Friday, February 06, 2009

Six O'Clock News Briefs - Stimulus Breakthrough Edition

Breaking as I type this - a deal has been reached on the stimulus. Must be bipartisanship becomes important when threatened with working through the weekend...

  • Speaking of bipartisanship, we enjoy our own special brand here in Michigan... the Muskegon Chronicle has noticed that we will see more of it this year...

    Gov. Jennifer Granholm put up a bold front in Tuesday's State of the State message. But reading between the lines, she hints that an ever-darker future looms for the state economy. Materially as important for residents, the response by Republicans is a tip-off that the standoff between the parties in the Legislature will continue as fiercely as ever.


    State Sen. Michael Bishop, the Senate Majority Leader from Rochester, made perfectly clear the dynamic will continue inasmuch as his party refuses to yield ground in its continued and fervent belief that tax cuts and less spending is the medicine Michigan needs.

    Oh, we are going to get "less spending". As one who remembers the lists of cuts from '07... well, you'll see. Granholm has been warning about this for weeks, and did it again today.

  • Hospitals are taking a huge hit due to rising uninsured patients/unpaid bills. Health care is now our biggest employer in Michigan, one of the few industries that is growing, and they are finding that they have to lay off employees and stop expansion due to lack of funds. Many are operating in the red.

    And while the number of Medicaid enrollees hit a record high last September in Michigan -- providing coverage to 1.6 million residents -- funding to hospitals for care of Medicaid patients has dwindled by more than $850 million since 1996, according to the report.

    These developments are "forcing Michigan hospitals perilously near the edge of a financial cliff," said Spencer Johnson, the association's president.

    To help offset losses, hospitals have begun laying off workers and halting construction on new buildings at a time when Michigan hospitals are treating more patients than ever.

    And they will continue to raise insurance rates to make up the difference. Watch for the health care industry to ask for a "bailout" if this continues.

  • Auto parts suppliers are also in line asking for federal help; predictions are that we will face on "onslaught" of bankruptcies in the next few weeks as suppliers sit out the continued auto manufacturer shutdowns. This will mean the loss of thousands of jobs in Michigan, which is the "center of the auto supplier industry".

  • No, not the Supreme Court either. Knock this off now. Although you'd have to be a little bit crazy to turn that down...

  • Let's end this on a positive note - a panel has been assembled to study the potential of offshore wind capabilities in the Great Lakes. According to this great article from Dave Alexander all the power we need is out there, and we can manufacture the turbines too. Win win. It might be years away, but the sooner we get started, the better!