Will Proposal 15-1 become a bridge too far for the GoverNerd?
According to a colleague of mine, the power of government (at any level), over its law-abiding citizens, is directly derived from the taxation authority. Think about that for a moment or two. In a truly free society, the government has no means to control the behavior of its citizens who aren’t actual criminals, nor will those citizens tolerate any such action from their duly-elected public servants. And while the citizenry does indeed pay taxes – because even in a free society, the government still has the authority to tax – control of the taxation mechanism isn’t left to the arbitrary whims of government functionaries, and the true tax burden is plainly visible for all to see.
By that measure, it’s been at least five decades since Michigan was a truly free state. Since being gifted with an income-based taxation model, and a full-time legislative model, the state that was once the engine of freedom has progressively mutated into a socialist laboratory, at best a generation between now and whatever bankruptcy chapter awaits a nominally sovereign state collapsing into receivership. And in that regard, I don’t think it overly dramatic to suggest that this statewide special election to decide the fate of a legislative piece of sausage is similar to Gettysburg . . . if we don’t stop them here, then where will we ever be able to stop them at all?
The upside is that We the People received a bit of good news on this front yesterday, though how this’ll ultimately play out is still an open question.
Two polls were released yesterday, apparently not in time to make the weekend news cycle, that seem to indicate that maybe we ought to have a bit more faith in the typical off-cycle voter. A poll conducted by Strategic National on Monday and Tuesday showed a nine-point uptick in opposition from a similar survey conducted about eight weeks previously. A poll conducted by Target Insyght on Tuesday and Wednesday initially showed no shift in opposition from a similar poll conducted nearly a year ago, but then registered a dramatic uptick in opposition (and a noticeable narrowing of the “undecided” bloc) after the actual ballot language was read. Notable in both survey reports is that the advertising saturation isn’t doing Safe Roads YES! any favors . . . thus far.
Even though things are looking pretty bleak right now for the Michigan Sales Tax Increase for Transportation Amendment (down roughly three dozen points at six weeks out), Ed Sarpolus of Target Insyght contends that this isn’t yet a done deal. However, for Governor Snyder to be able to successfully drag this turkey across the finish line a little over five weeks from now, he has to either solve his credibility problems or find a different primary messenger. And that suggestion brings back some really disturbing memories from roughly two and a half years ago.
A floor resolution to support the Michigan Tax Limitation Amendment (Proposal 12-5) should have been a “gimme” housekeeping vote at the September 2012 Michigan Republican State Convention. I say “should have been” because, for some reason, such a resolution never saw the floor of the general session, let alone a vote. But the NerdKing wanted it killed (remember “One is yes, no on the rest”?), so the typical behind-the-curtain maneuvering took place to ensure that the GoverNerd wouldn’t suffer the embarrassment of a public rebuke from his party of choice. And no one of importance made a stink out of Snyder using his bus tour of the state to openly advocate for killing the five proposals on the 2012 ballot that he didn’t agree with. Worse, the governor’s operatives made a point of quietly recruiting key county republican leadership and local tea party leadership, and had them take to social media and openly advocate for his position (complete with well-prepared talking points and red herrings).
As Sarpolus discussed in a special MIRS podcast yesterday, the governor’s key problem is that Proposal 1 is perceived publicly (correctly) as a top-down approach, rather than a grassroots citizen-initiative. His suggestion is that Snyder either (a) figure out how to get grassroots engagement in support of the proposal, and/or (b) get at least one credible high-profile democrat to act as an advocacy surrogate (perhaps as a show of bifarceisan support for a legislative sausage job).
Maybe it’s my imagination, but I’ve noticed that the radio and television advertising campaign that was just starting to pick up steam has all of a sudden dropped off a cliff, though I suspect that it’s probably just the “yes” crew retooling their messaging (since what they’re airing right now clearly isn’t working). Keep in mind that Richard Dale Snyder is a man whose ego doesn’t permit defeat on something that’s actually important to him (remember “Take a vote, not a vacation”?), and his conduct over the past five years or so has also shown that the ethical scruples that would normally restrain a platform republican don’t apply to him, so what happens next is going to say a great deal about Snyder’s intentions. RDS wanted Proposal 12-5 killed, specifically so that he could advance the ten-bill tax-ratchet agenda that’s been tie-barred into 2014-HJR-UU (the House Fiscal Agency Analysis provides links to each) . . . as I warned back then would happen . . . so we can safely assume that he’s not going to just let this go. What I expect is that (if he’s in fact abandoned the advertising campaign for now) we’ll see, at some point before the end of next week, high profile media appearances by “credible” republican and democrat surrogates, as well as an aggressive social media campaign by the usual suspects (who’ll highlight their tea party street-cred as part of their approach).
Regardless, what we likely won’t see is Snyder actually take up Tom McMillin’s challenge to “have an adult conversation” about Proposal 15-1, in the form of a public and on-the-record debate on the merits of not just the ballot proposal, but the entire tie-barred legislative package. That’s because, as we saw yesterday, actually discussing the merits of the proposal is a sure way to kill it . . . and even a nerd can figure that one out.