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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Report: Grand Rapids Senate debate cancelled, Land blamed

Eclectablog.com is reporting that the Grand Rapids debate proposed between Senate candidates Gary Peters and Terri Lynn Land has fallen apart due to Land's lack of cooperation.

Here's the information Eclectablog received from the Peters campaign:
"WOOD-TV is canceling its proposed Sept. 8 U.S. Senate debate because the Land campaign refused to coordinate with organizers. In response, the Peters for Michigan debate negotiator, former lieutenant governor John Cherry, today requested a meeting with Land and WOOD-TV to reschedule a debate in Grand Rapids.
"Despite saying she would begin debate talks post-primary, Land refuses to discuss a debate schedule and still hasn’t appointed a debate negotiator to work with Cherry. The Peters campaign has accepted all debate invitations its received and is working with organizers in Detroit, Lansing, and Traverse City. Cherry will be working with WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids to reschedule."

In a letter to WOOD-TV, a news station that has hosted numerous candidate debates in the past, Cherry said this: 
"On behalf of the Peters for Michigan United States Senate Campaign, I wanted to introduce myself to you, and applaud your invitation and offer to host a debate between Congressman Peters and Secretary Land. The Congressman has appointed me as his representative in any discussions pertaining to debates and their format. He has also informed me that he has officially accepted your invitation. We are disappointed by WOOD-TV’s decision to cancel the debate because of Ms. Land’s refusal to discuss a debate schedule. Therefore, I am requesting a meeting with the station and Ms. Land and her campaign. It is imperative that discussions with Ms. Land and her campaign begin now so we do not miss another deadline. To that end I wish to make myself available to you so that we can accommodate your suggested time schedule."
Now awaiting word from the Land camp.
You can read more about this campaign development here.

What is the Scandinavian Secret that the U.S. could learn from?


As we mark the end of Labor Day weekend, Vox.com has compiled several charts that show the decline of American unionization and the possible (I’d say likely) connection to growing income inequality.
But the chart that really grabbed my attention was the one displayed above that reveals that labor unions are far less prevalent in the U.S. than they are in almost every other highly developed nation. Among the 23 other nations in that category for which there is data (those who are part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD) 20 had higher unionization rates in 2011 than America.

And there we have the Scandinavian countries leading the way – again. Finland, Sweden and Norway top the list. Sixty-nine percent of workers in Finland have collective bargaining in their workplace.
And yet, their economies are doing fine, typically ranked among the 25 richest countries in the world, based on GDP per capita.
So many lists these days show the Scandinavian countries among the best in the world in key categories: K-12 education, good wages, low crime, low poverty, health care benefits and paid leave, and overall quality in government services.
American critics say these nations represent European-style socialism, they have ridiculously high taxes, they lack innovation and entrepreneurship. Sure, Americans would never accept the way people live in Finland. But it’s important to note that those nations also routinely end up near the top of another list – the countries were the population is most satisfied with their living conditions.

Here are some highlights of what Vox found about unions in America:
Just 30 years ago, around 1 in 5 workers was a union member. Today, it's just over 1 in 10, around 11.3 percent as of 2013. The cause of the decline is subject to heated debate. One reason may be new right-to-work laws — five states have added right-to-work laws since 1980. Some have argued that unions simply don't appeal to young workers like they once did.
Today, there are more than 3 million fewer union members than there were in 1983. But public sector unions have still grown; only private sector unions have fallen off, by around 4.6 million people.

Deunionization in the US has occurred alongside rising inequality, and some economists have suggested a causal link between the two phenomena. One 2011 paper from researchers at Harvard and the University of Washington estimated that "the decline of organized labor explains a fifth to a third of the growth in inequality" in hourly wages.

When will Macomb fight back against Oakland's sewage dumping?

Hours after the Aug. 11 storm the polluted Red Run Drain 
in Warren was still nearly 20 feet above its normal level.
Blame it on climate change, blame it on freaky weather, blame it on Oakland County arrogance, but the bottom line – or should I say the flood waterline that is still visible on some trees and buildings – shows that we still have a monumental pollution problem here in Macomb County.
The 2.1 billion gallons of partially treated sewage that was flushed into Macomb County waterways from the Oakland County sewer system during the Aug. 11 storm should serve as a splash of cold water in the face for all those involved.
A single-event sewage overflow of 2 billion gallons had been simply unfathomable – until now. And the severe downpours we now experience several times a year suggest that officials should recalculate what they’re up against and reconsider past opposition to major improvements of outdated sewers.
The drenching rain on Aug. 11 was labeled by the experts as a 300-year storm, meaning it’s probable we will experience a downpour like that once every 300 years. The southeast Oakland County sewer system that sends its wastewater to our county is designed to handle a 10-year storm.
Sure, the wild weather of three weeks ago was nearly unprecedented, with 5 inches of precipitation in a relatively short span. But few remember that as recently as May 27-28 of this year we experienced a 3-inch rainstorm.
Oakland County authorities for two decades have brushed aside worries about the sewage-laced stormwater they discharge into our county, despite the fact that it flows through numerous residential neighborhoods along the Red Run Drain and Clinton River before it spews into Lake St. Clair.
That lake, though water levels are much improved, continues to exhibit a disturbing amount of weed growth. In some places, the shoreline is plagued by muck and algae and towering aquatic plants that have created a foul-smelling jungle along the seawall. High E. coli bacteria levels remain a constant concern.
Frustrated lakefront homeowners cannot get the ear of the Oakland County officials upstream who have done little to address the problem. Oakland officials’ lack of transparency is as murky as the brown water they send our way.
Nearly a decade ago, Oakland spent $144 million on sewer improvements in the Madison Heights area and to upgrade the massive Twelve Towns Drain, also known as the GWK Drain. But, for all that money, they only gained an additional 30 million gallons of capacity.
Meanwhile, the outfall from the underground GWK basin, which handles human waste from 14 communities, conveniently dumps into the Red Run at Dequindre, right at the Warren/Macomb County border.
Imagine the uproar if that wastewater flowed in the other direction, to places such as Cass Lake, Orchard Lake and the streams that flow through West Bloomfield and Bloomfield Township.
Officials in Oakland County say their process is to settle, sift and chlorinate sewer water before releasing it. But in the deluge that occurred on Aug. 11 it’s doubtful the wastewater was sufficiently treated throughout the two-day release. The discharge flowed out of the GWK at a rate of more than 1 million gallons a minute. With such a flush, how could they keep up?
Their facility was so overwhelmed by the flooding that it took the Water Resources Commissioner’s office two weeks to come up with the 2.1-billion gallon estimate.
And they still won’t say how long they left the floodgates open.
An early estimate shared with the Macomb County Health Department said that the GWK overflowed for 32 hours. That’s about 66 million gallons an hour. And each of those hourly increments of 66 million was the equivalent of about 4,000 backyard swimming pools.
It’s true that Macomb County facilities dumped about 400,000 gallons of tainted water into the waterways during the storm, some of which was raw, untreated sewage.
It’s also true that Macomb officials have failed for a decade to push Clinton Township and Center Line to quickly make the repairs necessary to stop their periodic dumping of raw sewage into the Clinton River. Officials have also given Warren a pass on its increasingly frequent pollution.
But the flushes coming from across Dequindre for the past several years average more than 1 billion gallons combined on a yearly basis. Those volumes cannot be ignored.
What effect will all of this have on liabilities and insurance rates for downstream communities? How difficult might it be for individual homeowners to secure coverage?
Former Oakland Water Resources Commissioner John McCulloch used to brag about his county’s “shimmering lakes” that created a “water wonderland.” He sounded like the homeowner who boasts about his well-kept lawn while dumping his trash into the neighbor’s yard.
In 2012, when the voters replaced McCulloch with Jim Nash, the new water resources commissioner promised a greater emphasis on environmental protection. But we’re still waiting for a noticeable change.
In the two weeks following the storm, Nash was largely unavailable for comment. When he finally released a statement, the tone was hardly apologetic or one of concern.
In this era of the ice bucket challenge, perhaps it’s time for Macomb officials to create an ultimatum for their Oakland County counterparts: Clean up your act or take the brown bucket challenge.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Environmental activists seek pollution solutions for Lake St. Clair

Homeowner Paul Gutierrez stands at his Lake St. Clair seawall,
 which is now overwhelmed by a swampy area with huge weeds and green water.
 Photos by Ray J. Skowronek/Macomb Daily

Two days after Oakland County officials admitted that they dumped an unprecedented 2.1 billion gallons of partially treated sewage into the Macomb County waterways during the massive Aug. 11 storm, environmental activists on Thursday called for a return to the policing of polluters that was in place several years ago.
These activists warned that drenching rainstorms are becoming more common, and sewage system overflows packed with fertilizers and other “nutrient-rich” discharges will increasingly lead to a Lake St. Clair shoreline plagued by algae, tainted water and seaweed-style aquatic plants dominating the water surface.
“The citizens of Macomb County and Michigan want to be a part of the solution. Unfortunately, we are kept in the dark. But, ‘No news is not good news.’ Is it really Pure Michigan? Do we really have a Blue Economy? Who knows?” said Doug Martz, who served for 14 years as the first and only chairman of the now-defunct Macomb County Water Quality Board.
The recommendations of the 1997 Blue Ribbon Commission on Lake St. Clair – which were updated a decade later – established a Water Quality Board to oversee pollution problems, a special prosecutor to crack down on polluters, and a special Health Department team that inspected hundreds of miles of drains tracking down pollution “hot spots.”
All of the enforcement operations within that “three-legged stool” have been eliminated or sharply curtailed over the past several years.
Meanwhile, officials who oversee Oakland and Macomb sewer facilities say that the unrelenting storm of Aug. 11, which dumped 5 inches or more of rain in many of the suburbs, would have overwhelmed any sewage system.
Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash and Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco have cautioned that their drainage systems are not built for such a downpour in a relatively short amount of time.
Carl Freeman, professor of biology at Wayne State (foreground) and 
Mike Gutow of a new environmental group, Save Lake St. Clair, address the media.
Martz and others spoke at a press conference held at the Harrison Township lakefront home of Paul Gutierrez, with a swampy patch of weeds in the background jutting out from the seawall in a space equivalent to a large back yard.
The towering phragmites, similar to cattails, combined with other invasive species of plants growing in green water, have eliminated the Gutierrez family’s view of Lake St. Clair. Sometimes, they have to keep their windows closed due to the stench of human waste coming from their waterfront.
Critics say Oakland and Macomb county communities that discharge raw sewage into the drains and streams that flow into Lake St. Clair -- owe some relief to those who live “at the end of the pipe.”
Gutierrez said he wants to see sewer relief valves shut down and all communities in the drainage area of Lake St. Clair engage in improvements that separate rain water from toilet water in two distinct networks of pipes.
“People say we can’t afford it. Well, how much did (the storm) cost all of those people in this area who had their basements flooded,” said Gutierrez, whose home is located in a stagnant section of the shoreline just south of the flush created by the mouth of the Clinton River Spillway. “It’s not until you live on the lake that you learn what the problem is.”
The 2.1 billion gallons flushed from southeast Oakland County on Aug. 11 occurred at the GWK Drain, traditionally known as the Twelve Towns Drain, that dumps directly into Macomb’s Red Run Drain at Dequindre south of 13 Mile Road. From there, the contaminants flow through residential neighborhoods to the Clinton River and then out to Lake St. Clair.
That volume of pollution doubles the tragic 1 billion-gallon discharge by Oakland County in 1994 that led to a summer of beach closings on Lake St. Clair and a buildup of seaweed mounds on the lakeshore. Following the Aug. 11 torrential rains, the Oakland County release through the GWK Drain was nearly seven times larger than all the overflows at sewer facilities in Macomb County combined.

A boat stuck in the muck on the Harrison Township shoreline.
The new figures from Oakland and other revisions bring the total sewage discharges into streams, rivers and eventually the lake on Aug. 11 to 2.5 billion gallons. That is the equivalent of 3,779 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
In addition, the amount of untreated raw sewage dumped into the waters by Macomb County communities during the flood was raised dramatically in the final numbers, from nearly 6 million gallons to 140 million gallons.
It took two weeks after the big storm before the public was made fully aware of all the sewage discharges that occurred in the hours and days of the aftermath.
The new numbers bring the total amount of partially treated and raw sewage spewed into the lake this year to about 4 billion gallons.
Linda Schweitzer, an associate professor of environmental chemistry at Oakland University, told the press on Thursday that low levels of pharmaceuticals and industrial pollutants could be hidden – and never detected – within those massive overflows of sewage-tainted rain water.
Carl Freeman, a Wayne State University biology professor, said that officials should also be worried about viruses in the discharged wastewater and a toxic version of bacteria known as microsystis.
Martz, Freeman and Schweitzer formed a trio about a dozen years ago that routinely warned the public of various pollution problems in the lake. Thursday’s press event marked the first time they have appeared together since County Executive Mark Hackel disbanded the Water Quality Board and replaced it with a new board, which meets privately and is focused on promoting lakefront entertainment events.
In his remarks, Freeman also suggested that the harmful algae blooms that earlier this summer shut down the drinking water systems of Toledo, Ohio, and a small portion of southern Michigan could blossom here due to poor water quality.
A decade ago, Macomb County played the lead role in creating a high-tech drinking water monitoring system that stretched from Port Huron through the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River to Wyandotte. But that protective network, put in place at 13 sites at an initial cost more than $2 million, has largely been shut down. Advocates say it could have been saved by tacking on a $1-per-year surcharge to property owner’s water bills in the tri-county area.
In the 1990s, Oakland County officials balked at spending $950 million to separate the sewers in the 14 communities that rely upon the Twelve Towns Drain. Instead, $144 million was spent to expand the massive sewage retention basin and make other sewer improvements in the surrounding area of Madison Heights.
That expensive project made only a marginal difference, Martz said, adding that several Macomb communities also have to answer for their lack of effort in eliminating the pollution problems.
“Warren is supposed to be a separated sewer system with separate pipes” for rainwater and sewage water, said Martz. “So why do the people in Warren have sewage in their basements … in their yards, in their streets? People shouldn’t have sewage in their basements in 2014. And we shouldn’t have sewage in this lake.”

Scary: 16 percent of the French support ISIS



The folks over at Vox.com are reporting on two startling polls that “ask a question that you would hope wouldn't need asking” … Do you support ISIS? After all who could possibly support a group that engages in mass murder, beheadings, rape, torture, burying people alive and, just overall, genocide?
Well these polls show the answer is a whole lot more than zero people.
The scary number here emerged from France where 16 percent of those polled support ISIS. In the 18 to 24 age category, approval is at a stunning 27 percent.
Vox points out that the numbers in the chart below reflect that a growing number of Europeans, mostly those in Muslim immigrant communities, are not just expressing support for ISIS, they are traveling to Syria and Iraq to join up.
Here’s the bigger picture, as explained by Vox’s Max Fisher:
“… It's no secret that far-right politics have been on the rise in Western Europe, which includes a growing willingness to embrace extremism and greater intolerance of all kinds. It is ironic but by no means impossible that far-right Islamophobia would rise in Europe alongside a greater approval of the Islamist group ISIS. Extremism is often reactive and ideologically contradictory.
“The growth of European intolerance has brought a rise in hate toward Jews in Europe, as well as Muslims. It's more complicated than extremism festering within predominantly Muslim immigrant communities.
Fisher then quotes British writer Kenan Malik, who explained recently in the New York Times the increasingly ugly politics in Europe:
 "There is no clear correlation in Europe between the level of popular anti-Semitism and the size of the Muslim population.
"The rise of identity politics has helped create a more fragmented, tribal society, and made sectarian hatred more acceptable generally.
“At the same time, the emergence of ‘anti-politics,’ the growing contempt for mainstream politics and politicians noticeable throughout Europe, has laid the groundwork for a melding of radicalism and bigotry. Many perceive a world out of control and driven by malign forces; conspiracy theories, once confined to the fringes of politics, have become mainstream.”

Here's something else that's scary: If you read that passage closely, you hear echoes of the birthers and tea party Obama haters here in America.

Is it inevitable that all 50 states will expand Medicaid?


Pennsylvania on Thursday became the 27th state to implement a Medicaid expansion plan, as offered in the Obamacare reforms. The announcement prompted Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a nonprofit group that advocates for health care consumers, to predict that soon all 50 states will offer expanded Medicaid coverage.
Here is a statement from Pollack:

“The agreement today between the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett to expand the state’s Medicaid program will provide needed health coverage for half a million uninsured state residents. Pennsylvania is the 27th state, plus the District of Columbia, to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“This step by Pennsylvania is indicative of an inevitable movement that will ultimately result in Medicaid expansions in all states across the country. In reaching agreement with CMS, Gov. Corbett joins Republican governors in Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Ohio who realize it makes no sense for states to pass up the availability of unprecedented federal funds to help low-income uninsured people receive much-needed health care. It would be an act of fiscal malpractice for governors to turn down this money.”

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wise words: Lesson to be learned from Perry indictment


One of my favorite columnists from the left side of the aisle, Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald, wrote this week about the dangerous road we’re heading down with the criminal indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
By indicting Perry, a Republican who was elected by a wide margin, Pitts sees this as a dangerous move by Democrats to use the courts and the legal process to potentially put Perry behind bars and essentially negate the 2011 gubernatorial election.
By going after Perry for simply issuing a veto and sending a message to his critics in Travis County, it’s widely viewed that this cynical Democratic maneuver backfired. Pitts sees a similar version of crass, reckless politicking on the Republican side in Congress, where many House GOP members talk of impeaching the president.

Here is Pitts’ conclusion:
“It is behavior that should give all fair-minded Americans pause, regardless of party affiliation, for it illustrates with stark clarity the sheer brokenness of our political system. Flooded with corporate money, gerrymandered beyond any semblance of reason, it limps along prodded by those whose devotion to the “game” far outweighs any devotion they might have to that quaint relic we once called the public good.
“Now there is this misuse of the courts for political payback, this attempt to criminalize ordinary political activity.”
“The public should take note. Elections have consequences, folks used to say.

“Overturning them does too.”

Young Michigan workers heading for the coasts


This map published by the Washington Post shows the “brain drain” that has hurt Michigan and many other Rustbelt states. Most of our state has seen a long, slow slide in population in the 25-34 age demographic.
Most of southeast Michigan is treading water while the Sunbelt and coastal areas, including the oceanfront areas throughout the Carolinas, have received an abundance of young people.
The Post points out that young workers who are at the age to start families are a key driver of economic growth.

Here is how the Post explained it:
“… Births still account for much of the nation’s population growth, more so than immigration or the declining death rate. Having a healthy population of people between the ages of 25-34 should be a good sign for a region, indicating that there is enough opportunity for people to want to settle down there.

For states like Michigan, the decline in the 25-34 age bracket as a percentage of the overall population is a disturbing sign:
“In contrast, the Rust Belt and Appalachia saw big declines in the fraction of people 25-34, accompanied by increases in the median age. The story here is that young people have moved out, leaving the older residents behind, and without much immigration to plug the hole. The great challenge for these regions will be to bring back young workers, whether they’re native-born or immigrants. Because if nobody’s starting families in these places, the population will only continue to dwindle.


Robo-calls to flood victims prompt ethics complaint

Novak


A barrage of robo-calls placed to local flood victims, allegedly for political purposes, seems to have created a divide between Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and one of his closest political allies, county Prosecutor Eric Smith.
A complaint was filed last week with the Macomb County Ethics Board charging that the thousands of animated calls, narrated by assistant prosecutor Suzanne Faunce, a candidate for judicial office this November in a portion of the area hit hardest by the floods, were designed to boost her campaign as much as alert flood victims about guidance available to them.
The complaint was filed by Hackel’s Republican challenger in the fall general election, David Novak of Chesterfield Township, though the Democratic county executive said he does not view Novak’s actions as a publicity stunt. The five-member county Ethics Board could take up the matter at their next meeting on Sept. 11.
Smith
When asked if the calls were sent to boost Faunce’s political fortunes, Smith said they were his idea, a non-political attempt at a public service announcement to largely alert south Macomb homeowners with flood damages about possible scam artists offering to provide home repairs.
Hackel has said a wave of calls to the county flood victims hotline resulting from the robo-calls on Thursday and again on Friday did “more harm than good” by tying up the phone lines at the county’s COMTEC emergency center.
According to Smith, the robo-calls cost just $647 and were financed through the Prosecutor’s Office “forfeiture funds,” which consist of cash and other assets seized by police from defendants accused of drug trafficking. Faunce narrated the 51-second calls because she leads the prosecutor’s senior crimes unit, which assists the demographic group most susceptible to fraud, Smith said.

Hackel
“Honestly, I don’t know if it’s legal for them to use forfeiture funds for this kind of effort. Regardless of where the money comes from, it is public funds,” Novak retorted. “When was the last time Macomb County paid to have calls made to seniors for any type of situation?”
Faunce, chief of the seniors unit for seven years, is running to unseat incumbent Judge Dean Ausilio in the 37th District, which handles cases originating from Warren and Center Line.
The robo-calls urged those property owners approached by home repair contractors to call the Better Business Bureau or the Home Builders Association before choosing a repairman who might not be licensed or insured.
The county hotline is mentioned twice as a place to report flood damages. Faunce does not mention her judicial candidacy or offer her Prosecutor’s Office phone number.

The hotline was established shortly after the drenching rainstorm of Aug. 11 that caused flooding throughout the south end of the county. Damage estimates for Macomb County have hit $300 million and federal officials, prompted in party by the thousands of calls received by COMTEC, are now surveying the areas to determine how much assistance from Washington is worthy.
Hackel initially expressed a high degree of frustration with the sudden “inundation” of calls to COMTEC on Thursday and Friday before he realized that Smith initiated the automated messages.
On Wednesday, Hackel said he talked to the prosecutor and told him that the plan “probably should have been run through us” at the executive’s office before it was implemented.

“I didn’t know about this ahead of time. Obviously there were good intentions involved. The problem I have is that we were caught off guard,” Hackel said, adding that many hotline callers were confused or irritated and did not need another reminder to report their flood damage to authorities by phone or online.
“We felt there was no need to do anything more to get the word out .”
The flood hotline was shut down by the county at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
Smith said he believes the inexpensive robo-calls had a “positive effect” to prevent fraud crimes before they happened and to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in swindles mostly aimed at seniors.

“Just because (Faunce) is running for judge doesn’t mean she still doesn't still have a job to do,” the prosecutor said. “As all in law enforcement are aware, seniors are the most vulnerable to scams.”
Smith pointed out that the automated calls were placed in the entire flood-ravaged area – Eastpointe, St. Clair Shores, Warren and Center Line – not just in the two communities where Faunce is vying for office.
The prosecutor added that the hotline number was added to the phone message script as a “throw away line” once he realized that a few extra seconds of time was still available on the audio recording.

Beyond the ethics issues, Novak’s ethics complaint also asserted that the voter-approved county charter puts the executive’s office and Hackel’s emergency management team in charge of natural disasters, not the Prosecutor’s Office. The document filed with the Ethics Board offers this commentary by Novak:
“If I were county executive, I would establish a communications policy that would require robo-call-type messages from the county offices to be vetted for legal and ethical accuracy prior to being released to the public.”
The Ethics Board, which has remained largely idle since it was formed in 2011, meets next on Thursday, Sept. 11 at 9 a.m. on the eighth floor of the county Administration Building, located in downtown Mount Clemens at Cass Avenue and Main Street.

However, Hackel and Smith doubt the Novak complaint will amount to anything. Hackel said he has no plans to attend a session of the Ethics Board, whose members he appoints, if the subject of the robo-calls is on the agenda.
“This doesn’t pertain to me. This has nothing to do with me or my office,” he said.
Smith was more animated, calling the complaint “political gamesmanship.”
“There’s nothing in the ethics policy that says I can’t do my job,” he said. “This ethics complaint will be dismissed immediately. It will not go anywhere, plain and simple. It will not go anywhere except straight into the trash can.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tea party leader urges: Vote for Schauer, vote for gridlock



As disgruntled tea party activists advocate the idea of not voting for Gov. Rick Snyder – or, God help them, supporting his Democratic opponent, Mark Schauer – one leader of the anti-establishment crowd within the Michigan Republican Party has made it clear that her agenda is to create gridlock in the state Legislature.

Isabelle Terry of Rockford, a member of the Republican state committee, told the MIRS news service that if former Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm had been in office over the past four years, the tea party types would have been better off.
Republicans in the state House and Senate would have stuck to the party's platform and fought Medicaid expansion and the new Common Core education standards, she said.
As the November election approaches, Terry sees a vote for Schauer, rather than the “liberal” Snyder, as a vote for gridlock, according to MIRS.

“I think gridlock is the way to go,” she said.

Those remarks must have stunned the establishment Republicans who are already furious over the movement toward shunning Snyder on Election Day. The anti-Snyder movement within the GOP ranks gained steam after last weekend’s state party convention where the tea party candidate for lieutenant governor lost by a wide margin to the incumbent, Snyder running mate Brian Calley.
Terry said she is among countless conservatives who have concluded, pre- and post-convention, that   Schauer won’t be any worse than Snyder.

Joan Fabiano of Grassroots Michigan, a leading tea party group, is among those who were turned off by some of the hardball politics practiced at the GOP conventions, the first step in the nominating process for statewide candidates.
In a message to her organization, Fabiano, who has widely proclaimed that she won’t vote for the governor in November, called on her membership to cast aside other Republican candidates.
She said the establishment GOP’s efforts to marginalize the tea party were “ an attempt to drive a stake in the heart of the limited government movement. The status quo MIGOP is attempting to rid itself of us ‘trouble makers.’ The same trouble makers who helped GOP candidates to historical wins in 2010. The troublemakers who were at first embraced when it was thought we would be convenient yes men and women propping up anyone with an "R" by his or her name despite any policy they might push. The trouble makers whose only crime is on assistance to an adherence to the Constitution.

“Well it hasn't worked.
“… What it has done is create more who will NOT be the worker bees nor vote for those "Rs" who push and promote liberal policies.”





CBO projects $170 billion decline in deficit

This chart shows federal budget deficits in terms of annual tax revenues
 and government spending as a percentage of the U.S. GDP

Talk about a mixed bag – the updated CBO Budget and Economic Outlook report that was released this morning has a little bit of everything.
Projecting out to 2024, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the economy will grow at a reasonable rate and inflation will be held in check. But the rapid decline in the federal budget deficit will come to an end and the cost of entitlement programs will put a major squeeze on the rest of the budget.

Here are a few excerpts, but for policy wonks there’s a whole lot more in the full report ...

The federal budget deficit has fallen sharply during the past few years, and it is on a path to decline further this year and next year. However, later in the coming decade, if current laws governing federal taxes and spending generally remained unchanged, revenues would grow only slightly faster than the economy and spending would increase more rapidly, according to the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO's) projections. 
Consequently, relative to the size of the economy, deficits would grow and federal debt would climb.

CBO's budget projections are built upon its economic forecast, which anticipates that the economy will grow slowly this year, on balance, and then at a faster but still moderate pace over the next few years. The gap between the nation's output and its potential (maximum sustainable) output will narrow to its historical average by the end of 2017, CBO expects, largely eliminating the underutilization of labor that currently exists. 
As the economy strengthens over the next few years, inflation is expected to remain below the Federal Reserve's goal, and interest rates on Treasury securities, which have been exceptionally low since the recession, are projected to rise considerably.

The Budget Deficit Continues to Shrink in 2014, but Federal Debt Is Still Growing

The federal budget deficit for fiscal year 2014 will amount to $506 billion, CBO estimates, roughly $170 billion lower than the shortfall recorded in 2013. At 2.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), this year's deficit will be much smaller than those of recent years (which reached almost 10 percent of GDP in 2009) and slightly below the average of federal deficits over the past 40 years.
However, by CBO's estimates, federal debt held by the public will reach 74 percent of GDP at the end of this fiscal year—more than twice what it was at the end of 2007 and higher than in any year since 1950.



Outlays
Spending is expected to rise by about 2 percent this year, to $3.5 trillion (see table below). Outlays for mandatory programs, which are governed by statutory criteria and not normally controlled by the annual appropriation process, are projected to rise by about 4 percent. That increase reflects growth in some of the largest programs—including a 15 percent increase in spending for Medicaid and a roughly 5 percent increase in spending for Social Security.

In contrast, CBO estimates, net spending for Medicare will increase by only 2 percent in 2014, and spending for some mandatory programs will fall; in particular, outlays for unemployment compensation are expected to drop by nearly 40 percent, primarily because the authority to pay emergency benefits expired at the end of December 2013.
Discretionary spending, which is controlled by annual appropriation acts, is anticipated to be 3 percent less in 2014 than it was in 2013. Nondefense discretionary spending is expected to be about the same this year as it was last year, but defense spending is likely to drop by about 5 percent.

… Between 2014 and 2024, annual outlays are projected to grow, on net, by $2.3 trillion, reflecting an average annual increase of 5.2 percent. Boosted by the aging of the population, the expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance, rising health care costs per beneficiary, and mounting interest costs on federal debt, spending for the three fastest-growing components of the budget accounts for 85 percent of the total projected increase in outlays over the next 10 years:

* Annual spending for Social Security is projected to grow by almost 80 percent. Under current law, outlays for that program would climb from 4.9 percent of GDP this year to 5.6 percent in 2024, according to CBO's estimates.
* Annual net outlays for the government's major health care programs (Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and subsidies for health insurance purchased through exchanges) are projected to rise by more than 85 percent. Outlays for those programs would grow from 4.9 percent of GDP to 5.9 percent, CBO anticipates.
* Outlays for net interest in 2024 are projected to be more than triple those in 2014 -- the result of both projected growth in federal debt and a rise in interest rates. Net interest outlays would rise from 1.3 percent of GDP this year to 3.0 percent by the end of the coming decade, CBO expects.