Governor John Kasich rode to victory on the 2010 Tea Party wave, campaigning as a budget hawk, promising to cut taxes and balance the budget. He raged against Obamacare and out-of-control federal spending. Speaking to Bill Cunningham a few months before his election, Kasich said of Obamacare:
It’s all taxes, it’s smoke and mirrors, it’s always tomorrow, it’s never today, it’s always tomorrow. … What they’re doing on this health care bill and everything else they’re doing is just spending like there’s no tomorrow. Big government, big debt. And look, everybody’s worked up about it. And the country doesn’t buy these political types down there yapping about how this is going to be so great….
No one could accuse Kasich of being an Obama fan-boy like slobbering New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who infamously snuggled up to the president just days before the November election.
Even before taking office, Governor-elect Kasich informed Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that he planned to cancel the high-speed rail project in the state, asking the federal government to “make provisions for the $400 million to be used to support other vital transportation infrastructure projects in Ohio.” Kasich boldly asserted that if the money couldn’t be used for other Ohio projects, he wanted it used to help pay off the national debt. Back then, he thought Ohio should have a say in how federal tax dollars allocated to Ohio would be used.
In his first term Kasich and the Republican legislature balanced the budget, eliminated the death tax, and made the state more business-friendly, improving the unemployment rate. A year into his first term, Kasich joined other states in suing the federal government, challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare as Tea Party and other liberty groups in the state mounted a successful effort to pass the Healthcare Freedom Amendment, a grassroots attempt to protect Ohioans from forced participation in Obamacare.
Unfortunately, Kasich overreached on a union reform effort, failing to anticipate the backlash from the national union movement. Voters rejected it soundly in a repeal referendum even though polls showed that voters supported many parts of the bill, such as right to work and common-sense teacher evaluation measures.
At last year’s Republican National Convention, Kasich talked about his horror at the country’s credit downgrade and national debt:
And you know I watched in horror as we saw the Italians and the French and the Spanish and the Greeks have their credit downgrade and I remember the night I watched America’s credit go downgraded. But in Ohio, instead of our credit going down the drain, our credit outlook has been improved because it’s been recognized that we are managing our finances and creating jobs…
…But you know what? The wind is in our face. The president has given us headwinds. President Obama has doubled the national debt. You know, I was chairman of the Budget Committee when we balanced the budget in ‘97 and I look with horror at that clock that shows $15 trillion in the national debt. That’s the Sword of Damocles hanging over our children’s head and the president is doing nothing about it. In fact each year he’s increasing that by $1 trillion.