Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
An overstuffed Republican presidential field will need to make room for one more this week when John Kasich makes his official entry into the race. The Ohio governor will announce in a Tuesday speech at his alma mater, Ohio State University. Kasich is polling so modestly he’s on course to suffer the indignity of failing to qualify for the first GOP debate, coming Aug. 6 — in Cleveland, no less. But the national media has so far spotted him credit disproportionate to his poll standing. That owes to a fascination with Kasich’s renegade persona, which starts with his lunchbucket gruffness. It extends to his habit of goring new Republican orthodoxies. Kasich famously embraced Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, reasoning he’s obligated to look out for the vulnerable population in line for relief.
Much less understood, however, is the depth of his ideological alignment with Obama when it comes to government’s role in stoking economic growth. Over two terms in office, Kasich has pursued a strategy of aggressive intervention in the market, tapping public funds to support a handpicked roster of industries that already claimed a foothold in the state (think: autos, appliances, and heavy machinery). The idea has been to actively nudge along the reshoring trend breathing new life into American manufacturing, long a backbone of the Buckeye State’s economy. Obama’s manufacturing strategy shares the predicate, but there’s more: Both have focused on developing manufacturing hubs, luring entire supply chains around a major production facility, so savings from streamlined logistics more than make up for pricier American labor. Kasich has faced some blowback for the effort. But the criticism has focused mostly on the strong-arm approach of his economic development agency, which he partially privatized, rather than the philosophy behind it. That may be because it’s working. Unemployment in the state stands at 5.2%, down from 11% when Kasich took office. Brent Campbell, a Moody’s Analytics economist who covers the state, says a manufacturing renaissance, centered on autos and auto parts, is driving Ohio’s rebound — along with an assist from healthcare, especially the hub anchored by the Cleveland Clinic.
It’s doubtful it would have been possible at all without Obama’s auto industry bailout, which Kasich has drawn the line at endorsing. How the maverick governor frames the case for Ohio’s turnaround can and should galvanize a debate about economic stewardship in the contest he’s set to join.
• Bernie Sanders sharpens his Clinton critique, with a focus on Wall Street
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton opened the week with a major address articulating her economic vision, surprising some with the barbs she aimed at the financial services industry. But in a sign that the energy in her party is lurching ever left on the issue, her nearest-running rival for the nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, on Friday challenged her to say whether she supports breaking up the big banks. Campaigning in Iowa, Sanders made clear that he does. Clinton avoided that level of specificity in her Monday talk, ignoring a heckler who demanded to know whether she’d reinstate the Glass-Steagall law that her husband repealed.
New York Times
• Obama’s television defenders may be talking their books
President Obama has made it a point of pride in his administration that access peddlers have found themselves locked out. Yet the White House maintains a stable of outside pundits briefed on administration talking points to help broadcast its message on television at any given time. And it turns out several of those uncompensated communicators have found another way to secure value from the work: With day jobs as lobbyists, frequently trading on the vantage to open doors for clients.
• On the trail, Uber is the new Wal-Mart
The ride-sharing app has emerged as a corporate stand-in for candidates debating the merits and pitfalls of the new economy. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and a host of other Republicans are embracing the company as an avatar of the kind of competitive disruption that can unleash wealth — and freedom for its employees — if only entrenched bureaucracy stands aside. And it doesn’t hurt that coveted urban millennials strongly identify with the service. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is raising questions about protections for drivers working as part-time laborers.
New York Times
Around the Water Cooler
• Resist the urge to focus on Trump; he is not a serious candidate
Donald Trump may be dominating headlines at this early stage in the presidential race. And not coincidentally, he is also eclipsing more qualified contenders in the polls. But make no mistake: The developer-cum-bombast merchant poses no real chance of capturing a major party nomination. Instead, Trump’s moment is best understood as a bug of a contest that begins long before most voters are ready to pay attention. At most, his inflammatory comments about immigration could impact the debate by forcing the rest of the field to distance themselves, and, in the process, articulate how they’d address the issue.
Cook Political Report
• Democrats are fighting themselves over the Kochs
The long-running and expensive effort by some Democratic groups to tar the Koch brothers as the string-pulling villains behind the Republican party is running headlong into the push by fellow lefties to promote criminal justice reform. The awkward confrontation owes to the odd-bedfellows dynamic the Kochs have created by locking arms with liberals promoting a rewrite of sentencing laws. Those committed to the cause welcome the Kochs for creating space for libertarian-minded conservatives to join up, while committed partisan Democrats remain skeptical.
• Obama won’t stay at the Waldorf, for national security reasons
Obama is the first president in decades to swear off the New York City landmark, but his blacklisting has nothing to do with a judgment about the quality of the hotel’s accommodations. Or not in the pedestrian sense, anyway. According to a report by the Associated Press, the White House is avoiding the property because it sold last year to a Beijing-based concern and the administration is wary of cyber-snooping risks.