A country that loses its values, its principles, has lost its heart. A country that loses its sensible center, its common ground, has lost its mind.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Post-election poll: Voters don't like Republicans, Democrats or 2016 presidential field of candidates

The post-election poll by NBC/Wall Street Journal demonstrated such disdain by the voters toward both political parties -- and the crowded field of potential 2016 presidential candidates -- that one pollster exclaimed, "it's almost like the election never happened."
The poll, released last week, produced several numbers that were largely overlooked but rather striking in the degree of pessimism among the electorate just days after they handed the Republicans a big victory.
As NBC News reported: "The recently concluded midterms cost billions of dollars, generated thousands of different headlines and resulted in Republicans winning control of the U.S. Senate. But they didn't change much else -- especially the public's attitudes about politics in Washington."
Here are some highlights:
  •    More than three-quarters of Americans say the election won't substantially change the nation's direction;
  •    More say they have less confidence that elected leaders in Washington will start working together to solve problems;
  •    And Americans are split almost evenly between positive (41%) and negative (39%) reactions to Republicans controlling both the House and Senate next year.

"While this wave election has changed the composition of Congress and added Republican governors, it has not changed the nation's psyche or their expectations," said NBC/WSJ co-pollster Fred Yang. About two-thirds of Americans continue to say that the nation is on the wrong track, President Obama's approval rating remains in the 40s, and a majority still thinks the nation's economic and political systems are stacked against them. 
As for the presidential field, many of the wannabes are barely known by the electorate and those voters who have an opinion are, for the most part, not impressed with any of them.
NBC News concludes, "For all the preparation and jockeying for the 2016 presidential campaign that's taken place more than a year before the nomination process formally begins, most of the top White House contenders aren't enjoying high ratings among the American public. Even the most positively-viewed potential candidates get nearly as much opposition as support.
Here are the favorable/unfavorable ratings for each candidate and the margin between the positive and negative views:
·  Ben Carson 17%-7% (+10)
·  Elizabeth Warren 23%-17% (+6)
·  Hillary Clinton 43%-40% (+3)
·  Rand Paul 26%-23% (+3)
·  Marco Rubio 21%-19% (+2)
·  Mike Huckabee 25%-24% (+1)
·  Scott Walker 15%-14% (+1)
·  John Kasich 11%-10% (+1)
·  Chris Christie 29%-29% (even)
·  Joe Biden 35%-38% (-3)
·  Jeb Bush 26%-33% (-7)
·  Rick Perry 20%-29% (-9)

·  Ted Cruz 16%-26% (-10)

Ohio Gov. Kasich emerges as the moderate in 2016 GOP field

Last week's gathering of the Republican Governor's Association featured a panel discussion among five potential presidential candidates and Ohio Gov. John Kasich reportedly stole the show.
According to Yahoo News, Kasich continuously contrasted himself with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, Indiana’s Mike Pence and Texas’ Rick Perry — who are all looking hard at running for president. 
Jon Ward of Yahoo reported that the message Kasich wanted to make clear to the crowd of 2,000, and the one he appears likely to carry into a crowded presidential primary, was that he is not a typical Republican who simply opposes Obama, criticizes Democrats and talks about the need to cut taxes. Instead, he conveyed, he is a problem solver who wants economic growth but also wants government to help people and fix things.
NBC's Sarah Blackwill noted that, of the five governors on stage, only Kasich was open to the possibility of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, saying: "We've got to think about what's going to bring about healing. My sense is, I don't like the idea of citizenship when people jump the line, we may have to do it." 
When Walker contrasted President Obama's handling of Congress with Bill Clinton's style while in the White House, Kasich, who served as House Budget Committee chair in the mid-1990s, put Walker in his place, giving the Wisconsin chief executive a history lesson.

Here's how Ward summarized the RGA event:

"... Kasich — who ran briefly for president in 2000 before dropping out — took pains to stake out a different position on major issues from his fellow Republican governors. 'I have a little bit of a different message here,' he said.
"... On Common Core educational standards: 'We’re not doing well in the world. If we’re not careful the Googles and PayPals will be invented somewhere else. … I do think we have to have good standards. I don’t see that this is Obamacore. … The idea that kids in Iowa, kids in California, kids in Ohio, there ought to be a higher level of achievement? I’m completely for that. I think it makes sense. … It is purely local control.'
"On expanding Medicaid in Ohio: 'Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid, OK? Because he said there were people that were left out. We have seen stabilizing of (the number of patients) in our emergency rooms. Do you understand that when people can’t get comprehensive health care they get sicker and end up in the emergency room, and guess who pays for it? We do.'”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Macomb County high schools score poorly on state report card

A newly released report card for Michigan high schools reveals some disturbing news for Macomb County -- four schools with failing grades and none good enough to receive an A.
The Mackinac Center's Michigan Public High School Context and Performance Report Card examines academic performance at every public high school in the state but it also takes into into account family income, producing what the center calls an “apples-to-apples” comparison for parents and policymakers.
Of the 31 public high school in Macomb County, a grade of F was given to Richmond, New Haven and Armada high schools, as well as a charter school, Merritt Academy in New Haven. 
The only Macomb school to receive a grade above a C was Sterling Heights High School, with a B.
Numerous high schools received D's:

  • Chippewa Valley
  • Dakota
  • Anchor Bay
  • Cousino
  • East Detroit
  • Lake Shore
  • Lakeview 
  • L'Anse Creuse
  • L'Anse Creuse North
  • Lincoln
  • Connor Creek Academy-East

The Midland-based Mackinac Center starts its grading process by compiling four years’ worth of Michigan Merit Exam and ACT test scores and then adjusts those numbers based on the percentage of students in a high school who qualified for the free lunch lunch program. A high school’s “CAP score” indicates how far above or below projections a high school performed given its student population’s socioeconomic status, with 100 set as the standard.
“We were the first research group in the state to attempt this type of analysis on such a large scale,” said Audrey Spalding, education policy director and author of the study. “We now have two four-year periods of data, with two overlapping years, and it’s even more obvious that socioeconomic factors have a significant impact on standardized test results.”
As in 2012 when the first CAP report card was released, Star International Academy, a public charter school in Dearborn Heights, ranked as the top high school in the state.
The top 10 high schools in the study included five charter public schools:
  • Star International Academy, Dearborn Heights 
  • International Academy, Bloomfield Hills 
  • City Middle/High School, Grand Rapids 
  • Cesar Chavez High School, Detroit 
  • Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy, Saginaw 
  • Central Academy, Ann Arbor 
  • Covert High School, Covert 
  • Genesee Early College, Burton 
  • Riverside Academy-West Campus, Dearborn 
  • Universal Academy, Detroit 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rep. Miller presents Gershwin Award to Bill Joel

The onstage presentation of the Gershwin Award included, left to right, Rep. 
Gregg Harper, Rep. Candice Miller, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy,
 ames Billington, Billy Joel, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor,
 and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Submitted photo

One of the perks for U.S. Rep. Candice Miller while serving as chair of the House Administration Committee is that she helps preside over the awarding of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
And this year’s recipient was a Miller favorite -- Billy Joel.
“Since the release of his first hit song ‘Piano Man,’ in 1973, Billy Joel has established himself as one of the most respected entertainers of our time,” Miller said later. “It was a privilege to help present this award to an artist whose influential work has transcended generations and inspired young musicians around the world. As one of our nation’s most beloved singer-songwriters, he now joins the elite group of our country’s most iconic musicians.”
The ceremonies took place this past week at Constitution Hall in the nation’s capital and Miller, a Harrison Township Republican, was on stage for the big moment with some of Washington’s elite -- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Because Miller’s committee oversees the Library of Congress, which has bestowed the award annually over the past six years, Miller was a part of the festivities along with Library of Congress’ Librarian, James Billington.
Created by the Library of Congress in 2007, the Gershwin Prize honors an artist “whose lifetime contributions in the field of music exemplifies the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin. The award recipient is recognized for their promotion of song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding.”
Miller said Joel’s performance at the Wednesday event was “phenomenal” and an added bonus was John Mellencamp joining him on stage to sing Joel’s working-class anthem “Allentown.”

“It was very cool,” the congresswoman said.

Detroit's still far from a Millennial destination

Detroit's downtown and Midtown certainly crossed into comeback territory over the past few years, but Motown's got a long way to go to become a hip place where Millennials want to live.
According to a piece in The Atlantic, all of southeast Michigan offers young workers and couples very affordable housing, but the upward economic mobility that makes a city a desirable place to start a career is completely missing.
Derek Thompson of The Atlantic reports on a 2013 study that compared housing affordability and social mobility across the nation. The result was a confounding lack of overlap, with very few cities offering both for the new generation.
The map below (red is bad) shows that economic opportunity is a big non-selling point for much of Michigan, as well as most of the Great Lakes region and the South. 

Chetty Map

Thompson explains the phenomenon this way:
"... it's about a broader dilemma for young workers and, in particular, young couples looking to buy a home, raise children, and achieve the American Dream. The cities with the least affordable housing often have the best social mobility. And the cities with the worst social mobility often have the most affordable housing. When good jobs for the middle class and affordable homes are living in different cities, it represents a slow-motion splintering of the American Dream.
In 2013, (Harvard economist Raj) Chetty and a phalanx of economists produced a one-of-a-kind study on intergenerational mobility—that is, the odds that low-income households can work their way into the middle class and above. Comparing social mobility by metro area, they discovered that the American Dream is alive in many cities, like Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, and San Jose. But it's dying in others, particularly across the southeast and the Rust Belt, where cities are spread out, segregated, and blighted by bad schools and broken families.
"But many young people aren't choosing to move to a city because they've heard that a Harvard economist said it was really good for intergenerational mobility. They move for more short-term financial reasons. They want to live affordably. 

By the way, if you want to get a good look at what kinds of metropolitan settings Detroit is competing with, take a look at this gorgeous photo of Salt Lake City:

Macomb County lags in privatization

Macomb County lags far behind its Oakland County and Wayne County neighbors in privatizing local services to save money, according to a University of Michigan study.
The U-M survey found that 60 percent of Macomb communities privatize or contract out services compared to 96 percent in Oakland County and 94 percent in Wayne County.
In addition, 10 percent of the 20 Macomb municipalities surveyed said they have discontinued prior privatization practices and 25 percent indicated they have never gone down that road. In contrast, the two adjacent counties have nearly no localities in either of those two categories.

County Executive Mark Hackel, who questions the survey results, said that local control is often an issue that blocks mayors and township supervisors from switching to a private company or engaging in a contract with the county.
“There’s no question the economies of scale mean that our Sheriff’s Department can police the streets and save money,” said Hackel, the former county sheriff.
Another area where county officials believe they can cut costs is in the area of assessing properties for tax purposes.
“Can we do it? I’m certain we can,” said the county executive. “The question becomes: Are they (local officials) ready?”

Across the state, U-M’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy found that the most common services outsourced are attorney/legal services, engineering, trash disposal and recycling, property assessing and inspections for electrical, plumbing and building codes.
“Satisfaction with outsourcing is high among local leaders of all party identifications: Republican, independent and Democratic,” said Tom Ivacko, administrator and program manager for the Ford School’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy.

Macomb County rates higher than Oakland and Wayne for outside police/fire dispatch services and the plowing and salting of roads. But the county falls far short in inspections, property assessing and basic administrative functions such as payroll and purchasing.
While the move toward increased privatization and contracting was common across the state during the Great Recession of 2008-10, the trend has come to a halt. Only 10 percent of Michigan local municipalities expect to boost outsourcing in the coming year.
While Hackel and county Sheriff Anthony Wickersham have aggressively pursued consolidation efforts for police protection, some towns have used the county’s sales pitch as a means of securing labor concessions and cuts costs in their police departments.

In Eastpointe, City Manager Steve Duchane said officials “trimmed up” the police union contracts and, “Lo and behold, the (cost) numbers are about the same” as those offered by Wickersham.
Currently, the county engages in policing contracts with five communities –- Mount Clemens, Harrison Township, Macomb Township, New Haven and Washington Township.
In cash-strapped Eastpointe, the city has outsourced its parks maintenance, trash hauling, ambulance runs, and planning and economic development.
But Duchane said some proposals don’t prove cost-efficient and some offers from the county for consolidation show that “bigger isn’t always better.”

The study revealed that while most local leaders statewide are satisfied with the outcomes of their outsourcing, relatively few think they should privatize more services. In addition, the poll concluded that Macomb County was late to the game, with far fewer localities moving toward privatizing or contracting in 2009-10 than in Oakland and Wayne.
The survey was first conducted in 2009 and U-M hopes to continue conducting yearly updates.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nobody wins under Obama's immigration order

After the uproar over President Obama’s controversial executive order on immigration, perhaps the two most surprising realities emerging are that the decision will have little impact in Michigan and that it will cause political problems for both parties.
In Michigan, according to one estimate, about 30,000 illegal immigrants will be eligible for a reprieve from deportation through the president’s actions on Friday. That’s about 0.3 percent of the state’s population.
In other words, we will not notice a change at all. Put another way, the total number of undocumented immigrants across our state is about equal to the population of Clinton Township.

Immigration serves as a hot-button issue all over the United States but the big picture shows that, from a parochial standpoint, it represents a non-issue in most states. A solid majority of immigrants who gained residence here by breaking the rules live in just six states -- California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois.
Another factor that will play out soon surrounds an immigration system that is not only broken, its inner workings are maddeningly slow and complex. Those hoping to make their way through the bureaucratic maze need a lawyer. But the nation already suffers from a shortage of immigration lawyers.

As a result, it’s likely that far fewer than 5 million immigrants – the high-end number reported by the media – will ever gain anything from Obama’s unilateral actions. That’s based on the newest information about Obama’s prior controversial executive order on immigration reform when in 2012 he granted the so-called “dreamers” – kids who were brought here illegally by their parents – the opportunity for temporary legal status and a work permit.
This program known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, has only signed up about 55 percent of those eligible.
In addition, some who qualify for protection under the new executive order may fear “coming out of the shadows” when the provisions do not offer them permanent legal status.
As for the politics of the executive order, clearly the president will take a big hit from those who view his actions as unprecedented and lawless. Many voters will agree with House Speaker John Boehner that, by detouring around Congress, Obama is “damaging the presidency.”

At the same time, some Hispanic activists may view the president’s order as too little, too late – an attempt to pander to Latino voters six years after he first promised reforms. Some of these advocates have already labeled Obama the “deporter in chief” as his administration sets new records for deportations every year.
What’s more, the 6.2 million illegal immigrants who are shut out of this new process may soon come to resent their unchanged status and make demands that the president go further.

While the gains made are questionable, history will likely show that, with a few strokes of a pen, Obama made some Red States redder, especially in the South.
After all, the math is in the Republicans’ favor. Many thankful Hispanics will long remember what Obama announced on Thursday and they may remain loyal Democrats for life. But in the mid-term elections, Hispanics and Asians combined amounted to only about 10 percent of the electorate.
The white voters who overwhelming supported Republican candidates on Nov. 4 include a substantial, spirited bloc that views illegal immigration as one of the top problems facing the nation. Though the president’s actions amount to stopgap measures, the passion displayed by these white, working-class voters centers on the idea that the dictates by “Emperor Obama” amount to amnesty.
And that’s where the political problems for the Republicans begin.

The GOP leadership once again is playing referee, forced to quiet the tea party elements in their midst who talk of impeachment or a government shutdown as blunt-force retaliation for the executive order. Just weeks after the Republican triumphs at the ballot box, some prominent dissenters in the GOP complain that party leaders inside the Beltway are “obsessed” with the immigration fight.
“You have fallen into the trap that the president of the United States has done to try and get you to divert your attention away from the real issues in this country,” said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who added that immigration, from a governor’s viewpoint, is not a Top 10 issue.

Indeed, the president is daring the GOP to respond, to wipe out his order by passing legislation that provides comprehensive reforms. Because the provisions outlined by Obama do not take effect for six months, Boehner and Senate Majority Leader-elect Mitch McConnell could drown in unending questions about continued intransigence.
Obama also appears ready to gamble that some of the poll numbers provide an opening for his pro-reform message to take hold. An NBC-Wall Street Journal survey found that Obama’s go-it-alone approach is unpopular, but 57 percent support a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million illegal immigrants – the very rule change that the GOP adamantly opposes.

What’s more, when the pollsters explained the conditions attached, such as background checks, fines and such, support jumped to 74 percent.
If Obama can exploit that underlying sentiment, if he can convince voters that immigration reform is no longer about a stereotypical Mexican crossing the Rio Grande or sprinting across the Arizona desert, he might make congressional Republicans squirm for the next several months.
At that point, the new reality may be that no one wins as long as this divisive issue lingers, if it continues to fester without a resolution that can bridge the divide.

Friday, November 21, 2014

And Obama's next executive order will be - ?

Just a few hours before House Speaker John Boehner announced this morning that he and his Republican colleagues are suing the president over his “unilateral actions” on the Affordable Care Act’s implementation, Obama Press Secretary Josh Earnest revealed that there's more to come.
When asked on Sirius/XM's political show "POTUS" if the president is planning on any more executive orders in the near future, Earnest said: "Yes, but not one I'm prepared to announce here."
That remark must have infuriated Boehner & Co., as they're still steaming from the executive actions announced by Obama last night on immigration issues. 
The House GOP asserts in the long-awaited lawsuit against the White House that Obama made 38 revisions to the ACA without congressional approval. 
In recent days, Capitol Hill Republicans have taken to calling Obama's reign the "imperial presidency."
Obviously, the president is not listening.

Miller reaffirms: 'Merry Christmas' is just fine

Congresswoman Candice Miller has reminded fellow House members that using the phrase "Merry Christmas" when communicating with constituents is just fine.
As chair of the Franking Commission that regulates congressional mailings, Miller convinced the commission last December to allow holiday salutations such as Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.The prior rule banned such phrases, even when used in an incidental manner. 
When I assumed the chairmanship of the House’s Franking Commission, the prohibition on simple holiday greetings stood out to me as extreme and unwarranted, which is why I implemented a new common-sense policy that allows members to include incidental holiday wishes in their communications with constituents,” Miller said. 
“Now, the franking regulations allow for polite holiday greetings while still guarding taxpayers from any misuse of official funds.”
So, no War on Christmas with Miller at the helm.

Pelosi: Bush was 'absolutely great'

In case you missed it, at a Thursday press conference Nancy Pelosi offered gushing praise for former President George W. Bush. 
The House minority leader was making the case that past Republican presidents, from Eisenhower to Bush, had used their executive authority to alter the nation's immigration system.
Then she said this: “And nobody was better on immigration than George W. Bush. He was absolutely great.”
Bush's work with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy to try to get comprehensive immigration reform passed remains a black mark on his presidential legacy with many conservatives. I suspect an "absolutely great" rating from the much-despised Pelosi will further cement W's reputation with the far right as "absolutely not one of us."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

So, what's on the networks instead of the president's speech?

As the president prepares to deliver a prime time address to the American people on one of the hottest issues of the past three decades -- immigration reform -- the four broadcast networks have all declined to show Barack Obama's explanation of his controversial executive order.
Instead, CBS will air its popular comedy, "The Big Bang Theory." ABC opted for its nighttime soap opera "Grey's Anatomy."

At NBC, Obama was bumped for "The Biggest Loser: Glory Days," a show that attempts to glorify weight-loss efforts by obese people. And over at Fox, they're broadcasting a show called "Bones."Here's the description of tonight's episode:
"A  crossword-puzzle master's remains are found in an urban fracking site, but the search for the killer among his rivals reveals the deceased was suffering from a mental illness at the time of his death. Meanwhile, a pregnant Daisy gets a boost from her doula in her time of need."

I'm not sure what that all means. But I'm pretty sure that Obama's precedent-setting decision on protecting up to 5 million adults and kids from deportation will outlast that episode of Bones for many, many years.

Rep. Miller curiously silent on Obama immigration order

Rep. Candice Miller, who has never been shy about criticizing Barack Obama, has curiously decided to withhold comment on the president's forthcoming executive order until after his 8 p.m. speech.
Miller, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, has repeatedly denounced the lack of effective U.S. protections at the border with Mexico. 
At the same time, the Harrison Township Republican has loudly criticized the 2013 Senate immigration reform bill as legislation that is fattened up with numerous unnecessary expenses.
Yet, while many of her Republican colleagues derisively call Obama "emperor" and suggest that his executive order will spark noisy public protests against an "imperial presidency," the congresswoman remains silent. 
Which only raises the curiosity level to 10 as far as her post-speech reaction when she chooses to comment.

Here's the middle ground approach that would have avoided Obama Exec Order

Jon Huntsman, former Republican presidential candidate and co-founder of No Labels, a bipartisan group that features about 90 members of Congress, explained this week how the Senate in 2013 managed to craft an immigration reform bill that garnered strong support. 

In a Q&A with Lanny Davis, a former Bill Clinton adviser, Huntsman said:
"Republican senators wanted to secure our borders. Many Democrats agreed. Democrats wanted to grant legal resident status to undocumented workers who have been here for years, raised families and been good citizens, and to have a pathway to citizenship for these people some day after paying fines and working years to earn the privilege. "
"Many Republicans agreed.
"Voila — this is essentially the Senate bill that was passed on a bipartisan vote." 
Davis, writing for The Hill earlier this week, urged House Speaker John Boehner to take action to avoid President Obama's forthcoming executive order on immigration.
"Why not make this a turning point and prove that Republicans can join with Democrats and ... work together! Follow the No Labels problem-solver approach! 
"If you do, this last action of the 113th Congress will be a historical pivot from dysfunction and gridlock to a Congress that America can believe in again, and show our ability as a democracy to solve problems."
At this point, with about eight hours until the president's speech, Boehner certainly will not intervene. But what is about to happen was avoidable.

Miller's selection as committee chair(woman) stirs controversy

Candice Miller's selection as the only female among the 21 committee chairs in the House has again sparked a bit of controversy as those on the left and the right debate whether the Republican lineup represents a stodgy party utterly lacking in diversity at the top.
Over at MSNBC, Rachel Maddow pointed out that the House Administration Committee that Miller will oversee for another two years provides oversight of House operations and finances. In other words, Maddow said, the lone female chair "is in charge of the cafeteria and the bathrooms."

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise defended the nearly all-white-male lineup by, well, essentially engaging in denial. In addition to Miller, he said, the GOP members re-elected Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers as chairwoman of the Republican Conference -- a group that meets behind closed doors. 
“But if you look at this new class, especially, such a great, new, diverse group of members, with great backgrounds, too," Scalise added. 

Michael Barone, a veteran report/commentator and congressional historian of some heft, chose sarcasm to make the point that Miller is who she is. Writing for The Washington Examiner, Barone took issue with headlines in the mainstream media that said the GOP had opted for an all-male slate. 
The House Administration Committee does not handle legislation, but it is not a "trivial post," Barone intoned.
"Whatever else she may be," he wrote, "Candice Miller is not a non-person or a non-woman. Yes, I know, in the views of mainstream media, Republicans hate women, would never promote them to influential positions, look down on them, blah, blah, blah. But, hey, guys in the mainstream media: There is a woman who in the Republican House is and will be chairman of a full committee, whether you like it or not."
(Barone also offered this quirky little explanation of Miller's hometown of Harrison Township: "... just east of Mount Clemens, the county seat of the famous Macomb County, on a swampy peninsula extending out into Lake St. Clair, the tiniest and least great of the Great Lakes.)

Of course, the Republicans and their conservative allies wouldn't have such difficulty defending Miller's distinction if they had learned their lesson from 2012. Two years ago, House Speaker John Boehner noticed that the initial 19 chosen committee chairs were all males. With two relatively obscure committees to go, the GOP leadership scrambled to find a seat at the head of the table for a woman. 
They chose the Administration Committee for that spot but, when they realized that the Republican members on the panel were all men, they brought in Miller from the outside and made her the chairman -- uh, chairwoman.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Snyder, Schauer campaigns paid for less than one-fourth of $50 million ads

Thanks to many millions of dollars from outside groups, television advertising in Michigan's gubernatorial campaign totaled $47.6 million, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, ranking 2014 second behind the $54 million spent in the high-profile 2006 campaign between Gov. Jennifer Granholm and multi-millionaire Republican challenger Dick DeVos.
This year's campaign did establish a new record for spending by shadowy independent committees: $36.6 million. That is double the previous record of $18 million from the 2006 campaign.

The MCFN, a watchdog group, found that the candidates' accounted for just 23 percent of TV spending in this year's campaign. Gov. Rick Snyder's campaign spent $7.7 million and Mark Schauer's campaign spent $3.3 million.
The biggest spenders were the Democratic Governors Association, with $15.4 million supporting Schauer, and the Republican Governors Association spending $10.4 million backing Snyder.
Other top television advertisers supporting the incumbent were former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's Independence USA PAC, $2.7 million, and the Michigan Republican Party, $5.7 million.
Other outsiders aiding Schauer were the National Education Association, $1.45 million, and the AFL-CIO's Workers' Voice for Michigan, $691,000.

Levin, Miller retain key posts in new Congress

Macomb County's two representatives on Capitol Hill, Sandy Levin and Candice Miller, have retained their positions for the new Congress as top-ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee and chair of the House Administration Committee, respectively.

Levin, a Royal Oak Democrat, issued this statement after the Democratic caucus re-elected him as the ranking member:
“Serving as the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee is an immense honor, and I appreciate the support of my colleagues. This committee faces many of the challenges that need to be addressed in the right way, including strengthening – not weakening – Medicare and Social Security, trade and tax reform constructed in ways that focus on boosting our economy and creating American jobs, and efforts to help health care reform continue to expand insurance coverage and lower costs. 
"My Democratic colleagues on the committee will work with our Republican colleagues to tackle these and other vital issues in creative ways that honor the bipartisan traditions of the Ways and Means Committee and place first and foremost the interests of the American people.”

Levin also extended a gracious greeting to GOP Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who will replace Michigan's Dave Camp as committee chair when the 114th Congress convenes in January:
“I extend warm congratulations to Paul Ryan on becoming the next chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and I look forward to working with him. I have admired his determination, his interest in a broad range of issues, and the humor with which he has approached his intensive work in Congress. With our offices next door to one another, we don’t have far to go as we strive to honor the esteemed history of the committee and serve the best interests of the American people.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner announced that Miller, a Harrison Township Republican, will continue to chair the Administration Committee. Though all of the chairs of the House legislative committees are white males, Miller will oversee the committee that handles the House budget and finances.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today in making the people’s House less costly and more accountable without Candice Miller,” Boehner said.  “As administration chairman, she consistently puts taxpayers first, even and especially when it means making tough calls and asking the institution to do more with less.  Chairman Miller should take much pride in what she and her team have accomplished and will accomplish on behalf of the American people.”
Miller said this: “I thank Speaker Boehner for his confidence in me and the opportunity to continue my service as the chairman of the Committee on House Administration for the 114th Congress. Over the past two years, the committee has worked to ensure that America continues to have open, free and fair elections.  

"Additionally, the committee works to improve the way the House operates by saving taxpayer dollars, and improving communication with constituents by using low-cost digital tools. Over the next two years as chairman, I look forward to continuing our oversight over House operations and facilities, as well as making certain that this House remains open and accessible to the people we are here to serve.”

This year, under Chairman Miller’s stewardship, Boehner said, the House received another clean financial audit.  
The House also continued holding the line on its own budget, putting it on track to save taxpayers $594 million