March 19, 2015


Kasich waits in the wings (George F. Will, March 18, 2015, Washington Post)

In Congress, Kasich was the first iteration of Paul Ryan, mastering budget intricacies. He participated in the Clinton-era dramas that produced two government shutdowns (1995, 1996) and a balanced budget (1998).

As governor, he has cut taxes by $3 billion. Death is no longer a taxable event in Ohio, and under his proposed budget, small businesses would be untaxed until their income reaches $2 million. Because of his focus on economic growth, the building-trades unions supported his reelection. State colleges and universities were reimbursed on a per-pupil basis, and now, he says, "do not get a dime" for a student who doesn't graduate.

Time spent with him and his colleagues is a bracing torrent of granular details about, among much else, criminal justice reform. He favors fewer mandatory minimum sentences and has instituted prison policies that prepare inmates for re-integration into communities.

But it takes money to save money, meaning, he says, "recurring societal costs," such as the $23,000-per-year-per-inmate cost of recidivism.

So, Kasich angered Ohio's Republican-controlled legislature by disregarding it in order to accept Medicaid expansion. Without the money from this, he says, he could not find funding for the three cohorts about which he constantly speaks -- "the mentally ill, the drug addicted and the working poor."

Kasich has committed another offense against the orthodoxy that is often stipulated by Republicans who have never run for any office or who represent safe districts. Like another Midwestern governor, Michigan's Rick Snyder (R), Kasich would consider a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, who might energize ailing cities such as Cleveland.

His fervent Christianity stems from 1987, when both of his parents were killed by a drunk driver. Today he has twin teenage daughters and a serenity that has mellowed him. Up to a point.

Undeterred by any unsettling echoes, he preaches compassionate conservatism.

Posted by at March 19, 2015 4:29 PM

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