Michigan Budget Debate

Posted In: Politics, State, Opinion,   From Issue 646   By: Mike Mosher

04th October, 2007     0

Editor, the Review,

I have long been a fan of Mike Thompson's writing, in the Review and the Michigan Banner.  He clearly does his homework, expending shoe leather to visit, learn about and talk to the various communities and organizations that make up the city.

Yet he has inhaled a dangerous cloud of right-wing ideology in his Editorial "Why Can't Lansing Balance the Budget?".  He quotes the thoroughly discredited Mackinac Institute, the bunch that recommended de-funding the Ann Arbor Film Festival for showing a gentle cartoon about a young woman's self-image because it was called "Boobie Girl"!  Who will you cite next, Mike?  Rush Limbaugh?

Worst of all, look how the nation's playing field has shifted, when even a Mike Thompson questions whether Michigan teachers deserve the best possible health care.  Rather than adopt the bosses' rollback mentality on health coverage, a better question is how all other employees--public and private--can obtain sufficient health coverage too.   Unionize them first? 

Mike Mosher
Bay City

Editor's Reply:

Thanks for your letter, Mike. We also believe Mike Thompson to be a significant asset to The Review, which is why I find it incumbent to correct some misconceptions that you apparently harbor.

First, the analysis in our last edition was co-authored by Mike and myself, with Mike framing many of the Democratic arguments and I handling the Republican point of view.

In retrospect, perhaps it would have been more effective to frame the piece in a 'point-counterpoint' context, like J.J. Kilpatrick and Shana Alexander did from the old 60 Minutes, or Dan Aykroyd  & Jane Curtin from Saturday Night Live.

As for your comments about The Mackinac Center, their budget analysis was thorough and well researched, cited in national & statewide publications.  They have not advocated de-funding the Ann Arbor Film Festival but simply suggested that state (i.e. taxpayer) money should be focused upon essential state services and not artistic endeavors.  This is something that I do disagree with The Mackinac Center about.

Regarding health coverage, if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to fade out as scheduled for people earning $250,000 and up, universal health coverage should become do-able across the country.  This is one of the cornerstones of Hillary Clinton's recently released position paper on health insurance.

And as noted in the editorial that you reference, we are spending $15 million per hour on the War in Iraq, which Congress just approved another $150 billion for in funding.

Ultimately, it's all about priorities and how to set them.  Frankly, it is also why I consider myself neither a Republican nor a Democrat.  Politics, much like life, is too complex to become pigeonholed.

Michigan has one of the most regressive tax systems in the country, with the bulk of the burden on the lower & middle class, mainly because we have a flat income tax as though Steve Forbes were governor and the 'sin' taxes are ridiculously high, especially the cigarette tax, which makes no sense when you're funding health initiatives on something that the State is simultaneously attempting to get people to quit.

At any rate, thank you for your comments, and look forward to learning more about the budget aftermath and tax hikes that Lansing navigated in our next edition.

Robert E. Martin
Publisher & Editor


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