Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Democratic Debate Coverage

Democrats are great at fighting other Democrats, aren't they? If only they would bring that much verve into directing their fire at the real problems facing Michigan...

But, apparently they aren't doing that. Instead, in last night's debate, the voters were treated to more disingenuous attacks from both candidates, and we received more evasion on the solutions that we all know need to happen for Michigan to thrive: You can either restructure our tax base and bring in more revenue to fund education, schools, roads, public safety and health care, or you can make more horrific cuts to a state that is at its bare bones already - a move that will drive more businesses and citizens out of Michigan to look for a better quality of life.

That's it. That's the choice. Find the revenue, or make the cuts. And not one candidate - Republican or Democrat - is being honest about what we are facing. Republicans are insisting on the trickle-down fantasies of Bush economics; more tax cuts for the rich, and everything will be fine, right? Wrong. Been there, done that, it didn't work, and the country has suffered greatly for it. And the Democrats, well, they just won't say what they would do. Out of fear of losing votes, out of lack of direction from the party in general, who knows why they behave like this... which, of course, is the very behavior that is going to lose them voter confidence in the long run. When will they learn that lesson?

Budget question. Bzzzz. Wrong answer. Out of both of you.

Both were reluctant to embrace an idea popular among liberal policy advocates in the Democratic Party, a graduated income tax rate that would shift the Michigan flat rate of 4.35 percent to a structure that taxes higher incomes at higher rates.

Dillon said any change would have to be approved by voters through a constitutional amendment, but declined to say whether he would lead the effort as governor. He does support expanding the sales tax to services, cutting the sales tax rate and rewriting the Michigan Business Tax to lessen the burden on employers. Bernero said he favors tax reform he didn't outline, but said "I can't say whether we would do something to increase taxes at this point."

Sorry guys. About the only thing you have going for you is that you aren't batshit insane liars like the Republicans are.

If Dillon is truly this bipartisan leader that he claims he is, there is no reason he can't get that plan done today. It's already on the table. Michigan is in a budget crisis - here, right now, this very second, schools and cities need to know the answer - and yet, after another six months of promises that this budget would be done, it's not done, and it's not likely to be done anytime soon. Out of all the candidates running for governor, Speaker Dillon, with a huge majority in the House, is in a position to actually do something about our budget problem. And in the past two years, while Michigan was in the midst of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, he hasn't done a damn thing.

That one fact makes all of his promises about the future ring false. Please, don't tell me you need to be governor to make it happen, when you can't move anything at all today. If the Republicans in the Senate stopped it from happening - well, more the better for the Democratic campaign. You have your issue to fight with. But to do nothing at all, when you have this huge majority? Sorry, but Dillon can't even move the members of own House, let alone the Republicans, and that speaks to a very serious problem with the Democrats in general.

As much as the Republicans live in trickle-down fantasy land, Dillon lives in some sort of bipartisanship fantasy land, and as such, he gets steam-rolled by Mike Bishop and the Senate when he and his cowardly caucus won't stand up for the people and the things that matter to this state. In a perfect world, "bipartisanship" is what we should strive for, no doubt about that - but that is not what is happening here. Not at all. You can't have "bipartisanship" when one side refuses to cooperate. We have a Republican Senate that is more interested in destroying the Democrats than they are about moving this state forward, and Dillon's failure to acknowledge that fact - and fight back - has already cost us dearly. It's cost us in quality of life as schools and cities make drastic cuts, it's cost us in voter enthusiasm as the cuts take hold at the local level, infuriating citizens and public leaders alike. It shows in the latest State of the State poll from MSU. People in Michigan believe the economy is getting better, and yet they do not like or trust state government. Stop and ask yourselves why that is.

Bernero seems to have the fight in him, but he loses me on the Detroit bridge issue. Don't know if it's the Moroun money talking here or what, but turning down thousands and thousands of construction jobs and a half a billion dollars is just plain stupid. And the fact that he is being evasive about a tax plan is pretty predictable, seeing as how the Democrats don't flat-out lie like the Republicans do, but it just seems to be more of the general evasion tactics on the part of the Democrats as a whole - and this voter is tired of it. Stand up, or step aside and let us find someone who will stand up. Easier said than done, I know, given our lack of bench strength, and that's another problem that needs to be addressed. Perhaps that will happen if the worst happens in this election, if you catch my meaning.

So - you tell me, Democratic voters of Michigan. I know who I'm voting for in August, but I will abide by your decision, and do what I can to help point out that the "more tax cuts!", trickle-down economic plans from the Republicans would be devastating to the people and quality of life in this state. Other than that, I'm rapidly losing interest in all the nonsense.

Here is a round-up from all your favorite Michigan reporters on last night's debate - go read, and make your decision. Dillon won't agree to any more debates because he plans on taking the month of July off to campaign instead of doing his day job, so this is it for the head-to-head match-ups between the two.

Peter Luke is cited above, read the whole story here.
Chris Christoff covers the debate for the Detroit Free Press.
Mark Hornbeck carries the Detroit News. If it wasn't for him and the awesome photographers, I wouldn't bother with the News at all anymore.
Mike Householder writes it up for the AP. Where's KBH?
The Center for Michigan will provide video sometime today - keep watching that space. (As of this writing, the last Republican debate is still up.)

Good luck to us all. We are going to need it.