MI Morning Update: God Bless America - SEIU Wrapped up in Blago Scandal - MI Unemployment Rate Hits 9.6%

685 Days until Election Day

December 18, 2008



"The public’s trust of politicians and government is at an all-time low and political leaders must work to restore the public’s trust.  It would send a strong message that the old way of politics is over if every Member of Congress to receive this tainted money simply gave it back."

– Saul Anuzis, in response the SEIU’s role in the "pay to play" scandal


GOD BLESS AMERICA…as I was catching my flight from Dallas to Detroit, a group of young soldiers walked up to the counter to get their boarding passes.  A gentleman with several children approached the young men, thanked them and brought them over to the food court and bought them dinner as a gesture of appreciation and kindness.  He spotted another walking by and pulled him in as well.  As they got their meals, he just paid and walked away saying "thanks for all you do".  Wow, nothing better exemplifies Reagan’s concept of American exceptionalism.

SEIU’S HAND IN BLAGOJEVICH’S ‘PAY TO PLAY’ GAME TAINTS POLITICAL PROCESS…yesterday I called on U.S. Senators and Members of Congress to return the more than $2.1 million in campaign contributions they received during the 2008 election cycle from the Service Employees International Union, a group under increasing suspicion in the federal corruption case against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The public is fed up with corrupt politicians and the special interest groups looking to curry favor with them.  The ‘pay-to-play’ game, in which Governor Blagojevich and the SEIU have participated, represents the worst kind of violation of public trust. The only way for officeholders who are recipients of SEIU donations to assure voters that they reject this practice is to give the money back.

MI UNEMPLOYMENT JUSTS TO 9.6%… Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 9.6 percent in November, according to figures released by the Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth.  The rate was the highest in the state since March 1992.

KENT COUNTY GOP…elects its leadership for the next cycle: Joanne Voorhees Chair and Chris Beckering Vice Chair.

MACOMB COUNTY GOP…elects new leadership for the next cycle: Jared Maynard Chair and Philis DeSaele Vice Chair.





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Chrysler to idle all plants; 9 Ford sites on planned shutdown

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News

Chrysler LLC, responding to a severe sales slump, tight credit and urgent need to preserve cash, will idle all of its North American manufacturing operations for at least 30 days beginning this Friday. And Ford Motor Co. has a planned shutdown affecting nine of its North American assembly plants for an extra week in January due to the slumping U.S. auto market, under previously announced plans to trim first quarter output. A tenth Ford facility, Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, is down for retooling.

Ford’s annual two-week holiday shutdown continues through Jan. 12 at all operating assembly plants except those in Claycomo, Mo., near Kansas City, and the automaker’s Dearborn, Mich., truck plant. Those two plants build the new F-150 pickup, Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner and will resume production on Jan. 5. Ford will also align production at some engine, transmission and stamping plants, or idle portions of them to match downtime at assembly plants.

Chrysler’s U.S. sales have slumped 28 percent this year — the biggest drop among major automakers. Ford’s sales have dropped 19 percent. And the outlook for industry sales in 2009 remains weak in the wake of the ongoing recession.

Would auto aid sustain legacy or delay reality?

Don’t let GOP destroy what UAW built: standard of living, political movements

Harold Meyerson

In 1949, a pamphlet was published that argued that the American auto industry should pursue a different direction. Titled "A Small Car Named Desire," the pamphlet suggested that Detroit not put all its bets on bigness, that a substantial share of American consumers would welcome smaller cars that cost less and burned fuel more efficiently.

The pamphlet’s author was the research department of the United Auto Workers.

By the standards of the postwar UAW, there was nothing exceptional about "A Small Car Named Desire." In its glory days, under the leadership of Walter Reuther, the UAW was the most farsighted institution — not just the most farsighted union — in America. "We are the architects of America’s future," Reuther told the delegates at the union’s 1947 convention, where his supporters won control of what was already the nation’s leading union.

Best Auto Plan: Bankruptcy Terms Minus Bankruptcy

By Mort Kondracke

A majority of Americans oppose an auto bailout, but you can be sure that they will be even more unhappy if an auto collapse deepens the already-deepening Great Recession.

Even if most Congressional Republicans are determined to have the Detroit auto companies go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy and reorganization, the Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration are convinced it would be a bad idea.

Sixty percent of Americans, according to a Washington Post poll, think that bankruptcy would make no difference or would be good for the economy.

How to kill a Michigan business tax

Here’s the bad news: There are no easy answers to solve the state’s looming $400 million shortfall.

But the good news is, there’s an obvious way to slay the much-maligned Michigan Business Tax surcharge. The Legislature rushed this 19.99 percent levy on top of the new MBT late last year in the frenzy to dump the service tax, which was deemed even worse.

The surcharge is now the bane of business owners’ existence, with 9 percent telling the Michigan Chamber of Commerce they’re considering leaving the state over it.

Senate Republicans have passed legislation killing the surcharge and promise to balance the budget with magical budget cuts yet to be revealed. While that might make Chamber members feel warm and fuzzy inside, it’s akin to doing nothing because there’s no deal with the governor or Democratic House.

Smoking ban reaches 11th hour

Lawmakers also will discuss Cobo, tax credits for battery technology in year’s final legislative session.

Gary Heinlein / Detroit News Lansing Bureau

LANSING — Wrangling among lawmakers resumes this morning in an eleventh-hour effort to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and other workplaces — one of several key pieces of legislation dangling by a thread on the final day of the 2008 legislative session.

From expansion of Detroit’s Cobo Center to tax credits for new battery technology, important issues could keep lawmakers at the Capitol late tonight, or even into Friday.

More will happen in backrooms than on the House and Senate floors, as the leaders try one final time to resolve their differences over major bill packages while dozens of lesser measures sail through with little or no comment.

Granholm says she’ll stay, but Obama team looks at Schwarz


LANSING — Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants to keep her job in Michigan and not join President-elect Barack Obama’s administration.

"The governor has made it clear she does not want to be considered for an appointment at this time," spokeswoman Elizabeth Boyd said.

It’s the strongest statement Granholm, midway through her second term, has made on a possible job with Obama.

The Elephant in the Room: Republicans need a new leader

By Rick Santorum

The American electorate has taken the Republican Party to the woodshed for a beating the past two election cycles. Suffice it to say I’m personally familiar with the inside of that woodshed.

Many factors have contributed to my party’s going down to defeat time and again: an unpopular war, ethical scandals, and a budget deficit that grew for both good (9/11 response) and bad reasons (bridges to nowhere).

But the most important factor may be our failure to articulate who we are as a party. In short, what do Republicans stand for, and how do we communicate that today?


Ill. high court rejects challenge to Blagojevich’s fitness for job

Christopher Wills / Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to hear a claim that Gov. Rod Blagojevich is unfit to serve, erasing what could have been the quickest path to forcing him out of office as he faces federal charges.

Meanwhile, an attorney for the governor signaled that another path — impeachment — won’t be easy. Ed Genson told the state House panel deciding whether to recommend impeachment that there’s no evidence to back up claims that Blagojevich demanded kickbacks in exchange for a Senate appointment, and he dismissed the secretly recorded conversations that form the heart of the criminal case as "people jabbering."

Genson also sharply challenged the panel itself, saying some members should be removed because they’ve clearly already made up their minds.

Why History Can’t Wait

By David Von Drehle

Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008

You probably sat in a fancier conference room the last time you refinanced or heard a pitch about life insurance. There’s a table, some off-brand mesh office chairs, a bookcase that looks as if it had been put together with an Allen wrench and instructions in Swedish.

To reach this room, you pass through a cubicle farm lightly populated by quiet young people. Either they have just arrived or they are just leaving, because their desks are almost bare. The place has a vaguely familiar feel to it, this air of transient shabbiness and nondescriptitude. You can’t quite put your finger on it …

Obama plans $1 trillion economic jolt

Experts suggest economy needs much higher cash infusion than $600M first envisioned to recover.

Jim Kuhnhenn / Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Anxious to jolt the economy back to life, President-elect Barack Obama is considering a federal stimulus package of between $850 billion and $1 trillion, dwarfing last spring’s tax rebates and rivaling drastic government actions to fight the Great Depression.

While he has not settled on a total figure, Obama appears to be zeroing in on a package of about $850 billion. After consulting with outside economists of all political beliefs, his advisers have begun telling Congress that any stimulus bill should be bigger than the $600 billion Obama initially envisioned, congressional officials said Wednesday.

Obama is promoting a recovery plan that would feature spending on roads and other infrastructure projects, energy-efficient government buildings, new and renovated schools and environmentally friendly technologies.