Although Gov. John Kasich has called for an end to the current partial shutdown of the federal government, he took a different stance as a senior U.S. House Republican in 1995 when he supported GOP threats to close the government during a budget impasse with President Bill Clinton.
After the first of two partial government shutdowns ended in November 1995, Kasich told Public Broadcasting’s Jim Lehrer: “Had we not made the fight, had we not stood firm and said there are some fundamental principles we have to adhere to,’’ then “we wouldn’t be here now, because it’s the history of Washington to just don’t worry about the next generation, don’t worry about paying the bills tomorrow, just get the job done and feel good. And it has to stop.’’
In 1995, House Republicans threatened to close the government unless Clinton agreed to a seven-year plan to balance the federal budget. A temporary spending bill was passed that ended the first shutdown, but then Clinton and Congress reached an impasse in December and the government partially closed again. It finally re-opened the first week of January of 1996.
Although Kasich was in the thick of the fight back then, as chairman of the House Budget Committee, during this showdown he has kept a low profile. Two weeks ago, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols attempted to distance the governor from the budget battle in Washington, saying that “headwinds from Washington pose a risk to Ohio’s economy and the governor hopes that an agreement is reached on a responsible budget that provides certainty for Ohio and the American people.’’
When asked Tuesday to comment about the 1995 PBS interview, Nichols replied, “Did you find that on a VHS tape at a going-out-of-business sale at a video store in a Washington suburb?’’
“This is a dynamic, reflective leader so you can bet that being the chief executive of the 7th largest state in the nation shapes his approach to problems, but his position now is the same as it was then: people should come to the table and work things out,’’ Nichols said.
“Twenty years ago that helped lead to the first balanced budget in a generation,’’ Nichols continued, adding that Kasich has spoken to House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., and the White House “about strategies for moving forward and everyone agrees it’s in the best interest of the nation to wrap this up quickly.’’
In his 2006 book, “Stand for Something,” Kasich wrote: “As it happened, President Clinton wanted to phony up the numbers on this first go-round, so we shut down the government. I look back and think it was one of the greatest moments of my career. Why? Well, typically, politicians make their decisions based on votes. And yet in at least this one instance politicians set aside these concerns and stood up for what was right.”
Joe Vardon of the Columbus Dispatch contributed to this story.