Debate and Discussion

The government might be shutting down.
KellyMarie at 5:47PM, Sept. 22, 2007
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From the Free Press:

Advice to lawmakers: Time to get it together
Past leaders say budget crisis shows vacuum of power

September 22, 2007

BY KATHLEEN GRAY and CHRIS CHRISTOFF

FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS

The state House and Senate and Gov. Jennifer Granholm all need to take a cue from leaders as diverse as former Govs. William Milliken, John Engler and James Blanchard as they try again Sunday to roll the big rock of a tax increase up a steep hill, veterans of Lansing's political wars said Friday.

Their advice: Drop the finger-pointing. Stop holding news conferences. It's time to do what you were elected to do – make decisions.


The assessment came from a former governor, former legislators and other longtime observers of the political scene after the state House failed again Thursday night and Friday morning to reach a deal to solve the state's budget crisis.

In the decades they have watched state government, these veterans said, they've never before seen such a deep division as the state's leaders struggle to reach a consensus.

“They all seem to be going over the cliff like lemmings,” said Craig Ruff, who worked for Republican Gov. Milliken. “It's almost a willful self-destruction.”

The state government is on the brink of a partial shutdown Oct. 1 because the Legislature and Granholm can't agree on how to fix a $1.75-billion hole in the budget. Granholm and most Democrats want to raise the income tax from 3.9% to 4.6% to fill most of that hole. The Republicans want to cut spending and implement reforms before they vote on a tax hike.

After announcing he had a deal on the budget at mid-afternoon Thursday, House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, came up four votes short despite keeping weary House members in session overnight until 7:30 a.m. Friday.

Six Democrats, all fearful that a pro-tax vote would hurt their chances for re-election in 2008 or even spark recall campaigns against them, voted against the tax hike.

Neither Dillon nor Granholm has been able to persuade all the Democrats in the House to come around. That sort of defiance would have brought repercussions in the past, several observers said.

“This is where the speaker could go to the members and say, ‘Your staff is gone,’ or yank a committee chairmanship,” said John Truscott, who was spokesman for Republican Gov. Engler.

Only one Republican, Rep. Chris Ward of Brighton, voted for the increase. Two others withheld votes presumably until some of the six Democrats switched their “no” votes.

“I am old enough to remember the Milliken years when people forged relationships. They were able to get past the partisanship and come up with solutions,” said Steven Gaynor, superintendent of Bloomfield Hills Schools. He sent a letter home to students' parents this week, urging them to contact their legislators about the stalemate. “But the level of partisanship is so high and statesmanship and leadership is so low right now that nothing is getting done.”

Others recalled the administration of Engler, a master politician and expert at the legislative game. His call would come on the House floor and state representatives – Democratic or Republican, it didn't really matter – would slink off to confront the onslaught.

But the conversations with Engler were never shout-fests, even when he was furious, said those familiar with his governing style.

“He would ask what their position was on the issue and what they needed” to come around to his thinking, Truscott recalled.

It might be help with other legislation that the recalcitrant legislator was sponsoring, a project in his or her district or a personal appearance from the governor at a fund-raiser.

In the end, Engler usually got what he wanted.

Former state Rep. Pan Godchaux, a Birmingham Republican, was sometimes on the other end of the Engler call.

“There is a lot of inexperience, not only in the Legislature, but in the governor's office,” she said. “One of the reasons Engler could get things done is that he had been around so long and had something on everybody.”

Bill Ballenger, a member of both the House and the Senate under Milliken and now a Lansing pundit, said Granholm is exacerbating the situation.

“She has not made it easier because she keeps negotiating in public,” he said. “Granholm can't even get her House majority Democrats to get a roll-call vote on anything. That's just inexcusable.”

Another factor in the stalemate is the animus between Dillon and House Minority Leader Craig DeRoche, R-Novi. They have not talked directly with each other during the past week's budget negotiations.

But former Democratic Gov. Blanchard, who successfully proposed an income tax increase right after taking office in 1983, remains optimistic lawmakers will get it done.

They have to, “because every day they don't do something, it hurts the state's credit rating, causes greater expenses for the state and runs up the deficit more,” Blanchard said.

I woke up to a text message from a former coworker, talking of the impending problems we might have if Lansing doesn't get it together. Unfortunately, for the rest of Michigan, we can only avert this crisis as much as we could while watching an asteroid head towards Earth: nothing to do but just watch.

It really is the classic story of Michigan. Because of a few politicians or businessmen's selfishness and unwillingness to compromise, everyone will suffer. No Secretary of States (driver's license and general DOT), casinos, state parks, sale of liquor, schools, lottery, or road work will commence. Worse case scenario, Detroit might be thrown into a catastrophe.

On the other hand, Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is stating that he will not allow the casinos here to close. Normally to me, he's a bumbling idiot, but I really have to side with him on this. There will be thousands who will lose their jobs if they close. On top of that, would the welfare offices even be open to help them?

I reflected as I ran errands early this morning. As I rode down Woodward, I could see a crater–one from the imminent, imaginary asteroid post-crash in the center of the city, smoke and ashes creeping slowly through the streets, and citizens who pretended it wasn't there. They had to. It was a matter of survival, taking things day by day. I could see neighbors lining up outside when their power went off in the building, making small talk and still smiling while they could. Waiting for a city worker who would never come, holding on to false hope like a security blanket.

I guess now, we wait to see what happens.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:14PM
Priest_Revan at 6:04PM, Sept. 22, 2007
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Well, isn't this a surprise?

Well, if the government does shut down, then I guess we're going to have to find out how well anarchy works.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:48PM
Puff_Of_Smoke at 6:20PM, Sept. 22, 2007
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This should be fun…
I
I have a gun. It's really powerful. Especially against living things.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:54PM
JoannaSlinky at 8:08PM, Sept. 22, 2007
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Perhaps I should sue you lot for getting my hopes up.

I see a link called “The government might be shutting down” and I click on it, and I find it totally fails to announce the closure of Gordon Brown's Neo-Blair gov't.

That sort of thing is tantamount to breach of contract, you know.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM
hat at 9:34PM, Sept. 22, 2007
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Yea the government infrastructure is collapsing. It's dying from the inside-out; it's only a matter of time before I take over and rename this United Hats of Amerihatica.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:45PM
KellyMarie at 5:19AM, Sept. 23, 2007
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To say “It's only Michigan” when you read this is just like saying “It's only Louisiana” when people first heard about Katrina. It still affected the nation's economy, in the end.

More info:

The impact of a state government shutdown

Driver's licenses

The Secretary of State's 150 branch offices could close.

Schools

Officials in at least 18 public school districts have said the districts would have to shut down if they don't receive their October state aid payments, which are supposed to be sent Oct. 22.

Liquor

Once inventories in stores are sold, customers would not be able to buy hard liquor.

Prisons and police

Prisons would remain open and fully staffed. State Police patrols likely would be reduced.

Road repairs

139 road and bridge projects would shut down.

The environment

Permits would not be issued; no regulation of incoming freighters to enforce new law on ballast discharge.

Local communities

Cities, townships and counties across Michigan would miss revenue-sharing and public transit payments.

Casinos and gambling

The Michigan Gaming Control Board would close Detroit's three casinos; the state Lottery also could be shut down.

State parks

The Department of Natural Resources might have to close state parks, but it would keep a small law enforcement presence in the field during the archery deer season that opens Oct. 1 to prevent poaching and other violations.

The newspaper just updated with this story. I think a lot of people are beginning to panic. Hell, I am. The thing is, I'm worried about another riot. I think a lot of people are.

Detroit used to be this city were TONS of people lived, worked, and shopped. The first riots that happened back in ‘67 turned Detroit into what it is now, where no one really walks down the sidewalk anymore. On Sundays, the city looks like a veritable ghost town.

Another breakdown in government would possibly result in a larger riot than what has already happened. I live inside the city, so next week I’ll be checking on possibilities of transferring to another college campus if it gets that bad.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:14PM
DAJB at 5:26AM, Sept. 23, 2007
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JoannaSlinky
Perhaps I should sue you lot for getting my hopes up.

I see a link called “The government might be shutting down” and I click on it, and I find it totally fails to announce the closure of Gordon Brown's Neo-Blair gov't.

That sort of thing is tantamount to breach of contract, you know.
Except … the UK government is technically shut down at the moment, isn't it?

Don't all the MPs swan off on holiday at this time of year, not to return until the Queen re-opens Parliament in November? I think that's how it works.

It's a long time since I wore my “Civil War: I'm with Guy Fawkes!” badge.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
lothar at 5:47AM, Sept. 23, 2007
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maybe you should have said which government was shutting down in the title of the thread, i had no idea what this was about until i got about halfway through the opening post
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
KellyMarie at 4:20PM, Sept. 23, 2007
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No. I actually did that for a reason. I wanted to see how many selfish “Oh, it's not in my neck of the woods so I don't care” replies I would get with that title.

People are always okay with violence and death as long as it doesn't affect them. We're okay with Iraq and reading about it, as long as America isn't invaded. Even the suburbanites here are only so concerned, because they live in the suburbs and wouldn't have to worry about riots in their neighborhood. It's just the city, it's just the urban dwellers. Who cares what happens to them?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:14PM
KellyMarie at 7:08PM, Sept. 23, 2007
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http://freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID…NEWS03/70923044

The lawmakers finally took a hint and did what they were supposed to do.

I'm relieved and angry. Relieved, mainly because I don't have to worry about angry mobs anymore. But I'm angry, because even when I called people and told them about what was happening, they seemed as if they didn't care. The only people who really were up in arms about this were those who lived within the city limits.

Why? Why does this happen? Why do people not care about something unless it begins to affect them also? (When I say “people”, I mean in general.) What happened with Katrina? People stood by and watched, for the most part. For the first few days, it was “Oh, it's just over there.” And then when refugees were sent to various cities, it became, "Oh, so this really is the nation's problem“. I wrote ”the government might be shutting down" on purpose, just to see how many people would lose interest when they realized they would not be directly affected. It's only in Darfur. It's only in Iraq. We don't have things like that happening where we live.

But in the end, something like this really is everyone's problem. Ignoring it only makes it worse.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:14PM
Armagedon at 12:41AM, Sept. 27, 2007
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thats just the way some people are sometimes. You really have to kick people in the butt just to get them take notice of something, let along get em to do anything about it.

I would say that it amazes me that people work towards fixing the piece of junk we call an a government in the US, but due to the fact that I dont vote (yes… i need to get registered so i can officially complain about this), I “shouldn't complain,” as others would say.

The biggest issue i see has to deal exactly with what was stated in that first article.. the media. If a senator or house member knows they will look bad to TV land if they vote for or against something, than they simply wont do it. Because of this, it makes it incredibly the our government to make any decisions, and when one is made on before a deadline (and not 8 months after like the state and federal budget often goes through) its like a miracle.

>< man politicians irritate me sometimes….
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:02AM
TitanOne at 6:29PM, Oct. 17, 2007
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Stop toying with us. You know the government isn't going anywhere.

Unfortunately.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:30PM
okamimako at 3:58AM, Oct. 26, 2007
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Perhaps we're moving towards a world where there is no government…?

If you look at history, governments all move almost en masse towards one direction; first tribel counsels, the monarchy/dictatorship, then a democracy-type thing (highly summarized, of course). Maybe the destruction of the central government is next?

And, for the excerpt in the first post, I skimmed it mostly because I felt as though I knew most of it (I probably don't, though…), and the thing that caught my eye is senators loosing their chance at reelection. I have never figured out why that was important. Are the people that are elected to work in the government only worth something if they're elected more than once? Everybody seems to think that it's more important to win a popularity contest than it is to run our country. Not everything the people want is good for the country, yet that's all what the senators (and everybody else) is supporting just to get reelected.

And I've actually mused a little bit on an anarchist society. After all the destruction that's bound to happen in the wake of the collapse of the government, I think that anarchy could actually work, only if supported with extreme capitalism. Granted, I'm a natural optimist, so I'm assuming that everything will balance out to counteract people taking advantage of it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:21PM
trevoramueller at 8:58AM, Oct. 26, 2007
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Yay, Michigan sucks at budgeting…again.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 4:33PM
nighthawk41 at 1:22PM, Oct. 26, 2007
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hat
Yea the government infrastructure is collapsing. It's dying from the inside-out; it's only a matter of time before I take over and rename this United Hats of Amerihatica.
I'm voting you into office
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:16PM
horseboy at 2:06PM, Oct. 26, 2007
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TitanOne
Stop toying with us. You know the government isn't going anywhere.

Unfortunately.
Yeah, that's my opinion on this. Whenever I hear about stuff like this I just mark it up to political show boating. I never really think they'd follow through with it. Then people would find out how little they actually need them, and they can't have that, now can they.
There is no such word as “alot”. “A lot” is two words.
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Never seek for happiness, it will merely allude the seeker. Never strive for knowledge, it is beyond man's scope. Never think, for in though lies all the ills of mankind. The wise man, like the rat, the crocodile, the fly, merely fulfills his natural function.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:50PM
Phantom Penguin at 1:46PM, Nov. 27, 2007
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Oh god. In a state with leaders like Granholm and Kilpatrick Michigan was doomed years ago. I was born in Oakland county, normally consitered a better place to live, over my life (17 years of it, the last few I have spent abroad) there it went from being suburbia hell, to just being hell. With things like the Wixom auto plant closing down and the UAW making auto workers get EVEN MORE money for doing simple jobs nothing in the state is getting better! 7.8% of our population is jobless, we are going to break records at this rate.

And what happens in ‘06? WE RE-ELECT BOTH OF THOSE IDIOTS. Honestly, I saw this coming. I swear we Michiganders can’t seem to elect anyone that knows how to budget, the old fix-all of throwing money at the problem wont work this time!
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:42PM
TitanOne at 4:34PM, Nov. 27, 2007
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okamimako
Perhaps we're moving towards a world where there is no government…?

If you look at history, governments all move almost en masse towards one direction; first tribel counsels, the monarchy/dictatorship, then a democracy-type thing (highly summarized, of course). Maybe the destruction of the central government is next?


Actually Democracies tend to slide quickly into dictatorships.

If we must have government, it should be small government based on the rule of Law. Democracy is the rule of Men. The logical extension of the rule of Men is gradual disintegration of human rights as they are voted out of existence one by one. It is also de-evolution into an imperial system, like that of our current Unitary Executive.
If we don't return quickly to a constitutional model, the future of America is despotism.

Rome essentially followed that model–first a lawful Republic, then democracy, then despotism.

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a
permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until
the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from
the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for
the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury,
with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose
fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

“The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning
of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these
nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage ”

-Alexander Tytler

last edited on July 14, 2011 4:30PM
Mister Mxyzptlk at 12:39PM, Nov. 28, 2007
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horseboy
Whenever I hear about stuff like this I just mark it up to political show boating.

Just like when Clinton let the fed shut down. All they did was shut down the stuff people liked. The CIA kept torturing people, the FBI kept eavesdropping on political enemies, the IRS kept auditing… Those workers who did stay home got their full pay anyhow, it's not like any money was saved.
My soul was removed to make room for all this sarcasm.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:04PM

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