The economy is looking up a bit in Ohio these days, which is why Vice President Joe Biden came to town on Thursday: to claim credit.
Biden, in his sixth visit to the state this year, spoke of a "renaissance happening here in Ohio" in a speech at the union hall of the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 189 on the Northwest Side. He said President Barack Obama has helped bring back manufacturing, which supplies "jobs you can build a family on."
It's true that Ohio's unemployment rate in June fell to an estimated 7.2 percent, from 7.3 percent in May. Preliminary data released Friday showed Ohio gaining 18,400 jobs in June.
But if the state's turnaround was engineered by the federal government, how does one explain that the rest of the country, on average, is faring worse than Ohio? Why hasn't the supposed Obama magic worked in neighboring Michigan, which saw its unemployment rate tick up to 8.6 percent from 8.5 percent last month? In fact, in June, 27 states saw unemployment rates rise.
Surely if the administration were engineering a turnaround in an election year, it would be evident nationwide. Instead, we're witnessing the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression. According to latest federal data, just nine states can claim more jobs than they did five years ago.
Clearly, something besides the power of the federal government has helped Ohio's unemployment rate to fall below the national average. Gov. John Kasich deserves much of the credit for this. His focus on jobs and the state's economic health from his first day on the job is in stark contrast to how the issue was handled by Obama, who spent an enormous amount of his first 18 months in office ramming through a costly health-care overhaul that was not only a distraction, but has caused greater uncertainty and costs for businesses.
Kasich quickly tackled the $8 billion state budget deficit and moved to completely overhaul the way the state attracts development.
By comparison, Obama does not understand nor appreciate the role of the private sector, seeing government as the source of growth. That's a quality he shares with Kasich's predecessor, Ted Strickland, who, fittingly, now is serving as a national campaign co-chairman for Obama. Strickland presided over a loss of 400,000 jobs in Ohio while leaving an $8 billion state budget shortfall for Kasich to fix.
The best thing government can do is create an environment conducive to private-sector job creation. In the jurisdiction over which he presides -- the nation -- Obama has delivered the weakest recovery since the Great Depression. In the jurisdiction over which he presides, Kasich has lowered unemployment a full point below Obama's national unemployment rate.
If anyone deserves a nod for a brighter economic picture in Ohio, it's Kasich. Any turnaround here has occurred in spite of, not because of, the current administration in Washington.