Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bankrupt GOP Has No Ideas, Slash-and-burn budget strategy sends Michigan in wrong direction

Not my title. The House Democrats title.

I'm likin' what I'm readin' here.

House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford) today criticized House Republicans for failing to offer any solution to reform state government. The GOP’s only solution is to cut education, job creation and health care programs which will only lead to increased spending down the road.

"Cuts without reforms will not fix the state’s fiscal crisis," said House Speaker Andy Dillon. "As usual, my Republican colleagues are short on solutions, and the only reason they’re lashing out is to draw attention away from the fact that they have no plan to get Michigan back on track. Democrats are putting together meaningful cuts and reforms to government to put Michigan back on solid economic footing. We realize that we cannot survive on cuts alone. House Democrats have a sweeping plan to move Michigan forward, and we will unveil that plan next week. My Republican colleagues will get more done by joining us at the table with their solutions, instead of sniping at us through the media."

And sniping they are, claiming they are "protecting families" when they cut things like education, health care and police and fire protection.

Without seeing any details of the House plan, Republicans are simply attacking- and by doing that they reveal that it doesn't matter what the ideas are, they are going to obstruct. Period. They are going to insist on cuts alone in both chambers.

Their hand is now on the table for all to see. Democrats can pick up on the correct framing from here on out.

"The key to fixing our budget and moving Michigan forward is investing in job creation, health care and education," Dillon said. "We cannot afford a piecemeal approach and we cannot afford a slash-and-burn strategy that will harm our citizens and our ability to compete. We should be protecting job creation, health care, education and police and fire protection, not attacking them. House Democrats understand that we must invest in our future and use a long-term, big picture turnaround plan to tackle Michigan’s many challenges."

Republicans in the legislature can now be painted as having an extremist position. Stories of people who are affected by these cuts are starting to hit the media; go read this and tell me that Bishop doesn't look like a complete jerk after you get done.

Waldrop followed the Senate bill. "It's very easy to take funding away from someone like me, then stick my clients in a nursing home and give the money to a big business. That's just ridiculous. I make a quarter, or less, of what it costs for a nursing home."

And when even the DeVos lovin' Grand Rapids Press is calling for a tax increase (and not for the first time), the "cuts alone" crowd is going to find themselves further isolated.

The Press goes about this in the wrong way, of course, wagging their finger at the Governor more than anything, talking of sunsets and once again going after the teachers, but at least they do see the need for more revenue.

It's a start.

Far better for Ms. Granholm and her Democrat mates to merely add on to an existing structure: the income tax. It would involve no public confusion and entail creation of no new collection apparatus. Moving up the 3.9 percent tax to 4.1 percent for the remaining six months of the fiscal year would raise $120 million.

Republicans have not closed the door to such a tax, only rejected it for the current emergency. They ought to reconsider. The income tax route would be easy to implement and to explain. It would not lay a big new burden on businesses, which Ms. Granholm's service tax would do. And it could be sunseted to expire over any negotiated period.

The Senate won't have its own way with the budget. Accounting shifts and payment delays advocated by the Republican majority could offset a third to 40 percent of the deficit. The remaining $500 million to $600 million can be absorbed by the tax and cut combination. The two sides, held in a closed room, should be able to manage that.

They also suggest that a service tax should be looked at in the future, and we all should be "blown away" by that.

Granholm is open to anything, as long as the fix is permanent- as it should be. It's ridiculous to go through this year after year.

"Whatever the fix is, it's got to do the trick once and for all."

The stage is set. The Democrats need to keep pointing out the truth that a "cuts alone" strategy hurts us in the short term future and eventually costs us more in the long run. If they stick to that frame and hammer it home, we might be able to drown the MI GOP in their own bathtub once and for all.

It sure would be fun to watch Saul go swirling down that drain. Keep it up guys.