Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Detroit News Wants to Have Its Cake, and Use it as a Weapon Too

Here's Nolan Finley last Sunday, complaining about the horse racing jobs that would be lost because state legislators couldn't find "a few quarters at the bottom of the washing machine" to mitigate this particular cut to the state budget. He hides behind Bob Ficano, lays all the blame on Granholm, and somehow draws the amazing conclusion that because we aren't making an exception to find state money to fund this particular business, this sends a message to all business that they aren't welcome here.

Given all of the state's economic woes, this is a small thing. But it's indicative of a cavalier attitude toward the needs of job creators that explains why Michigan consistently ranks as one of the least attractive states for business.
Since we were third in the nation for new corporate expansions and facilities in 2008, the only thing "consistent" here is the sweeping invective that Finley uses at every opportunity to denigrate our state. Even with the disclaimer at the end that this is a “small thing”, a few quarters here, a few quarters there, and pretty soon you are looking at a deficit of $1.7B. We could sell the whole damn washing machine and still not find the money for everyone's special interests, and, the argument can be made that all the cuts to the budget are going to hurt any private businesses that depend on that state spending. Is Finley suggesting that the state not cut any funding that will affect business? Or, does he simply want to play favorites, depending on who he can get to utter some juicy quotes that attack the administration?

You know the answer to that, and it doesn't matter anyway. The House found those quarters in the washing machine yesterday, and this morning, the Detroit News is going to do a 180 and hide behind both Granholm and the Mackinac Center, and claim that "state lawmakers wimp out on budget cuts". The House restored funding to the state troopers, the state fairs, and - you guessed it - horse racing, but interestingly enough, this new editorial doesn't mention that last little tidbit.

Yet it looks like legislators are ready to punt on some of the proposed savings, which would reduce by $90 million to $100 million a budget facing a revenue shortfall of at least $1.7 billion next year.

Why? Because they're getting heat from folks who avail themselves of the programs the money funds. Unlike a state commission on government streamlining, which recently decided nearly every aspect of life is a "core" government function, the Mackinac Center maintains that state fairs, the arts and research which essentially subsidizes the agricultural business aren't essential.

Granholm also recognizes that some things aren't absolutely necessary. She said in this year's State of the State Address, for example, that state fairs are a "wonderful tradition" but "not an essential purpose of government."
But since it was such a convenient weapon for Finley, the money for horse racing is an "essential" purpose, simply because of the "message" it sends. We won't talk about the message of the thousands of jobs that are connected to the arts, agriculture, and the tourism that the state fairs bring. Not yet, anyway. For the purpose of this ingenuous attack, those jobs and businesses are expendable, and legislators are wimps because they are shaking that washing machine just a little harder to find those quarters to get Nolan off their collective back.

And by the way, the Senate Republicans are indicating that they will not restore the money for horse racing or the state fairs. Will we see a column from Finley that attacks Republicans for the message that they send, and the "thousands" of jobs lost, because they chose not to restore the funding?

Face it folks, you cannot win with those who insist that you cut spending, and then use those cuts as a weapon against you. All you can do is note their hypocrisy when it happens, call it out for what it is, and then move on to the next round, because it appears that this will be one of the right wing's favorite tricks for the foreseeable future.