Corporatism, Detroit — May 20, 2014 at 9:18 am

SHOCKER! Koch brothers working to scuttle Detroit bankruptcy settlement


In a shocking development that surprises absolutely nobody, we learn that the Koch brothers, through their front group Americans for Prosperity, is working overtime to sabotage the “grand bargain” settlement that would bring the city of Detroit out of bankruptcy, save the Detroit Institute of Arts’ priceless art collection, and keep innocent retired pensioners from being thrown into abject poverty by slashing their pensions.

Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group supported by the Koch brothers, has launched an effort to torpedo a proposed settlement in the Detroit bankruptcy case, potentially complicating chances for completing the deal just as its prospects seemed to be improving.

The organization, formed to fight big government and spending, is contacting 90,000 conservatives in Michigan and encouraging them to rally against a plan to provide $195 million in state money to help settle Detroit pension holders’ claims in the case, a key element of the deal.

The group has threatened to run ads against members of the Republican-controlled Legislature who vote in favor of the appropriation before the state’s August primary. An initial legislative vote may come this week.

“Why send any more money to Detroit? Certainly other areas of the state have needs,” said AFP state director Scott Hagerstrom.

Why save Detroit? Is this a question that really needs to be asked? Why save the biggest city in the state?

A better question to ask is, “What happens to Michigan if Detroit collapses?” Obviously it would be good for corporatists like the Koch brothers since they could swoop in and buy up the city for partial pennies on the dollar. But what about the rest of the state? The metro Detroit area, the suburban municipalities around the city, would be devastated if Detroit is turned over to the wealthy corporate interests that would like nothing more than to turn the city into their own personal investment project. If you think the Koch brothers’ petcoke piles on the Detroit River are a problem, wait until they run the show there. Detroit would become Potterville — or, rather, Kochville — in short order.

The fact is, as goes Detroit, so goes Michigan. To suggest that we don’t all have a stake in its recovery and that it’s not an investment worth making is absurd. And it breaks the contract the state has with the cities that it, by statute, created.

So, be on the look out for racist-tinged, anti-Detroit ads coming soon to a television, blog, YouTube video, mailbox, website, and radio station near you. Remember how you couldn’t click on a page on the internet without seeing Julie Boonstra’s moony, first-world problem face popping up to lie about the Affordable Care Act? I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing something similar with the Detroit settlement and it will be wealthy corporatists like the Kochs and the DeVoses who will be paying for it. They will focus on “out-state” residents so expect the racial element to be front and center.

Even a dyed-in-the-wool corporatist like Rick Snyder seems powerless to stop it.

Adding… It’s worth noting that AFP hasn’t actually spent any money on this yet that we know of. What remains to be seen is whether the threat of spending that money is enough to convince Republicans in the House to do their bidding or if they’ll actually have to spend the money to blanket our airwaves with anti-Detroit ads to accomplish their goals.

[Photo/graphic by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]