Republican Gov. John Kasich may have come up with the antidote for the political poison contained in the collective-bargaining reform issue that Democrats will use against the GOP in the 2014 statewide election.
Kasich’s decision to force 134,000 food stamp recipients to earn the support they receive from the government will resonate with the electorate. If the truth be told, even the most liberal of Democrats believe that individuals who receive benefits paid for by the taxpayers should not freeload. Indeed, as the economic recession took hold in 2008 and once-secure jobs could no longer be counted on, the backlash against recipients of food stamps, welfare and other aid programs grew.
Today, the sympathy and understanding for the less fortunate have been replaced by resentment and anger.
The governor’s initiative — it was even discussed on cable television — could not have come at a better time for Republicans.
State Issue 2
Democrats and their union allies are still reveling from their successful putdown in 2011 of the GOP over State Issue 2 (Senate Bill 5). After majority Republicans in the House and Senate rammed through legislation that took away many collective-bargaining rights public-employee unions have enjoyed for more than two decades, public and private unions and the Ohio Democratic Party decided to go for broke and put the issue up for a vote of the people.
More than 1 million voters signed referendum petitions, sending a clear message to Kasich and the Republican majority in the General Assembly that political war had been declared.
In 2010, Republicans swept all the statewide offices, led by Kasich’s victory over Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat.
Many Democrats, disillusioned with President Obama and his signature legislative initiative, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), decided to stay home.
Kasich won the election by a very narrow margin, but since taking office in January 2011 has pursued an agenda that Democrats and the unions contend is designed to reward the wealthy and punish the middle class.
Democrats intend to carry the issue of the state’s uneven economic recovery into the 2014 statewide election. They also will resurrect the battle of 2011 over State Issue 2, the collective-bargaining reform push by Republicans.
Kasich may also have to deal with another highly controversial issue: right to work.
The tea party movement is determined to make Ohio the 25th state to adopt a right-to-work law, and petitions are being circulated to place a constitutional amendment on the November 2014 general election ballot.
If the issue is placed before voters, the election will be a rerun of 2011, with the Democrats and the unions launching an aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign.
It won’t be a tough sell, considering that public employees are still bitter about the Republicans’ attack on their collective-bargaining rights, and right-to-work is viewed as an assault on the unions.
Kasich is no doubt hoping that the advocates of this possible game-changer will either back off or fail to get the required number of signatures.
But he obviously isn’t leaving anything to chance, which explains why he has launched his initiative to force able-bodied food stamp recipients to spend at least 20 hours a week working, training for a job, volunteering or performing a similar type of activity. The requirements go into effect in October, and those individuals who do not meet them will lose their eligibility on Jan. 1. Sixteen counties with high unemployment are exempt from Kasich’s work initiative.
Democrats may be able to criticize the Kasich administration for not having programs in place to ensure that the recipients are able to go to work, volunteer or perform other similar activities. But, they will suffer the wrath of the voters if they go after the governor for forcing the freeloaders to get off their duffs and earn the assistance they receive.
Kasich is couching his initiative as a means of providing individuals with self respect, but many people aren’t so kind.
Despite the data showing that a small percentage cheat and that fraud is not as rampant as many believe, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a punching bag — especially for tea party types.