Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday Links

Now that The Curmudgeon has, for now, cleared all the campaign fundraising emails from the in-box, there is a little time to peruse the latest political/policy stuff on the web...

A Billionaire to the Rescue
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former Democrat who spent an estimated $250-million of his own money to win 3 terms as New York Mayor, is preparing to invest another $3-million or so in Rick Snyder's campaign.
It's another piece of the out-of-state, big-money politics that has become a plague which enriches TV stations and does little for the rest of us. The two biggest spenders in the $19-million-and-counting campaign have been the Republican and Democratic Governors Associations. The biggest spender in the U.S. Senate race appears to have been the Koch brothers, who dearly love Terri Lynn Land's inciteful knowledge of why the Keystone Pipeline is vital.

National GOP Gives Up on "Silent Terri Lynn" Land
The clown car is running out of steam. The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, official laundry for national big-bucks contributors, has cancelled $1-million in TV ads supporting the Mom-With-Two-Kids. Last month the Koch brothers political machine made a similar decision.
While her embarrassing performance on Michigan Public Radio last week might have triggered the NSCC decision, it's more likely her consistently weak showing in the polls has convinced higher-ups that Land's campaign is officially toast.

Schauer-Snyder Race Still a Tossup
The recent EPIC/MRA poll showing Rick Snyder with a 6-point lead over Mark Schauer may, in fact, have been an outlier. Every other poll has shown the race dead even, and the latest poll from PPP (the most accurate pollster in the 2012 election cycle) does as well: Snyder 47%, Schauer 46%.
What makes the poll especially interesting is the question "In the last presidential election, did you vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?" The results: Romney 50-46. The history: Obama 54.2%, Romney 44.7%. If anything, the poll sample is skewed a little towards Republicans.
The poll also shows Gary Peters with a 7% lead over the clueless "Silent Terri Lynn" Land, with just 9% undecided. After Land's disastrous performance on Michigan Public Radio last week it is miraculous she still polls in double digits.

Schauer Focuses on Snyder's Pension Tax
Polling has shown the strongest issue for Schauer is the pension tax. Snyder contends that it isn't a tax increase, just eliminating a loophole - which the Michigan Truth Squad denounced as "playing word games." Whatever you call it, hundreds-of-thousands of Michigan retirees whose state income tax bill went up significantly and they don't like it.

Battleground Michigan: The War on Women
Any doubts that this Michigan Legislature isn't exactly up-to-speed on women's issues are crushed in this well-researched report by my Michigan Policast partner Amy Kerr Hardin.
Rape insurance, opting out of birth-control coverage, and the incredible "Brittany" wedding dress commercial. Need we say more?

Why Democrats Aren't Getting Credit for the Economy
Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. asks a spot-on question. Try as they might, Republicans are having a tough time attacking the Obama economy.  The numbers are clear:
Unemployment under 6% (Mitt Romney said his goal was getting to 6% by the end of his first term - Obama did it in less than half the time)
The private sector has added jobs for 55 consecutive months, the longest streak in U.S. history
If conservatives had their way back in 2009, there
probably wouldn't be a GM today ... and Michigan
would still be in a depression
There are more job openings right now than any time since George W. Bush took office
Republicans used to cry out "where are the jobs?" Now they whine about anything BUT the economy because they were wrong, and cannot admit it.
Yet President Obama's job rating on the economy is underwater. Why? Fox Opinion Channel? Rush Limbaugh? Incessant GOP attacks? Regardless of the reason, Democrats don't get credit for a job well done.
Voters have short memories. Six years ago, Michigan was looking at economic devastation: the national economy had hit us with a vengeance, with unemployment peaking at 14.2%. If General Motors had died, Michigan would have died with it. Barack Obama's policies saved Michigan, but it's as if it never happened.
Dionne's conclusion:
There is still a month to go before Election Day, enough time to develop a sustained argument that highlights both how much better the economy is and how much we still have to do to spread prosperity more widely. It’s more challenging than bragging, but it has the virtue of making clear that if today’s obstruction had been the rule in 2009, we’d still be in the soup.

So What Does Bill Schuette Do Now?
With yesterday's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to decide, Bill "Traditional Values" Schuette is firmly between a rock and a hard place.
Michigan's defense of its clearly unconstitutional ban on same-sex anything is now pending before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson states the appropriate course for Schuette very succinctly:
"If ... Schuette didn't get the message, he should probably have his hearing checked."
Schuette, a serial candidate who wants to be Michigan's Governor, has two conflicting strategies open to him:

  1. Concede defeat in his efforts to defend one-man-one-woman (at a time, at least) marriages, something which would anger much of his Republican base, or
  2. Continue the battle against gay marriage, knowing that he's eventually going to lose, and permanently alienating a lot of moderate swing voters who decide all statewide elections.

Complicating Schuette's decision is polling which shows Michigan is split down the middle on marriage equality.
Given Schuette's history, The Curmudgeon's prediction is he will stay true to form, fighting for the past and continuing to curry favor with the Republican right ... and ultimately lose, again, in court.

Doug Drake, Doug Roberts
Sen. Patrick Colbeck, Robert Kleine
Bridge, the online publication of The Center for Michigan, has run an excellent series on Michigan's tax and budget structure. It is well worth the investment of time to read the entire series: well researched, politically neutral, well documented.
The wrapup segment summarizes a group discussion on the future of Michigan taxation. All agree that taxes should and will increase. "What taxes" and "why" are the grounds for differing opinions.
The discussion is among four experts:
  • Doug Drake, former head of the state Treasury Department's Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis
  • Doug Roberts, state Treasurer under John Engler
  • Robert Kleine, state Treasurer under Jennifer Granholm
  • Sen. Patrick Colbeck, a leader in the tea party movement
Roberts has one of the most intriguing proposals for helping Michigan's budget. Noting that interest rates are at record low levels – and likely will double or triple in coming years – he said Michigan should issue bonds in the billions to be used to catch up with past-due underfunding of public pension plans. "As interest rates rise," he told Bridge, "it will literally pay for itself, maybe more."

The Wolf-Hunting Ballot Proposals: Meaningless?
The "we know better than the voters" Legislature hopes the answer to that question is "yes," your votes on wolf hunting don't matter. There are two proposals on the ballot seeking to overturn previous legislative efforts to allow hunting wolves for fun, and the Legislature has done everything it can to prevent the will of the voters to have any meaning.
If the two proposals are successful, count on a court fight to see who wins: the Legislature, or the voters. (It's another reason why the state Supreme Court election is so important. Our current court in in the hip pockets of the monied right-wing interests and has been the most activist state court in memory. Ultimately this group will decide whether to side with the voters, or legislative Republicans.)
If you oppose wolf hunting in Michigan, you should vote 'no' on both proposals.

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