COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Governor John Kasich is getting ready to enter his final year in office, and he is not going out quietly.
Kasich sat down for a one-on-one interview with Colleen Marshall for NBC4’s “The Spectrum,” and discussed the federal government debt level, Ohio’s Medicaid expansion and some of the policies coming out of both Washington, D.C. and the Ohio Statehouse.
A cornerstone of Kasich’s administration has been bringing jobs to Ohio, but Ohio has lagged behind the rest of the country in job creation and unemployment. Kasich reflected on what his administration is doing to help change that.
“I feel like we are doing very well,” Kasich said. “We went from 350,000 jobs lost to almost a 500,000-job gain.”
Kasich cited investments in Ohio by technology giants like Facebook and Amazon as well as job growth in the health care industry.
“Ohio is changing,” he said. “While we are still dependent on manufacturing, I think it is also important to realize we do not want all of our eggs in one basket. So, whether it is financial services, IT, health care… Ohio is changing.”
Kasich also spoke about soaring federal government debt, calling out politicians who would rather hear cheers at rallies than make tough choices about federal spending.
“The debt is $20 trillion. The higher the debt goes, the less job opportunities there are,” Kasich said. “Politicians do not want to make choices. They do not want to make anybody angry. They do not want to lead. They want to be cheered everywhere they go. If that is what you want as a politician, as a leader, you will fail.”
Kasich has been viewed as a middle-of-the road Republican, especially during his failed presidential bid in 2016. That reputation has led many to speculate about Kasich running in the 2020 election cycle as a possible third-party candidate, but the governor said 2020 isn’t even on his radar.
“In terms of politics or anything else, I have no clue what I’m going to be doing,” he said.
Kasich is one of a handful of Republicans who supported the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion. However, that support drew some backlash from Republicans, but the governor doesn’t regret his decision.
“I would do it 15 more times if I could,” Kasich said. “Whether it’s the drug addicted, the mentally ill or the chronically ill, this made such a difference in their lives.”
Kasich also spoke about recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He renewed his call for Congress to protect DACA recipients, saying that the fight over Dreamers in Washington is just bad policy.
“Congress, they have six months to fix this thing. It should’ve been done in six hours,” he said. “Just take care of these young people. They are great contributors to our society.”
Building on his call for bipartisanship, Kasich also addressed the division in Washington.
“I now believe that the leadership has to come from the bottom up,” he said. “The things that will move our society are the things that happen where we live. In the end, it is up to us.”