November 4th, 2010

Who would’ve thought that the recession would hit Ohio so hard that it would give half of Ohioans amnesia? It’s sad, but true. Or at least that’s what the polls appear to prove. It’s been just a few years since the failed economic policies of President George W. Bush brought us the biggest financial and economic meltdown since the Great Depression, and yet Ohio is poised to elect one of Bush’s economic gurus for senator and a Wall Street insider for governor – the very same type of people that got us into this mess. 

Of course, I’m talking about Rob Portman and John Kasich, the Republican candidates for Ohio senator and governor, respectively. Portman was Bush’s trade representative for a few years before appointed head of the budget office, where he jumped ship in 2007 right before the Great Recession hit. Kasich spent eight years at Lehman Brothers, one of the first financial companies to go down in the financial crisis. 

So what is it that makes Ohioans think these two will fare any better than Bush-era Republicans?

Don’t be fooled, Ohio. The Republican Party hasn’t changed a bit. Kasich, who used to have a show on Fox News, a conservative news outlet, and occasionally guest hosted for  conservative talk show host Bill O’Reilly on “The O’Reilly Factor,” is your typical carbon-copy conservative. And Portman is still pushing for privatizing Social Security just as Bush and company tried – and failed – to do in 2006. Portman’s privatization plan, however, comes with an absurd twist. In addition to allowing young Americans to take a small share of their Social Security taxes to set up personal accounts, he would have the government bail out the accounts if they made bad investments.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize the moral hazard this policy would create. As Matthew Yglesias said, “If the government guaranteed to bail you out in the case of losses, then investors would make riskier investments and the number of people who need bailing out would rise.” I guess fiscal prudence is thrown out the window on the campaign trail.

Now I’m not saying that the Democratic candidates are perfect. Both Ted Strickland, whose running for reelection for governor, and Lee Fisher, who is the Democratic nominee for senator, have their flaws. But Strickland must be given time to clean up the mess made by Republicans – including former Republican governor Bob Taft, who the Washington Post called the least popular governor in the history of Ohio.

That’s why it’s imperative for Democrats to make it out to the voting booth on Nov. 2. Otherwise, we may end up with a new least popular governor in four years.