Former Ohio Sen. Voinovich says Romney, Obama not doing enough about debt

Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 @ 6:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 @ 6:00 PM

Coming Sunday

In the last of our 4-part issues series on the presidential race, we will look at President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s plans to deal with the national debt and tax issues. If you missed our previous stories on health care, jobs and military spending, go to Also, look for our voters guide in today’s edition of the paper. Also, go to for our interactive guide to the races and issues on your ballot.

Former Republican Senator George V. Voinovich Wednesday criticized President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for “not having a plan” to reduce the growing federal government debt.

Voinovich, who last year endorsed Romney, chided both Romney and Obama for not mentioning the “fiscal cliff,” a term used to describe the challenge that the president and Congress faces at the end of the year when a broad array of income and investment tax cuts expire and congressionally imposed automatic spending reductions are scheduled to go into effect.

“Neither of the candidates has addressed this challenge,” said Voinovich in a conference call with reporters. “(But) most analysts agree that’’ the combination of spending cuts and tax increases “would push the country back to a recession.”

Voinovich, who retired from the Senate in 2010, co-chairs the Campaign to Fix the Debt, which Wednesday launched its first chapter in Ohio. The debt campaign is a national bipartisan coalition of elected officials and leaders in business, academics, and communities who want Americans to focus on the national debt as a threat to the nation.

“(We want to) get people to acknowledge that if we don’t get our finances in order, we will not be able to keep the world at peace,” said Voinovich. “We have to bring the debt on a downward path.”

The debt campaign wants to use the public awareness to put pressure on politicians in Congress to work on a debt deal, and it encourages Ohio citizens to ask their leaders to take action. This means forcing some drastic changes in the federal budget and getting rid of tax expenditures and deductions.

Voinovich is worried that Congress will return in December and simply delay the expiration of the tax and spending cuts until next year. Thus the campaign has a goal of generating major changes before next July 4.

“(This is) going to be controversial,” Voinovich said. “(And) this is going to take some courageous people. But we’re going to have to do some tough things for the benefit of our children and grandchildren.”

Trump distractions threaten GOP agenda, some local lawmakers say

Published: Monday, May 29, 2017 @ 12:00 PM
Updated: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 2:19 PM

President Trump. Getty Image

The agenda for Republicans like Sen. Rob Portman remains the same: A major overhaul of the federal tax code, sweeping revisions to the nation’s health-care laws and relaxing regulations on financial institutions and companies.

But staying on track is becoming increasingly difficult, Republicans admit, with the continuing fallout over the firing of FBI Director James Comey and accusations that President Donald Trump shared intelligence secrets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

RELATED: Trump budget calls for increase in defense, cuts to social programs

“Every ounce of political capital Republicans had prior to this will be spent weaving their way through a maze of trip wires and land mines left in the wake of Trump’s mishandling of this investigation,” said one Republican, who asked not to be named.

Portman, R-Ohio, says he won’t let the excess noise get in the way of what he wants to get done. “I think it’s our job not to get distracted,” he said. “My team’s not focused on the distractions. We’re focused on putting our heads down and getting work done.”

Portman has argued for years the tax code needs a major overhaul for the first time since 1986. His goal is to reduce the number of individual income tax brackets, reduce taxes on corporations and individuals, and scrub the bloated tax code of scores of deductions, moves he argues will expand the economy and raise wages.

“In some areas, there are going to be challenges, no matter what,” he acknowledged. “Tax reform and health-care reform are tough issues.”

Steve Elmendorf, a onetime adviser to former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri and now a Democratic lobbyist, said distractions aren’t the only problem at the the White House. He says the administration doesn’t possess the knowledge or focus needed to revise the tax code.

“To me, this White House is sort of the opposite of Rob Portman,” said Elmendorf, referring to the Ohio Republican’s reputation as a tax wonk. “Whether you agree with (Portman) or not on the substance, he knows a lot about how the process works.”

RELATED: Portman on Fox News: This is a dangerous world

Rob Lehman, a former chief of staff to Portman, said “no matter who is in the White House, Rob’s going to be in the middle of these big issues. In some ways his comments of keeping his head down and trying to find a pathway is the way he’s always done it. But it’s clearly more challenging when you have distractions at the White House.”

Privately, some GOP officials are convinced that the swirling controversies will make it impossible for Republicans to navigate their way to overhauling the tax code. Though it has since recovered, the stock market had its biggest sell off of the year just after the Comey firing, and some Republicans are now openly challenging the president, even calling his budget he released last week dead on arrival.

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, reacted positively to the budget proposal, saying it “bends the out of control spending curve in the right direction.” But Davidson expressed frustration over the diversions that have occurred in the first few months of the Trump presidency.

“We’re not talking about the solutions we have for the country,” he said. “We’re spending more time talking about the executive branch.”

Portman has attempted a difficult balancing act with Trump. He was slow, for example, to call for a special counsel to investigate any links last year between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials who wanted to defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

But he also has attempted to distance himself from Trump. He says he wrote in the name of Vice President Mike Pence instead of Trump on his November ballot, and has made clear he opposes any White House efforts to ease economic sanctions imposed on Russia after it annexed Crimea in 2014.

When the House – with strong support from Trump — earlier this month approved a major revision to the 2010 health law known as Obamacare, Portman rushed out a statement declaring that while he believes Obamacare is “unsustainable,” he doesn’t “support the House bill as currently constructed” because it would curb the expansion of Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of low income people in Ohio.

“I’m not trying to distance myself from anybody,” Portman said in explaining his statements. “I’m trying to do what’s best for Ohio.”

John Kasich explains what’s up between Katy Perry and Taylor Swift

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 7:52 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 7:52 PM

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been all over TV lately as he pushes his book ‘Two Paths.’

On Wednesday, he co-hosted The View and offered some thoughts on the feud between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.

“Well it’s shocking everybody,” Kasich said after being asked by Whoopi Goldberg to explain the rivalry. “Don’t ever steal anybody’s dancers, is the message.”

The governor tweeted later that he hopes “these two can Shake It Off ...

Ohio Supreme Court rules juveniles can be sent to adult court

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 11:22 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 5:44 PM

            Ohio Supreme Court
            Laura A. Bischoff

A split Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday that sending older juveniles to adult court when they face serious charges does not violate their constitutional rights.

The decision reverses a ruling by the high court in December 2016.

Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that an earlier decision failed to consider a clause in the constitution that grants the Ohio General Assembly exclusive authority to define the jurisdiction of common pleas courts.

Related: Local teen’s case could go back to juvenile court

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor dissented, saying that the ruling affords blind deference to the legislature and ignores the requirements of due process. Juvenile court should determine whether the youth is a candidate for rehabilitation before being transferred to adult court.

In 1996, legislators passed a law requiring that 16- and 17-year-old defendants be automatically transferred to adult court when charged with certain offenses.

The 6-1 decision stems from the case of 16-year-old Matthew Aalim, who faced armed robbery charges in Montgomery County in 2013. Aalim’s case was sent to adult court, which denied his request to return the case to juvenile court. As part of a plea deal, Aalim pleaded no contest and was sentenced to concurrent four-year terms.

Montgomery County Prosecutor Matt Heck said this was an “important decision” by the court.

“This ruling only applies to certain juveniles who have committed the most serious crimes such as murder or rape, are of a certain age, or were previously convicted of a most serious offense,” Heck said. “The juvenile justice system is ill equipped to effectively rehabilitate those defendants. Furthermore, the juvenile system can only incarcerate defendants until age 21, when they must be released. In the adult system they can be incarcerated much longer, and once released they can be kept under the jurisdiction and control of the Adult Parole Authority.”

Related: Ohio Supreme Court: backpack searches fair game on school property

In December 2016, shortly before her retirement from the supreme court, Justice Judith Lanzinger authored a court decision that said mandatory bindover laws violated the due process rights of juveniles. The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s office asked that the decision be reconsidered.

Ohio, which established juvenile courts in 1937, added a requirement in 1969 that “amenability” hearing to determine if the juvenile is a good candidate for rehabilitation.

Related: Ohio Supreme Court to decide if those with HIV have to disclose it

State law says that older juveniles who commit murder, are repeat felony offenders or commit felonies with a firearm are under the jurisdiction of adult court.

“Ohio’s mandatory transfer statute creates a system in which a judge has no right to even inquire into a juvenile’s potential for rehabilitation, let alone weigh it,” O’Connor wrote in her dissent. “Without allowing a judge to conduct any inquiry beyond probable cause or age, there is significant risk of turning a delinquent capable of rehabilitation into a lifelong criminal.”

Aalim, now 19, is serving his sentence in Lebanon Correctional Institution, an adult prison.

Whaley using mayoral campaign funds to raise money for governor race

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 2:32 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 4:32 PM

            Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, announces she is running for Ohio governor in front of a crowd of supporters at Warped Wing Brewery Monday, May 8, 2017. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

Democrat Nan Whaley is using a re-election campaign fund for Dayton mayor that’s not subject to state contribution limits to raise money for her 2018 bid for Ohio governor.

A notice on Whaley’s campaign website informing potential donors that the mayoral fund is able to accept unlimited contributions was taken down Thursday after The Associated Press inquired about it.

RELATED: How much are the candidates for governor worth?

Whaley’s gubernatorial campaign says it is addressing the potentially confusing situation by voluntarily limiting donations from individuals and political action committees to the annual state limit of $12,000.

“Nan is uniquely popular as a mayor and she’s running for the first time in the city’s modern history unopposed — but, since she has announced for governor, we have been voluntarily complying with those (state) campaign requirements,” said spokeswoman Faith Oltman. “We are going to be transparent, open and accountable throughout this campaign.”

Oltman called the reference on the website to the mayoral campaign’s lack of contribution limits “a small oversight.”

Who’s in? A look at who is running for governor

The mayoral fund is the only fund Whaley can operate until the mayor’s race concludes this fall. She will need to convert the fund into a statewide campaign account by February when fundraising will be legally restricted by state campaign finance rules.

Under the law, Whaley will be able to transfer up to $200,000 from the mayoral fund into the gubernatorial fund, said Matt McClellan, a spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

Running for mayor and governor simultaneously puts Whaley in a rare situation for campaign fundraising and spending.

Democrat Jennifer Brunner faced the only somewhat similar conundrum in recent years when she was Ohio’s secretary of state. During the 2010 U.S. Senate race, Brunner’s Senate campaign used $15,000 to buy computers and other equipment that came from her defunct secretary of state campaign.

The question was whether the transaction violated a prohibition against money raised for a state campaign benefiting a federal one — a different question than Whaley would face if she folded money from her mayoral campaign into her gubernatorial campaign.

In Brunner’s case, the Federal Election Commission ultimately threw up its hands, calling the transaction too confusing to render a legal opinion.