Opinion

Granholm’s expertise in how to torpedo an economy lands her a Politico column

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Patrick Gleason
Director of State Affairs, Americans for Tax Reform
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      Patrick Gleason

      Patrick Gleason is Director of State Affairs for Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). ATR is a coalition of taxpayer groups, individuals, and businesses opposed to higher taxes at the federal, state, and local levels. ATR organizes the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which asks all candidates for federal and state office to commit themselves in writing to oppose all tax increases.

      Gleason handles state tax, budget, and energy issues for ATR. Prior to joining ATR, Gleason was head of state government affairs for an international trade association based in Washington, DC. Gleason's writing and commentary have been published in the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Times, Arizona Republic, Chicago Daily Herald, and the OC Register, among others.

It was announced this week that former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm will be writing a regular column for Politico. Those familiar with Granholm’s track record as governor are likely scratching their heads as to what expertise the former governor could offer that warrants a bi-weekly column. Her time as governor was marked by the imposition higher taxes, unsustainable spending and excessive regulations that resulted in a lost decade for the Great Lakes State.

In her maiden column this week — which is comprised of tired liberal platitudes, disingenuous DNC talking points and dumbed-down rhetoric reminiscent of blather straight out of a Daily Kos comments section — Granholm referred to Michigan as a laboratory of democracy, evoking former Supreme Court Justice Brandeis’s famous reference to the states’ utility as 50 guinea pigs for testing new policies. Yet, a look at Granholm’s record shows that on her watch Michigan was more like a lavatory of democracy.

The national unemployment rate currently stands at 8.3%. In terms of economic contraction, it appears Michigan was way ahead of the curve under Gov. Granholm. Back in 2008, when the national unemployment rate stood at 5.8%, the unemployment rate in Granholm’s Michigan was already at 8.3%. Impressive. I would sarcastically remark that someone needs to get this woman her own television show, but it turns out that Al Gore’s Current TV already has.

Let’s take a look at how Michigan faired during the entirety of Granholm’s time as governor. Granholm assumed office in January of 2003 and left office at the end of 2010. During that time Michigan had an average unemployment rate that was a whopping 37 percent higher than the national rate.

The chart below shows that even when the national economy was humming along prior to the financial crisis and the bursting of the housing bubble, Granholm was overseeing a one-state recession in which Michigan led the way on misery and joblessness, with the state’s top export being its most productive and highly educated residents.

Unemployment: Granholm’s Michigan vs. National Average (Source: BLS)

In her first column, Granholm took the economic proposals of the GOP presidential candidates to task. Yet, as the aforementioned data indicate, Granholm’s not really one to comment on the topic. If her first entry is any indication, the column would be most appropriately titled “Throwing Stones from Glass Houses.”

Granholm’s tenure in Michigan is a case study in how high taxes and bigger government drive away businesses, individuals and families. While she was governor, hundreds of thousands of people left Michigan, and it’s not hard to see why. Michigan has a top marginal income tax rate of 4.35 percent, which is 55 percent higher than the average top rate among states that will be gaining congressional seats as a result of the last census (Michigan is losing a seat). Per capita government spending is also nine percent higher on average in Michigan than in states gaining congressional seats. Granholm herself fled Michigan as soon as she could and now spends her days teaching classes and cruising around Berkeley in her taxpayer-subsidized Chevy Volt.