Thursday, July 26, 2007

Senate Republican SOD 7/26/2007- Cassis targets the poor once again

I swear there isn't a day goes by that Nancy Cassis isn't trying to figure out some way to stick it to the poor and the working class people in this state.

From introducing "right to work" legislation, to suspending the prevailing wage, to the newest and perhaps most vile move, trying to prevent the Earned Income Tax Credit from going into effect in January 2008, Cassis proves time and time again that she is one of those Republicans that is trying to return us to the Gilded Age.

A little back-story on this story- our previous Republican legislature made some mistakes writing the minimum wage bill last year. In their haste, they ignored a flaw that would give overtime pay to some workers currently not qualified. They knew it was there. "We'll deal with the fallout later", they said.

When business freaked out about that, the Republicans had to come up to the window with something to get the Governor to sign off on a fix. Off we went on months of bargaining as the Republicans scrambled to rectify the error they created with their casual indifference.

August 30th last year they reached an agreement to save their skin with the business community- and it included an earned income tax credit for the working poor. Democrats and Republicans alike praised the move; Bob Emerson proclaiming "this bill is a major step in making our tax structure less regressive", admitting that the tax burden falls disproportionately on the poor here in Michigan.

Everyone is happy, right? Not Cassis.

Nancy tries to take food from the mouths of children over the flip...
Fast forward to today. Cassis is now trying to take away this credit and renege on the deal that fixed that Republican mistake. From MIRS-

The EITC was part of a deal that was struck last year to correct the minimum wage increase. When the increase passed, an exemption for service staff was inadvertently left out of the bill. Democrats agreed to fix this problem in exchange for getting the EITC.

MIRS asked Cassis if her bill reneges on that deal.

"Not really," she said.

Maybe just a little, huh? With this one casual statement, Nancy tells us deals Republicans make mean nothing. They will try to take back any compromise that they have made. Something to keep in mind during the budget talks- it becomes pretty hard to take Republicans at their word with this action, doesn't it?

But that wasn't the statement of the day. Nancy then suggested that the EITC, which isn't even in effect yet, and the minimum wage increase are the reason for our troubles.

Here is your Senate Republican SOD for 7/26-

"We did both and now we're seeing tremendous stress on our budget," she said.

The EITC projected figures are $132 million for the first year.

The budget deficit is $1.8 billion.

You do the math, and think about the words "tremendous stress".

Republican reform in action. Target the poor and the working class first. In Cassis world, any break for them is the very thing breaking the back of the state of Michigan. If we could just take away relief from them, everything would be fine.

This comes on the heels of a report that shows that more Michigan children are living in poverty. Some figures from the LSJ-

  • Michigan's child poverty rate rose three times faster than the national average between 2000 and 2005, or by 36 percent compared with 12 percent across the country.

  • Kids Count reports 19 percent of Michigan kids were in households earning incomes below the poverty line in 2005, the most recent data available, matching the nationwide average.

  • They rely on food stamps, Medicaid and state-funded help with utility bills - Michigan's Department of Human Services now is assisting more people than it has in 27 years with dwindling resources, Deputy Director Jim Nye said.

  • Almost 1 in 5 children living in poverty, and Cassis wants to take away their tax credit.

    Cassis tries to justify her actions by saying this alleviates the need for a tax increase. You have seen the figures; this comes nowhere close.

    Taxes will be raised, or the other services the poor have come to rely on in increasing numbers will be eliminated, probably a bit of both in the end. Nancy wants to make it worse. 

    From Gongwer-

    But Sharon Parks of the League for Human Services called it alarming that the Legislature would consider delaying implementation of the credit.

    Earlier this month, when delaying the credit was first mentioned, the league sent a letter to all legislators saying it would be, "unconscionable that, at a time when Michigan's economy is struggling and it is difficult for many parents to find good-paying employment, we would remove one of the few tools available for lifting the incomes of these families through needed tax relief."

    And Ms. Parks said Thursday the extra income the poor would net through the credit would be needed whether taxes were increased or not.

    Michigan is rated as one of the worst states for the level at which it begins taxing income, with individuals earning below the poverty line being taxed, Ms. Parks said, and the credit gives low income individuals some relief from that.

    Nancy has set a new low for the definition of "compassionate conservatism".

    Watch for these things in the budget talks- Republican "reform" will never include Republican interests. Cassis will be sure to target the people who can least afford it first.