Ohio can teach feds on deficit

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 18, 2013

Columbus versus Washington. It sounds like chapters in an American history book but is actually a very current political battle that could end with Ohio taxpayers being the big winners.

Gov. John Kasich has challenged the federal government, and ultimately the legislatures of our states, to approve a plan that would require a balanced budget every year at the federal level.

That sure makes sense to me.

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Most states are required to do it. Most local governments make it happen. Shoot, most families live within their means. Why should the federal government be held to a different standard?

“We balance our budget in Ohio every year as does almost every other state in the nation,” Kasich said in recent release. “It’s not always easy and some states do it better than others, but in Ohio we get it done because it’s the right way to manage taxpayers’ money and it helps create a jobs-friendly climate.

“The federal government just doesn’t get it and its inability to manage the American taxpayers’ money is inexcusable. In the last 50 years, the federal government has only had five balanced budgets and it currently has $16.7 trillion in debt. That’s not the way the greatest country in the world should manage its affairs and it’s time for some discipline. “

But Kasich isn’t just relying on Washington lawmakers — a group of Democrats and Republicans alike who have proven they are completely unable to accomplish anything — to make this change.

Kasich wants states to drive this initiative by amending the U.S. Constitution. The governor wants the Ohio General Assembly to pass a resolution calling for a constitutional convention that could then approve a balanced budget amendment.

Although not exactly common, this isn’t uncharted territory either. It takes 34 states to call for a convention and at least 38 states have to ratify any constitutional amendment.

Kasich’s administration says that about 20 states have legislation in the works seeking this change. So, that means they are about half way there in terms of support if the legislatures approved these proposals.

The Ohio General Assembly has considered similar resolutions several times in the past — with Kasich pushing for a similar plan in the early 1980s while serving as a state senator.

But the concept has never been approved, in part because of political pressures from within Ohio and from Washington.

The governor also challenged Congress to expedite the process by passing an amendment on its own.

“In the meantime, I’m going to work with the General Assembly to put Ohio behind this effort,” he said. “Our nation’s future stability requires it and the American people deserve it.”

The timing seems to make a lot of sense based on the balancing act our economy is doing and the state of affairs in Washington, but this isn’t a new fight for Kasich.

The politician pushed this while he was in Congress as chair of the House Budget Committee, touting that he successfully led efforts to balance the federal budget from 1998 to 2001, the first balanced budgets since 1969.

Regardless of what you think of the man or his tactics, Kasich has helped pull Ohio out of one of the most difficult periods of its history.

This would be a good step toward applying some of the philosophies that have worked in Columbus to fix a near-broken system in Washington, D.C.


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.