimpse into why Kasich is riding high on national TV shows, where he opines with the craft only a skilled politico has accumulated after decades of playing catch me if you can to media and reporters who can't catch him.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

JobsOhio, Kasich's unconstitutional political unicorn, lives on with DeWine and Cordray

Memories fade so fast that even the Ohio Democratic Party's consumer-protecting candidate for governor this year forgets that John Kasich's single greatest illegal creation, JobsOhio, was the object of scorn by his fellow Dems in 2011, when an energized Republican legislature rammed it through on the fanciful, unproven belief that privatizing a formerly public development agency would create a sea of good jobs.

Gov. Kasich's political unicorn, JobsOhio,
believed by many to be unconstitutional,
promised to transform Ohio for growth. 
It has a long way to go before that promise
rings true.
Less than two years ago, The Ohio Supreme Court put down a move to challenge the constitutionality of JobsOhio by ruling that a Columbus attorney lacked standing to bring the case before the court.

The attorney cited in the rejection, Victoria Ullmann, argued that use of state liquor profits to fund JobsOhio was unconstitutional, because "any citizen who purchases spirituous liquor in the state is forced to support JobsOhio or travel out of state to make the purchase." JobsOhio leased Ohio's liquor profits through a subsidiary and used the money from that monopoly to leverage bonds that fund JobsOhio, reports said.

Even though Ullmann couldn't show a personal injury at a level that would establish standing, she argued she should qualify under a public right doctrine that would allow the court to hear issues that threaten serious public injury. Contemporaneously, left-leaning advocacy group ProgressOhio wanted a declaratory judgment that JobsOhio was an unconstitutional act.

Former Justice William O'Neill, who left the court this year to run for governor in the Democratic Party primary, dissented, saying that Ullmann had raised an issue that the court should hear.

"The diversion of public funds into a closely held and secret organization for distribution to friends and allies is a truly rare and extraordinary issue worthy of scrutiny by the Supreme Court of Ohio," O'Neill wrote.

At a campaign stop this week in Cleveland, endorsed Democratic candidate for governor Richard Cordray said he would keep JobsOhio, but “shift some direction on it," according to Ideastream.
“We can take JobsOhio and we can focus it, some of it, more on small business in the state,” Cordray said. “And we don’t have to solely be about throwing money at big companies from outside the state coming here and then undercutting the businesses that are already doing the right things here in Ohio," Cordray said.
One insider Republican source told this reporter recently that Democrats have a lot to explain on the turnaround from first opposing JobsOhio in 2011, Kasich's first year in office, to the party's last two candidates for governor who would keep it in tact. Both those candidates, Ed FitzGerald in 2014 and Cordray this year, are both attorneys, so their legal training and a review of where their party was not long ago would inform them that Kasich's political unicorn, alive and well with a future of funds coming to it, is actually unconstitutional and therefore illegal.

The high court can also be pilloried for resorting to a flimsy ruling based on their judgement that certain parties lacked standing to bring the challenge to JobsOhio would allow the entity to operate in full daylight before them, when each justice likely suspects that but for lack of standing, challengers might prevail in their case that it shouldn't exist based on a state constitution that prevents such private efforts to usurp public authority and funding.

Kasich in 2010 ballyhooed JobsOhio, the group he originally planned to chair until the Ohio Constitution stopped him from doing that. But despite all the talk of a privatized economic group that would "move at the speed of business," a catchy slogan Ohio media lapped up like hungry cats lapping up spilled milk, Gov. Kasich prized creation has failed to break even with the national job creation average for 65 straight months. And the jobs JobsOhio does claim credit for are, more than not, minimum wage jobs that pay less than $15 hour, the wage at which average workers can pay their bills without resorting to safety net programs like food stamps and Medicaid, the federal-state program for low income people.

Now that JobsOhio is tied up with bonds that go out decades, and a Republican legislature that will have nothing to do with trimming JobsOhio's wings or authority, it's more than strange that supposedly learned candidates for state CEO like Cordray would embrace this political unicorn when history shows Democrats and sympathetic advocacy groups wanted to kill it in the crib just seven years ago.

2018 DeWine-Kasich Plot Twist

For an Ohio house of cards plot twist, this one might not be so far fetched. If Kasich has his way and Attorney General Mike DeWine succeeds him as governor, Kasich could trade his active endorsement of DeWine for a shot at running the group he had planned to run from the beginning.

Some have wondered whether Kasich's endorsement is worth anything. The recently concluded GOP primary showed that John Kasich is more alone now than maybe at any time in his 40 years in politics. Kasich sidekick and Lt. Gov. during his two terms, Mary Taylor, tried to distance herself as far from her boss as she could. She promised to be so conservative, so much an acolyte of Donald Trump, that she would undo Kasich's second signature accomplishment, expanding Medicaid. Kasich is now withholding his endorsement of DeWine until he and the attorney general have a little chat about the future.

Recall that Kasich campaigned on chairing JobsOhio until he backed down when confronted by a state constitution that prevented him from doing that. When 2019 starts, Kasich won't be governor anymore, so the constitution goes away and he could lead JobsOhio, if DeWine were to appoint him to that post. It's classic Kasich to withhold his endorsement of DeWine until concessions are made for him to change his stance. It won't be a surprise if, secretly, Kasich is given the job he wanted long ago as his next political position.

Kasich Rides JobsOhio Into 2020

Kasich leading JobsOhio would be perfect for several reasons: It's what he wanted to do all along; it pays big bucks, it's secret, he can take credit for economic miracles that may or may not happen, and maybe best of all, he can use it and its money to continue his favorite hobby, running for president in 2020. Mike DeWine just might give Kasich what he wants to shut him up and to bring him on-board, as best as he can be brought on-board anything where JRK isn't the marque star.

Then again, DeWine, who endorsed Kasich for president without any side deals to gain that endorsement, may just let Kasich wander off the political radar screen when he leaves office in seven months. Kasich is already shopping for his next gig, but being scorned by Trump and his base and totally not trusted by Democrats, Kasich will want a media job to keep him afloat for a couple years until horses line up for the next presidential cycle.

Stranger things have happened, like Donald Trump being elected President, so such a backroom deal between past and future governors in the same party seems like child's play compared to the national magic trick Trump pulled off in 2016.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Buckeyes beware: Kasich's last lame-duck session this fall could be doozy

Ohio workers and voters have good reason to fear what motivated-by-time Ohio lawmakers and a willing exiting governor can do after the fall election is over and before the next General Assembly is sworn in at the start of the new year.

Gov. John Kasich in the Ohio Statehouse
Aptly called "lame duck" sessions, the 2018 version in Ohio will be even more lame-duck when term-limited, lame-duck governor John Kasich wields his pen for good or bad for the last time.

So called lame-duck sessions are news worthy because of what can happen when lawmakers, some of whom may not be back in the new year, scheme to pass bills that maybe never had a hearing in committee or were passed out of committee, are brought back from the dead by lawmakers who fear no repercussions from their constituents and will vote for all manner of bills that benefit one special interest over another.

Next year's new governor, whether its Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine or Democratic candidate Richard Cordray, may inherit a legislative landscape they could only watch from afar as neither can effect what Ohio's 132nd lawmaker class does before they take office.

By his own design, with the acquiescence of a GOP-led legislature, Gov. John Kasich turned a two-year budget cycle into a one-year budget cycle when he started his mid-biennium review. This scheme effectively created two one-year budget cycles. The benefit of such a scheme is that since a budget cycle is about appropriating money, challenges to anything in it via citizen referendum is prohibited, enabling all manner of bad policy to be signed into law without public hearings or comments. Legislative leaders relish the weeks after an election and before year's end to throw everything that couldn't pass muster before into a giant bill where important matters easily are lost among the trees of this thick forest.

Kasich has continued to pursue his fantasy quest to be president despite two losses, the first in 2000 and the last in 2016, that he ignores because state and national media love to feature even though they all know his chances of being taken seriously, in ways that differ from his two campaign crucifixions so far. Looking for his next gig, Kasich spent large portions of 2015-2016 campaigning out of state. Even thought he national election that Donald Trump won two years ago wafts in the wind, Kasich, like The Donald, looks back to his losing campaign as if it's a prequel to his next anticipated run.

Soon to be out of office and wandering past the graveyard of fallen and forgotten politicos, Kasich could be an accomplice for good or evil this fall, depending on what lame-duck lawmakers bring to his desk as they pack the concluded weeks of the year with any number of partisan bills that the next governor and General Assembly will have to grapple with, that may help or hurt the agenda they ran on.

While Kasich is now very much of a one-trick pony preaching his "find meaning in life sermon where and when he can, as he did at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard recently, the end of his eight years in office brings a thunderstorm of scandals and policy picks that would make him a lame-duck leader the likes of which Ohio has rarely seen. Any number of categories——from budgets to women and workers to for-profit charter schools, taxes, voter suppression and healthcare—are bad enough as they are without further complications from what outgoing lawmakers will send him that he'll sign into law to cement his legacy as a performance politician whose ego, as big as the great outdoors, refuses to acknowledge that he's past prime-time.

Who wins or loses on November 6th of this year will dominate headlines. Those same headlines will be trumped by the back-room scheming so essential to how elected officials handle their responsibility when voters can't see and can't vote on what happens before the new year arrives.

Beware Buckeyes, your worst days could still be ahead of you. And don't count on Ohio media to inform you better than they already have.