When the numbers don’t support you, myth-making is your only other option
Last week House Speaker Jase Bolger told the Detroit Free Press that Governor Snyder’s biggest challenge as a campaigner is his biggest asset as he governs. “The governor insists on no credit and no blame,” said Bolger. This was only one day after the Michigan Republican Party sent out their “December Newsletter”, taking full credit for making Michigan “The Comeback State”
“Democrats want to attack us by saying the ‘establishment’ is fighting the ‘tea party’ and point to that as proof of dysfunction between conservatives,” wrote MRP Chairman Bobby Schostak. “We can no longer allow Democrats to shape our relationship. It is time to show everyone that we are unified, and that lively debate has fostered policies that are helping Michigan families recover from the Lost Decade and will save our country!”
Now, that bit of myth-making is provably false. The recent kefuffle over RNC member Dave Agema’s bigoted rants against the LGBT community and the resulting backlash from members of his own party is enough to prove that. One of the top tea party PACs in the state is ready for a “bar room brawl” within the MRP and describes those who don’t agree with their assessment of Agema as “a prophet” as “cowering under pressure from the real hate groups like Equality Michigan”.
Michigan Republicans have also recently seized on the phrase “The Lost Decade” to describe the economic implosion caused in Michigan by the tanking of the economy overseen by their party under the “leadership” of George W. Bush. They are quick to place the blame for near-failure of our domestic auto suppliers – an event that was at the core of Michigan’s Great Recession – on Democrat Jennifer Granholm. They conveniently ignore the fact that it was only through Granholm’s tireless efforts and collaboration with the Obama administration that GM, Chrysler, and the entire vehicle manufacturing supply chain was saved from failure, all the while facing incessant opposition from Republicans.
In other words, after Republicans tanked the economy, Democrats oversaw the the clean up operation while their political opponents threw spit balls from the sidelines and thwarted their every move.
But the real myth making in Schostak’s ridiculous newsletter is this:
Republican leadership has turned passionate, conservative debate into the policies that are the foundation of Michigan’s comeback.
If we had not turned our vision into action by electing Republicans to office, our state would not be recognized for what it is today: America’s Comeback State.
Freedom-to-Work is helping Michigan’s once-struggling economy rebound into a healthy, vibrant one. Without our Republican leaders, Freedom-to-Work would have never passed.
Republican leadership stood up and made sure tax reform was addressed in the legislature. Our elected officials eliminated the Michigan Business Tax, which resulted in a net tax cut of $700 million. Michigan’s business environment is now friendlier – and is giving Michigan’s middle class the economic opportunities they struggled without during the Lost Decade. Specifically, Michigan’s economic climate has jumped from an all-time low ranking of 49th up to 7th in the country.
The contrast could not be more clear between Michigan’s comeback under Republican leadership, and the years Michigan families suffered during the Granholm administration.
There’s a lot to unpack in those five paragraphs of historical revisionism. I’ve addressed the myth of Michigan as a “Comeback State” before but, just so we’re clear, let’s review:
Michigan unemployment rate under Republican “leadership” this past year
Notice that the unemployment rate was going DOWN until just four months after they made the birthplace of the modern labor movement a “right to work” state, which they euphemistically label “freedom to work”. Then, it not only stopped going down, it reversed course and increased for three straight months. For the past three months, while the rest of the country was enjoying the improved economic conditions of our national recovery, Michigan has remained stagnant at 9%, nearly two percentage points above the national average of 7.3%. Michigan has the third worst unemployment rate in the entire country.
Remember how we used to use Mississippi as the yardstick for “lousy”? They have a better unemployment rate than we do. The lie about the so-called success of “freedom to work” is so bold and bald-faced that it’s a wonder Republicans can utter it with a straight face.
Then there’s this:
Cities in crisis under Governor Snyder
Comeback State? Really? Do Republicans really believe that residents of the state with the third highest unemployment rate in the country are going to buy that lie? Do they really think our citizens will think that having 50 of our 550 school districts running deficits with 13 new ones added just in the past year represents progress and a “comeback”? Do the 12 cities and 6 school districts in financial crisis, one largely created by Republican policies hell-bent on destroying public schools and public employee unions, somehow look like they’re coming back to Michiganders?
The audacity of their blatantly dishonest myth-making is almost breathtaking.
Finally, there’s this statistic in Schostak’s mythology:
Michigan’s business environment is now friendlier – and is giving Michigan’s middle class the economic opportunities they struggled without during the Lost Decade. Specifically, Michigan’s economic climate has jumped from an all-time low ranking of 49th up to 7th in the country.
Seventh! That’s awesome! What could he be talking about?!
He’s talking about a report put out by the libertarian group called the Tax Foundation. What’s most comical about this, other than the fact they had to go to this group to get anything like a positive economic number, is the fact that that they actually had to use last year’s data because we slipped backwards this year. The 7th place ranking is in “Corporate Tax Rate” in the report issued last year. The report from this year shows that we’ve gone to 9th place in one year.
The fact that they’ve chosen “Corporate Tax Rate” as a metric to prove improvement tells you everything you need to know about Michigan Republicans’ view of our state. In their worldview, the more you benefit corporations, the better you are doing. If the unemployment rate doesn’t improve, that’s irrelevant. If more of our schools are facing catastrophic budget problems, that doesn’t matter. If more of our municipalities are in economic crisis, nothing to see here, please move along.
What matters is that the unions have been crushed, wages are down, and corporate profits are doing just fine, thank you very much, despite how the rest of the state is doing.
It gets better: as Slate magazine’s Matthew Yglesias points out, the Tax Foundation’s data actually proves the opposite of what Libertarians and Republicans want us to believe:
Another day, another weird map from a libertarian group that seems designed to debunk libertarianism. Last time it was strange assertions about freedom, today it’s the Tax Foundation explaining why there are no successful businesses in California or New York…this map seems to provide strong support for the hypothesis that policymakers seeking to create a prosperous local economy shouldn’t sweat the business tax rate too much.
Yglesias points out that “three out of the four states with the highest median household income” are in the bottom rankings: Maryland, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Meanwhile, “low-unemployment, high-wage Minnesota” is #47.
Meanwhile, on the issues that Michiganders actually ARE concerned about, our governor has remained silent. My friends at Progress Michigan put together this video to remind us about the pressing issues in Michigan that Governor Snyder has boldly said nothing of substance about – Marriage equality/LGBT workplace equality, raising the minimum wage, women’s reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, and jobs created by “Right to Work”:
Progress Michigan’s Sam Inglot, project director of SnyderFails.com said, “All is not ‘calm’ and ‘bright’ in Michigan when it’s highest elected official stays mum on issues that impact Michigan families. Michiganders don’t want a ‘tender and mild’ leader, they want a bold governor who will be honest with them and stand up for workers, women and the LGBT community. In this arena, Snyder’s silence equates to failure.”
Michigan Republicans are silent on the important issues that impact our state and are rewriting history to suit their dishonest mythology.
Remember that in 2014.