Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Sunday Paper: July 18, 2010

Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse

Late, late edition. Spent the past week roaming the highways of the Upper Peninsula, basking in the perfect weather and absorbing with awe and amazement the natural wonders that exist in the northern reaches of our state. I buried myself with the camera, shooting just over 4000 pictures (I kid you not) and I got some great ones - but to tell you the truth, pictures cannot do the incredible beauty of upper Michigan in the summer justice. You really need to see it for yourself. Go. You will not be sorry. More to come on that, as I sort through the experience...

Did my best to avoid politics (couldn't escape it completely) and stayed off the internet for four whole days (!), so I'm busy playing catch-up. Just a few stories that caught my eye right off the bat:

  • Peter Luke opts for the Socratic method today to spell out why the Republican candidates running for governor are so incredibly boring. The answer is always in the question...

    Has any candidate made a convincing argument that voters have heard? Has any made the case that their opponents aren’t qualified for the November ballot? That’s what campaigns are about. That voters don’t appear to be particularly enthusiastic isn’t the voters’ fault.

    Bingo. These guys are simply spewing platitudes and fiscal nonsense. The voters aren't buying it.

    Mostly bland pronouncements about how cutting business taxes will cure Michigan’s economic ills, even though Michigan’s business taxpayers will pay $100 million less in fiscal 2010 than they did in fiscal 1997. Because none of them bother with the arithmetic of how they’ll accomplish it, pledges that Michigan will again create jobs — by far the top issue — lack force or conviction.

    Tax cuts for business will not create consumer demand, and consumer demand is what creates jobs. No one will run out and hire more staff if the consumer demand isn't there. We have tried the "more tax cuts" economic theory, it hasn't helped the average voter - and they know it. Can't blame them for not being thrilled at the prospect of a future of more trickle-down policy that somehow never seems to reach their own household.

  • What's the difference between a tax incentive and a tax cut? Plenty. Rick Haglund explores the successes, failures, and the (Mac Center manufactured) controversy surrounding Michigan's MEGA credits. Bottom line on that: Michigan has to offer incentives to lure major development, or the business will go elsewhere. It's major development that diversifies our economy and feeds small business; to leave the game now would be devastating. We cannot afford to fall behind. Greg Main of the MEDC points out that the competition will eat our lunch for us if we eliminate incentives, and that they only pay off when jobs are created...

    He says it’s absurd to think Michigan can eliminate tax incentives and survive in the economic-development war among the states.

    “There’s not a state in the union that doesn’t have some kind of incentive program,” he said.

    Main and others note Michigan’s MEGA incentives are structured so companies don’t receive a dime until they create the promised jobs.

    “If companies don’t do what they say, it costs us zero,” Kitchens said. “It’s a great deal for the taxpayers.”

    Engler tried to dismantle our economic development program, as all the Republican candidates this year are promising to do - and he very quickly put it back "after Michigan quickly gained a reputation around the country as having unilaterally disarmed in the war among the states for business investment"... are we going to have to learn this lesson all over again?

  • Gongwer has a couple headlines worth mentioning about our ever-looming budget deficit issue: A disturbing report says that the $525 million that Congress stiffed us on in Medicaid funding would have to come out of the General Fund - and that would be very bad news. Still hoping they act on that, but it's not looking good. On a brighter note, June revenues came in at $104 million higher than predicted, showing that we do have some growth going on out there - and every little bit helps. Since those legislators were hard at work over vacation tackling the budget issue, it should get done as soon as they get back this week, right?

    Starting to think it might be better to kick the budget down the road and let the obstructionists be responsible for the cuts that are coming. Problem is, they will just blame it all on the Dems, who, of course, will refuse to stand up for themselves. Dillon release the House budget plan yet? No? Didn't think so. Pretty much explains this voter's lack of enthusiasm right there.

  • Speaking of those Democrats, the Freep's Chris Christoff analyzes the "truth behind the claims" in the gubernatorial race on that side of the aisle. Give it a read if you are so inclined.