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Sixteenth Republican enters the race

For too long, the economy has been the political playground of presidents – of both parties – and many members of Congress. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, in announcing his candidacy for president, proposes to roll up his sleeves and get to work restoring our nation to one where the promise of prosperity is believable.

Runaway government spending, a virtual dictatorship of regulations and waste of hundreds of billions of dollars on nearly useless “stimulus” programs have left the U.S. economy stagnant, at best.

Consider:

-It was just during the past few months that the number of Americans with jobs got back to pre-recession levels.

– Meanwhile, the U.S. population has increased by about 15 million since the recession began – without jobs being created for the new Americans. The workforce participation rate, 62.6 percent, has not been this low since the 1970s.

– Those with jobs have bigger bills to pay – in part because of government initiatives such as the Affordable Care Act- but are not taking home paychecks growing at a rate adequate to cover higher costs of living. Average real earnings for Americans grew just 1.7 percent during the past year.

– During the past decade, the national debt has exploded. It totals $18.1 trillion – or $56,567 for every man, woman and child in the country.

It was against that backdrop that Kasich threw his hat into the ring Tuesday.

He is unique among the 32 people, about half of them with national recognition, who are seeking the Republican nomination for president. None possesses the combination Kasich enjoys, of fiscal effectiveness in both Congress and as a governor.

Keeping track of the issues, not to mention the candidates, has become a daunting task for voters. In a way, Kasich makes it easy. Just two points about his record make him very appealing.

First, during nine terms in Congress from Ohio, 1983-2001, Kasich gained a reputation as a fiscal “hawk.” A 1993 proposal to cut government spending went nowhere – but in 1997, he earned credit for a plan that, for the first time since 1969, balanced the federal budget.

Second, when he became governor in 2011, Ohio’s economy was a wreck, with an $8 billion gap in the state budget. Kasich and legislators closed it within months. Since then, a program of tax and regulatory reform has helped Ohioans recover from the recession faster than residents in some other regions of the country.

Kasich has not had the media exposure accorded some other flashier – but less capable – candidates. But as voters become more aware of his record and the way his skill and dedication meshes with the nation’s needs, his popularity is likely to grow.

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