Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kasich: Between a Rock and Rail Place

If this Enquirer article on Governor Elect John Kascih can be trusted, then 2011 is going to be a God-awful year for Ohio. If the article was reporting something a Democrat said, I would only give it half a glance, but the Enquirer treats conservatives with reverence and so the quotes can more likely be taken as gospel, not spin.

You can tell the difference because Democrats are usually relegated to one liners with the Enquirer's snide interpretations laced in between short quotes. Kasich's quotes lead in the paragraphs and the Enquirer happily expounds on his ideas as if Kasich were the Second Coming. Even so, whoever wrote this article did an interesting job of fulfilling the Enquirer mandate to never make the GOP look too bad while still getting a couple of skeptical zingers.

Starting with the title: Kasich, GOP: Ohio can cut way out of deficit. That one statement is nearly begging for a question mark and leaves the reader asking, Oh, really? They can? OK, let's settle in for a good read and see how Kasich and the GOP plan to keep this promise without backtracking.

Because Kasich has already been left stuttering over transportation funding that incumbent Governer Ted Strickland worked his ass off to bring here. A 400 million dollar investment and, depending on who you read, between 8,000 to 16,000 permanent jobs, not just temporary construction jobs, that would provide not only an investment in jobs, but an investment in Ohio's infrastructure and economy. Kasich ran on the fact that he would kill that idea and make sure the money was spent "responsibly" (lining the pockets of his GOP buddies at every turn).

Well he was only half right. He killed the idea for Ohio (mirroring the exact situation for the Governor Elect of Wisconsin), but the money is still going for rail projects and will be split between other sates and that's where those jobs will go as well. In at least one state, a billboard has gone up, sarcastically thanking both governors for declinging the funds and sending the money and jobs their way.

It's sad and quite telling that Kasich truly believed the GOP hype. Like someone who sees a $4.99 price tage and doesn't realize the price is really $5.00, Kasich only saw the 400 million dollar carrot, but not the regulatory stick.

At first our Governor Elect truly didn't seem to understand that he can not dictate to the US Department of Transportation where that money will go. While Ted Strickland sat shaking his head watching his hard work go out the window, Kasich was still trying to make his campaign talking points into real-world policy. Why can't the money still be given to Ohio for other projects? If Ohio declines the money, why can't it just be returned to treasury to redcue the deficit?

I'm going to tell you why John Kasich. Because the US Department of Transportation is run by rules and guidelines, unlike the GOP which is powered solely on talking points and unending conservative rhetoric based on the premise that if you repeat something long enough it becomes fact. That only works until you hit a real brick wall - a wall made of real adults not merely playing the political game but working to make sure rules and regulations are followed.

Feds To Kasich: Not Building Rail Line? We'll Keep The Money

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday that the money can't be used for other programs.

In a letter to Kasich, LaHood congratulated Kasich on his election, but then said that, "I wanted to let you know that none of those funds may be used for anything other than our High Speed Rail Program.

LaHood pointed out that Ohio has already received $1.1 billion in stimulus funds for nearly 500 transportation projects and hoped Kasich would continue the passenger rail plan.

If, however, you choose not to participate in the program, we would like to engage in an orderly transition to wind down Ohio's involvement in the project so that we don't waste the taxpayer's money," LaHood wrote.

The governor-elect "is fully aware of the rules surrounding the use of federal funds and remains interested in pursuing additional flexibilities on this issue," said Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols. "It is, however, refreshing to see that Secretary LaHood understands the importance of preventing anymore wasteful spending on the passenger rail project."

Wow. They simply cannot help it. Team Kasich still makes a pathetic effort at making it seems as if Secretary Lahood's message is "I agree with you, the rail project is a waste of taxpayer money" when what Lahood really said was, "The rules say the money has to be spent on rail. If you're not going to spend it on rail, you can't have the money. Now hurry up and make up your mind so we don't waste more taxpayer time and money while you play politcal games."

Which leaves Kasich between a rock and a rail place. Supposedly there's still a chance Ohio can still have the money for the rail project. Liberals have wasted no time in painting Kasich with a broad brush as the idiot who lost Ohio 400 million dollars and 16,000 jobs before he even officially took office. I don't care what kind of spin the GOP does, not even the Enquirer can make that sound good.


But the Enquirer sure as hell tried.

"[Kasich] will put all programs under the microscope," said Rob Nichols, Kasich's spokesman.

And so the spin begins anew. The GOP narrative is that Ted Strickland was out gallivanting around spending hardworking Ohians tax money on ideas like a train but Kasich will keep his campaign promise to stop the wasteful spending on frivolities like investing in the upkeep and future of our infrastructure. Furthermore, Kasich will carefully consider (read willfully cut) every single program that is seen by conservatives as "rewarding" the poor or minorities.

Because the rail program is not all Kasich wants to cut.

Republicans say they'll cut Ohio's way out of a potential $8 billion budget deficit - but there's only one way to do that: by cutting money for schools, universities, prisons and social services, including Medicaid.

So while Kasich is cossetted in the governor's mansion, let the peasants eat cake. Well, maybe that's a bit harsh because Kasich's idea about the jails is actually a good one.

Kasich said there would be obvious taxpayer savings in keeping people who bounce checks or fail to pay child support out of prison. He said the nonviolent offenders should undergo treatment, be put on a work-release detail, placed under house arrest or jailed by counties before sending them to state prison, which costs an average of $66 per day per inmate.

Bipartisan legislation to relax criminal sentencing laws and keep nonviolent offenders out of prison - as proposed by Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and state Sen. Bill Seitz, a Republican from Green Township, failed to pass the Republican-led Senate the past two years.

Ok. Wait a second. Why did this idea fail? Because Kasich's idea about how to hanle non-violent offenders is actually an Republican idea. I like it and so does Ted Strickland because he backed it. It should have been a slam dunk for bipartisanship -but as you can see from the article, the measure failed.

You see Strickland who was supported by Obama, who is not only a Democrat but he's black and he's the President to boot. So a Republican idea is automatically becomes a bad idea when a Democrat supported by a Black President embraces it.

Got that?

Again, the GOP narrative fails. Far from being wasteful, in his term of governor, Strickland battled his way through 4 billion dollars worth of spending cuts. Repbulicans who keep shrieking about "fiscal discipline" atually kept Strickland from making additional and sensible cuts to the budget that would have saved Ohio some additional money.

I, and I'm sure many other Ohio citizens and taxpayers have no patience for this type of blatant bullshit. I keep waiting for other conservatives to stop saying "no" to everything progressive, liberal and proposed by Democrats simply for the sake of doing so. But they are children and right now, happen to the biggest bullies in the American media and corporate American playground.

For better or for worse, Ohio under Kasich is going to become Arizona 2.0. Arizona has blatantly decided to be the state where conservatives will try out the worst of their ideas in discrimination and bigotry. Ohio, it seems is destined to be the state where the GOP tests out their fiscal ideas, which basically amounts to saying no tax dollars allocated to anyone but large corporations and privatizing any and all public utilities. Their theory is that they can provide minimal to no public services and infrastructure investment to a struggling, unemployed populace and still have people elect them year after year.

It seems, if you are determined to kill any and all initiatives that are even remotely approved by a black Democratic President, it's altogether possible.

It leaves us all between a rock and a rail place. Always holding to the past or boarding a train to the future. One thing is for certain - people are definitely packing up and leaving Ohio.

Ohio is Number 3 on Forbes 2010 list of Top 10 States that People are Fleeing. I don't see that trend reversing under Kasich any time soon.


Related Articles from a new favorite blog Plunderbund:
John Kasich thinks he was elected Emperor of Ohio, not Governor.
John Kasich: I’m going to cut higher education and worker training for the unemployed


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