Michigan, Rick Snyder — October 1, 2010 at 9:18 am

Why Rick Snyder’s tax liens are important


Yesterday I blogged about how Rick Snyder has had two liens on companies he oversees for not paying their taxes. One happened just this year.

Snyder claims that these were basically clerical errors and that they were quickly cleared up as soon as they became aware of them.

That’s fine. The total amount of unpaid taxes is only $14,265. If Rick Snyder, a millionaire, was trying to evade paying his taxes, it wouldn’t have been such small potatoes as that. I actually believe him when he says that it was completely unintentional. Fine.

So why is this a big deal?

It’s a big deal because Rick Snyder is running a campaign based on the fact that he’s not a politician but, rather, a successful businessman who will be able to run the state because of his vast experience running businesses. That’s fine, too. But when it becomes clear, as it now is, that he hasn’t done a particularly good job at running these companies, then it becomes part of the overall discussion of his suitability for running the state of Michigan.

It calls into question his hiring practices if he hires accountants that fail at their duties.

It calls in to question his management style and effectiveness if his companies get into tax trouble.

It calls into question his leadership ability.

Rick Snyder doesn’t get to point to his business acumen as a reason to vote for him and then turn around and ask us to overlook his mistakes and screw-ups. It’s very reasonable for us to look at those failures and ask hard questions about his ability to run the state just like it’s fair to ask about the fact that thousands of jobs were outsourced to Asia when he ran Gateway, a company that is now a Chinese company.

A major airline executive once talked to his employees about the importance of the little things — things like making sure the seatback tables are clean every time. Because, he said, if our customers see a coffee stain on the table they think to themselves, “If they can’t get the little things right, why should I trust them to get the big things right, things like engine maintenance and luggage handling?”

So these tax liens may have been due to “little” mistakes and not willful efforts at tax evasion. But they still are important in this campaign. Because if Rick Snyder can’t get the little things right, why should we believe he’ll get the big things right? Big things like getting the state of Michigan back on its feet and prosperous once again.

It’s a very fair question.

I’m just sayin’…