Vol. 47, No. 4

In this Edition

The famed screenwriter William Goldman once wrote a book about Hollywood called, Adventures in the Screen Trade. In it, he discussed his career working in the film industry and his experience as the creative force behind such hits as Marathon Man and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He also offered up what remains one […]

The Conservative Proposal to Reform American Health Care

The centuries-old oath taken by health care professionals reads, “Do no harm.” It is time for Washington lawmakers to take a similar approach when working to fix the problems that exist in our health care system.

Getting Smart on Crime

How community workforce development programs are increasing public safety.

Role Models

Amid soaring approval ratings and a vast crossover appeal, these two Governors are reaching out to America’s new electorate and coming away with their support.

Behind Kasich’s Rise

Twenty years after they served together in Congress, a former colleague of John Kasich’s, Tim Penny, looks at his record as Governor and explains why he is not surprised by his success. Similar to President Reagan, “His ambition and passion is to get things done that need doing.”

Growing the Majority: A Q&A with Liesl Hickey

The Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee weighs in with a preview of the 2014 mid-term elections.

Boot the Zombies!

One of the GOP’s top strategists argues that the party will not close its gender gap until it fills its deficit of new ideas.

The Decline of Parties and the Rise of Dysfunction

A veteran election law expert looks at the growing influence of special interest groups, and the impact on parties — and the nation.

May the Best Candidate Win

Can two laws to end gridlock in California serve as a model for nationwide reform? This respected political observer, Dan Schnur, thinks so.

Ripon Profile of Lynn Jenkins

House GOP Conference Vice Chair Lynn Jenkins discusses why more women are needed at the Leadership table.

Behind Kasich’s Rise


Twenty years ago, I teamed up with my then-congressional colleague, John Kasich, to draft a bipartisan deficit-reduction plan. Dubbed Penny-Kasich, our proposal offered sensible reforms and savings in every part of the federal budget – domestic, defense and entitlements. We took on the spenders on Capitol Hill – and the interest groups who always demand more government spending. Our focus was not only to cut the deficit – but to challenge the false assumption that more spending leads to better results.

Today, it is no surprise to me that my friend, now-Governor Kasich, is applying those same principles to state government in Ohio. Three years ago, he inherited a budget deep in the red and an economy that had lost 350,000 jobs. As a way back, he offered Ohioan’s an agenda that combined fiscal prudence with an emphasis on measureable outcomes. By almost any measure, he has since delivered on his promise of a “new day” for Ohio.

Let’s start with the big picture. Without raising taxes, Kasich turned an $8 billion shortfall into a surplus, banked away a $1.5 billion budget reserve, and improved the state’s credit outlook. With $3 billion in tax cuts and an ongoing regulatory overhaul, he has helped create a pro-growth climate in which Ohioans have created more than 160,000 new private sector jobs while reducing the unemployment rate from 9 percent to just over 7 percent.

Without raising taxes, Kasich turned an $8 billion shortfall into a surplus, banked away a $1.5 billion budget reserve, and improved the state’s credit outlook.

Equally important as these accomplishments, however, is Kasich’s constant focus on getting better results from government. His efforts to restructure the Medicaid program by utilizing more coordinated and community-based care have produced both savings and better quality. Education reforms – including special efforts for Cleveland and Columbus advanced in partnership with those cities’ Democratic mayors — are improving opportunities for students. In addition, Kasich insisted that the higher education establishment spend money smarter and respond more quickly to job-training needs – and it is happening.

Governor Kasich is also accelerating much-needed transportation improvements. By leveraging profits from Ohio’s turnpikes, he closed a $1.6 billion highway budget deficit and dozens of new road projects will soon be underway – many of which would otherwise have waited for 12 years or more. These investments will pay dividends in improving Ohio’s infrastructure to the benefit of businesses and citizens alike.

Based on a friendship of nearly three decades, none of these achievements come as a surprise to me. I have always known John Kasich to be focused on getting things done. Most politicians are content to tinker around the edges or offer symbolic solutions – and often flee at the first sign of opposition. John is impatient with the status quo, however, and willing to take on the tough issues – and that sets him apart. John’s style may seem at times intense or even brash, but I came to learn – as Ohioans are now learning — that his intensity stems from a passion to do the right thing and help solve tough problems.

Here is something else I have always known about John. Though a highly successful Republican leader, John is not afraid to reach across the aisle to get things done. He is more than willing to partner with Democrats when common ground can be found. While in Congress, I observed and admired John as he tag-teamed with liberal California Congressman Ron Dellums to limit the B-2 bomber. Then, as previously cited, he partnered with me on the Penny-Kasich budget. More significantly, when chairing the U.S. House Budget Committee, he partnered with President Clinton to produce the first balanced budgets in three decades.

Like Reagan, John is an able and pragmatic leader, and is guided by sound fiscal and economic principles — as well as a good heart.

Now, not surprisingly, as governor, John has reached across the aisle to enlist support for school reforms, expand efforts to combat drug and alcohol addiction, and ease the ability for felons to re-enter the workforce. Most recently, he has won praise from Democrats, while rankling many within his own party, by supporting the expansion of Medicaid to cover more low income families – something his political hero President Reagan himself did at least four times.

Like Reagan, John is an able and pragmatic leader, and is guided by sound fiscal and economic principles — as well as a good heart.

President Reagan found common ground with Democrats on a range of issues — saving Social Security, simplifying the tax code, enacting immigration reform – while still adhering to principle. Similarly, John is not afraid to partner with other people of goodwill whenever possible and when it makes sense.

His ambition and passion is to get things done that need doing. It all adds up to leadership that is making a positive difference for the people of Ohio and an example from which Washington could learn a thing or two.

Tim Penny is President and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. From 1983 to 1995, he served as a Democratic Congressman representing the 1st District of Minnesota.