There was little to do but chuckle as I came upon a past article by The New York Times, “Michigan’s GOP governor defies easy labels,” a hagiography of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s moderate presence in the state.
In the aftermath of his actions on abortion and labor law in the state Legislature’s final session, Snyder cannot claim to be a moderate.
In fact, the ability of Snyder to claim the mantle of politically moderate at all is a consequence of the tumult in the Republican Party, rather than any actual moderation. We’ll call anybody a moderate if they don’t think women’s vaginas have the superpower to reject rapists, or that President Barack Obama is Mao Zedong incarnate.
I believed Snyder was a moderate when I voted for him in 2010. And he led mostly as a moderate, up until the end of last year, which is why I was prepared to vote for his re-election in 2014.
Perhaps I was made into a fool for believing he was actually moderate, but I was even more of a fool to believe Snyder had inventive ideas for the state. An examination of Snyder’s record does not produce the ideal centrist or a shrewd administrator like Gov. Mitch Daniels, the Indiana Republican.
A picture of the recession-laden state is laid out in “Michigan and Ohio labor markets still struggling to recover,” by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. Except the report wasn’t about the most recent recession, but was released in 2007 about the recession that occurred in 2001.
Michigan had yet to recover from the recession of 2001 when a similar downturn occurred in 2007. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat and Snyder’s predecessor, failed. Many forces were out of her control and ultimately she couldn’t correct the state’s path. Voters were ready for different and inventive ideas in 2010, the ideas Snyder promised.
Snyder’s approach to tax policy has been both laudable and worthy of condemnation. He eliminated a former calculation of the state’s business tax in favor of a simple corporate income tax. The effort is credited by many for improvements made to the state’s business climate.
He has also tried to rid the state’s tax code of wasteful business incentives; tax loopholes that many economists consider ineffective. The consequence of his tax policies, however, has also been to shift much of the tax burden onto poorer citizens.
A tax on senior’s pensions was enacted in 2011, partly to pay for reforms made to the state’s business taxation, which constituted as a tax reduction for businesses.
His decision to allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees should be observed with skepticism, since he also paid for his tax reduction with education spending cuts. It is doubtful that without the funds, more college graduates will be produced.
The education reform group StudentsFirst recently gave Michigan a C- in its State Policy Report Card.
Tax cuts and education cuts are not the inventive proposals I hoped for when I cast my vote for Snyder in 2010. This week, he will deliver his State of the State Address, and rather than feeling enthusiastic, I am prepared to be disappointed.
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