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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Ohio Governor John Kasich On Patriot Act/USA Freedom Act And Education Reform

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The Audio:


The Transcript:

HH: What a great day it is, because the Cleveland Cavaliers begin their march to the first title in Cleveland in 51 years. I’m sure that Governor John Kasich, my guest this hour, agrees with me on that. Governor, are you confident?

JK: Well, look, I know a little bit about basketball, Hugh, and I think my analysis is the Warriors are not strong inside, and you know, I think Cleveland is of course very strong inside, and has multiple weapons. But it’ll be a tough series. I really do expect Cleveland will win, actually, on the merits and not just because I’m governor of Ohio. I just don’t think you’ll win titles with just three point shooters. So we’ll see. It’s going to be a great series, though, I can tell you that.

HH: I think that. I hope we have Kyrie at 100%. They are formidable. Have you laid any wager down with Governor Brown?

JK: I have not. I wouldn’t know how to call him.

HH: (laughing)

JK: As you know, I haven’t thought of, I’m too busy. I mean, I’m going to follow the Cavs, but I’m busy. I’m in New Hampshire today.

HH: I know. I want to talk to you about that, but you’ve also got a budget, and I want to focus on the budget for just one minute, because I am one of those Republicans who’s in favor of a federal severance tax on energy, Governor, because I think it’s sort of a natural resource that we all ought to profit from. You’ve pushed a severance tax in Ohio. Have the Ohio Legislature gone along with you on this, because it’s equitable.

JK: No, no, no. We’ve made virtually no progress on that, although I am now more optimistic that something is going to make it through. You know, I can’t talk about this, Hugh, because if I do, I could blow this thing up, and I want to get a severance tax. But there’s activity going on right now in regard to moving forward on that issue, and I want to use the revenue from it to cut our income tax. I mean, that’s what it’s all about. I’m not only for reducing taxes when you reduce government, but I’m also for creating a tax system that encourages risk taking and investment, and not one that encourages consumption. And so that’s part of our effort to try to get our income tax down.

HH: And I couldn’t agree with you more. And on the federal side, when I sat down and I sat down with two Senators yesterday to argue for severance tax on the federal side, we need a sinking fund to pay for some capital expenditures in this country. And all the energy reserves of America belong to all Americans. The risk is kind of out there, yes, and you have to make sure the entrepreneur gets something back for it. But it’s the only part of our economic system where we believe in windfalls for guys and gals who go and drill in the ground as opposed to Alaska, as 36 states have a severance tax, actually. I don’t know why the federal government shouldn’t have one.

JK: Well, I think it should all be part of tax reform, because what you don’t want to do, in my judgment, at this point in time, is give the people in Washington more money to spend. Frankly, Hugh, that city is, it borders on dysfunctional, and I don’t mean that like, you know, some screaming, right wing Republican. I’m saying that if you take a look at the institutions there, most of them don’t work very well. So the welfare system ought to be moved out of Washington into the states. The job training, K-12 education, we ought to be bloc granting those programs back to the states. And let the federal government do what it’s supposed to do – protect the borders, provide for the Defense, you know, help with basic research at the National Institute of Health. I mean, there’s a lot of things they need to do. But then you look at the Veterans Administration, and you know, they’re not doing their job. I mean, we’ve got a new guy in there. He inherited a mess. You know, let them do what they’re supposed to do, and but giving them more money to spend down there, of course, they’ll spend it if they have money. If they don’t have money, they’ll spend it anyway. You know that.

HH: Well, that’s why you need sinking funds. You need the old dreaded lockboxes that actually work. Now I had breakfast this morning with two senior CBS News guys, very senior in the organization. The three of us agreed you’re the sleeper. You’re the guy people aren’t watching in New Hampshire who’s got great retail skills. You and Rick Perry are the two that came up. How’s the reception in New Hampshire, Governor Kasich?

JK: Well look, John Sununu and Paul Collins, these are two of the most impressive guys you could find, Senator Sununu in New Hampshire. They are on my team. And I’m actually riding in the car right now with Paul Collins. He has a long history with the Sununu family. He’s highly-skilled. The Senator is, you know, there’s nobody like Senator Sununu. Look, we’re out here, we’re doing things, we’re getting good reactions, and I think we’re making progress here. Absolutely, we’re making progress. And it is a key part of when I make the final decision about whether I’m actually going to run.

HH: Well, when you see young John Sununu, tell him I said hello. I did not know the father very well, but I did used to have the Senator on quite a lot. Now this, I’m in D.C. because the Bradley Prizes were given last night to Larry Arnn and Jack Keane, the great general, and Jim Caesar, a great professor, and Ayaan Ali Hirsi, the great human rights activist who is under death threats everywhere. The whole theme of the night was that radical jihad is exploding everywhere. And in Boston yesterday, an attempted lone wolf assassin tried to kill Boston police. So John Kasich, how often does that come up, Governor, on the campaign trail?

JK: Well, it’s increasingly coming up no matter whether you’re on the campaign trail or whether, you know, I’m in Ohio where people are worried. They’re worried about the national security, they’re worried about is their family going to be safe. And you might, Hugh, I think was on your, I don’t know how long ago, and I said at the time that I really felt that there ought to be a coalition of our allies, and us if we have to put boots on, we should be involved in putting boots on the ground to go and start destroying this ISIS groups. I mean, that’s what we need to do. And you know, we thought we could train the Iraqis, and it’s not going to work. So it’s either pay me now or pay me later, and we need to deal with that threat first, and you know, there’s so many threats to deal with, and America has just got to get back up on its feet again and start explaining out a clear path as to what we need to do.

HH: Now I started the program talking to Mitch McConnell, and it was not the world’s greatest week for the Congress of the United States. We went dark on the Patriot Act. We had a 36 hour gap until the USA Freedom Act went up, and I did not think the USA Freedom Act went far enough. What did you make of the gamesmanship over national security this week?

JK: Well, I don’t know what you mean about this Freedom Act. Look, Hugh, you know, conservatives are in general very distrustful for government, as they should be. Well, all of government has to have a level of distrust. Now you know, I served on the Armed Services Committee for 18 years. As governor of Ohio from time to time, I get briefings about things, and we need to make sure we have good intelligence. But I think there’s a balance between good intelligence and the need to protect Americans from what can become an aggressive government somewhere down the road. And I like the idea, I’m not thrilled with the idea of the phone companies holding onto this. It could have been somebody else. But I also like, I do like the idea that you just can’t go willy-nilly listening in to people, and you’ve got to get to a court. I think that’s the appropriate way to do it. So I’m not sure which part of that you didn’t like, but I’m not giving carte blanche to anybody in the federal government. There has to be rules, restrictions and regulations that restrain them.

HH: I don’t like the phone companies holding it without a time certain, and requiring a warrant for each one.

JK: Yeah, I mean…

HH: A third party holder requiring…

JK: If I were there in Washington, maybe I would have asserted myself to make some, but I’m just saying to you generally, the idea that the government is not holding this thing, that they have to go to a court, I think is a step forward. I mean, would I have written it that way? I don’t know. I’m not there. But I can tell you my general philosophy and thrust of what I think about it.

HH: As you get ready to decide whether or not to run, Jeb Bush is going to announce on June 15th, Rick Perry announced today. They’ve got these rules in place, and that’s one of the things I was talking about with the mainstream media people today, ten on one debate, other debates are going to do two, etc. You confident you’ll be in the top tier and in every debate, Governor Kasich, if you get in?

JK: Well, that’s kind of a process question. What I have to do, Hugh, is to make sure I do all the things I need to do. And sometimes, we build something up as being this critically important or that. Look, I just have to do my job, and the future will take care of itself. And listen, I am increasingly confident that we will be in this. I mean, I haven’t made a decision, yet, but I am confident that things are moving the right way. And if they continue to move the right way, I would expect that any of these challenges will be taken care of. But you know, I can’t predict the future. Who knows?

HH: Now when it comes down to the King decision that the Supreme Court’s going to come down with at the end of this term, they’re going to either strike down the subsidies on the federal exchange or uphold them. If they uphold them, nothing changes and the election will be fought out on different grounds. If they’re struck down, what’s the attitude you want Republicans to take in the aftermath of a decision that will leave between 4 and 7 million people incapable of affording insurance?

JK: Well, I can’t tell you about what other Republicans are going to do, but if all of a sudden we find that there are three or four hundred Ohioans without health insurance, we have to try to work to solve that. And we are already thinking about it. And there’s, you know, a number of directions we can go. As you probably don’t remember, my Medicaid program that was growing at 9%, my first budget, it grew it 3%, and now it’s growing at about 4-4 ½%. We know how to bring innovation and new approaches to the way we do health care. And my folk are thinking about it. We’re talking about it. But you know, we don’t want to get the cart before the horse here. But we don’t want to have 400,000 Ohioans all of a sudden wake up and don’t have any health insurance.

HH: Absolutely agree. Let me switch over, then, to the education side.

JK: Sure.

HH: This week, actually ten days ago, Governor Christie was on this show. He’s throwing in the towel on Common Core. Common Core actually works okay in my home district in California. It’s all over the map depending on where you are and how it’s been implemented and the people in charge of it. What’s John Kasich saying about Common Core right now as the campaign season looms?

JK: Well, what we know in Ohio, Hugh, is that we have a set of standards where we lowered the standards so more kids would jump over the bar and look good. And we know that there is a big gulf between how we thought our kids are doing and how they’re doing vis-à-vis kids across the country. So we are driving high standards, and the curriculum to meet those high standards is created by local school boards. And we’re going to test when, in the most appropriate way to figure out how they’re doing. Other states don’t want to do it. It’s up to them. But in Ohio, as long as I’m governor, we’re going to raise our standards, we’re going to work with our kids, we’re going to do our best to end social promotion, which is why we put in a third grade reading guarantee, which means you can’t just be promoting kids even when they can’t read. And that’s what we’re going to do in Ohio, plain in simple. High standards, local control of schools, and you know, and make sure that our kids are able to compete not only across the country, but in the world.

HH: Now this is…

JK: And if they don’t want to do it in other places, I guess that’s up to them, because frankly, I think that education needs to be a, first, a state and a local issue. In Ohio, my decision is exactly what I told you.

HH: Now this is a little bit out of left field question, and I’ll come back and understand it.

JK: You always give me those anymore, Hugh. You know, go ahead. Whatever you want.

HH: Who was your best elementary or high school teacher?

JK: Well, I had a guy by the name of Larry Freedman who taught sociology to us, and he was really great. I had a lot of good people, Hugh. There wasn’t, I’ve had a lot of mentors throughout my life that have made a difference, and I had a math teach who I didn’t think was very good at teaching math, but he taught me a lot about life.

HH: Well, you see, the reason I asked that is…

JK: Hey, I had a government teacher who used to say as long as we don’t lose the war, our currency will be good. You know, I loved the guy.

HH: (laughing)

JK: I didn’t agree with him, but I loved the guy, you know? So look, I come from a blue collar, you know McKees Rocks just outside of Pittsburgh.

HH: Yup.

JK: It’s where I got my values. And you know, it was a great place to grow up. My education probably could have been a little better, but you know, I’m doing just fine, I think.

HH: The reason I asked is that every study shows the most important thing is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. What has John Kasich done or doing to improve the quality of the teacher in the Ohio classroom?

JK: Oh, well, look, I mean, like I told you, we put the third grader reader, but let’s hit the first thing that I would tell you, Hugh. This is a radical notion. But ready for this? K-12 education ought to be about kids and not adults. So we need to focus on making sure our kids are enthusiastic about learning. And what we want to do is really, frankly, to honor our teachers, because they sit in the teachers lounges, and people tell them they’re not liked and lot respected and they’re not this and they’re not that. You want to show them respect, and you want to, you don’t want to overburden them with unnecessary rules and regulations and set them free, and set them free to have fun in the classroom. And those are the kind of things that we’re doing all the time, bring in vocational education down to the 7th grade. Think about how that makes the teachers, who understand the skill issues field. Those are the kinds of things we do.

HH: Tell me about that. Have you done that? Have you brought vocational education down to junior high?

JK: Yeah, it’s into the 7th, it’s available in the 7th grade now for our students.

HH: You see, that is terrific.

JK: Let me tell you another thing we’re doing. We’re now starting to say that if a student, a young kid wants to go out and work in the private sector, they’re interested in math and they go work for a bank for a few hours, if they’re interested in automobiles, they can go work for an auto dealer. If they’re interested in being a lawyer, they can go to a courtroom. But what
we really want them to do is we want to act on what their passions are, and we give them credit, real world experience. You see, I believe we need to break the agrarian model and indicate to all of our teachers, all the people in the school system that look, we’re not, education is not, it’s got to be updated. The hundred year old model doesn’t work anymore. Set people free. Have respect. Have flexibility. That’s what we need to do, I believe, in our education system. And we’re doing much of it already.

HH: Governor John Kasich, always great to talk to you. Continued good travels up there in the Granite State. How long are you up there for?

JK: I’m here through tomorrow, and then I’ll leave tomorrow evening.

HH: Have a terrific trip, Governor John Kasich of the Buckeye State. Go Cavs and Governor, my phone number, your staff has it if there’s an extra seat on the governor’s box up at the Q.

JK: (phone click)

End of interview.


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