More so than any other leading Republican, Gov. Kasich is using his perch to promote a blend of conservative orthodoxy leavened with liberal policies meant to help the poor, the mentally ill and the uninsured.How did Kasich get the religion? By getting his ass handed to him at the ballot box:
To hear him tell it, the 61-year-old onetime Lehman Brothers executive wants to rebrand the Republican Party by refashioning what it means to be a conservative in the 21st century.
On the one hand, he tamed a deficit by slashing funding to local governments and overhauling the state's Medicaid rules, among things. He has eliminated the state's estate tax and wants to phase out all state income taxes, a step aimed at stimulating growth. A budget he signed in June included a range of new abortion restrictions that drew sharp criticism from Democrats.
At the same time, Mr. Kasich has stirred strong opposition from tea-party leaders—and won surprised approval from liberals—by pushing to expand Medicaid coverage to nearly 300,000 additional Ohioans, adopting a provision of the Obama health-care overhaul that he has taken to defending with an openly religious fervor.
The former congressional spending hawk has steered millions more dollars into local food banks, forced insurance companies to provide coverage for children with autism and signed legislation to make it easier for recently released felons to clear their names and find jobs.
Since the return of the death penalty in the 1970s after a moratorium, Mr. Kasich has commuted more death sentences—four—than any other Republican governor except George Ryan of Illinois, who granted a mass clemency a decade ago.
Mr. Kasich also has promised union leaders he will oppose efforts to turn Ohio into a "right to work" state that bars labor contracts requiring all workers to be union members or pay dues. He struck a populist chord with a proposal, later turned down by the GOP-controlled legislature, to raise taxes on out-of-state oil companies so he could cut Ohioans' income-tax rates.
I'll give the man credit, he is smarter than most Republican politicians, and definitely a majority of their voter base. I am glad that somebody in the GOP is making the case that ociety has to look out for the least fortunate among us. The thing is, the Wall Street Journal is giving him play because he promotes their idiotic tax cutting philosophy, where the wealthy pay a much smaller percentage of their income in taxes than regular people, while being less horrific and heartless than the average Republican politician. Which is like being less extreme than Genghis Khan. The Republican party is a disaster, and even Kasich's seeming moderateness emphasizes failed economic policies. I pray that the American people will kick these stupid bastards in the head, and actually work to deal with our serious social issues.
When he ran for governor in 2010, after being out of politics for a decade, Mr. Kasich leaned heavily on the legions of new conservative activists who rose up to reject President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul and the surge of stimulus spending.
"I love the tea party!" he cried at a Cincinnati rally on the eve of his narrow win over the Democratic incumbent, Ted Strickland.
He began his governorship in early 2011 by supporting an existing bill to limit the collective-bargaining rights of public-sector unions. The move drew praise in conservative circles but also provoked a backlash, including from many working-class Republicans. A voter rebellion resoundingly overturned the law a few months later, and Mr. Kasich became one of the least-popular governors in the country.
Mr. Kasich says he has put the issue behind him. "We lost, and you have to listen to what people want," he said.
Since then, he has worked to reach out to groups well beyond his conservative base.