HH: Pleased to welcome Governor John Kasich back to the Hugh Hewitt Show. Governor, I look forward to seeing you at the Reagan Library in a few days.
JK: I’ll see you there soon.
HH: And hopefully, Ohio State will be 2-0 at that point. So they got off to a good start. You’re rising in the polls in New Hampshire. But here’s my first question. You won two Ohio Senate races, nine congressional races, two governor races. Have you ever been in an election season like this one?
JK: I’d had to think about it, Hugh. I mean, look, I’ve observed a lot over these presidential campaigns. I’ve seen a lot of them. And yeah, we usually end up settling everything down and picking sort of the, how would I call them, the consensus candidate, you know? That’s what I normally see. What do you think?
HH: And so, all of the hoopla, well, it’s unusual for the level of the intense commentary. I want to play a few of these for you in the course of this conversation. Let me just start with Bobby Jindal earlier today at the Press Club talking about Donald Trump. Here’s Governor Jindal.
BJ: Donald Trump is for Donald Trump. He believes in nothing other than himself. Look, he’s not a liberal, he’s not a moderate, he’s not a conservative. He’s not a Democrat. He’s not a Republican. He’s not an independent. Donald Trump is for Donald Trump. He’s not for anything, he’s not anything. Issues don’t mean anything to him. Policies, ideals, they’re not important to him. He is for Donald. Donald Trump is a narcissist, and he’s an egomaniac. These are serious times for our country. The Democrats have practically giftwrapped this election for us. The whole thing is set up for us to win, and now we are flirting with nominating a non-serious, unstable, substance-free candidate.
HH: So Governor Kasich, you’ve served with…
JK: I guess I would put Jindal down as undecided on Donald Trump, right?
HH: (laughing) Well, but that is unusual.
JK: But I’m not interested in that. I just am not. My job is to get out there and tell people who I am and what I think, and I want to know what they think. That’s the end of it. I just don’t pay any attention to that.
HH: Now the role…
JK: When I play golf, when I play golf, I rarely look at what the other person is doing. And I was taught many years ago don’t root against your opponent. Just go play your game and see how it goes.
HH: That might work, but you do have to account for the weather when you play golf. I’m not much of a golfer. What’s your handicap, Governor Kasich?
JK: Look, Hugh, you’ve got to, you know, I’m not going to reveal, there’s some things I’m not revealing, okay? And I’m not revealing my handicap. But what I will tell you is let’s tee it up and we’ll see who comes out the winner. But I’m not going to watch what you’re doing. I mean, I’ll listen to some of the jabbering that you do, but I’m not going to be watching you.
HH: So people can’t talk you into an extra stroke? But here, the weather right now is driven by Donald Trump. The Rolling Stone piece on him says Trump is winning, “Because Trump’s central claim is he’s not them.” And them is defined later on as being everyone who’s ever won elected office. You’ve won a lot of elections. Do you think of yourself as part of them or as part of the outsiders?
JK: Well you know, I’ve always been a reformer, and it’s sort of funny. You know, I’ve spent a lot of my lifetime trying to knock the walls down around the city, and I was telling my staff a couple of years ago well now, we’re running the city. So that kind of depressed me for a moment until I realized that running the city also gave me a lot of opportunity to reform what goes on inside the city. So you know, I’m a person of ideas, and new thinking. I’m very interested in new ways of doing things. I’m fascinated by the technological developments we see in our country. I mean, it’s just, it’s all exciting to me. So for me, you know, I’m always going to be pushing new ideas and better ways to get things done.
HH: I want to turn, then, to tax politics, because earlier, just before you came on, Governor Bush was my guest, and he laid out his new tax plan. Have you laid out a tax plan, yet, John Kasich?
JK: No, not yet, but I’d say the basic principles, which are number one, making sure that companies will be able to write off their investment in planned equipment so that individuals can have the tools to have higher productivity, and thus higher wages, is correct. Being able to bring the profits of companies home from Europe and not double taxing them is something I’ve been saying out here. I mean, I’ve said all these kinds of things – flatter, fairer, relief from the bottom up, and from the top down. The question also gets to be, is how do you pass it. And then in addition to that, I also think that the regulatory side of things, whether it’s Obamacare, whether it’s Dodd-Frank, whether it’s the EPA, is a huge contributor to the slowdown of the U.S. economy. And so we’ll have a tax plan, but what’s most important, Hugh, is what can you pass. I think, my view is that you can pass some corporate taxes, you can bring those profits home, you can see how you could get that done, expensing depreciation, absolutely, bringing those profits home. I mean, I think all that’s possible. But we also have to have a plan to balance the budget. That has to go into effect also. And you know, and then you also have to rebuild the defenses of the United States while reforming the Pentagon.
HH: Hold that thought.
JK: And of course, we have this year with sequestration…
HH: Hold that thought, Governor, I’ll be right back after, hold that thought, I’ll be right back after break.
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HH: When we went to break, he was talking about not just the tax reform side of the ledger, but also balancing the budget. I pressed Jeb Bush earlier about entitlement reform, Governor Kasich. Governor Christie, your colleague at the governor’s table, has put forward a pretty aggressive entitlement reform package. You’re out pushing the Balanced Budget Amendment. What kind of entitlement reform are you going to talk about?
JK: Well, again, Hugh, I mean, do you ever notice politicians run for president, and they never can keep their promises? So I’ve written, I don’t know, I think sixteen budgets. I was the chief architect of that balanced budget in Washington. I’ve balanced budgets in Ohio. I’ve dealt with entitlements. You will not get it done unless you can have some degree of bipartisanship. When you look at Social Security, I mean, I’ll give you some basic principles, and that is the people who are currently on it, or almost on it, are going to have to be looked out for and protected. People who are, you know, have time to go before they’re on the programs are going to have to be affected by this, and young people have to get a sense that over the long haul that there will be a retirement program for them called Social Security. Now in terms of just, you’ve got to be careful, in my opinion, that you have something that can work that can also pass. So we’re working on what we would do on that. We’re looking in terms of Medicaid. I’d like to be able to move Medicaid back to the states with some guardrails, you know, so that governors take that, and legislators take it, and use it and fashion programs to help the poor, not using that money to pave highways, but to do what you’re supposed to do. And Medicare is extremely challenging. And here, we look at programs that will reward keeping people healthy rather than having rewards that people that the system now rewards for being, for treating people in quantity medicine. So look, I’ve written all these budgets. We are working on all these things. And, but it’s not like a mystery as to what John Kasich will do, because I’ve written so many budgets, it’s all there for people to see.
HH: Now let’s switch, then, to foreign affairs. Today, the Senate was obstructed in its effort to take up the Iran deal by a filibuster. There will not be a vote on President Obama’s [Iran deal]. Yesterday, Mike Pompeo of the House Intel Committee believes that the President has violated the Corker-Cardin bill, and that therefore, perhaps a House suit could be brought that will enjoin the flow of the money before it begins to flow. A) what’s your reaction to the Senate filibustering the Iran deal, and B) what’s your recommendation to the House leadership about bringing that lawsuit?
JK: Well, I don’t know enough about the lawsuit. I mean, if it’s something that would force us to know what the side deals are on this, I’d be all for it. In terms of the Senate, look, the inability to have a vote, Hugh, is, you know, the danger here is you’re beginning to turn foreign policy into such a partisan endeavor. We can’t have that. And I served in Congress where Republicans and Democrats could get along when we did what we needed to do in regards to the Soviet Union. And you know, this is not, this is not the way to do things. This just creates more ill will, more gridlock, when it comes to being able to resolve other issues. This is not fair, right? This is just, it doesn’t represent respect of the Republican position and the position of those who oppose this deal. It’s a very, very bad message, as far as I’m concerned.
HH: It could be overcome by breaking the filibuster. I talked about that at length with a number of members of the Senate yesterday, including Steve Daines and others, and they don’t want to break the filibuster. They’d rather have the Iranian deal go into effect than break the filibuster. What’s your reaction to that position that the rules of the Senate…
JK: No, I don’t think you play games, political games, as best I understand your question. My view is, I mean, I’d rather have something go into effect, do you blame the other guy? No, you’ve got to fight like crazy for what you believe in, and if you lose, you lose. But don’t try to game anything. Just go in there and try to break the filibuster, and let people know that it is fair that the United States Senate ought to be able to vote on this.
HH: So you would bring a Reid rule motion and break the filibuster to allow the vote on the Iran deal?
JK: I don’t know what that means, Hugh, I mean, break the Reid, I don’t know exactly what that means, but I would do what I could do to make sure that we have a full discussion, a vote, and an opportunity at an override.
HH: All right, now then, that means breaking the Reid rule. Let me ask you about the consequence of the Iran deal. It’s $100 billion dollars going to General Soleimani and the Quds Forces. What is the impact going to be to this country of that transfer of money, John Kasich?
JK: Well, my view is, I mean, first of all, what it does is it revives the Iranian economy. And my view is if we can find that the Iranians are beginning to use that money to support these radical regimes, I think it gives us the moral high ground to argue and to insist that our allies work with us to reimpose sanctions. Look, the deeper we get into the woods here, the more confusing things are, right? And we could not fund the opposition groups in Syria when, to rid ourselves of Assad. When the President backed away from the red line, we see what happens, right? We see exactly what happens when the U.S. creates a void. And I sometimes am amazed, and I think it’s because we probably don’t have the kind of relationships with our friends in Europe that we need to have. And because of that, there’s a disconnect. We can’t afford a disconnect. Look at the problems that they’re having there now, and they’ve got to realize that the Western alliance needs to hang together and stand together, because things are not going to get any simpler by just putting your head in the sand. But this comes about for two reasons. One, the U.S. policy is not clear, and number two, it comes about, frankly, because our relationship with our allies, you know, in the Western sphere, has been eroded.
HH: And the last question, Governor Kasich, this refugee crisis is massive with four million Syrians, a million Libyans on the move. What should the United States response be?
JK: Well, I think we can take a few in, Hugh. We need to know who they are, of course, and I’m reminded of the Statue of Liberty, you know, give us your tired, your poor, and those who basically yearn to be free. But I think we can provide humanitarian aid, some, and I think we can provide some logistical aid so we don’t see people washed up on the shore having drowned. But this is fundamentally a European problem. But maybe we should view this as an opportunity to draw closer to our friends in Europe, have a stronger relationship so that we can act with greater unity. We have our job to do. We are a country that cares. But we can’t solve this whole problem. We can participate. We can lend some assistance. That’s, I think, what we should be doing.
HH: Governor John Kasich, always great to talk to you. I will see you in Simi Valley in a couple of days, and look forward to asking you questions there.
JK: All right, thank you, sir, God bless.
HH: Thank you, Governor.
End of interview.