It happened the other day with Gov. Rick Snyder. He is trying to figure out a way to convince voters to say yes to his sales tax hike to fix the roads. He is facing stiff opposition from the anti-taxers who are a mission to make sure the governor fails.
They have been hawking the story that with a $52 billion state budget, the governor and friends could take out their paring knife and cut other state programs and divert those dollars into potholes rather then passing a tax hike.
Asked the other day if he could do that, he responded tersely, No."
O.K. He's entitled to his opinion but in recent days it appears that lawmakers are finding ways to cut the budget and he is going along with it. To be sure it is not to raise dollars for the roads, but they are making cuts nonetheless for another goal, balancing the budget.
Is there a credibility gap here?
Legislators need to eliminate a $550 million deficit and they will reduce some state services to get there.
Critics of the tax hike could argue, if they can find $550 million in cuts, they could find another $500 million and then they could fix the darn highways without a tax increase.
During two recent interviews, two opponents of the tax increase made the same case for cutting "corporate welfare."
Take a look at the MEDC, argues Keith Allard a west Michigan anti-taxer. Good idea, echos Wes Nakagiri of TEA Party fame.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the brain child of former Gov. John Engler, has never been very popular with the ultra conservatives. Even the Mackinac Center, founded by Mr. Engler and others, has berated the MEDC from the get go. That's because they doll out tax breaks to create jobs and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. In fact a report some time ago suggested, the MEDC reported jobs where there weren't any.
The free market types argue, stop picking winners and losers, and let the market place work without state assistance. So far MEDC has remained pretty much untouched.
The other day two members of the house budget committee were on the same page bemoaning spending at the MEDC and suggesting it was time to start slicing and dicing it's budget. One was a D and the other was an R.
"Now it's time to take a strong look at MEDC and make sure that they're right sized," argues Rep. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing.) He contends ever since this governor took office, he's cut business taxes here and there, and enough already. It's time to cut the budget instead.
GOP Rep. Earl Poleski (R-Jackson) agrees. "I think we need to be looking at whether that model is working for us," as he references the hefty biz tax breaks that the MEDC spreads around each year. Asked if he was willing to cut, he did not miss a beat, "Absolutely. Sure."
So now lawmakers are singing the same tune about squeezing money out of the state budget as opponents of the sales tax. Only the anti-taxers would use those savings to fix the roads, while lawmakers are doing this to fix the budget.
But no one can deny that the budget will be cut, for whatever reason, and the anti-sales tax folks will say, "See. We told you they could do it."