Policy Matters Ohio Suggests State Embrace Failed Obama Policies

Policy Matters Ohio

Union think tank Policy Matters Ohio called for more public employee, “green” energy, and infrastructure spending in a policy brief endorsing a minimum wage hike, cheering Governor John Kasich’s enactment of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, and bashing workplace freedom.

Beginning with a complaint about recent tax cuts, Policy Matters insisted the state should “restore the $607 million we’ve cut from schools and the $1.5 billion, all told, that we’ve eliminated from local communities since FY 2010-11, so that teachers, firefighters, police officers and school nurses can be put back on the job.”

Gov. Kasich, a Republican, has reduced state funding of local government in order to avoid tough decisions in Columbus — and Policy Matters wants Ohioans to foot the bill for spending enabled by President Obama’s “stimulus” bill, which allowed local politicians to put off cuts that leftists now blame entirely on Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly.

“A $300 million investment from the state would replace some of the 215,000 jobs we’ve lost since the 2005 tax cuts and improve our communities in the process, renovating our aging infrastructure, and generating long-terms savings,” Policy Matters continued.

Where would this recommended $300 million come from? Higher taxes, of course.

“Investing in mass transit, insulation, solar and wind power, and sustainable manufacturing could create jobs, reduce pollution and reduce long-term costs,” the leftist think tank added, despite numerous recent examples of Ohio taxpayer money being wasted on such projects.

“Kudos to Kasich and others for recognizing that expanding Medicaid to workers earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level will improve lives, create jobs, and bring in federal money,” Policy Matters wrote. “Drop the lawsuit challenging this smart move.”

The Obamacare Medicaid expansion will cost state and federal taxpayers tens of billions of dollars over the course of the next decade, and the benefits promised are highly dubious.

Policy Matters then asserted that “at $7.95 an hour (starting in 2014), the minimum wage is still too low to boost the economy as much as it should. We could take a cue from California and make a $10 hourly minimum wage, giving workers more to spend in our local economies.”

President Obama continues pushing for a federal minimum wage hike, as well, despite evidence minimum wage laws don’t help the poor.

Leaning on research from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Policy Matters warned that states with workplace freedom laws have “lower wages, worse benefits, more workplace injuries and more poverty.”

Workplace freedom laws take away the coercive power of union bosses like those who fund and control EPI and Policy Matters.

“Instead of getting rid of union protection, we should encourage unionization of home health care workers and childcare workers, two important and underpaid occupations,” Policy Matters continued. “Fast food and retail workers would also win with better representation.”

Despite claiming to strive for “a more vibrant, equitable, sustainable and inclusive Ohio,” Policy Matters shares the priorities of union bosses who represent less than 13 percent of the state’s workers — predominantly in government work, where a lack of competition prevents unions from driving employers out of business.

As Media Trackers has noted previously, Policy Matters maintains its drumbeat for the same “progressive” economic proposals implemented by President Obama since 2009, even as Obama’s policies have failed spectacularly at the national level.

The think tank’s board includes former Communications Workers of America (CWA) secretary-treasurer Jeff Rechenbach, Harriet Applegate of North Shore AFL-CIO, Baldemar Velásquez of the AFL-CIO’s Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and Kirk Noden of the union-backed Ohio Organizing Collaborative.

In addition to its ongoing partnership with EPI, Policy Matters is directly funded by labor unions and huge leftist charities including the Ford Foundation and the Joyce Foundation.

The think tank’s work is beloved by Ohio newspaper editors, who all but unanimously share the group’s enthusiasm for bigger government. Around this time last year, Dave Kushma of the Toledo Blade trumpeted Policy Matters research in an editorial titled, “Thanksgiving, a time to pull together.”

The column was a call for more aggressive wealth redistribution by the state and federal governments.

Policy Matters Ohio Executive Director Amy Hanauer insisted in a Cincinnati Enquirer op-ed this February that all states should imitate the 2006 Ohio law indexing the minimum wage against inflation.