Michigan Democrats Cave in to Stupidity (Just Like Their Congressional Counterparts Did on Iraq)

I’ve been trying to make sense of the much discussed budget deal between the House, Senate, and the Governor. You can read about it here, here and here

Now that I’ve had time to consider it, all I can say is how utterly irresponsible this deal sounds.

With over 60% of the electorate saying they believe a tax increase is necessary to solve the budget crisis, why Andy Dillon doesn’t have the spine to push one through right now with the wind at his back, I’ll never know. It makes me wonder how the hell he got the job as Speaker of the House in the first place. You mean there isn’t another House Democrat who could be an effective leader? Someone who could stand up to a whiny thug like Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop? Please.

Effectively, Bishop is running our state. Which would be fine if he showed any long-term thinking or complex understanding when it comes to how to manage Michigan’s shift from a manufacturing-based economy to one based on services. But he hasn’t, despite his international education. He wants “tax cuts” and “jobs now.” Well, don’t we all? But shouting both repeatedly doesn’t make those things magically appear. Besides, there have been tax cuts since Engler, and as yet no net increase in jobs. Sounds like we need a better idea or two or three.

Senator Bishop did have the heart to tell Jack Lessenberry that no one is happy about the cuts to higher education. Even so, that choice means he (along with Speaker Dillon and Governor Granholm) would rather take steps toward crippling the state’s path to rejuvenation than fund our universities at the level they and their students deserve. Especially when these universities contribute so much to the development of the state at a rate competitive with North Carolina’s famed Research Triangle.

Governor Granholm, after her big win over Dick Devos, talked about about a tax on services (after she had someone else leak/announce it) to fund education and retraining programs…but then she didn’t push all that hard for it and she let herself get blindsided by Speaker Dillon’s lack of support. Either she didn’t know Dillon would do that to her, or she didn’t square it with him before introducing the idea. We all make mistakes, but neither scenario displays a whole lot of political acumen.

I know I am not the only Liberal Democrat who wonders if Speaker Dillon is a member of the Democratic party. (Just read the various comments on Michigan Liberal any time Dillon’s name pops up.) Because from his behavior and the way he has (not) led the House Democrats it seems like the House is controlled by the Senate Republicans. It’s as if Dillon asks Senator Bishop if it’s okay to introduce a given piece of legislation first before doing it. How else to explain this amateurish budget deal that rests on dipping into tobacco money now (for less of it later) and uses cuts and delayed payments to universities (thus making sure that next year’s budget is already in the hole). For someone with years of experience in the world of high finance and private equity firms, his aquiescence to such a poorly-conceived budget makes me question the wisdom of anyone entrusting either their money or their firm to his financial judgement.

That the governor is going to sign off on this junk deal that sends our state’s bond rating closer to junk bond status (while no replacement for the SBT is yet at hand) is downright irresponsible, no matter what she says now. That the highly-respected Cherry helped negotiate this “solution” is no cause to feel secure either. It just means this caving in to Republicans shouting “No” to a tax increase has infected a large chunk of the Democratic party.

This lack of spine is also characteristic at the national level, too, with the Democrats in Congress giving Bush a blank check to continue the neo-con nightmare in Iraq despite what the public and the facts tell us. We give the Democrats a mandate and they still don’t quite believe they should run with it.

Yeats was right about this: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” But there sure isn’t a Second Coming or rebirth at hand. Just more muddling toward mediocrity, leaving citizens to wonder just who won last November’s election.

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