Category: Prime Politics - Original Written by Rep. John Conyers Jr. and Philip L. Harvey
It has been five years since the financial crisis struck, and progress in putting the unemployed back to work still lags, with no end in sight. With almost 12 million Americans unemployed and millions more underemployed, we have waited long enough for government action. Listen to the stories of the unemployed, and you will realize that we are facing a national tragedy that we would never tolerate if it were caused by a natural disaster. The unemployed deserve swift action to address the devastation of unemployment.
During the calamity of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood the responsibility government bore to its citizens in a time of need. He recognized that it was unconscionable to allow millions of hardworking Americans to suffer while they waited for the economy to recover. Rather than stand idle in the face of such suffering, he created millions of temporary jobs for the jobless. They built roads and schools and parks. They filled schools with teachers and staffed public health projects. They preserved historic sites and brought music, drama and art to public spaces. They turned a national tragedy into a national revival.
Now is the time for us to implement similar job programs. It is time to put America back to work while we wait for the economy to complete its recovery — repairing America’s infrastructure and improving our communities in the process. We can pay for the jobs we need as we go along with a small tax on the financial sector whose excesses led us into this recession.
To do this, we support HR 1000, the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act. By advocating for this legislation, we intend to push Congress to take seriously the federal government’s responsibility to put Americans back to work, and we intend to show that it can be done without raising deficits. This 21st-century New Deal strategy, pioneered in programs like the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps, would create 3.1 million to 6.2 million full-time, market-wage jobs with health insurance benefits in the first two years of program operations, plus 1 million to 2 million private sector jobs from increased spending in the economy.
Over the longer run, this act is designed to eliminate the residual joblessness that burdens poor and disadvantaged workers, even in periods of general prosperity. Job vacancy data shows that our economy still suffers from a serious job shortage even when unemployment falls under 5 percent. Despite what many economists say, it is not full employment if there are not enough jobs available for everyone who wants to work. The Humphrey-Hawkins strategy would allow us to close this job gap without triggering the inflationary tendencies that constrain other job-creation strategies at such times.
This initiative would create several times as many jobs per stimulus dollar as alternative stimulus options, such as deficit spending and tax cuts. The jobs would also be created much faster and with a targeted focus where work is most needed. It also would provide American businesses with what they really need — paying customers with steady work. For those who want to see government assistance reduced or not given at all, making sure jobs are available for those who need them is the only solution.
We can put all Americas back to work under this legislation, with alternatives to austerity measures. HR 1000 is deficit-neutral. By imposing a modest financial transaction tax (FTT) on purchases and sales of securities, we would raise revenues projected to total between $110 billion and $220 billion annually. These funds would go into a dedicated trust fund to pay for job creation and job training. Similar transaction taxes are in place throughout the world, and just last year nearly a dozen more European countries adopted some type of FTT.
A thousand economists recently wrote G-20 finance ministers advocating for the adoption of similar FTT, exhibiting the growing consensus supporting these taxes. The federal government must act to put Americans back to work, and if the resistance is concern over increasing debt, instituting a FTT is the solution. It is time to recognize that the levies are so small and wealth in the markets so concentrated that it is only fair to ask Wall Street to pay its fair share to help put America back to work.
Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Philip L. Harvey is a professor of law and economics at Rutgers University.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 14:57
Category: Prime Politics - Original Written by Bankole Thompson/ senior editor
Mayoral candidate Mike Duggan is unrelenting in his opposition to authorities for Detroit.
Since his campaign for mayor began, Duggan has been opposing any publicly created bodies to oversee the city’s institutions like the health department, saying addressing the city’s difficult challenges should be left to the elected representatives of the city.
Duggan, the former CEO of the Detroit Medical Center in a crowded race for mayor that includes Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and a host of other candidates, said Detroit Police and Fire departments should not be placed under an authority.
“The move to the health institute was a mistake. I think the privatization of the job training program was a mistake, the streetlight authority at least gets you some bonding capacity,” Duggan said during a wide ranging interview with the Michigan Chronicle. “But I would hate to see the streetlight repair management be fragmentized. And I’m certainly very concerned that the police and fire not to be put into an authority because the voters of this city expect the next mayor to come in and get the police to show up and get the abandoned buildings down.”
Duggan said if Detroit’s emergency financial manager, Kevyn Orr, “fragments those authorities to ten different places, you are going to run to the mayor unable to perform his or her job. And I’ve very concerned about that.”
On the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), Duggan said, “I think we restructure to make it much more efficient. One of the things that is most troubling is to see the city of Flint go their own way. If we are not cost effective we are creating incentives for cities to get off the system.”
He said DWSD needs serious restructuring.
“I think we’ve got an obsolete job classification system. We’ve got too many people in some jobs and not enough people in other jobs,” Duggan said. “But that water system was built by the City of Detroit, is owned by the City of Detroit. We need to prove the efficiency ourselves and we stop the conversation about somebody else taking it over.”
The former Wayne County prosecutor also ripped the Belle Isle lease apart that would have allowed the state to run the park.
“As far as I was concerned there was nothing in the lease that required the state to build anything specific. So in my mind the lease itself was deficient,” Duggan said. “I don’t know a single business person that would have signed that lease. The state made a bunch of commitments in the newspaper. Those commitments were not guaranteed in the lease.”
Duggan compared the Belle Isle lease to the promise of revenue sharing for Detroit under former Republican governor John Engler.
“But if you look at what happened to this city on the revenue sharing guarantee, you had Gov. Engler promising to protect the city on revenue sharing cuts and three years later the city ends up getting screwed,” Duggan said. “I looked at the Belle Isle lease. There were a lot of promises and none of them were in the lease.”
Duggan believes that the city should create a fee to get on Belle Isle.
“I think the fee ought to be levied by the city council, collected by the city and every dollar spent on that island improve the island. There was no guarantee in what we were getting in exchange for the lease.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 14:43
Category: Prime Politics - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
By Bankole Thompson
CHRONICLE SENIOR EDITOR
Gov. Rick Snyder isn't that concerned right now about his re-election prospects. At least that is what the governor wants people to believe even as Democrats scramble to look for a suitable and stately candidate who can stake a claim on the state's highest office.
During an interview with the Michigan Chronicle preceding the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference, Snyder said returning to Lansing as chief executive officer in 2014 is not something he's focused on for the moment.
Instead, the state's top Republican said he wants to continue to make changes that he feels are necessary to move Michigan forward, including a recent school tour in Detroit with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
"That's not my primary concern. It's an honor being governor. I haven't announced I'm running again but as a practical matter I'm just focused on being a good governor and doing the right thing," Snyder said in response to whether he is concerned about his own re-election prospects as labor activists marshal resources against him in 2014 because of the passage of right-to-work law.
"And that's the way I've done from day one. We had to take on some tough issues, issues that have been around for a very long time and I think we've taken those on. We've had to ask for sacrifices, but Michigan is really turning around and we are focused on Detroit being a great city."
The governor said while the annual Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island organized by the Detroit Regional Chamber has been a success, it should continue to build a bridge between the west side of the state (Grand Rapids) and Southeast Michigan.
"They've done a very good job of helping bring people in the Detroit area together but also helping bring in a wider role for Michiganders together in terms of a vision," Snyder said.
"I think there's been a lot of improvements over the last two or three years. That's one of the positives of the Mackinac conference. The Detroit Regional Chamber has been very proactive if you look at the attendance from West Michigan, which is significant. I've had real state developers from Grand Rapids say they love what's going on in Detroit and we've had delegations from Detroit look at what's going on in Grand Rapids."
Snyder said the synergy is good for the region because "that's how you solve problems, by getting people talking, helping one another and learning from one another. We've made a huge amount of progress."
Democrats pounced on the governor recently when it was revealed that the newly created Education Achievement Authority of Michigan took a $6 million loan from the struggling Detroit Public Schools, which some education activists say was plain wrong.
Snyder dismissed the criticism from Democratic lawmakers in Lansing as overblown.
"EAA started from scratch. It came out of DPS. I thought it was great that DPS was cooperating, working with them and making sure they get a successful start to the school year and that they get a cash flow borrowing and those borrowing are being paid with interest," Snyder said.
On the Mackinac conference, Snyder said he wants to see the education and business sectors work more closely together on programs such as early childhood education, where kids can start learning at a very early age, and other initiatives that would make Michigan a 21st century global marketplace.
"I think that ties really well into the talent initiative. We are a place that make things. We should be selling our goods and services all over the world," Snyder said.
On Detroit's financial crisis and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, Snyder said, "I think things are going reasonably well. I think both in terms of Kevyn and the work he's been doing, he's moving things forward. We've had a good relationship with the mayor and the city council. I think the community in general seems to be fairly supportive of seeing better services in the city."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 18:44
Category: Prime Politics - Original Written by Carol Cain
One might think coming face-to-face with the grim reaper following a major auto accident where doctors told his family he had a 3 percent chance of survival might dramatically change someone. Not so for Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. At least not when it comes to his politics and his larger than life John Wayne-like personna. As for his priorities in life, well, that’s another matter.
The longest serving of the region’s “Big Four” political leaders, Patterson has steadfastly run Oakland as its county executive for over 20 years. He served 16 years as Oakland County prosecutor before that. The outspoken 73-year-old still packs a mighty powerful verbal punch as he travels to talk shows, newsroom editorial offices and others places from the wheelchair he uses to get around as he recovers. His injuries were massive with two broken legs, a broken hip, two broken wrists, major laceration on his forehead, broken ribs and more.
Patterson was a passenger in a car driven by Jim Cram, his driver, as it was t-boned at an intersection by another driver who ignored a traffic signal that fateful afternoon last August. Cram remains hospitalized and is now a quadriplegic.
Patterson was kept in a medically induced coma for 18 days as he weathered painful surgeries. He faced intense and grueling rehab which continues today with sessions at least three days a week. He had hoped to walk by now unassisted by a wheelchair or cane. But his hip injury was so bad doctors feared putting him through another surgery at the time. They patched his hip knowing it would need to replaced when he was stronger. Patterson hopes to walk once that surgery takes place in six or eight months. Though in constant pain, he won’t let himself complain. “All I have to do is think of Jimmy in that hospital bed and it puts things in perspective,” he said.
The man known for his quick wit and sometimes sharp tongue has never been one to run from a fight. Showing his sense of humor, at his annual birthday bash in January he gave out bottles of wine with a label that showed a photo of him with someone saying “he looks good” and his response, “I went on a crash diet.”
Indeed he lost some 40 pounds during the saga. Life sometimes has a way of forcing even larger than life figures to regroup once in a while.
Like when Patterson lost his beloved 28-year-old son, Brooksie, in a snowmobile accident where he was hit by another several years ago. He also lost his twin brother, a nephew, a good friend who was killed along with his two children in a plane crash. Each time tragedy struck, Patterson has done what comes naturally to him — he makes lemonade out of the lemons life has dealt.
The Brooksie Way is a half marathon named after his son that raises money and gives grants to organizations helping people live healthier. Patterson also started the Rainbow Connection in memory of his friend and two children who died in that plane crash. It has granted wishes to over 2,500 very sick children.
With so much drama, one might think he’d be ready for just about anything. Admittedly the fallout from his auto accident has tested him in ways he could never have imagined. For an impatient Type A personality who doesn’t like to wait, it’s meant recalibrating his entire life as he needs help moving around or going to the other side of the room to get a book. It’s because he travels in a wheelchair and would need to climb into horse drawn carriages while on Mackinac Island that Patterson decided against attending the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Policy Conference for the first time in 20 years. His doctors told him he should not go.
“I’ll miss the networking that takes place and the comraderie,” he said.
He’ll also miss taking part in the “Big Four” with Mayor Dave Bing, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. It started as an annual event at the Chamber’s policy conference decades ago. With Patterson’s absence, the “Big Four” was cancelled.
Though he won’t be on the island, we had a chance to talk about a number of issues after taping “Michigan Matters” where Patterson has been a regular panelist on the Emmy winning show since its debut eight years ago (it airs 11:30 am Sundays on CBS 62). All topics were fair game and nothing was off the record.
Q: What is the biggest issue or issues before you as county executive?
A: Keeping (Quicken Loans founder ) Dan Gilbert out of Oakland County! He’s conducted more raids than the Apaches! (Gilbert said during a recent Michigan Chronicle’ “Pancakes and Politics” appearance he’s trying to convince Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores to move the team to downtown Detroit.)
I’m also trying to complete our Emerging Sectors Initiative which we started in 2004 to attract more diverse companies so we could lesson our reliance on the automotive industry.
We are way ahead of schedule as we have attracted 238 companies that have contributed $2.2 billion in business.
Q: After some tough years the entire state endured, how is Oakland doing today?
A: We are debt free. We have no legacy costs. We were the first county in the nation to pay off our legacy costs. We are now building up our reserves. I feel really good about Oakland.
Q: Speaking of legacy costs, Detroit Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr presented his report about Detroit. He talked about the impact of legacy costs and healthcare. Your take on that?
A: Bob Daddow (Patterson’s deputy county executive) was talking about bankruptcy as the only option for Detroit three or four years ago. He was the lone voice in the wilderness.
I feel bad for the city and for Oakland too because if Detroit eventually goes bankrupt, I will lose my county’s AAA bond rating.
Q: Do you see any way Orr can avoid that scenario?
A: Only if he gets cooperation and concessions from the unions, vendors.
Q: Your thoughts on Dave Bing’s decision not to seek re-election and possibly run for Wayne County executive in 2014?
A: I’m very surprised. I wish him well.
Q: Bob Ficano, who runs Wayne County, has been in the headlines. Your thoughts on his situation?
A: He’s been having a bad year or two. It started with Turkia Mullins (his former deputy) and those bonuses.
I like Bob and am not enjoying seeing him pilloried but he’s in large measure to blame for his management style.
I deal with a budget that is $780 million. If I had a county budget of $2 billion (as Wayne County does), Oakland County’s streets would be paved with gold!
Q: As a political veteran, your take on Ficano’s re-election prospects next year?
A: I think he will have a tough time getting re-elected because his fundraising has been severely damaged by this year-long assault.
Q: Let’s talk about regional cooperation and efforts to do things together. Cobo Center’s renovation is finally under way. It took years of bickering between city and suburbs, including you. What changed that relationship?
A: You might call it bickering but I call it a refusal to give in on the voting procedure for the five-member authority. Oakland deserves credit for that change because we insisted all actions (involving Cobo) had to have a unanimous vote of the (Cobo Authority board). Once that got adopted, things started getting done.Cobo will be one of the top three conference centers in America when it is done.
Q: What about Regional Transit Authority?
A: We are doing some good things there and for the same reason. Everyone on the board has a voice.
Q: Let’s talk about another fellow executive, Mark Hackel, who has been in his position in Macomb County for two years. How do you think he is doing?
A: He’s doing a good job. But he has the same problems that (Oakland’s first county executive Dan) Murphy had. The lines of authority are not clearly marked and there is a lot of posturing and push back from the board.
He can be county executive for life if he wants to be.
Q: Your thoughts on Republican Gov. Rick Snyder?
A: He’d done a good job.. The patient was on life support when he got there. I don’t agree with everything he has done but he had made a lot of tough choices to make things happen.
Q: It was two years ago at Mackinac that Gov. Snyder talked about getting the Canadian Bridge deal done in a few weeks. You were there too.
A: I recall telling a reporter when I heard him say that, “Did you see those pigs fly by the Grand Hotel!”
I think it was his political inexperience talking at that time. I think he has a much better sense about how things work now. He’s a quick study.
Q: Gov. Snyder will run again next year most assume. Is he a shoo-in?
A: He will have to fight for it. Nothing is guaranteed. I will be supporting him.
Q: Speaking of comments, you took a lot of heat when you talked about House Speaker Jase Bolger and called him “Adolph Bolger” for his stand on no fault auto reforms and putting a ceiling of $1 million on medical costs. Any regrets about saying that?
A: No. I said it then and I will say it now, the effort to reform no fault is just cruel. I don’t think it will happen as we have the votes to block it.
Q: You and Bob Ficano were recently seen at a union hall meeting schmoozing with dozens of local labor leaders and other mostly Democratic politicians. You aren’t up for re-election for three years. What’s up with that? A: It was a great event to meet with people. Most of them agree with me on the no fault auto reform bill. I’ve also had great support from the carpenters union and the bricklayers.
Q: You’ve had so much to deal with as a result of your accident. How have you been able to keep such a positive attitude?
A: I have a picture of my son Brooksie in my office which has a frame that says “God doesn’t give us more to deal with than we can handle” and “God will help us handle what we are given.” I’ve become much tougher and more patient than I ever thought I could be.
Q: Some people, including the media, were upset your staff said they were consulting with you in the early days after your accident when you were in a medically induced coma for 18 days. Were you upset your staff was not forthcoming with the facts?
A: I have the best staff in politics and they did what they thought was right.
Q: Every year at this policy conference, talk turns to politics. What’s the latest on your political future?
A: It’s far too soon for me to decide. If my health is good, I may run. My hero is Ronald Reagan who governed into his eighties.
Editor’s Note: Carol Cain is senior producer and host of CBS 62’s “Michigan Matters” which airs Sunday at 11:30 am on CBS 62 . She moderates the Michigan Chronicle’s “Pancakes and Politics” forums and also writes a column in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 11:06
Category: Prime Politics - Original Written by Cathy Nedd
Since beginning his campaign for Mayor, volunteers have made thousands of phone calls, knocked on thousands of doors, hosted more than 130 home gatherings, and performed countless other volunteer activities. Duggan currently has more than 3,500 supporters and volunteers who have signed up to help him get elected.
Last Updated on Monday, 20 May 2013 21:29
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