“Have you seen this?” Jonathan Capehart asked me in an e-mail on Facebook yesterday. “Very disappointing!” (What? You thought I was the only one? And, no, we’re not related.) The “this” is a report from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that Capehart came across on YouTube on the doings in Michigan by newly elected Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. What he has done in Capehart's home state makes Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) look like an amateur.
Maddow pointed out that Snyder's budget would eliminate $1.7 billion in tax breaks for the working poor and elderly while giving $1.8 billion in tax breaks to business. That's what I call shared sacrifice. But it's the “Emergency Financial Manager” bill that Snyder signed into law on Wednesday that has folks in Lansing emulating those in Madison.
Basically, if a financial emergency is declared for a local government or school district, then a state-appointed financial manager would be given broad powers to swoop in and right the listing fiscal ship, including voiding contracts, cutting jobs and eliminating services. There is also the possibility that elected officials could be removed. Yes, there are lots of hurdles to jump before a manager takes over. But said manager wouldn't be accountable to the people who would be affected by his or her decision. As you can imagine, the unions aren't pleased.
According to the Detroit News, Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) earned cheers when she said, “This bill represents bigger government, more bureaucrats [and] less accountability and less transparency.” And then Whitmer asked, “Where the heck is the Tea Party now?”