Friday, June 1, 2007

The New Michigan: Mississippi, But With Snow

Thank you Toledo Blade for being so darned blunt.

The Ohio-Michigan rivalry: historic, year-round, generational, played out on the football field and the press -- your adversary's failings are fair game, but in this case the Toledo Blade is spot on. Today's editorial, Michigan on the Rocks, chides legislators for missing the chance to make meaningful, structural, future-oriented changes to our state finances. Instead, Democrats caved to the no-tax ideologue Republicans, made cuts to higher education (our principal means of developing a high-tech, knowledge-based economy), and rolled over debt to the 2008 budget putting it $1.6 billion in the red from the get-go.

The legislature was responsible for resolving an extremely urgent and important issue. Yet, in the end they were reactive and avoidant, rather than pro-active, largely because of a silly tug of war entrenched in partisan politics. Democrats and Republicans all had a role in this masochism tango. Good luck in the next election cycle. This "balanced" budget puts off until tomorrow what should have been done last year. Politics as usual. Avoidance of responsible tough decisions.

Democrats, it won't suffice to blame the stubborn Republicans. Republicans, it is no excuse to blame domineering party leadership. Did the "no-tax" posturing look gubernatorial? No. But, it sure worked.

Reminds me of those late 1990s infommercials about the power of OPM. You know, Other People's Money. With OPM you can make your dreams come true. You can use OPM for unbelievable leverage and then when the going's good bail with your winnings, fat and happy. This was all about power, not Michigan's future. This was about leveraging power for future electoral gain. This was about making your opponent look weak and ineffective. This was about creating a paper trail and scenario to point to in future elections. So who won what?

We the people of Michigan, seem to have won the chance to witness "Michigan Budget Woes, the Sequel" in 2008. Too bad the sequel is never as good as the original.