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Which side were your lawmakers on?
By Jack McHugh, Jan. 3, 2018

Supporters of free markets had little to cheer for based on what Michigan’s 99th Legislature did in 2017. There were certainly positives – such as public school pension reform – but lawmakers also indulged in a corporate-welfare potlatch party. Here’s a round-up.

House Bill 4001, (Don’t) cut the state income tax rate by 0.2 percentage points

Twelve Republican members of the Michigan House set the tone by defeating a modest income tax cut that would have reduced the current rate of 4.25 percent to 4.05 percent. The damage was compounded when Republican Gov. Rick Snyder chose to publically thank these 12 members for their votes to prevent a tax cut. With this action, the prospect of achieving any significant pro-growth reforms in this 99th Michigan Legislature largely evaporated, to be replaced by an explosion of cronyism and corporate welfare.

Senate Bill 111, Redistribute $1.0 billion from state taxpayers to Dan Gilbert and other big developers

With income tax cuts off the table, lawmakers reverted to giving handouts to a privileged few. Detroit developer Dan Gilbert lobbied hard for his share and scored big. As introduced, the bill would have let Gilbert and possibly a few other developers simply pocket the income tax they withhold from their own employees (plus some other revenues). This was bit too transparent, so the final bill shuffles the money through Lansing first before handing it back to the developers. A few weeks after the vote, Forbes Magazine declared Gilbert the richest man in Michigan.

Senate Bill 242, Redistribute $200 million from state taxpayers to iPhone maker

Michigan lawmakers joined colleagues in other states in bending over backward to offer handouts to a Taiwan-based company that makes iPhones. Taking a page from SB 111, this one would let Foxconn essentially pocket up to $200 million worth of income taxes paid by its employees. The bill was also worded in a way that potentially would allow more firms to get in on the scheme.

Senate Bill 469, Give some developers tax breaks for rehabbing “historic” structures

When he ran for governor in 2010, Rick Snyder’s top priority was reforming Michigan’s economically destructive business tax. In 2011 the Legislature passed and Snyder signed a sweeping overhaul of Michigan’s income tax for both businesses and individuals. Among many changes, this eliminated a variety of special income tax exemptions and deductions benefitting certain developers, nonprofits and individuals.

But like water flowing downhill, cronyism tends to expand in legislative bodies, as illustrated by a number of bill introductions and at least one vote to bring back the special privileges repealed in 2011. The vote was by the Senate on a bill to grant certain developers tax breaks and outright cash subsidies for rehab projects deemed by local and state corporate welfare officials to involve a “historic” structure – a form of handout that had been scotched by Snyder’s 2011 reform.

House Bill 4207, Subsidize some grocery stores in cities

This one was promoted as misguided social engineering, not “economic development,” but it’s no more likely to achieve its purported goals than the big corporate welfare bills. To address alleged food deserts in urban areas, the bill would earmark between $1 and $2 million annually to be divvied among a few urban grocery store and delicatessen owners. Specifically, stores that sell unprocessed or fresh meat, fruits and vegetables or dairy products would qualify. In fine cronyist fashion, protectionist language was added prohibiting subsidies for new stores opening within a mile of a competitor.

Coincidentally, in the same month the bill was signed into law, a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that such measures are unlikely to have any impact on nutrition. The poor dietary habits of low-income households are, it said, largely explained by differences in “education, nutrition knowledge, and regional preferences” – not the supposed unavailability of fresh food.

House Bill 5013, Auto insurance reform

Michigan House Republicans took yet another run at reforming the state’s no-fault auto insurance system, which forces motorists here to purchase the most expensive coverage in the nation and makes insurance unaffordable for far too many.

The proposed bill would have given vehicle owners the option of purchasing less-than-unlimited personal injury protection benefits. It also would restrict the power of hospitals to gouge insurers – and through them, every vehicle owner – for the cost of treating crash victims.

Never mind the demagoguery about making the currently unlimited personal injury coverage optional (and still the nation’s most generous coverage), the real force against this bill was state’s hospital lobby. Big Hospital perhaps became the state’s most powerful special interest after the 2013 Legislature voted to accept the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. That move brought approximately $4 billion in annual “free” federal dollars that now flow to Michigan hospitals.

Senate Bill 335, Accommodate “Citizens United” ruling; authorize “super-PACs”

Finally, some good stuff actually passed. In 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that politicians may not restrict political free speech if the speaker is a corporation, a category that includes many nonprofits organized by individuals motivated by political beliefs. One consequence of the ruling was an explosion at the federal level of so-called “super-PACs,” which can engage in political speech that is not “express advocacy.” These organizations are not subject to spending limits or compelled to disclose the names of contributors. In 2017 Michigan lawmakers accepted the premise by inserting essentially the same provision into this state’s complex campaign finance regulatory regime.

House Bill 4999, Ban local food and beverage taxes

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made headlines by banning sugary soft drinks served in containers larger than 16 ounces. Subsequently, some communities around the country enacted local soft drink taxes. Some local politicians in Michigan apparently liked the idea, and it seemed just a matter of time before nanny-state local governments here followed suit. In a notably expeditious process, legislation preempting local taxes on food and beverages was introduced in late September and signed into law by Halloween.

Senate Bill 401, Reform School Pension System

By the start of 2017, unfunded taxpayer liabilities in Michigan’s state-run school pension system had soared $4.3 billion higher than when the Legislature enacted a faux-reform in 2012. This development undercut the credibility of those insisting that the status quo system was sound and sustainable, and strengthened the hand of legislative leaders who felt misled by some reform opponents inside state government.

Last year’s legislative product was messy and more complicated than it should have been, but it nevertheless appears to get the pension-reform job done. Starting next month, 401(k) accounts (with generous employer contributions) will be the default for new school employees. New hires who select a traditional defined benefit version will be on the hook themselves for future underfunding, which makes it unlikely that many will choose this option.

Permission to reprint this blog post in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author (or authors) and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy are properly cited. Permission to reprint any comments below is granted only for those comments written by Mackinac Center policy staff.

By David Prentice January 8, 2018

The left indeed has become a family. Unfortunately, it often resembles the Gotti crime family (hat tip: Larry Schweikart).

Let's face it: Republicans have their share of corruption, but what the left has become is not tinged with the normal shortcomings of humanity. It's become criminal.

Literally. Fully. And seriously.

Let's look at a few shades of leftist criminality. I don't mean the common finger-pointing, where leftists claim that anything done by the center-right is "criminal." Like being for tax cuts. Being pro-life. Or against illegal immigration. Voting for Trump was criminal. The left thinks anyone to its right is criminal.

But most sane people know that's not true. It's hyperbole for the sake of cowing those who hold differing opinions. It's a political smear writ large – and, might I say, projection. Leftist often accuse others of doing what they do. Not only does it help them feel better about themselves, but it's a strategy to gain and hold power over others.

In itself, that mindset isn't essentially criminal. Maybe you could say it's a shade of gray or misdemeanor. But therein lies the first step on the road to where they ended up. They begin by stepping across a line, and they wake up fully criminal. Let's follow the path downward.

The early Clinton escapades weren't the outcome of being Boy Scouts. Using political influence to do a land deal in Arkansas, or to gain $100,000 in the commodity market for being the governor's wife, was a pretty good sign of who they are – as were Bill's early sexual predations and Hillary's early persecution of the women he used.

The thuggishness of Barack was clear early on. There was his land deal, wherein he enriched himself with Tony Rezko in Chicago. All his political wins came by nefariously taking out his political opponents rather than beating them fairly in the arena of ideas. Everyone should have known.

They all got away with their less than honest early deals but were awarded more power as a result of their nefarious actions. The left loved their ability to lie as they skated through the finish line unscathed.

The next big step up the ladder for the Clintons was becoming president. Posing as the married version of Jimmy Stewart playing Mr. Smith, they simply dug into the seediest side of politics. Having succeeded in the small pay-to-play of Arkansas, they let it all loose on Washington, D.C.

The Clintons were the ones to begin the full politicization of the DOJ. Remember when they fired every single attorney at the DOJ, replacing them with their own loyalists? That was 1993. Our cheerleading leftist media said nothing. After all, they were kindred souls staying silent in the face of shared corruption. Then there was the matter of the famous FBI files the Clintons pilfered, the secret files that illegally gave them dirt (and leverage) on their political opponents. Yeah, Bill, "a bureaucratic snafu." And no, that's not what it was. It was simply aggrandizement of criminal power.

They would go on to trading secrets of rocket technology to the Chinese for political donations – a deal that would advance Chinese missile capacity twenty years overnight. I remember Tim Russert pleading on Meet the Press" for the media to start reporting because "this was really happening." Well, they got away with that, too – along with a host of other illegal and nasty activities.

Barack had his share of shady dealings once he hit D.C., but was a bit more circumspect in hiding what he was doing. Nurtured under the Chicago political machine, the master school of pay-to-play politics, everyone should have known the kind of corrupt monster he was. Instead, he convinced boatloads of people, and a gullible, like-minded media, that he was some kind of light-worker who healed the Earth.

Under that guise, he was scorching the earth.

He began his funneling of money to leftist causes right away with his "stimulus package," stimulating and filling the coffers of his pay-to-playmates. Many of his bundlers simply took money, as they did in the Solydra solar deal, absconding with millions of dollars and producing nothing. His union leaders scored tons of money. As the rest of the U.S. floundered, his already well heeled donors were paid handsomely from this illicit mess. To this day, we don't know where most of that money went. Uncle Joe Biden just turned a blind eye. And no one suffered for his ugly, illegal collusion to steal from the public trough.

Contrary to media and Democratic Parry claims, St. Barack didn't have a scandal-free presidency. Far from it – most of it was nothing but scandal, unreported by the fawning press. It was a time period where the media refused to call out the obvious and many scandals for what they were. Let's just say they were kindred souls, fellow travelers, the media and St. Barack. Friends and bundlers receiving money for nothing.

Fast and Furious. The IRS targeting. The weaponizing of the bureaucracies. Just to name a few. Heck, if a leftist political fact-check site calls your Obamacare lie the "lie of the year," it had to be the lie of the century.

Make no mistake: the Clinton-Obama axis was criminal already, pay-to-play was their M.O., and they had gotten away with it for years.

Let's fast-forward to the heavy stuff. And this is the stuff that is darkly criminal, no shades of gray here.

The Clinton Foundation. Clearly, they enriched themselves with pay-to-play schemes. The reports of Hillary's dealings as secretary of state with those who paid the Clinton Foundation are legion. Documents upon documents introducing themselves to Madame Secretary were earmarked by a staffer "FOB." This was the sign of favor, the way to get to see her, the way to get favors in return. You had to be a donor. FOB, indeed.

Uranium One, the Mother of All Scandals, is typical. This was a matter of one hundred fifty million dollars, mysteriously donated by Russian interests, who benefited after all the parties in the U.S. government signed off. Bill's speaking fees in Moscow were Over 600K per speech – double his normal pay-to-play fee.

The Trump Dossier. Paid for by the Hillary campaign. Used as a pretense to spy on the Trump campaign. Used as a pretense for the so-called collusion case.

All of this is deeply criminal – nor gray, lacking even the slightest hint of another explanation. And we now know that all these cases are being investigated and have been for months. We now know there are four separate criminal cases being investigated with Clinton involvement.

St. Barack? He's been having a great time partying with the Hollywood moguls, all the while thinking his breee-illiant "insurance" plan to get rid of Trump was on.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum: all his fellow travelers are being outed. The cadre of FBI agents and DOJ political partisans: Strzok, McCabe, Ohr, Comey, Brennan, and so many others are being outed for their own forms of, yes, criminality. Helping with the phony Steele Trump dossier while you are high up at the FBI or DOJ is criminal. Going to the FISA courts to unmask Trump campaign associates based on the dossier is criminal. Turning over that information to other higher-ups in the Obama administration – that's criminal. This is the kind of thing that happens in totalitarian regimes.

For all those who have been asking where Jeff Sessions has been, let me say he's been thankfully quiet. He's gotten a lot of ill deserved negativity. But he's a busy man. As you can see, so many investigations, so little time. Likewise, the Republican investigating committees are now doing their part. And Judicial Watch. God bless them all.

Sean Hannity calls this the year of the boomerang.

I'm calling it the year of the sting. The chickens are coming home to roost. Most of these people are going to jail. They committed criminal acts.

It took four years to dot the Is and cross the Ts to put away John Gotti. It may take that long again, but it's happening, and happening as I write. As we sit here, the Democrats are suddenly running from the Trump dossier. They're all spinning with flushed faces, trying to excuse (or more often ignore) the criminality of their heroes. The evidence is accumulating. They are beginning to whine about a "political investigation." To all of you leftists who will be running away, it's not political; it was actually criminal. And you let it happen with your dewy-eyed worship. As you pointed fingers, criminality was being done by your side.

We don't know a lot of the details, but the greatest political sting in history is ongoing. It's been dripping out for over a month and will continue to do so. It's going to be epic. And it will devastate the Democratic Party and its base.

But America will rejoice. Criminals are going to be brought to their knees.

Reprinted with permission from the American thinker:


The Sunrise Side Republican Women's Club holds monthly meetings on the 4th Monday of the month.  The location and speaker will be announced for each meeting.  Unless otherwise stated, the lunch will be at 11:30 a.m.

The officers are:  Linda Glomski,  President, 739-7170, Coletta Marvin, Vice President, 820-0230, Rachel McCready, Secretary, 362-2337, and Tessa Weed, Treasurer, 916-6905.

Don't forget, dues were due in January, they remain the same at $20. You can send dues and correspondence to SSRWC P.O. Box 234 Tawas City, MI 48764. As always articles of interest and club news can be found at our Facebook page Sunrise Side Republican Women's Club.

The next business meeting will be April 23, 2018.

The public is welcome and invited.



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