John Kasich on Welfare & Poverty

Republican Governor; previously Representative (OH-12); 2000 & 2016 candidate for President


Our essence was putting yourself in somebody else's shoes

Q: The National Review published an article, "John Kasich's 2020 dream" in which they said about you, "He's too Republican for disaffected Democrats and too experienced for voters who want radical change." Are you?

KASICH: I don't know; what's true today is not true a couple hours from now. So you can't predict where this country's going, because it's chaotic. People know there's something wrong with our compass and they really want it fixed.

Q: How has America changed to cause that?

KASICH: I think many people have been increasingly unwilling to put themselves in the shoes of somebody else. I think what's fundamentally changed our country is that many people have not come to understand what faith is, which is loving your neighbor, elevating others, putting yourself in other people's shoes. And when we don't do that, we lose the essence of our country. In the Great Depression, everybody pulled together. And what we're seeing now is people pulling apart rather than coming together.

Source: Meet the Press 2018 interviews of 2020 hopefuls , Aug 12, 2018

Champion the underdog, those discounted by society

I'd always been a champion of the underdog. I got that from my parents. So, as I became a leader of our great state, I became more of a servant to the people, rather than just being a strong force for change, particularly around issues that had to do with people who lived in the shadows. The mentally ill, the drug-addicted, the working poor, the developmentally disabled--these are the folks society tends to discount and dismiss, yet I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility toward them.

For example, once we balanced the budge in our state, we were able to expand Medicaid--angering a lot of people in our party--and in the fallout, I said something that got a lot of attention. I said, "when you get to Heaven, St. Peter is not going to ask you if you balanced the budget. He's going to ask you what you did for the poor. And you had better have a good answer."

Source: Two Paths, by John Kasich, pp. 157-8 , Apr 25, 2017

Welfare without a path to work doesn't work

On welfare reform: Thanks to the legislature, we've been able to take 16 to 24 year olds. You get welfare; you stand in line; you get your food stamps; they check a box. You go over here; they check a box. We don't like that. Our 16 to 24 year olds, when they go in we will help them. But once we help them, we want to know what the problem is. We want to know how we solve your problem. We want to get you trained. We want you to get a job. Welfare without a path to work doesn't work. We want these people to have opportunity, and we want them to go to work.

When I'm gone, you've got to expand this thing. We can't have people just going in and people checking boxes. We have to bring back caseworkers, and we've got to get at the root cause of why people are stuck.

Source: 2017 Ohio State of the State address , Apr 5, 2017

Let's reform welfare for rich people as well as poor

When we talk about the import-export bank, it's time to clean up corporate welfare. If we are going to reform welfare for poor people, we ought to reform it for rich people as well.
Source: GOP "Your Money/Your Vote" 2015 CNBC 1st-tier debate , Oct 28, 2015

There are moral and practical reasons to help the poor

Q: A woman was questioning you about expansion of Medicaid, You said "I don't know about you but when I get to the pearly gates, I'm going to have to answer for what I've done for the poor". Now, some people walked out after you said that and the criticism was that John Kasich thinks that you're not a good Christian unless you support a massive increase in the government.

KASICH: First of all, it's not about being a Christian--the Jewish and Christian principles of this country say basically the same thing. Look, I'm a public official, but I'm also a leader in terms of how this country ought to move. My sense is that it is important that we do not ignore the poor, the widowed, the disabled. I just think that's the way America is. And I think there's a moral aspect to it. In my state, there's not only a moral aspect where some people's lives have been saved because of what we've done, but it also saves us money in the long run.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Aug 2, 2015

Matthew 25 commands us to aid the less fortunate

Kasich has a message for the haters who have spent the past year or so sniping that he is insufficiently conservative: Bring it. "It's really odd, that the conservative movement--a big chunk of which is faith-based--seems to have never read Matthew 25."

For those in need of a New Testament refresher: In Matthew 25, Jesus admonishes his followers to aid the less fortunate. Kasich has cited the passage repeatedly of late in defending his ObamaCare-fueled Medicaid expansion--an act of Republican apostasy that prompted widespread dismay among his party brethren.

He gets back on track: "With this whole spiritual element, let's get away from the judgment side of it. I think it's actually what the Pope's trying to do. The Pope's saying, 'Why don't we get into the feeding the hungry and clothing the naked and helping the imprisoned and helping the lonely? That's what we're commanded to do. To me, this is a gift that I've been able to feel this way."

Source: National Journal 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 7, 2015

People who played by the rules suffered; act decisively now

I came here to Wilmington during my campaign in 2010 and I saw the devastation that this town had suffered. It was written on the faces of the people of Wilmington, and these are people who had played by the rules. They didn't do anything wrong. They worked hard, but one day the rug was pulled from under them. People lost their savings. People lost their homes. A lot of people were losing hope in what their future was going to be.

The people at food pantries like Sugartree Ministries-- we were here with my campaign staff, and I said, "Did you see what was happening in that pantry? Did you see the pain, the anguish, on their faces?"

I told them that day, "Our mission is to help fix this community and to restore some hope. Our mission is to help get people back on their feet in places like Wilmington." Wilmington is in many ways a reflection of Ohio. We are doing better, but we must act decisively now to seize the greater opportunities that await all of us.

Source: State of the State address to 2015 Ohio Legislature , Feb 24, 2015

Reach out and help those who live in the shadows

After being sworn in last month for a second term, Kasich told the crowd in Columbus that Republicans must do more than argue for tax cuts and link their economic philosophy to an empathetic message. "There's one thing that people in my political party don't always understand. Economic growth is not an end unto itself," he said. "Economic growth provides the means whereby we can reach out and help those who live in the shadows."
Source: Robert Costa in Wash. Post on 2016 Presidential hopefuls , Feb 11, 2015

Replace war on the poor with Christian compassion

Kasich let loose on fellow Republicans in Washington: "I'm concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor. That if you're poor, somehow you're shiftless and lazy. You know what?" he said. "The very people who complain ought to ask their grandparents if they worked at the W.P.A."

Few have gone further than Kasich in critiquing his party's views on poverty programs. Once a leader of the conservative firebrands in Congress under Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, Mr. Kasich has surprised and disarmed some former critics on the left with his championing of Ohio's disadvantaged, which he frames as a matter of Christian compassion.

He embodies conventional Republican fiscal priorities but he defies many conservatives in believing government should ensure a strong social safety net. In his three years as governor, he has expanded programs for the mentally ill and backed Cleveland's Democratic mayor in raising local taxes to improve schools.

Source: New York Times article on Kasich and Tea Party , Oct 28, 2013

Chaired committee which overhauled the welfare system

An advocate of personal responsibility, John chaired the historic congressional conference committee that overhauled the welfare system. Building on his commitment to limited government, John also championed defense reform and the elimination of wasteful government spending by effectively building coalitions with members on both sides of the aisle.
Source: 2010 House campaign website, kasichforohio.com, "Biography" , Nov 2, 2010

Focus next phase of welfare reform on fathers

We must examine the next phase of welfare reform to make sure that we are not still encouraging fathers to leave the home. The 1996 Welfare Reform bill was targeted primarily at women, designed to bring them into the workplace.. But poor men in America were left out. Men need to be brought into the mainstream and given job training, job programs and job opportunities to boost the income of the poorest of America’s men. Fathers must be an integral part of the glue that holds America’s families together.
Source: Columbus (OH) Urban League Speech, May 17, 1999 , May 17, 1999

Voted YES on responsible fatherhood via faith-based organizations.

Vote to establish a program that would promote more responsible fatherhood by creating educational, economic and employment opportunities and give grants to state agencies and nonprofit groups, including faith-based institutions.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Johnson, R-CT.; Bill HR 3073 ; vote number 1999-586 on Nov 10, 1999

Limit welfare to 2 years & cut welfare spending.

Kasich signed the Contract with America:

[As part of the Contract with America, within 100 days we pledge to bring to the House Floor the following bill]:

The Personal Responsibility Act:
Discourage illegitimacy and teen pregnancy by prohibiting welfare to minor mothers and denying increased AFDC for additional children while on welfare, cut spending for welfare programs, and enact a tough two-years-and-out provision with work requirements to promote individual responsibility.
Source: Contract with America 93-CWA5 on Sep 27, 1994

Other candidates on Welfare & Poverty: John Kasich on other issues:
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V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
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CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Marianne Williamson (D-CA)
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2020 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
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Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC)
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Page last updated: Dec 15, 2019