It's Just Politics en Can the GOP maintain that Tea Party love and win mid-term elections? <p>History suggests that this election year should be friendly to Republicans. That’s because Republicans are more likely to turn out in mid-term elections than Democrats, and the party out of the White House, especially in a president’s second term, tends to have an advantage. With about six and a half months to go before the November election, a lot of Republicans are harboring hopes that this is going to be a good year to be a Republican.</p><p>But here’s a question: Which kind of Republican is it best to be this year?</p><p>In Michigan -- just like nationally -- there’s some tension between the three threads of the GOP coalition. That’s the &nbsp;Establishment Republicans, the Tea Party, and the Liberty Movement.</p><p>We’ll get a better idea of how big this fight is (and if it’s a fight at all worth talking about) after this coming Tuesday’s filing deadline. We’ll see exactly where and how many Tea Partiers will “primary” an establishment Republican figure, and where the Republican establishment (and by that we mean chamber of commerce Republicans) will try to dislodge a Tea Partier from Congress or the Legislature. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 22:12:01 +0000 Rick Pluta & Zoe Clark 17285 at Can the GOP maintain that Tea Party love and win mid-term elections? Politicos must do some fast thinking if they want Rogers’ seat <p>A political stunner slapped all of our political cheeks awake this morning, just like that <a href=";type=A010US0&amp;p=mukuly+culkin+face+slap+aftershave">scene with Macaulay Culkin</a> in Home Alone.</p><p>The news? Seven-term Republican Congressman <a href="">Mike Rogers </a>announced he is <a href="">retiring from Congress</a>. Retiring from Congress, but not the political circus. He is going to start a national radio show devoted to foreign policy and national defense, which is his bailiwick as the Chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee.</p><p>Rogers is also a well-known talking head. Last year, he <a href="">appeared more than any other elected official </a>on the Sunday morning news circuit. And he’s got the TV sound bites down, just <a href="">last week on Meet the Press</a>, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin, “goes to bed thinking of Peter the Great and wakes up thinking of Stalin.”</p><p>It’s not just how fond he seemed of Congress that is what makes Rogers’, who represents Lansing, Brighton, Howell and parts of Northern Oakland County, announcement so surprising, but his fondness in particular for the House of Representatives. In fact, there was speculation last year that the reason he didn’t jump into the race for Carl Levin’s<a href=""> open Senate seat </a>was because he enjoyed his job in the House so much. Fri, 28 Mar 2014 19:05:40 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 17019 at Politicos must do some fast thinking if they want Rogers’ seat Could the Supreme Court stop lies in political ads? <p></p><p>The political campaign ad season is upon us. We’ve already seen the first trickle of ads here in Michigan, but we know the spigot is barely open at this point.</p><p>And, this brings us to an interesting court case out of Ohio that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in just over a month. At issue is whether a state can preemptively enforce a ban on a supposedly false and misleading political advertisement.</p><p>This started when the Republican independent committee the Susan B. Anthony List wanted to put up a billboard that accused an Ohio congressman of supporting taxpayer-funded abortions. The Congressman cried foul under an Ohio law that forbids knowingly or recklessly making false or misleading statements about candidates.</p><p>The billboard never went up after the congressman threatened to file a legal complaint. But the Susan B. Anthony List and some other groups challenged the law. That lawsuit was dismissed on a technicality and that was upheld by the U.S Sixth. Circuit Court of Appeals – of which Michigan is a part. Fri, 21 Mar 2014 18:41:11 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 16933 at Could the Supreme Court stop lies in political ads? How many wolf hunt questions can we squeeze onto the November ballot? <p></p><p>It looks like a referendum on the controversial issue of wolf-hunting is headed to the November ballot – again. This will be the second hunting-related ballot question (and, possibly, not the last) voters will decide in a little less than eight months.</p><p>The Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Campaign turned in petition signatures to the state Bureau of Elections just yesterday. It takes 161,305 signatures, and we can reasonably expect the campaign has enough names. Because, after all, they’ve done this before.</p><p>Most recently, just last year, when Keep Michigan Wolves Protected filed enough signatures to suspend and challenge the first Michigan wolf hunting law adopted after the gray wolf was taken off the federal endangered species list. That is the first referendum challenge and it is already on the November ballot.</p><p>But the Legislature, as well as Gov. Rick Snyder, would not be thwarted. They adopted a second law to allow wolf hunting (among other things), and that is the target of this newest referendum campaign. Fri, 14 Mar 2014 19:07:09 +0000 Rick Pluta & Zoe Clark 16854 at How many wolf hunt questions can we squeeze onto the November ballot? White men coveted by Dems and GOP this November <p>There was an interesting <a href="">article</a> this week in <em>The New York Times</em> with a strong focus on politics in Michigan. It dealt with a particular aspect of the Democratic Party’s trouble winning in off-presidential years: the coveted white male voter. Yes, working class, high school-educated, married white men are wanted.</p><p>Republicans, in fact, have relied on dominance among white males to win elections for many, many years now. And a lot has been made of the fact that right now Republicans are facing big troubles winning over minority voters - African American, Hispanic - as well as immigrants and single women, a weakness that Democrats have been able to use.</p><p>But Democrats have been, for many years, losing the white male vote. Remember the Reagan Democrats? White, blue collar, many of them union members, with a strong presence in southeast Michigan and, over time, they stopped being Reagan Democrats and just became Republicans.</p><p>Exit polls from <em>The Washington Post</em> show President Obama <a href="">lost white voters by 20 points</a> in 2012 to Mitt Romney, the largest losing margin among whites in 30 years. Now, of course, every election is different. We know not as many voters will cast a ballot in 2014 as 2012 because it’s a midyear election when the presidential race isn’t on top of the ballot which creates, in turn, less voter excitement. Fri, 07 Mar 2014 18:26:02 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 16765 at White men coveted by Dems and GOP this November Michigan's same-sex marriage trial has political implications for state's GOP <p>We are one week, halfway through, the <a href="">trial in federal court in Detroit</a> centering on the <a href="">challenge </a>to Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The arguments are supposed to go on for another week, and then we’ll wait for the judge’s decision. But the case’s mere existence, the fact that it’s occurring, is having an effect on the political landscape in Michigan.</p><p>And, it should be noted that these hearings are not taking place within a vacuum. Just this week we saw two more gay marriage rulings. Texas’ ban on<a href=""> same-sex marriage was struck down</a> and Kentucky was <a href="">ordered to recognize same-sex marriages</a> performed in other states.</p><p>There is also another <a href="">federal case underway</a> here in Michigan that is challenging the state’s refusal to allow live-in partner benefits for public employees. It’s the mechanism that was created to allow same-sex couples to use their benefits to cover partners and children who would otherwise be denied coverage under Michigan’s marriage amendment, approved by voters in a statewide election 10 years ago. Fri, 28 Feb 2014 22:43:59 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 16667 at Michigan's same-sex marriage trial has political implications for state's GOP Auto no-fault overhaul is GOP’s ‘Holy Grail’ <p>A political controversy in Lansing that just won’t die is back: <a href="">auto no-fault insurance</a>. There is yet <a href="">another Republican effort</a> to muscle through an auto no-fault overhaul, this time being led by state House Speaker Jase Bolger.</p><p>There’s a lot in this proposal, released just yesterday, but one of the main things is a cap on the state’s currently unlimited medical benefits if you are injured in a crash. Under the Bolger plan, these benefits would top out at $10 million. Other parts of the proposal include limits on hospital fees and payments for in-home care, incentives to avoid litigation, and a guaranteed rate rollback in the first two years of coverage.</p><p>Essentially, there is something in this plan for all of the special interests that have a stake in the auto no-fault system – hospitals, insurance companies, trial lawyers – to dislike. But, Bolger says, bring it on. Fri, 21 Feb 2014 20:44:01 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 16550 at Auto no-fault overhaul is GOP’s ‘Holy Grail’ GOP focusing on “brand management” <p><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">This week on</span><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:italic;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;"> <a href="">It’s Just Politics</a></span><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight Fri, 14 Feb 2014 21:12:54 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 16459 at GOP focusing on “brand management” Just how many ballot questions will you be voting on in November? Good question... <p>In 270 days – come Election Day 2014 – it’s not just candidates you’ll be voting for, there are likely to be plenty of ballot questions, too. And, much like 2012, when there were half a dozen ballot questions, we might just see a <a href="">repeat of Ballot-o-palooza</a>.</p><p>Ballot questions can sometimes get people who might not be super-invested in voting for a candidate to actually <a href="">get out and vote for a particular issue</a>. For example, 2004, when a slew of anti-gay marriage ballot proposals may very well have helped George W. Bush win reelection.</p><p>But it’s not easy to get ballot questions passed. Voters tend to shy away from passing new laws via ballot. In fact, if you don’t start out with more than a 60% approval of your question, the chances are you won’t win come Election Day.</p><p>In 2012, <a href="">$154 million dollars were spent</a> on ballot questions and yet all six were defeated.</p><p>Which raises the issue: Money spent on ballot questions is often money that would otherwise be spent on other campaigns. Thus, the decision to go to the ballot with a certain issue raises lots of questions: Is it the best use of money, personnel, volunteers? How will it affect turnout – that’s if it affects turnout at all.</p><p>What will this year’s dynamic be?</p><p>Well, look for news early next week on the <a href="">minimum wage ballot drive</a> that would initiate a law raising Michigan’s minimum wage to somewhere between $9 and $10 an hour. Fri, 07 Feb 2014 20:47:45 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 16354 at Just how many ballot questions will you be voting on in November? Good question... Who will run Michigan if there's a zombie apocalypse? We have answers <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The "<a href="">Designated Survivor</a>" is the person from the President’s Cabinet who sits out the big, official political gatherings – like the State of the Union speech, or a Presidential Inauguration.</span></p><p>That survivor would be there if something unthinkable happens. The government would still go on. Someone would be in charge.</p><p>So that got us thinking about Michigan: What does Michigan do if a catastrophe wipes out the top echelons of state government?</p><p><object height="344" width="425"><param name="movie" value=";start=0&amp;end=9&amp;cid=1927736" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" height="344" src=";start=0&amp;end=9&amp;cid=1927736" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425"></embed></object></p><p>Does Michigan have a plan?</p><p>Well, yes! It’s the “<a href=";objectName=mcl-Act-202-of-1959">Emergency Interim Executive Succession Act</a>.” Public Act 202 of 1959 reads:</p><blockquote><p>“If the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the elected Secretary of State, the elected Attorney General, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and Speaker of the House of representatives are not able or are unavailable to exercise the powers and discharge the duties of the governor because of a disaster, the available emergency interim successor highest in order of succession shall exercise the powers and discharge the duties of the office of governor.”</p></blockquote><p>In the case of the unthinkable – whether it’s zombies, or an attack on the state - if the entire line of succession is wiped out or incapacitated, there is still a plan for someone to be in charge. Fri, 31 Jan 2014 18:36:38 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 16260 at Who will run Michigan if there's a zombie apocalypse? We have answers Gov. Snyder has to sell Detroit bailout* to a skeptical Legislature – and quickly <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">* <em>"This is not a bailout</em>"</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Gov. Rick Snyder used the phrase “this is not a bailout” five times in the 26 minutes he used to announce the first details of a “grand bargain” to settle the Detroit bankruptcy and the fight over pension benefits.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">The governor’s plan would commit as much as $350 million over 20 years to help dig Detroit out of bankruptcy and keep the assets of the Detroit Institute of Arts off the auction block.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">The money would most likely come from what Michigan is getting from the national tobacco settlement, that 15-year-old cash cow that’s been tapped for college scholarships, economic development, Medicaid – the list goes on. And now it might be part of the Detroit bailout (but don’t call it a “bailout").</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">So, there’s this plan and a revenue stream to go along with it. Now, the governor just has to sell it to the Legislature.The Michigan Constitution requires every dollar that goes to the state to go through the Legislature’s appropriations process.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">And we wouldn’t exactly call this a done deal or an easy sell.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">After all, this is an election year. And Republicans, especially those west of Lansing and north of Clare, have little reason to go along with a political hot potato like aid for Detroit. At least two Senate Republicans, probably more, are looking at primaries. Plenty of House Republicans are also looking over their shoulders for a Tea Party primary challenge. Politically speaking, there are probably more reasons not to do this than to do this.</span> Fri, 24 Jan 2014 19:11:39 +0000 Rick Pluta & Zoe Clark 16168 at Gov. Snyder has to sell Detroit bailout* to a skeptical Legislature – and quickly GOP can’t control Agema while Dems confront the ‘Obama Quandary’ <p><em>Before we dive into this week's It's Just Politics, we gotta give a shout out to the Washington Post who named co-host Rick Pluta <a href="">one of Michigan's best state capitol reporters</a> in America.</em> <em>Cheers, Rick!</em></p><p>“We are reinventing Michigan,” said Gov. <a href="">Rick Snyder</a> in<a href=""> last night's State of the State address</a>; an address that could (in a much-abbreviated form) double as a reelection campaign speech. It was filled with a lot of good news of revenue surpluses, money for early childhood and schools, etc.</p><p>A little something for everyone.</p><p>For conservatives -- who have not fully embraced this governor -- Snyder joined the call for a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution. For moderates and independents, Snyder used the speech to try quell some of the controversy that’s being created within and about the Michigan Republican Party.</p><p>Here’s what he said: “Publicly tonight, I’d like to make a call to all citizens of Michigan, to ask us to have a greater degree of civility and respect towards others of different backgrounds and different views. The future of Michigan is dependent on having people understand that differences are a positive power, that we can find common ground and let’s work to bring Michiganders together, not divide us.” Fri, 17 Jan 2014 18:37:32 +0000 Rick Pluta & Zoe Clark 16072 at GOP can’t control Agema while Dems confront the ‘Obama Quandary’ Snyder and the appearance of political 'cronyism' <p>Control – the ability to command and direct events – is the elusive ambition of politicians. Politicians seek office promising to get things done or, in some rare cases, to stop something from getting done. But, mostly, they want to control their fates. We all want that, of course, but, it is not that simple.</p><p>Public life is complicated and messy.</p><p>Take, for example, <a href="">Gov. Snyder</a>. In just less than a week, Snyder will deliver his fourth State of the State address. He’ll wax on about the accomplishments of the last three years as he also proposes an agenda for this year and lays the groundwork for his reelection bid.</p><p>And, yes, we say his reelection bid. Though the governor has not yet announced he will seek reelection, as we’ve <a href="">talked about before</a> on <a href=""><em>It’s Just Politics</em></a>, Snyder is certainly already <a href="">acting like a candidate</a>. The governor’s reelection campaign has already bought airtime, just like they did four years ago, on Super Bowl Sunday. (One more reason we know Snyder will run again: He’s said the Detroit Lions will be in the Super Bowl before he leaves office… yet another thing he can’t control.)</p><p>Going into the 2014 election, Gov. Snyder and other Republicans would like to be focused on good news like<a href=""> revenue surpluses and balanced budgets</a>. But something always seems to get in the way. And, this week, that was the continuing drama surrounding former state Treasurer Andy Dillon’s personal and professional life. Sat, 11 Jan 2014 18:29:36 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 15974 at Snyder and the appearance of political 'cronyism' Michigan’s budget surplus: More money, more problems? Sure, but it beats the alternative <p>Lansing these days could be renamed Surplus City, where we’re just looking for ways to spend the money that Michigan is expected to rake in this year. It appears our deficit days are behind us; we are now looking at a tidy little budget surplus. Early estimates put the number in the <a href="">hundreds of millions of dollars range</a> but we’ll get an official projection a week from today when the state holds the next <a href="">revenue estimating conference</a>.</p><p>People come to the Capitol and watch as economists talk about, ya know, economic things and come up with an official budget number. And one thing is certain: No matter how big the surplus is, there will be more ideas on how to spend it than actual money to spend. And, there’s already a list including road funding and more money for schools and universities.</p><p>Democrats also say they want to restore the Earned Income Tax Credit and Homestead Property Tax Credit. And, there will likely be talk about more money for local governments. These are things that Democrats, as the minority party in the Capitol, would typically have little influence over. But they have a little more to work with right now. That’s because, for one thing, it’s an election year, if -- as expected -- Republicans put more money into schools and universities -- it becomes harder for Democrats to use those as campaign issues. There’s also controversial questions like road funding and auto insurance, issues that aren’t likely to get resolved without some measure of Democratic cooperation.</p><p>So, we are faced here, with a fiscal philosophical question: What is a budget surplus? Fri, 03 Jan 2014 18:35:04 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 15873 at Michigan’s budget surplus: More money, more problems? Sure, but it beats the alternative Republican angst over gay rights in Michigan continues <p>The Republican angst over gay rights continues this week.</p><p>Driven and riven by the continuing commentary on the topic by Michigan’s Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema, in this case on AIDS and partner benefits. “Folks they want free medical because they’re dying between the ages of 30 and 44 years old… For me it’s a moral issue. It’s a biblical issue,” Agema told a local Republican holiday gathering last week in West Michigan (thanks to the <em>Herald Palladium</em> for <a href="">audio of remarks</a>).</p><p>And, as <a href="">they often do</a>, Agema’s comments have already gotten a lot of attention; inciting what has become a now-predictable ritual of condemnation from Democrats and Republicans. However, Republicans are complaining not so much about what Agema said but, instead, how he said it.</p><p>This is <a href="">not the first time</a> that Dave Agema has made comments like this. There is a history here. Agema has always made it plain he considers homosexuality to be nothing but a deviant lifestyle. His detractors say he’s a bigot. His supporters - and he certainly has them within the state Republican Party - say he’s a truth-teller. In fact, former state Representative Jack Hoogendyk, a prominent Tea Party leader, recently called him “a prophet.” Fri, 20 Dec 2013 19:09:45 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 15786 at Republican angst over gay rights in Michigan continues Fight over veto-proof abortion law not over; groups going to work to overturn <p>What is it about Decembers in Lansing? Last year, it was <a href="">right-to-work</a>. This year, the controversy is over a petition initiative, a veto-proof law that will require people to buy separate insurance for abortion coverage. It could not be part of a basic health insurance package in Michigan.</p><p>It was an initiated law, put before the GOP-led Legislature by the very, very influential anti-abortion group <a href="">Right to Life</a>. As we’ve<a href=""> noted before</a> on <a href=""><em>It’s Just Politics</em></a>, Right to Life is virtually unrivaled in its ability to organize a petition campaign, and to squeeze votes out of the Legislature, especially when Republicans are in charge.</p><p>So, that’s it, right? Law is passed. All done.</p><p>Well, not so fast. Because what is begotten by a petition drive can be challenged by a petition drive. Michigan’s pro-choice movement thinks it can take down this new law with a referendum. In fact, meetings have started to try to organize a ballot drive. Fri, 13 Dec 2013 19:07:28 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 15685 at Fight over veto-proof abortion law not over; groups going to work to overturn Join Michigan Radio for Issues & Ale: It's Just Politics <p><b>Issues &amp; Ale: It's Just Politics<br /><span class="aBn" data-term="goog_853304960" tabindex="0"><span class="aQJ">Tues, Dec. 10, 7:00pm</span></span></b></p><p><a href="" target="_blank"><u><font color="#000080">Zoobie's</font></u></a><u><font color="#000080"> Old Town Tavern</font></u>,</p><p>611 E. Grand River, Lansing, MI 48906</p><p>The hosts of Michigan Radio's popular <a href="" target="_blank"><u><font color="#000080">It's Just Politics</font></u></a> headed to the state capital for this live Issues &amp; Ale event. Michigan Public Radio Network Capitol Bureau Chief <a href="" target="_blank"><u><font color="#000080">Rick Pluta</font></u></a> and Michigan Radio’s resident political junkie <a href="" target="_blank"><u><font color="#000080">Zoe Clark&nbsp;</font></u></a> anchored this fast paced spin around Michigan politics and a look at the top issues being discussed in Lansing. They were joined by Chad Livengood from the Detroit News Lansing Bureau.</p><p> Thu, 12 Dec 2013 22:00:02 +0000 Tony Brown 15387 at Join Michigan Radio for Issues & Ale: It's Just Politics 'Blue State' project targets Snyder, other GOP governors in states Obama won <p>We’re into the 2013 winter holiday season, which means we’re just a few weeks away from 2014 and a new round of big statewide elections.</p><p>That includes Governor Rick Snyder’s reelection bid -- which isn’t quite “official” yet, despite an <a href="">active campaign committee, ads, and political consultants</a>.</p><p>Still, it’s good to be a Republican governor these days. The presidential race is in the rearview mirror, the economy’s ticking up slowly, and people are looking at Washington and seeing nothing but gridlock and dysfunction.</p><p>But Democrats still see opportunity for putting one of their own into the governor’s office in Michigan, as well as eight other states that President Obama carried in 2008 and 2012. <a href="">Politico</a> says the Democratic Governors Association has secured a commitment from President Obama to fundraise, campaign, and provide material support to help pick up those states. Fri, 06 Dec 2013 18:44:44 +0000 Rick Pluta & Zoe Clark 15582 at 'Blue State' project targets Snyder, other GOP governors in states Obama won Dems cry foul over pay raises for state's investment managers <p>This week, on our tryptophan recovery edition of <a href=""><em>It’s Just Politics</em></a>, we’re talking money: salaries, wages, and how they’re becoming an issue in the <a href="">campaign for governor</a>.</p><p>Last week, gubernatorial-hopeful and former Democratic Congressman <a href="">Mark Schauer</a>, called for an <a href="">increase in the state minimum wage</a>. Schauer wants to increase the rate to $9.25 an hour over three years.</p><p>And, like we talked about <a href="">last week</a> - this is a subtle twist, not just hammering Governor <a href="">Rick Snyder</a> over his support for a pension tax, and school funding, but trying to give voters something to <em>support</em>, not just be against.</p><p>But giving voters things to be against is still an important part of any campaign narrative, and this week, for Democrats and Mark Schauer it was all about serendipity; a nexus of timing and opportunity. Fri, 29 Nov 2013 16:08:49 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 15483 at Dems cry foul over pay raises for state's investment managers Dems try to leverage minimum wage for maximum political benefit <p>Putative Democratic gubernatorial candidate <a href="">Mark Schauer</a> rolled out <a href="">his proposal</a> this week to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $9.25 over three years; which, as of right now, would make it one of the highest state-mandated minimum wage in the nation.</p><p>That’s sparked a debate over the efficacy of the minimum wage – does it encourage prosperity by pushing more money into the economy? Or does it stifle hiring and job creation?</p><p>But we’re here to discuss the red meat politics of the minimum wage. Mark Schauer’s announcement sets the stage for a classic class warfare throw down. So, instead of diving too deep into the policy side, let’s take on the political calculation that’s part of choosing that number of $9.25.</p><p>Polling shows <a href="">big support nationally</a> for a minimum wage of $9 an hour. There is some Michigan public opinion research that’s not quite as reliable, but still suggests it’s about the same - about 70 percent favor it.</p><p>But that support plummets as the suggested minimum wage goes up, especially above $10 dollars an hour. This shows the risk in using the minimum wage as a political wedge. To a point, it has populist appeal, but people still fear the consequences of setting wage floors. So the key is to find the sweet spot, and Mark Schauer seems to have settled on $9.25. (He says the policy-side reason is that number will make up for the erosion of its buying power over the last four decades.)</p><p>Which brings us to the next question: why now? Why not keep beating the Democratic drums - pension tax, school cuts, with a little right-to-work thrown in just to fire up the base.</p><p>The answer: Because the base<a href=""> isn’t fired up</a>. And the most recent polling shows Rick Snyder expanding his lead over Schauer. No matter how much Democrats may dislike what they’re seeing in Lansing, a lot of them are still not warming up to Mark Schauer, who is low-key, to say the least.</p><p>The minimum wage is supposed to be a jolt to try to put some electricity into his campaign. Fri, 22 Nov 2013 23:32:19 +0000 Rick Pluta & Zoe Clark 15405 at Dems try to leverage minimum wage for maximum political benefit