Making it Rain

Obama pumps gov’t money into Ohio
AP Images

AP Images


The Washington Post has noticed the outsized attention—and federal money—President Obama has lavished on Ohio.

In the Post’s words:

After President Obama pledged in March to create up to 15 manufacturing centers nationwide, the first federal grant went to a place at the heart of his affections: Ohio.

When the Obama administration awarded tax credits to promote clean energy, the $125 million taken home by Ohio companies was nearly four times the average that went to other states.

And when a Cleveland dairy owner wanted to make more ricotta cheese, he won what was then the largest loan in the history of the U.S. Small Business Administration. …

It goes without saying that, every four years, presidential candidates shower battleground states with attention. This time around, it’s Obama in Ohio, doling out the perks of office — all the time.

The Post notes that Obama and Vice President Biden have visited Ohio 47 times between them. “Either Obama or Vice President Biden has popped up in the Buckeye State every three weeks on average since they took office,” the Post writes.

The administration often uses the visits to announce programs favorable to the important swing state:

His trips, along with repeated outings by Biden (18 visits) and other Cabinet members, often have come with good news about funding and other government largess.

Obama recently announced a trade complaint against China in Ohio, accusing China of subsidizing their car manufacturing industry and consequently hurting American carmakers’ global competitiveness.

Even the New York Times has noticed Obama’s propensity to pull the levers of power to aid his reelection efforts.

Obama has targeted some of the money that he has channeled into Ohio toward green-energy businesses:

As the administration was distributing stimulus money, the president noted in a 2010 town hall meeting near Cleveland that Ohio “received more funds than just about anybody in order to build on that clean-energy economy.’’

In fact, the state’s portion of the $2.3 billion in clean-energy manufacturing tax credits was tens of millions of dollars more than the slices that went to other swing states.

In high-speed rail, another administration priority, Ohio also fared well. The White House in 2010 awarded the state $400 million to resume passenger train service between Cincinnati, Cleveland and other cities, a service that had ended four decades earlier.

Ohio, which elected Republican John Kasich as governor in 2010, rejected the money, the Post notes.

Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, said, “These decisions are made on the merits by professionals with the relevant policy expertise.” He continued, “a state’s political significance doesn’t secure it federal resources — but it shouldn’t be a disqualifying factor either.”

Another administration official, speaking anonymously, indicated that the administration is aware of the political upshot of these policy decisions. “When good policies are good politics, that’s great.”

Obama has even pushed through funding to Ohio against congressional opposition.

When it came to Obama’s proposal to invest $1 billion to create a network of “manufacturing ­innovation institutes,’’ Congress declined to approve the funding. The administration forged ahead, funding a pilot program that will focus on digital-based manufacturing. The winner of the $30 million pilot grant was a consortium that said it would base the operation in Youngstown, Ohio.

Toward the end of the article, the Post notes: “This year, the [Small Business Administration] has approved 2,726 loans for Ohio businesses. That is nearly 500 more than Florida, a state with 7.3 million more people.”