In the largest protest yet against Gov. Rick Snyder’s war on the American dream, 10,000 patriots have gathered in Lansing, Michigan so that their collective cries for freedom can’t be ignored.
Teamsters Nation reports, “This is what solidarity looks like: a huge crowd of 10,000 people, including Teamsters, teachers and construction workers, on the Statehouse lawn right now in Lansing.”
According to Al Young of Teamsters Joint Council 43 organizer, “It’s a nice sunny day for a rally. We had an opening prayer and we’ll hear from 10 speakers or more. We’re going to have a break this afternoon so people can visit their legislators. We’ve got Teamsters, teachers, building trades workers and people not affiliated with unions here to show their support. There are about 60-65 buses that brought everyone in. Everyone here is united!”
The protesters are speaking out against Gov. Rick Snyder’s imposition of financial martial law in the state through a budget bill gives businesses a $1.7 billion tax cut while slashing $900 million from education, taxes pensions. Snyder intends to raise taxes on and cut vital services for the poor and middle class. Snyder implemented the first phase of his agenda last month by cutting unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks.
Video courtesy of Progress Michigan:
Protesters chanted, “Gov. Snyder wants to tax the pensions of seniors with fixed incomes!” The crowd roared back “It’s not fair, it’s not fair!” and they brought some Motown to the protest with the lyrical chant, “Rick Snyder, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side.”
In a joint statement, Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer and House Democratic Leader Richard Hammel said the Snyder plan balances the budget on the backs of “seniors, working families, and students while giving billions away to big corporations… It does nothing to resolve the concerns and frustrations that have brought people to the Capitol by the thousands in recent weeks to voice their opposition to his agenda. We also question the amount of revenue this plan will actually generate since the bulk of the revenue raised from the pension tax comes from hitting the lowest pensions.”
Wednesday’s rally was sponsored by the state’s largest teachers’ union, the Michigan Education Association. According to the Michigan Messenger, Warren superintendent Robert Livernois warned that Synder’s plan was “‘The perfect financial storm” about to “smash its way over Warren Consolidated Schools.” Livernois says they “would need more than $1,000 per pupil in additional money to offset the proposed cuts … the district would have to lay off 220 teachers or nearly one of every four teachers to eliminate this reduction in school funding. Simply, fewer teachers means larger class sizes.”
To see what all of the fuss is about, we can take a look at the horrendous threat hanging over the city of Detroit as Mayor Bing tries to get his budget passed. Bing warned that the city if Detroit is currently facing the threat of imminent appointment of a “financial manager” unless they can get their budget approved, which currently consists of (you guessed it) cuts in pensions and health care for city workers, although the mayor says he will try to change current law in order to increase tax on casinos by up to 3% temporarily. The city workers will be forced to pay 20% more for healthcare, and they will ask the casinos for up to 3% (sort of like the feudal system).
I wish Mayor Bing good luck with that plan, after all, he will have to go begging to the casinos and Governor Walker for the right to tax the casinos 3%. We certainly wouldn’t want to ask the casinos that were brought to the state in the first place as a revenue generator to help “share the sacrifice” by actually generating revenue for the state. Bing’s budget was countered by City Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown who threw the gas of marital financial law on Bing’s cuts, as he suggested that all city services “must be on the table for consolidation, merger, privatization or elimination.” Notice that no one but Bing is suggesting they actually collect revenue from corporations.
What we can take away from the scene in Detroit is that Governor Synder doesn’t have to actually implement marital financial law in order to get his way, he only needs to have the threat looming over the head’s of the desperate, hungry, and needy in order to push severe cuts on the workers while corporations slink into the night with the workers’ hard-earned cash.
But Governor Synder didn’t count on the spirit of Michiganders, or the commitment of Michigan’s teachers, firefighters, police, nurses, and other patriots whose chants of “Rick Snyder, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side” will echo in the empty class rooms and foreclosure signs of seniors in Michigan. Rick Synder suffers from the Republican empathy deficit, and he’s using a budget crisis (that is real in Michigan, as opposed to manufactured in Wisconsin) to literally starve his constituents, destroy education, and impose financial martial law. Of course, if Snyder were really concerned about the budget, he would do as all real conservatives would suggest; he would raise revenue from the highest earners. But instead, Snyder cut taxes to corporations and turned his back on the people.
Shame on Governor Snyder. If they rally today is any indication, the people of Michigan won’t stand for it.