On last night’s program of the many compelling conversations we had it was our interview with State Representative Phil Cavanagh (D-Redford) that really turned me on my ear. The reason actually is quite simple; we had representative Cavanagh on the show to talk about restoring the very humane Earned Income Tax Credit to its 20% mark at the state level. For those of you that don’t recall, Gov. Rick Snyder initially totally eliminated the EITC and only through intense negotiation was the governor convinced to allow a 6% credit to the lowest income earners who benefit greatly from that program. I’ll come back to this in a moment.
But the comment that Rep. Cavanagh made that really got my attention was that during lame-duck while they were passing 236 bills, more legislation that they had passed in the last two years combined, he overheard two of his Republican colleagues remark that the revisions to the personal property tax was horrible legislation that would have to be revisited/revised in the new legislature but they passed it nonetheless because they were told to by their leadership, their Republican leadership that was what they were to do. No questions asked.
If that doesn’t offend you, I don’t know what will. Clearly, Republicans in the state of Michigan have lost total touch with reality as you may know. I have a difficult time reconciling that supposedly well-educated and well respected members of our legislature who had to fund and run competitive races to get elected in the first place can be so easily led by their pocketbooks and I would suggest mostly by people they have no relationship with no previous knowledge of. I’m not even suggesting that this is unique just to the Republican Party but since they are in control right now they get to wear the party hat that identifies them as clearly lacking in any kind of morals that represent the dignity and respect their constituents so richly deserve. But perhaps constituents is the wrong word, perhaps masters is more appropriate to what leads them to the asinine decisions that they make with regard to policy that clearly don’t benefit the vast majority of the people who not just elected them but the people they serve. For you see, when you represent a District, no matter at what level of government, you represent all the people. Those that voted. Those that didn’t.
It does make one wonder, doesn’t it? How can they with any dignity or self-respect, let alone self-esteem, look at themselves in the mirror fully realizing that the vast majority of the things they vote on and the causes they supposedly like to champion have done anything to move the state forward or to protect the very people who are suffering and have been suffering for many years now. Sure, it’s easy to point fingers and it’s easier still to look at the past administration or even two administrations ago and say, see, we have to fix all that first before we can move forward. Unfortunately, the vast uninformed and uneducated voter willingly buys that line because it doesn’t take any knowledge to take that bait. Oh sure, you can say that I’m just going for the low hanging fruit by blaming the voter but the reality is that happens to be true, as sad as that realization has.
But think for a moment about overhearing a conversation between two colleagues where you work with the same rights and responsibilities that you do, that are there for the same reasons you are, that make the same money you do, admitting, with a smile on their face, that they just agreed to something they don’t agree with. Can you imagine?
The plethora of legislation that is offensive to the majority of us is a list so long and so daunting that to correct it, and I assure you they knew all of this going in, is nearly impossible. And then to add insult to injury, they used a procedural trick that bans the average voter from recourse with legislation that is not agreed with. By placing an appropriation, another way of saying money, on the legislation, bans the voter from redressing and addressing heinous legislation that drags us backward and does not represent the majority opinion of the state’s citizens. Whether it’s Right to Work, a woman’s right to choose, same-sex health benefits, Oh, and I can fill another three or four pages of examples, the deliberate way in which this legislature has aborted democracy is not just offensive, it should be criminal.
But it is not!
Let’s go back to the Earned Income Tax Credit. Factually, for every dollar that is given back to the low income earner, with children, the return on that investment is $1.67. Our governor purports to be a genius businessman so he should know that an almost 70% return on your investment is one hell of a good investment. But suddenly he becomes an amnesiac when we apply his business principles to something that benefits the most needy. I’ll let you decide what that says not only about the governor but a legislature that allows this behavior to happen. So Representative Cavanagh has reintroduced the full benefit of the EITC and he’ll be lucky, and I mean extremely fortunate, if he either finds a Republican cosponsor or Republican willing to allow this to even reach the committee structure. If somebody would like to explain the wisdom in that decision I’m open to hearing it but if you’re going to tell me that there are some defensible and reasonable explanation to eliminate a program that helped the most needy and that somehow society benefits from it by eliminating it, well maybe I should start smoking what you are.
Yes, I get angry. Yes, I am frustrated. Yes, the next two years can go a couple different ways but it is up to us, you and I, the voter, the activist, this citizen, to not allow the next two years to be filled with intimidation or fear. If there was ever a time for you to flex your muscles, your intellectual muscles, that time is now.
The Republican Party, especially here in the state of Michigan, have become consummate bullies. They serve their corporate masters laying on their backs like a common Hooker who just needs to turn one more trick to make sure her pimp doesn’t beat her. I hate to be so graphic but I couldn’t think of a better analogy. There’s no room for morality and the Republican Party in Michigan, and like a common prostitute they break the law thinking they’ll deal with it if they’re confronted. Their pimp, in this case our governor, does protect them if they don’t pay their fee and they act as if there is space between them, the legislature, and he, the governor, that somehow ideologically they are really not that close, it’s a great way to create cover for their pimp and at the same time score with their tricks, i.e. DeVos’s, and the Koch brothers.
Haste does make waste. It just happens to be that we live at a time when sleight-of-hand has become more virtuous than the truth. Compromise has become a laughingstock and progress is only a word to only be found in the dictionary. The only way that we will be able to rectify this is by being tenacious in the way we recruit candidates for office and our ability to offer our own money and our own time to get them elected. This is not an original idea but it is a concept you better embrace because if we do not and cannot turn the tide in 2014 than all we will really ever have in this state are memories of a time long past. I cannot live with that, and I’m hoping you cannot either.