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November 25, 2009


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It really sounds so easy, doesn't it? Just raise taxes on the state's richest man.

The problem is, if we do that, the state's richest man moves to Florida, where they have no state income taxes.

A couple of weeks ago, Jack Lessenberry observed, probably rightly, that Lt. Governonr John Cherry is likely to get his party's nomination, and that many experienced political observers think that Cherry has "no chance" of winning a general election as the nominee. I'd hazard a guess that Alma Wheeler Smith's chances are less than Cherry's.

I think that graduated taxes make sense in some cases, but 7 percent for people earning $60K seems extreme.

I agree people need to pay more -- it makes sense that taxes be extended to services. But I don't think we can penalize people for making $60K -- that's just not that much money.

How about retirees paying their fair share? Why no discussion of aligning public sector retirement plans with the private retirement plans? Far too politically treacherous rather than simply the right thing to do.

I liked Lessenberry's article about Smith's campaign because he emphasized a key point-- If a Democrat is going to have any chance of winning the governor's race in 2010, it will require boldness and fundamentally new approaches to both policy and the organizing and running of a truly Progressive campaign in this state.

What Lessenberry failed to emphasize, however, is that in addition to arguing for a progressive income tax in MI, no candidate will win the race in MI without having a broad and progressive strategy for tackling all the other issues that are impacting working people in Michigan in their everyday lives--on food security, green jobs, energy security, and strong effective governance!

The idea that we do not need good government in the 21st century has been completely demolished by the current economic collapse, which occurred as result of the continual weakening of government's ability to effectively govern the economy in ways that serve the interests of the vast majority of the nation's and this state's people. And the inability of our state government to get any real control over our budget, let alone create a positive plan and effective vision for bringing our state back from the abyss into which it has sunk, only underlines the need for new visionary leadership and new ways to approach governing in the state of Michigan.

With Lessenberry, I too hope that Alma Wheeler Smith will show that she has the vision, energy, and strategic plan to offer a real alternative to the tired old same-as-always approach to MI government that has guided both the Democrats and the Republicans over the last decade. The politics of the same-old of both parties has landed us in this mess, which began long before the current economic crisis.

And the usual tired old tactics for campaign organizing are not going to win things for the Democrats, especially in a year where the Republican grassroots will be resurgent. The only chance the Democrats have is in mobilizing a broad grassroots-supported candidacy that uses the best progressive strategies and tactics and messaging, and that builds on what made President Obama's campaign so successful in 2008.

Without a strong progressive, visionary, and strategic approach to the Democratic campaign, we won't get very far in 2010. I deeply hope the campaign of Alma Wheeler Smith will show us that in her we have the kind of leader who can help the people of this great state create the kind of government and policies we deserve, which will lift us all out of the current crisis and into a prosperous and equitable future for all Michigan's citizens.

The idea of a Democrat even uttering the word taxes in this state unless he or she has to is political suicide.

There is exactly one issue which will matter in this election: jobs.

Smith would be a disaster. Running a woman brings up associations with the unpopular and ineffectual Granholm. Running an African-American brings up associations with Detroit. And running on taxes brings up all the worst associations with Democrats.

So what does the average voter end up associating with the Democratic brand? Taxes, Granholm, and Detroit. Horrible strategy.

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