Thursday, September 27, 2007

Michigan Budget Crisis - Schauer, Walberg, and Schwarz

Ordinarily, I stay away from blogging about state government. It's not the focus of this blog, and there are already a lot of smarter, more talented people covering it on other websites. But it's certainly worth mentioning on this blog. Why?

For starters, one of the Democratic candidates, Mark Schauer, is a key player as minority leader in the Michigan Senate. But I'm not planning to spend much time talking about his role in the negotiations and (hopefully) the final budget except for how it relates to the 7th District race.

That's Senator Schauer. It's his job to work on this problem, so it's not worth blogging about on this website. Tim Walberg is a different story. It's not really his job to participate in state government, so I was surprised when I saw this:
Washington, Sep 20 - U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) and four other members of the Michigan Congressional delegation stood with Republican leaders in the Michigan Legislature today against Gov. Granholm’s plan to raise taxes on all Michiganders.

Joining Walberg in signing a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and House Republican Leader Craig DeRoche are Rep. Joe Knollenberg, Rep. Thad McCotter, Rep. Fred Upton, and Rep. Mike Rogers.

“We can build a better, brighter future in Michigan and return our great state to prosperity,” Walberg said. “We just need the courage and determination to cut waste and instill fiscal discipline. Instead of using good stewardship and being responsible with taxpayer dollars, the Governor is attempting to ‘invest’ by divesting money from hard-working taxpayers.”
Congressman Walberg certainly has a right to speak out on these issues. But I'm a little distressed when he takes the opportunity to reject compromise and push a hard-line anti-tax message that could lead to a government shutdown.

Make no mistake, Walberg isn't speaking on behalf of the downtrodden taxpayer. He's urging his fellow Republicans to reject compromise and embrace a government shutdown. Even if the Democrats in the state government caved to all of their demands, it would still mean drastically reduced services. Either way, Tim Walberg is pushing for a government that does either less or nothing.

Anyone with any sense of fiscal responsibility would recognize that sometimes, every once in a while, a tax increase is necessary to maintain services.

Former Congressman Joe Schwarz gets it:
The current income tax rate is 3.9 percent. Many Democrats want to set the rate at 4.6 or higher, while Republicans don't want to go any higher than 4.3 percent.

The difference between the two proposals means millions of dollars more for the state treasury and higher tax bills for the typical Michigan family.

Calls for a budget solution are coming from all sides of the political spectrum. Late last week, 28 former Republican lawmakers sent a joint letter to current GOP lawmakers, urging them to compromise.

Among the signers were former Senate majority leaders Ken Sikkema of Wyoming and Dan DeGrow of Port Huron; former House Speaker Paul Hillegonds, then of Holland; and longtime senators Harry Gast of St. Joseph, Joe Schwarz of Battle Creek, George McManus of Traverse City and William Sederburg, then of East Lansing.

"We believe that while the solution does not involve taxing our way to solvency, it cannot involve only budgetary cuts," the letter read. "Wise stewardship requires a prudent mix of structural reforms to streamline government, budget cuts to focus government on essential state services and additional revenue to equip the State to carry out its important responsibilities."

(Emphasis added.)

Once again, Walberg and Schwarz have found themselves in a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. To Schwarz, the top priority is having a government that works efficiently on behalf of its citizens. To Walberg, the top priority is following Club for Growth orders and cutting taxes, without considering how it might affect people's lives.

At the end of the week, the state government will begin to shut down. State employees won't show up for work, Secretary of State offices will close, schools won't be able to function. We really, really don't want this to happen. But Walberg does.

I wonder if he'll still get his pension checks from the state of Michigan if the government shuts down. Anyone know the answer?

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Mark Schauer has done jack to prevent this shutdown. His mind was on running for Congress long ago. He has made zero progress getting Republicans on board for the governor's plan. And this is the great hope for Dems in the 7th?
This answers the question once and for all why so many on this site and voters of both parties want Joe Schwarz back in office. Of all the politicians in the 7th district, he is still the most in touch. He knows what's going on with the budget, with Amtrak, with SCHIP and is still doing something about them. Heap on the partisan rhetoric that he's a big, bad Republican. Write Mark Schauer love notes as he continues to get nothing done. But nobody is more qualified for the job than Schwarz and is doing more for the people in the district. Period.
Agree, Schwarz should have stayed in office, but the GOP voters were just plain lazy in in August primary and this blog is a result of that. We've all suffered the consequences with Walberg.

The thought occurred to me, I don't want to see a state shutdown, but if the state did shutdown I think it would really reaveal what parts of state government are needed and necessary and which parts we can live without. If it happens, I think it will be very revealing and I hope the legislature ultimatly cuts unnecessary and redundant parts out of state govenment.

I'm really dissapointed that our "spineless" legislature can't get things done and ultimatly it's turned over to a small committee to make the decisions too tough for big shots in the Capitol.

I always thought politics was about compromise, but it seems that's a foreign term in Michigan!
What this shows is that the death of centrist, pragmatic politicians, like Joe Schwarz, has serious ramifications when it comes to governing.

As stated elsewhere, Walberg is CFG's lap dog who will spit up their talking points for as long as they pay for his campaigns.

Mark Schauer has largely been ignored when it comes to finding a solution for the budget because he serves as nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Governor's tax increase.

And it is exactly because Mark Schauer is a self-serving politician, keen on securing the support of his base for a Congressional run that he is as irrelevant in Lansing as Tim Walberg is in DC.

Unless Schwarz runs as an independent, and I have no expectation that he will, all we will be left with come next November are 2 candidates who will do little to advance pragmatic solutions. Their only success will come from contributing to the general public's increasing disatisfaction with our political system.
Wow. Readers of this blog "get it." It is not just Tim Walberg that people are sick of. It is all the typical politicians who talk a good talk to their base but wind up pretty much innefective and unable to govern.

I really cannot get excited about Mark Schauer. If he is the only other choice, I assume I will vote for him in November of 2008, but that choice is not my ideal situation.
Save your donations. Once we have Schauer on record voting to increase the income tax, his chances of becoming a congressman are about as good as Granholm's are of gaining back her canadian citizenship. The people of the 7th district don't play that game Marky Mark.
I think shot himself in the foot when he voted yes to the tax increase. Walberg will go after him for that one!!!!
Nick Smith
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