By Schneiderman, R. M.; Romano, Andrew | Newsweek, March 7, 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project


Schneiderman, R. M., Romano, Andrew, Newsweek

Byline: R. M. Schneiderman and Andrew Romano; Newsweek

Forget Wisconsin's meltdown. How Ohio's budget ba ttle could decide who wins the White House in 2012.

There's a chill in the air as Ohio Gov. John Kasich ambles down the steps of a white propeller plane and dips his athletic frame into the black car waiting on the tarmac of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. Originally, the cab was supposed to convey the former Republican congressman and Lehman Brothers managing director to a posh Italian eatery a few miles away in Howland, where he would regale the local chamber of commerce with details about his plan to bring jobs back to the Buckeye State. But at the last minute, Kasich's people relocated the luncheon to the airport itself.

The official explanation for the change was convenience. But the real reason has been clear to Ohio's chattering classes for days. At the start of the week, thousands of protesters descended on the statehouse to protest Kasich's support for a bill that would severely restrict collective-bargaining rights for public-sector unions, rendering them irrelevant. (The unions had already made concessions on pay and benefits to help fill the previous budget gap.) The scene was familiar to anyone who'd been paying attention to the kerfuffle in Madison, Wis., where another recently minted Republican governor, Scott Walker, had started a national shouting match over collective-bargaining rights the week before: men in flag bandannas and flannel shirts; women waving signs that said WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN on one side and IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THANK YOUR TEACHER on the other. The protesters' main gripe was familiar as well: that conservatives were using a fiscal crisis caused by greedy Wall Street bankers and disconnected Washington deregulators--not rank-and-file government workers--to pass new restrictions that would do more to cripple a key Democratic constituency than to reduce the state's daunting $8 billion deficit. So when the union members in Youngstown heard that Kasich was coming north, they quickly hatched a plan to protest, and when Kasich's team heard about the protests, they quietly changed locations. The objective, as one local paper put it, was "to avoid any hang-ups that may be caused by people seeking to disrupt the event."

Unfortunately for Kasich, however, the switcheroo did little to deter the opposition. Inside the hangar, hundreds of area bigwigs are munching on chicken francaise; outside, an even greater number of union members are shouting their slogans. As Kasich starts speaking, the sounds of the protesters filter through the room, interfering with his remarks and forcing him to defuse the situation. "I understand passion and I respect it," he says. "Let's give them a round of applause." The crowd complies. It isn't long, however, before the governor is back to being his blunt--and sometimes strident--self. "We've got a budget coming on March the 15th," he declares. "And as Ronald Reagan said, 'You ain't seen nothin' yet.' "

The problem for Kasich, and for his fellow union busters, is that their opponents are now saying the same thing. When Wisconsin's Walker launched his crusade against collective bargaining in late February, the initial response among Beltway bloviators was that the GOP had struck gold. With all those wimpy Democratic legislators fleeing Madison and all those overpaid teachers whining outside the statehouse, the thinking went, Republicans couldn't help but look like the only grown-ups in town. But a funny thing happened on the way to political nirvana: one by one, Walker's fellow Republican governors began to come out against his hardline proposals. Last week Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said they would not repeal collective bargaining. In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels asked Republican lawmakers to table legislation that mirrored Wisconsin's. "There [is] a better time and place to have this -- issue raised," he said.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?