Wisconsin’s Republicans got most of the attention, but Michigan’s Republicans have recently proven to be the best example of a midwest gerrymandered Republican majority drunk with its power.
In 2010, in the lowest turnout since 1990, Michigan elected a Republican governor who ran as a moderate backed by big majorities in the state House and Senate. Many of the freshly minted Republicans proudly waved the banner of the Tea Party — a banner that read “Taxed Enough Already!”
Immediately, the newly elected governor and legislature raised taxes on pensioners and cut the earned income tax credit for the poor to help pay for a huge tax cuts for business. Over the course of the next two years, the legislatures explored the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation and even banned a female lawmaker from speaking because she used the word “vagina.”
But they saved the worst of their agenda until President Obama beat Mitt Romney in Romney’s birth state by 9.5 percent. Republicans lost seats in the house as gerrymandering protected Republican majorities. With only 4,000 more votes in four districts, Democrats would have tied up the House 55-55. Instead they only lost 5 seats and maintained a 59-51 majority.
Instead of moving to the center, Michigan’s GOP launched into what Eclectablog‘s Chris Savage has called an “inflamed duck” session that shook the state and finally revealed to the nation what happens when a far-right Republican majority takes over a blue state.
Photo credit: Dwight Burdette
Going After Unions And Pretending It’s About Economics
Without one public hearing, the Michigan GOP enacted legislation that made Michigan — the heart of the auto industry and the union movement — into a “Right To Work” state. Governor Rick Snyder claimed the law, which drew protesters from all over the state, was about jobs. But just last week, the governor said, “Over 90 percent of the jobs that you’re looking at aren’t going to be in a situation where right to work is even relevant.” Weakening the unions doesn’t help the economy. It lowers wages and increases poverty. What it does help is strengthen the power of corporations who are interested in privatizing public resources. That’s been the agenda of former Republican gubernatorial candidate and Amway heir Rich DeVos for decades, which is why he made “financial contributions” to the candidates who weren’t certain if they should support union busting.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Eric Seals
Gerrymandering The Presidency
Republicans have recognized that their only path to the presidency is to gerrymander the vote the way they have in the House. Despite voting for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 1992, Michigan is represented in the House by nine Republicans and six Democrats, thanks to gerrymandered districts. And if the electoral college were to suddenly switch to relying on these same gerrymandered districts, Republicans would win the majority of the electoral votes despite losing the popular vote. So, of course, Michigan’s Republicans are “open” to the possibility of rigging the next election. In fact, the only reason they didn’t in 2012 is because they assumed Mitt Romney would win the state.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Denying 670,000 Working Citizens Health Insurance
The poorest Americans are already covered by Medicaid. As a part of the Affordable Care Act, up to 17 million Americans — 670,000 in Michigan alone — are eligible to receive government health insurance. This would drive down the growth in insurance rates by preventing the uninsured from relying on emergency rooms and save lives. But the Supreme Court said that states can turn down the coverage, even though the federal government is paying between 90-100 percent of the costs. State senator Bruce Caswell (R) has introduced a bill that will prevent the state from accepting the expansion even though it could end up saving the state nearly $1 billion. Again, President Obama won the state by 9.5 percent and his signature achievement was passing the Affordable Care Act. Will Rick Snyder deny a reform that Michigan’s medical establishment says it’s ready for? If past is prologue, yes.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Paul Sancya
Gutting Education Down To The Toilet Paper
How do you train kids not to be a nation of “takers”? Don’t give them luxuries like toilet paper. Michigan Republicans have cut education so drastically that schools can’t afford toilet paper, let alone textbooks. Instead, some teachers — who the right often demonizes as “union thugs” — provide it themselves.
Photo credit: stevendepolo
Emergency Manager Law
One of the core principles of small-government conservatives is that local governments govern best — except if that locality is made up of minorities, apparently. After the 2010 election, Michigan’s Republicans revamped its Emergency Manager law to give unelected bureaucrats the power to void union contracts and sell public property. When voters rejected this law at the polls in 2012, Republicans passed nearly exactly the same law.
Photo credit: sskennel via Flickr.com