"To me, the bottom line is the budget and getting it done as soon as possible," said (Joan) Bauer, D-Lansing. "Either the speaker needs to take an aggressive lead in the budget process, or give the authority to do so to someone else."
Now. Now you say that. And here is where I start to feel a little sorry for Andy Dillon, saddled with a bunch of cowards who are more concerned about their own careers than they are with serving for the good of the state. Let's roll the video tape back to this post from March...
"You know we did a couple of retreats with the caucus and I put the question before them and said if there is not a deal with the Senate, how many of you wanna make a statement and vote for revenues?" Dillon said. "It was a very small number."
"Now if there was an agreement with the Senate, then I think, we'll struggle, but I think we could find the votes for it. But my caucus doesn't want to just walk the plank," he said.
Your caucus doesn't want to do a damn thing. "They won't vote for cuts, they won't vote for reforms, they won't vote for revenue" I believe was the quote from one budget official earlier this year, and this is simply a continuation of last year's attitude, when the House passed Republican budgets using Republican votes. Elsenheimer even got the opportunity to brag about it. Pretty sad. Now ask yourselves why there is this so-called "enthusiasm gap". But I digress...
Many have called on both Dillon and Bishop to resign their leadership posts; from the LSJ to the Freep editorial pages, to other lawmakers (in Dillon's case), to the pundits, the latest being Jack Lessenberry...
First of all, when the legislature reconvenes next week, Speaker of the House Andy Dillon and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop should step down. I’m not suggesting they resign from the legislature; they should serve out their last four and a half months.
But they should resign from the leadership.
The Democratic gubernatorial primary was in large measure a referendum on Dillon’s record, and it was a landslide vote of no confidence. Bishop hasn’t covered himself with glory either, or done anything other than block any attempt at creative government by repeating an unthinking “no” to any mention of new revenue.
Yup. Bye. Both of you. Now, it won't happen on the Republican side, being the lock-step naysayers that they are in their quest to regain power, cowards in their own special way, but if the House Democrats are now going to start complaining about how Dillon hasn't led on the budget when the caucus has proven over and over again that they refuse to step up as well, maybe it's time to turn it over to one of the more vociferous members and let them have a shot.
Smith? Cushingberry? Melton? Bauer? Meadows? Who want to step up here? Dillon has indicated that he is more than ready to return to the private sector, he's "done (his) public service", and certainly can't be counted on to do what's best for the rest of the party.
So turn it over, Speaker Dillon. These guys have sat in budget committees all year, they know the score. They are out here running their mouths, let them take a shot. Doesn't the thought of that make you smile? You know it does. Let's see who is ready to stand up for "Democratic values", you know, the ones that the we voted for in huge majorities in '06 and '08...
Of course, this isn't about legislative roles, but political acumen and success. Where have the fortunes of Democrats gone under Dillon and the folks backing him?
Dillon hasn't hesitated to undermine Gov. Jennifer Granholm's ideas on the budget. And he and the House caucus have shown themselves willing to let the Senate Republican majority set the agenda at the Capitol.
Last Friday, Dillon tossed a note of disunity into a Democratic "unity" event by temporarily withholding an endorsement of Bernero.
"Because neither candidate was well-known, they became defined by extensive advertising," Meadows argues. "Virg became the candidate of traditional Democratic Party beliefs and Andy was not. If given the opportunity to vote for those beliefs, most Dems will do so."
And there are still more Democrats than Republicans in the state of Michigan - but maybe not for long, depending on what happens with this budget. It will weigh heavy on the November election. It may be too late for the House to stand up and fight, but it sure is worth a shot - and perhaps a new leader just may be the thing that generates some momentum.