In the last few years, while America’s attention has been focused on everything from the Facebook IPO, Miley Cyrus’ twerking and the Olympics, something special has been happening in Ohio.
Ohio? Say what?
In economic terms, what’s been happening in Ohio has been hailed by some as the “Ohio miracle.” That’s because, the state’s governor, former Congressman John Kasich is doing for Ohio what he did for America in the late 1990s when he was the last man to balance the federal budget as the chief architect of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
Under Kasich’s leadership, Ohio has eliminated the state’s estate tax. Its “Rainy Day Fund” has gone from a mere 89 cents (yes, you read that correctly) in total to $1.4 billion by July 2013.
Ohio’s $5.3 billion income tax cut has been the largest in the nation, with $1.4 billion of that now going to small business entrepreneurs who are leading the way in creating jobs.
Since Kasich became governor, the results of his “Jack Kemp style” economics have made a dramatic difference in the Buckeye State. Here are just a few examples:
-- Over 170,000 new private sector jobs have been created
-- There have been more new businesses created since Kasich took office than at any other time in Ohio history.
-- Incomes in the state are now rising twice as fast as they are across the country
-- The state’s unemployment rate has dropped by 21%.
Kasich, who took a private sector job with Lehmann Bros. after leaving Congress, was part of the business team that took Google public.
As governor, he has offered a shining example, an Economics 101 class if you will, on why the free enterprise system works.
How did we get here?
A little history is in order. In 1995, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich pushed hard for Kasich to become chairman of the House Budget Committee. He got the post and successfully shepherded the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
This was a major accomplishment: America’s budget had not been balanced since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.
It hasn’t been balanced since.
Fast forward to today: As governor, Kasich is leading the way in calling for a constitutional convention to take the necessary steps to approve a federal balanced budget amendment. Lately, Michigan, Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee have joined Kasich’s effort which is supported by 20 states.
Recently, I was speaking to a well respected journalist about possible 2016 GOP presidential contenders AND I and threw out Kasich’s name. He responded, “Oh yes, I’ve done some checking and he’s the one who scares the George Soros and Hillary Clinton crowd the most.” “Why’s that,” I asked. He replied, “They can’t figure out how to beat him in a general election.”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized why the George Soros crowd fears Kasich the most. They can’t demonize him and use the same old worn out liberal playbook they’ve used against national GOP contenders in recent years.
Kasich, the son of a mailman, is also the grandson of Croatian immigrants. He’s a blue-collar Republican who feels as much at home in a bowling alley -- drinking a beer and eating chicken wings – as he does when he gives a rousing speech about entrepreneurial capitalism that can bring the local Chamber of Commerce crowd to its feet.
An early opponent of ObamaCare, Kasich angered a number of conservatives on the right when he expanded Medicaid.
His response to his critics was, “It’s going to save lives.”
To be sure, Kasich is an unorthodox conservative. He had consistently strong ratings in Congress from America’s leading conservative organizations like the American Conservative Union and 60 Plus.
Nevertheless, he didn’t check in then with the Republican National Committee to get his daily talking points. And he doesn’t’ do so now, either. He knows who he is and what he believes.
An evangelical Christian, whose parents were killed by a drunk driver, Kasich’s empathy for others is one of his strongest qualities. His faith-based initiatives and efforts to combat human trafficking in his state are substantive and sincere.
Since 1964, voters in the Buckeye State have correctly picked the winning presidential candidate in 12 consecutive elections. There’s a reason President Obama went into Ohio 12 times in 2010 to campaign against Kasich. With a record for balancing the federal budget and now, the undisputed economic success of the “Ohio miracle,” it all adds up to trouble for Democrats in 2014 and 2016. National Democrats know that Kasich’s “blue collar Republicanism” is hard to beat.
If the governor does decide to run for president in 2016, his biggest obstacle will be winning the GOP nomination. That’s what the George Soros crowd is banking on.
Van D. Hipp, Jr. is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army. He is the author of the newly released book, "The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It." All of the author's proceeds go to the National Guard Educational Foundation to fund scholarships for children of fallen Guardsmen. www.thenewterrorism.com Follow him on Twitter @VanHipp.