Michigan's Lame Duck Sneak Attack on....Michigan

Now that the November election is over and all the votes are counted, people are trying to get back to regular living and enjoying as much of the holidays as the current fiscal climate will accommodate - often not that much.

But in Michigan at least, the GOP is taking revenge on voters for having the temerity to re-elect President Obama, repeal Public Act 4 (Michigan's Emergency Manager as Dictator Law) and engage a vote to enshrine the right to collective bargaining in the Michigan Constitution.

Yesterday, several bills were introduced into the "Lame Duck" session of Michigan's Legislature and with what has become typical GOP rule bending, rule breaking and outright illegalities - including secret meetings, surprise votes and locking the public out of their own House of Representatives (including the now requisite arrests and pepper-spraying of law abiding citizens) to punish Michigan voters for defying the wishes of Corporate America and the politicians who serve them.

Michigan's Amy Kerr Hardin writes about Michigan politics for the Michigan Blog, Democracy Tree and the Voters Legislative Transparency Project.

She has graciously agreed to let me repost her writings here.

I'm sure the two following articles from yesterday and today will excite you about her work.

Thank you Amy.

ALEC’s Fiscal Policies Get a Failing Grade in Major Analysis

Five years ago — at the height of the disastrous Bush-era fiscal policy of spend-and-spend on war-after-war, as our nation teetered on the event horizon of the housing bubble black hole, when the media was distracted with the business of scaring people shitless about dying a hideous lonely death from the bird flu — along came Arthur Laffer and ALEC with their Rich States, Poor States index…
Step right up folks, get a load of fiscal bullshit that will destroy your state economies right here!
…Or as Good Jobs First and The Iowa Policy Project prefer to call it: “Selling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperity”. (Nov. 2012)
Bad Medicine, indeed.
Mr. Laffer and ALEC, the legislative tee-shirt cannon of MacGuffin bills for conservative lawmakers, apparently fared rather poorly under the microscope of honest scholarly research as to the fallout of their right-wing public policies wherever tragically put in practice. Not surprising, given the Tea Party tippage of so many state legislatures and their laissez faire attitude towards gaining any useful knowledge on the subject of public sector fiscal policy– of any kind. By way of example in Michigan, representatives are limited to three 2-year terms, and if re-elected, that means terming-out after a mere six years. So, even if they possessed the will, and at least a dolphin-brained capacity to learn, which they generally don’t either, none would even find the time between campaigns – being too busy frantically whoring -up to their corporate friends with benefits.
The Selling Snake Oil to the States Report simply eviscerates the magically-conjured ALEC index point by point. They found the ”research” behind the ALEC/Laffer index to be of shockingly shoddy workmanship. Ignoring the vast body of research available, ALEC instead resorted to citing anecdotes and making ridiculously broad and unsubstantiated claims with a systematic failure to control for the most obvious relevant factors…“the [ALEC] report repeatedly engages in methodologically primitive analysis that any college student taking Statistics 101 would be taught to avoid.”
Let’s touch on the most notable flaws found in the ALEC index, (although admittedly, it appears western mathematical principles may not accommodate such a daunting task, let’s just give it the old college try…and I promise to work on some simple flash cards for our Tea Party friends later…).
The ALEC/Laffer index, devised in 2007, was designed to forecast how well a state’s economy would fare over time based on a set of 15 factors, which predictably include low and regressive taxation, limited government, “right to work” laws, no minimum wage, and low employee compensation.
The Good Jobs First/Iowa Policy Project analysis of the effectiveness of the ALEC/Laffer index found the following:
The claim that income growth would occur in states ranked the highest by ALEC turned out to be the exact opposite of what occurred. “The more state’s policies mirrored the ALEC low tax/regressive taxation/limited government agenda, the lower the median family income.” This was also reflected in higher poverty rates in highly ranked ALEC states.
ALEC was dead wrong in the assertion that lowering state and local taxes produces greater job growth. “In actuality, such taxes are such a tiny cost factor for businesses, and come with higher taxes on others or lower quality public services, that [the] strategy fails.”
Their claim of a correlation between low top personal income tax rates and the prosperity of small business was similarly a bunch of hogwash. In fact they missed the mark entirely: “Property and sales taxes — ignored by ALEC – Laffer – are far more important issues.”
ALEC wrongly insisted that high taxes on “job creators”, including estate and inheritance taxes, were driving businesses out of the state. “…in reality, migration has little to do with taxes, and there is no plausible case for state estate taxes affecting job-creating investment.”
Their laughable concept called the “Laffer Curve” falsely postulates that tax cuts magically uncork bubbling new revenue sources – boy was that a dry well. “…tax cuts reduce revenue and result in the defunding of  public goods such as education and infrastructure, which really do matter for economic development.”
ALEC’s index assumed that policies designed to keep wages low, including low or no minimum wage and “right to work” laws, would create jobs — again, they failed to pull that rabbit out of the hat. The analysis found that such laws only serve to “reduce wages and benefits but have little of no effect on job growth.”
The ALEC index actually turned-out to be a “decent predictor of how state per capita income will change — but in the opposite direction from what the report claims.” Ouch!
The rightfully scathing analysis concluded that the Rich States, Poor States flight of fiscal fancy was a ”recipe for economic inequality, wage suppression, and stagnant income, and for depriving state and local governments the revenue needed to maintain the public infrastructure and education systems that are the true foundations of long term economic growth and shared prosperity.”
Why are we not surprised?
Amy Kerr Hardin This article also appears in Voters Legislative Transparency Project

I highly recommend you take Amy up on her invitation to read the Selling Snake Oil to the States Report.

Michigan Lawmakers Offer Bunga Bunga Bill


Remember that old joke: Death or Bunga Bunga — in which a captive is asked by a tribal leader if he prefers death or bunga-bunga (gang rape)? The captive bravely replies “death”, and the leader says “okay, but first…bunga bunga!”
Michigan lawmakers are the tribe, with Snyder as their leader, and SB 865 is their “bunga bunga”. Michigan residents are about to get screwed, again, by their elected leaders. This lame duck bill is a new Emergency Manager law that purports to offer “choices” to stressed municipalities and school districts.
While Michigan’s unions and voters are distracted by the Right to Work law steamrolling through the House and Senate, the new Emergency Manager law is flying-in under the radar, along with HB 6004, the Educational Achievement Authority which guts the state’s public education system.
It is not without merit to speculate that the governor, who previously showed little interest in a Right to Work initiative, now finds it to be perfect cover for the two pieces of legislation he has been advocating all along – a replacement Emergency Manager law and an expansion and codification of his Education Emergency Manager and privatization program.
The new EM law quietly moved forward out of the House Local, Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs Committee yesterday. Cleverly named The Local Financial Stability and Choice Act, it provides little stability and even less “choice”. The governor retooled PA-4 and through a bit of semantic smoke and mirrors made it appear friendlier. Under the new law, stressed public bodies may choose from a limited menu of options: Chapter 9 bankruptcy, accept an Emergency Manager, consent agreement, or mediation. The new law additionally provides for at least one public meeting of the Financial Review Team prior to declaration of a financial emergency. Wow — how very democratic of them!
PA-4 had been an unconstitutional unfunded mandate, in that the city or school district had to bear the cost for the entire Emergency Manager apparatus forced upon them. This new law requires the state to pay for their dog and pony show, BUT…that has some pretty serious side-effects. First, it’s an appropriation, therefore the new law cannot be subject to referendum (which would be impossible anyhow because gathering a quarter million signatures within the first 90 days of 2013 just ain’t gonna happen folks). Second, under PA-4 smaller public bodies that could not “afford” their own il duce were ignored by the governor, but now that the state is footing the bill, we may see townships and villages affected. Small school districts that are struggling will simply be rolled into the Educational Achievement Authority, the new statewide district run by a “Chancellor” appointed by the governor.
Michigan, your choice is clear: Fascism or Bunga Bunga.
Amy Kerr Hardin This article also appears in Voters Legislative Transparency Project

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