Emergency Managers, Michigan Republicans, Rick Snyder — December 13, 2011 at 7:56 am

Rick Syder: “Not on my agenda” or “The GOP made me do it”


Since his election last year, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has played the good cop/bad cop game to perfection. While he stays above the fray and issues calming and non-threatening platitudes, his Republican colleagues in the legislature enact a conservative agenda with a rapidity that Democrats can only marvel at. Time and time again, Snyder has talked about how a particular piece of legislation or how a particular issue is “not on his agenda” only to sign that legislation shortly thereafter when the Republican-dominated legislature sends it to him.

241 bills signed into law (pdf) as of this week and only one veto. That’s an astonishing record for a man who has so many times said these things were “not on his agenda”.

This week, we got a couple more wan protestations that the Republicans were forcing these things on him. First, Snyder said (as he has before) that Michigan should not be a “right to work” state, that this is “not on his agenda”.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says Right to Work reform is not on his agenda, despite a push from fellow Republicans in the state House.

“I don’t think it’s an appropriate subject for us to be dealing with today,” Snyder said this morning in an extended interview on WJR-AM 760. “Because we have higher priorities that need to be addressed in our state.”

House Republicans reportedly are working on legislation that would prohibit employers and labor from making union membership and dues a requirement of employment.

It’s “not on his agenda” but his Republican colleagues surely think it is.

Then, yesterday, Snyder said that he doesn’t actually want an Emergency Manager for Detroit. That’s also, apparently, not on his agenda.

Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday he does not want to see an emergency manager take over Detroit.

In an interview on WJR AM-760’s “Frank Beckmann Show,” the Republican governor also cautioned it was vital for Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council to work together on solving Detroit’s fiscal crisis.

“If Detroit runs out of cash … it would have a negative impact on all of the state,” Snyder said. “My role is not to run the city of Detroit: I don’t want to see an emergency manager.”

That’s very nice, Governor, but are you aware that nearly every conservative lawmaker, commentator and pundit in Michigan are calling for it? To hear these people talk, absolutely every other avenue has been tried and our leaders have not other choice but to assume control of the largest city in the state. You’re about to become Emperor of Michigan, Mr. Snyder, and you’ll get to appoint a King of Detroit.

That may not be “on your agenda” but it’s exactly what is happening thanks to the Republicans who are actually calling the shots in Michigan.

In an interview I did with Monica Ross-Williams and Autumn Smith for their Sunday podcast, I told them that the jury is still out for me, a year later, on Governor Snyder. I am not certain if he’s simply a useful figurehead for the conservatives’ agenda or if he is actually a central figure, playing a role that only makes him seem hapless. On one hand, he seems very business-oriented and far less ideological, politically speaking, than the Republicans in the legislature. On the other hand, he claims to have a copy of the Mackinac Center’s far-right and very frightening “101 Recommendations to Revitalize Michigan” document on his desk for quick consultation.

The effectiveness of Michigan Republicans in 2011 is nothing short of astonishing. 241 new laws in less than a year is an achievement to be admired, even if you disagree with nearly everything they have done. But make no mistake; this did not happen by accident. The Mackinac Center and the people that think as they do in the political power circles in Lansing have been waiting for their moment in the sun. In 2010, thanks to the large tea party turnout and the low Democratic turnout, their moment arrived. Controlling all major branches of government allowed them to move swiftly and with great determination to enact a radically conservative agenda that diminishes public and private unions, puts in place a number of laws that are focused on institutionalizing their worldview on things like same-sex marriage, and starts us down a pathway to funneling public tax dollars into the private sector through outsourcing and private, for-profit schools.

What was Governor Snyder’s role in this? Is he simply a useful cog in this conservative steamroller? Or is he a central figure, playing his role to perfection?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t particularly matter. Unless he vetoes more of the social engineering bills being sent his way by the far-right conservatives in the Michigan House and Senate, there’s little difference between being a cog and being the driver.

Governor Snyder will have at least a couple more chances to show he’s not interested in starting fights between two ideological positions in the near future. He can veto any anti-union “right to work” legislation that is sent to him and he can do the same for HB 4770, a bill that make it illegal for local municipalities to offer benefits for domestic partners. His only issue seems to be whether or not it impacts universities or not (the Senate and House summaries disagree on this.) If it affects universities, he has said he will veto it.

He should veto it whether it does or not.