Detroit News: DeVos keeps focus on Granholm's poor record; Governor's reliance on cheap shots doesn't help cause.
The winners in Monday night's final gubernatorial debate were Michigan's economically ravaged voters, who know they have stark choices in who should lead the state for the next four years.
GOP challenger Dick DeVos helped define their options by reminding citizens of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's four years of lackluster achievement. His proposals for cutting business taxes and easing regulations are a marked contrast to the governor's reliance on public works projects and a questionable public venture capital fund.
DeVos pointed out that high taxes have horrible consequences and discourage businesses from investing and expanding here. His best point was about the state's personal property tax, which punishes businesses for investing in manufacturing plant equipment and leads to lost jobs, especially when other industrial states in the region don't have that tax.
That was also clear on Canadian trash, where Granholm supports gouging Michigan consumers with sharply higher garbage rates and fewer landfills. DeVos doesn't.
On atmospherics, DeVos clearly was less comfortable than Granholm on stage and slower in the repartee that televised debates demand. But that was offset by Granholm's smarmy attitude and cheap-shot tactics, which included dropping distortions and lies into her rebuttal time that DeVos couldn't respond to.
The most grating example was in the governor's opening statement, when she conveniently challenged DeVos not to mention the names of dead foster children in his ads. These are the same kids whose deaths were contributed to by the mismanagement of government agencies under Granholm's watch.
Granholm, a Harvard-trained lawyer, may want to put a gag order on discussing the public safety of children in the state's care, but citizens deserve an open, vigorous debate about the best way the people's government should protect some of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.
Another key distortion Granholm keeps crowing about is that she inherited a $4 billion cumulative deficit. She didn't. Most of that was declining revenue that happened from lost jobs and fleeing companies on her four-year watch. She can't blame it all on former Gov. John Engler.
This raises an interesting question: What's the problem with cutting another $1 billion in the budget to attract more jobs to Michigan with lower business taxes if she already has cut $4 billion in a $41 billion budget?
DeVos correctly has harped on accountability and leadership. Michigan has judged all of its governors on their records, and Granholm is no different. Unfortunately, she has been sorely lacking.
That was particularly glaring early in the debate, when the candidates were asked what one piece of legislation they wanted to get passed to create jobs. Granholm couldn't name a single one. All she could do was talk about her already enacted $2 billion economic subsidy and grant program. The impression that leaves is she has done everything she can and the only thing for Michigan to do is to wait.
But DeVos argued that this state can't stand still in the fast-paced world of attracting jobs and commerce. It is now up to the voters whether they want change or the status quo.