Fake news, fundraising, term limits, polls. Ft. Matt Grossman and Bernie Porn

October 28, 2019

Michigan Policast for Monday, October 28, 2019

  In this episode:

  • 14,000 lies and fake news
  • Interview: Dr Matt Grossmann (MSU) on those new “news” websites
  • Q3 fundraising results for state candidates
  • Voters Not Politicians – Redistricting commission applications available
  • Left and right might work together on other reforms
  • Lightning round
  • Interview: Bernie Porn of EPIC/MRA
  • Transcript

 

Jump to:

14,000 lies and fake news

Interview with Dr Matt Grossmann (MSU) on those new “news” websites

Matt Grossmann is Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) and Associate Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University.

 

Q3 fundraising results for state candidates

Voters Not Politicians – Redistricting commission applications available

 

 

Left and right might work together on other reforms

'Research from the non-partisan think tank @crcmich found #termlimits have led to increased political polarization and lobbyist influence ' @bridgemichigan http://bit.ly/2BOiI73 @rbeggin @jonathanoostingClick To Tweet

Lightning round

“Strengthening paychecks is good for families, good for business, and good for our economy. It’s time to get it done,” @GovWhitmer http://bit.ly/2WhOLWs @MichiganAdvance @MiUnitedWaysClick To Tweet

The new rule that I announced last week will expand the right to overtime pay for nearly 200,000 Michiganders. It will raise the salary level under which employees are automatically entitled to overtime pay. It will also take into consideration the valuable feedback from employers and stakeholders to ensure we’re setting a threshold that’s right for all Michiganders. The rulemaking process will likely take eight to 12 months. –source

Interview: Bernie Porn of EPIC/MRA


Bernie Porn is a partner and President of EPIC▪MRA. Drawing on over three decades of research and communication experience, Mr. Porn’s primary role with the firm involves the writing and analysis of the survey research conducted for EPIC▪MRA ‘s clients. He is also looked to by members of the media, academia and others for commentary on the wide spectrum of topics researched by the firm.

.@onetoughnerd's job numbers after his #MiBudget were a little lower than @GovWhitmer's, and I think that she would be higher right now if not for the gas tax proposal that is overwhelmingly opposed by Dems independents and Republicans. #FTDRClick To Tweet

 

Transcript

Walt Sorg 0:16
and New Mexico is going to pay for it. This is the Michigan Policast a weekly review of Michigan politics and policy and the national currents impacting our president peninsulas. I’m Walt Sorg, also known as a good friend of Pierre Delecto

Amy Kerr Hardin 0:31
I’m Amy Kerr Hardin fake news takes a leap forward this week with the debut of dozens of political propaganda websites masquerading as real newspaper websites, will talk with a political science professor who stumbled on the latest right wing false flag operation, even as Mark Zuckerberg tells Congress it isn’t his problem.

Christine Barry 0:49
And I’m Christine Barry. There’s a cornucopia of political news in our state this week. We’ll have a lightning round on polls and politicians along with a tutorial on all the polling from Michigan master, Bernie Porn of EPIC / MRA public opinion

Walt Sorg 1:07
Let’s begin with what’s real and what’s not in our news media and our news feeds. Amy, your column this week for Northern Express focuses on how the 14,000 lies of Donald Trump are just the tip of the iceberg in our information world. Just how bad is it?

Amy Kerr Hardin 1:23
As has been widely reported, the ultra-conservative Corporation Sinclair broadcasting group has been buying up local TV stations to the point that three out of four American homes are subject to their enforced pro-Trump up ads. Many affiliates, including most of Michigan, are so embarrassed by the content that they run them in the wee hours. Sinclair’s most recent bit of partisan vitriol masquerading as serious commentary is particularly revolting. They’re claiming the immigrants have caused an increase in child sexual abuse. And the op-ed blames a liberal obsession with supposedly unfettered border crossings. All data indicates that immigrants, legal or not, are much less likely to commit crimes, let alone sexual abuse.

Walt Sorg 2:10
One thing about Sinclair broadcasting is they run a lot of commentaries from a guy by the name of Boris Epshteyn, I think is that how it’s pronounced, who was a Trump campaign spokesman, and is now the official commentator for Sinclair doing some right-wing propaganda, although they’re beginning to back off of him a little bit. And it’s really ironic, of course, he is a native of Russia, which seems to be the fountain police from which all of Trumps stems

Amy Kerr Hardin 2:33
Yeah, he’s quite the creep. And whenever he would go and do his op-eds in the wee hours Usually, it just it creeps people out with his Russian accent and so forth, and just in the words that he would choose, just, it was just so inappropriate.

Walt Sorg 2:48
One of the things I think we will have on the website too is a list of the stations in Michigan that are owned by Sinclair. I watch one of them on a fairly regular basis, and it’s mostly straight news but then when they get into the political commentary, it is definitely very one-sided. It is Fox News on steroids.

Amy Kerr Hardin 3:06
almost all of Northwest Michigan is under Sinclair broadcasting group.

Christine Barry 3:11
This week we learned a new effort to promote conservative dogma by disguising it as objective news, sort of Fox News without the transparency. It came to light when the head of Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, Dr. Matt Grossman, was perusing through his facebook feed. The political scientists talk with Walt about what he found,

Walt Sorg 3:33
Matt It used to be that Seeing is believing was one of the things we could always count on. Now seeing is not believing and you discovered it online with something that looks like a newspaper but

Matt Grossmann 3:44
that’s right. I came across on my personal Facebook feed a story from the Lansing sun which I hadn’t heard of about the fact that we had plenty of money to fix the roads in Michigan and it’s it sure seemed different than the main political debate. So I clicked around and tried to see who they were and what, where that information came from. And it was clearly coming from a conservative political perspective. But they had created 37 different sites in Michigan all made to sound like a local newspaper from a different area to spread that information.

Walt Sorg 4:23
It’s things like the Lansing Sun, the Ann Arbor Times, the Thumb Reporter, the UP Gazette, and with the falling off of local newspapers, some of them going to weekly or bi-weekly, there’s quite a gap for them to fill and they can take advantage of it they’re doing it seems like a very efficiently.

Matt Grossmann 4:41
That’s right. As you know, of course, there’s been a decline in local news reporting overall, and they now say explicitly, they didn’t have an About Us page when I first clicked on them, but they now say explicitly on there, that they’re aiming to fill that gap in local news coverage.

Walt Sorg 4:58
They don’t tell you who they are though, do they?

Matt Grossmann 5:00
They don’t say much. And it’s not at all clear that this really is locally sourced information. The articles that I clicked on the writers were out of state and had mainly written for other conservative publications. So it doesn’t seem like the information is coming from Michigan.

Walt Sorg 5:20
Is there any guarantee it’s even coming from the United States.

Matt Grossmann 5:24
The authors, at least that were mentioned on there were in the US or at least seemed to be and they had sourced much of the information they source the back and center for example, in our first article that I read, and they quoted some local politicians, but a lot of that could be found elsewhere on the web.

Walt Sorg 5:47
You can use Google and find just about any of that stuff. Or if you want audio, you can find YouTube, whatever. I remember when I was a kid, and when I was a young man, the source for information basically was Walter Cronkite on TV and the local newspaper the Lansing State Journal In my case, plus the national papers, The New York Times, especially. And now it’s gotten so diverse. It’s hard for most people to judge what’s real and what’s not.

Matt Grossmann 6:11
That’s right. There are quite a few different sources and it’s hard to tell what is objective and what is local apparently Now, a lot of conservative publications have had success with kind of generic names like Journalism Review or something like that. So it doesn’t seem to be necessary to have a well-known source to spread information on Facebook, for example, but these folks have certainly gone to a lot of trouble to make it look like they’re trustworthy local news sources.

Walt Sorg 6:43
Have things like this been around long enough so that their academic studies on what they what impact that they have?

Matt Grossmann 6:50
Well, we don’t study this specifically, but there there are plenty there’s plenty of research on how people encounter information on Facebook and elsewhere online. So, the good news is that people don’t necessarily change their opinions after reading an opinionated article online, it tends to reinforce their existing views if it has any effect at all. And they do sometimes recognize kind of source credibility. The bad news is people have a hard time distinguishing between news and opinion, commentary. And quite a few people remember the source as just Facebook or the internet, or I saw something online, don’t necessarily lodge that it was coming from a particular political perspective.

Walt Sorg 7:35
And smack dab in the middle of all of this, of course, is social media. Mark Zuckerberg in the last few days, had a bad day on Capitol Hill, to say the least. He’s basically saying he’s not going to censor political speech. But I ran into a situation a couple of days ago, I’ve posted a photo of a lynching for obvious reasons, based on what the President had to say about what was happening to him and Facebook censored it. Yet they won’t censor ads that have been called out by fact-checkers that are run by political candidates in this case of both Elizabeth Warren who intentionally ran something that was false. And the Trump campaign which lied about Joe Biden, what is their responsibility?

Matt Grossmann 8:12
That may be part of what’s at stake here, that this information that I ran across was not a conspiracy theory, it wasn’t blatantly false information. And so, you know, that may be harder for Facebook to kind of detect automatically or to decide that they want to take down. It is going to be difficult, of course, for anybody to distinguish algorithmically or from California, what the, what the real news is and what the slanted news is from Facebook’s perspective, even if they wanted to take it down, which as you pointed out, they tend to want to take a hands-off approach if they can.

Walt Sorg 8:52
One of the programs you run through the Institute of Public Policy and Social Research is a bipartisan political leadership training program. Basically, people who want to be Candidates regardless of their party affiliation come in and you teach them how to be candidates and ultimately how to be public officials. How does this impact what you’re going to teach them?

Matt Grossmann 9:10
Well, we do talk a little bit about certainly talk a little bit about talking to the media. We also talk about partisan sources and partisan media. And part of the point of the exercise is to get some Democrats and Republicans in a room together to get to know one another and, and have to talk to one another about the issues facing Michigan. And they do tell us that these are increasingly rare opportunities that they get to do that because more of the information really does come from within one partisan perspective.

So I don’t know if it’s going to change what we tell them. But I think it reinforces the need to have people come together and talk across their different sources about the issues in the state.

Walt Sorg 10:00
The other challenge that we face both as consumers of information. And for political leaders and others that are purveying information is deep fake videos, the technology has gotten so common and so simple. You can make anybody say anything. And it looks real. Again, and how do we deal with this challenge?

Matt Grossmann 10:18
You certainly will see increasing attempts of that kind to influence elections now that it’s technologically easier. On the other hand, I think this actually might signal another path, which is that you know, people may be able to distinguish sort of odd-looking or very strange information, but it may be harder if we can kind of disguise it as well. This looks newsy even if it only quotes one side, or even if it, you know, even if it doesn’t have the full information that I’ve heard elsewhere, and so I think this actually may signal that partisan political actors don’t want to just put on, you know the completely blatant misinformation but want to try to disguise information that comes from a political perspective, because it might be harder for us to distinguish.

Walt Sorg 11:11
Well, there’s been a lot of discussion amongst political leaders that have been caught in their past using blackface, for example, that’s pretty easy to generate with Photoshop and denials a lot harder than the revelation in the first place. You could say the same thing about the use of certain inflammatory language that can be put into the mouths of people. It’s really kind of like the Wild West when it comes to what’s real.

Matt Grossmann 11:34
It is but I guess I wouldn’t take it that far, have quite a bit of success in journalists being able to distinguish true and false stories from people’s backgrounds, for example, that the blackface stories

Unknown Speaker 11:47
But you really don’t need a journalist to intervene, you’ve got direct access to the consumer. If you’ve got a Facebook account, you spend a few hundred bucks and get it all.

Matt Grossmann 11:55
But I’m just saying it’s good news that in the cases that we know about, we were able to determine If the person had actually been in blackface in the past, we also had some partisan political actors try to get politicians and ensnarled in in new Me Too controversies, for example, that weren’t successful. So it hasn’t been quite as easy as some think, to make up these stories about politicians and get them to spread.

Walt Sorg 12:19
Certainly, if nothing else that’s going to keep you and your researchers in political science, we’re all busy for a while at least.

Matt Grossmann 12:26
there’s certainly new things to look at in every election. And there’s easily generated data on lots of lots of these new things because they’re all happening online and we can watch them in progress.

Walt Sorg 12:39
One final question relating to your political training program, are you finding any difference in the level of cynicism or interest of people in running for public office one way or the other?

Matt Grossmann 12:49
Well, we have a self-selected group that’s very interested and actually not very cynical, so no, we aren’t but that just could be because we get the people who are who are most interested in Yeah, making a difference in the state.

Walt Sorg 13:02
if somebody is interested in that program, where can they find more information?

Matt Grossmann 13:05
They can go to ippsr.msu.edu. And again, that’s ipsir.msu.edu.

Walt Sorg 13:13
Matt Grossman, always a pleasure talking with you. And thanks so much.

Matt Grossmann 13:16
Thank you.

Walt Sorg 13:17
And Professor Grossman has a new book red state blues how the conservative revolution stalled in the States, published by Cambridge University Press. It’ll be available shortly on Amazon. And wherever you find fine books.

Time for the headline news or let me run into what’s going on around Michigan. We begin with the third-quarter campaign finance, politicians and political parties. Christine, what are we found?

Christine Barry 13:51
Well, let’s start with what the Michigan House Democrats have announced. They recently came out with a statement that they have raised a historic $1 million in cumulative contributions through the year through the third quarter after two consecutive record-breaking fundraiser quarters. So what that means is they’ve raised $1 million through the year. They’ve never done that before. And in addition to all of this in their announcement was the fact that the grassroots small donations are really driving all of this. And that’s, that’s what really adds some strength to these numbers.

But let’s go and take a look at some of the other numbers that surround that. Because as impressive as it is what they did they still have a battle on their hands. If you look at the cash on hand that the House Republicans and the Senate Republicans have right now, House Republicans $2.28 million, Senate Republicans 1.16. House Dems $.53 million Senate Dems $.17 million that’s how much cash on hand at the end of q3 fundraising. Caucus fundraising, just the fundraising numbers now not what’s on hand, obviously House Republicans 667,000 Senate Republicans 500,000 House Dems 270,000, again, a record for that quarter, and then Senate Dems 126,000. So the democrats are doing well, but look at the disparity between the parties. And you know, and in this state, you really always have that until I think the Democrats really shore up those individual contributions like they’re doing now until we get a few more of those consecutive quarters under our belts. And we’re going to have that kind of disparity,

Walt Sorg 15:33
It seems to me the presidential campaigns are really sucking up a lot of money. I was talking with the people that were interested in ballot proposals for 2020. And most of them are being discouraged simply because they can’t raise the money to put anything on the ballot.

Christine Barry 15:46
And I thought that probably the UAW strike had a little something to do with this quarter as well. Governor Whitmer’s campaign account, raised $459,000 for Q3

Walt Sorg 15:57
And she just had a big fundraiser on Friday

Christine Barry 16:00
And she picked up a nice donation from a major backer of Rick Snyder. So that was kind of nice. So there’s a lot of good news in these numbers. The Democrats are doing really well with the smaller donors. They’re shoring that up, but the Republicans still have that big money.

Amy Kerr Hardin 16:16
Both Voters Not Politicians and the constitutional amendment. That group promoted our back in the news. well as our resident VNP veteran, what’s happened?

Walt Sorg 16:26
Well, first of all, the good news the redistricting commission applications are available. The new commission will be composed of 13 Michigan citizens, registered voters chosen kind of at random from the state of Michigan to keep the politicians from stacking the deck there. And to beyond the commission. The first step is to apply. Now there are a lot of people, not a lot of people, but there’s a large group of people that are not eligible, including me I can’t get out of because I ran for political office in the last six years. Also, if you’re a political party, precinct delegate, if you’re an elected official lobbyist or employee of the legislature those are some of the people that are disqualified as well.

There is an online portal for the application, although you do have to turn in a physical application because your signature has to be notarized. And you’re basically swearing under oath that the information that you provide the Secretary of State is correct. The next step after that will be winnowing down all the applications to 200 people. And then from that group legislative leadership, each of the four leaders can knock five people out of the pool, and of whoever is left 180 or more. They will choose 13 people at random four Republicans four Democrats and five non-affiliated persons to be on the first independent redistricting commission.

Issue number two is voters not politicians has been talking with some unlikely potential allies, the Michigan State Chamber of Commerce and the Republican leadership of the legislature about a possible ballot proposal for 2020 or 2022. The ballot proposal would be pretty comprehensive. If this does happen. The legislative leaders in the chamber are mostly interested in loosening the term limits in Michigan. And that’s their primary cause. And quite honestly, I think that’s a nonpartisan effort. Anybody who’s around Lansing, whether the republican democrat, liberal, conservative, they hate term limits, for the most part, they’ve been very ineffective. They’ve been very detrimental. But the state as a whole loves them. The polling is very strong on them.

Voters not politicians is interested in some other reforms as well. Some of the things that are on the table as possible inclusions in an amendment drive would be cutting down or ending lame-duck legislative sessions, instituting some financial disclosures amongst elected leaders are two of those also cutting back on the restrictions on independent petition drives. So the grassroots campaigns have a little better chance of getting on the ballot. It’s all in the discussion stages, there’s nothing guaranteeing that it’s going to go forward. I see some of my progressive friends are kind of freaking out over this. They say why would anybody want to be a partner with the Chamber of Commerce, they’re evil, they’re bad and all that Yet, Cory Booker teamed up with Donald Trump on an aspect of criminal justice reform. That’s how you get things done. And yeah, yeah, I understand that being skeptical of the chamber certainly being skeptical of the Republican leadership of the legislature, but if you can find some common ground, I think that’s a positive thing.

Amy Kerr Hardin 19:17
I found that sometimes I am in agreement with the Chamber of Commerce. It’s a little bit shocking when that happens, but it’s a good thing that they’re working together.

Walt Sorg 19:26
Yeah, I find Rich Studley, who’s the head of the chamber blocked me from Twitter years ago, or even though we actually are pretty good friends, but he doesn’t like my Twitter feed. That’s for darn sure.

Christine Barry 19:36
He blocked mine too. And I was so proud.

Walt Sorg 19:38
Congratulations. We could start a club.

Christine Barry 19:40
Thank you. I took a screenshot I tweeted it. Hooray

Walt Sorg 19:43
Hooray for us.

Christine Barry 19:45
In one of my favorite stories of the week the federal court has held Betsy device or as Trump calls her it “Ditzy Betsy.” Amy, what did Michigan’s favorite dilettante do to earn this honor?

Amy Kerr Hardin 19:58
Trump got that one right yeah. Christine and I have talked about Betsy DeVos over the years. In fact, she was one of my very first blog posts. So Betsy among she’s among the smorgasbord of unqualified Trump cabinet appointees. She got spanked hired in federal court last week over refusing to enforce a court order to cease and forcing collections on student loans from a bogus college 2000 students who were defrauded through unlawfully garnishing their wages. Another 16,000 students had mistakenly been billed by loan servicing companies aka collection agencies. The court issued a $100,000 fine to the Department of Education. It is unclear if she will pay it or have the taxpayers bail her out.

Walt Sorg 20:43
Good way to go Betsy maybe she could start an MLM to pay off her fines.

Christine Barry 20:46
That was one of the most horrible things that came out of the Trump presidency was Betsy DeVos.

Walt Sorg 20:52
I saw a great article in The Washington Post a column trying to determine who was the worst member of the Trump cabinet and she’s certainly right up there, but you’ve got so many incompetence in that cabinet. He got Ben Carson over at HUD who probably has still hasn’t figured out what HUD does. Rick Perry, who didn’t even know the Department of Energy regulated nuclear energy when he took the job, and apparently is now caught up in this whole Ukraine thing. And it goes on and on and on and on. He said several of them had to leave because of ethical problems. It’s just amazing, but Betsy’s right up there. She’s holding her own when it comes to being incompetent in the Trump cabinet.

Amy Kerr Hardin 21:25
I think there was a collective gasp when he nominated her for secretary of education in the state of Michigan, because we know what she has done here, especially with charter schools, promoting them above public education,

Christine Barry 21:37
And not just promoting them above public ed, but actually working actively against public ed, and funding, you know, efforts to strip public ed of resources. So it’s, it’s really disgusting. And I was just going to make a note real quick that I think Department of Energy was one of those departments that Rick Perry wanted to scrap what he was running for president, do you remember that?

Walt Sorg 21:57
yeah, it was that was one of the ones you could remember.

Christine Barry 22:00
I know there are only three and he can only remember one. Yeah. And then he started wearing glasses

Walt Sorg 22:07
and Dancing with the Stars. Yeah. What other administration would have two people on Dancing with the Stars? Spice and Rick Perry. Amazing and who’s going to be who will be the next Trump cabinet member or White House official on Dancing with the Stars. My money is on Kellyanne Conway. But she won’t be appearing with her husband,

Christine Barry 22:26
Gross!

Walt Sorg 22:27
A couple of stories this week about our congressional delegation. Former Congressman by accident Kerry Bentivolio is back and he may run to get back his seat to the House of Representatives over in the 11th district in Oakland County, currently represented by Haley Stevens who wanted an upset. Now Bentivolio was elected when his predecessor didn’t file enough signatures to get on the ballot so he won the nomination by accident. This is a guy best known as being a Santa Claus impersonator is a total joke. I finally lost a David Trott and unsuccessfully tried to reclaim his seat last year after Trott announced his retirement, but Haley Stevens prevailed.

That’ll be entertaining. I mean, he’s a, he’s a first-class clown. He’d fit right in with Matt Gaetz, and Louie Gohmert and the rest of them. But that’s not saying that I want to see him elected. It’s just seeing that he would certainly make life interesting for us. And then Elissa Slotkin remember I mentioned last week that she’s getting a higher and higher national profile. Well, that’s continuing for the second time since her election. She was one of the panelists on HBO is Real Time with Bill Maher over the weekend, where she talked about her decision to finally back into impeachment inquiry. She spoke from the perspective of former CIA operative and Pentagon official whose husband is a 30-year military veteran.

Elissa Slotkin 23:41
Leadership climate is set from the top. This president from the very beginning, has been attacking his own institutions, the CIA, the intelligence community, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and one of the hardest things for me I did a bunch of town halls after I came out for an impeachment inquiry. The hardest thing for me was hearing people say that the President had to go to foreigners to investigate his rivals, because he couldn’t trust his own FBI and his own CIA. Do you know how crazy that is? These people wake up every single day and protect the country. And and they do it like with their heads down nose to the grindstone. And it is one of the most difficult things for those of us who’ve worked in the service. It is not normal,

Christine Barry 24:22
She’s so articulate, and you can tell that this is something that really means a lot to her personally, probably because of her background in the service. She’s just so passionate about it.

Walt Sorg 24:32
And her husband is a former Blackhawk pilot they met overseas. I believe one of his children is also in the military now. And she takes service quite seriously. And I think that’s why as hard as Republicans are going to try, they are not gonna be able to knock her out of office. Also, this week was interesting that I think it’s the pharmaceutical industry is paying for it, although you can’t tell from the ads, they’re going after her for her socialized medicine program to control the price of prescription drugs. That’s the kind of thing I would love to be attacked for

Amy Kerr Hardin 25:04
The governor continued to make news and Michigan on several fronts. Christine, I suppose we can begin with the ongoing budget dispute, which seems like it will last longer than a presidential campaign.

Christine Barry 25:15
You know, Time marches on, some things just don’t change. Right. So where are we now? We have 25 supplemental bills sitting in the House and Senate. And they’re not going anywhere because the Republican leadership, doesn’t trust Governor Whitmer’s use of the administrative board. So they’re caught up in the process of how budgets get done. They want to talk about that administrative board, which is her board and the authority that goes with it is, it belongs to her. They don’t get to decide what she can do with it. Well, I mean, unless they do something legislatively, I guess they can, but they’re trying to get her to give that up. And she just wants to talk about the budget. She just wants to talk about where they can come to an agreement on these 25 supplemental bills.

Amy Kerr Hardin 25:59
And the little Legislative fix on the administrative board. I don’t think that that would fly. Even if they did pass something. The governor’s certainly not going to sign that bill.

Walt Sorg 26:08
It’s interesting that they’re focusing on that issue. I remember when I was working for the legislature a million years ago. And one of the issues that really ticked off Governor Milliken more than just about anything else that happened during his 14 years, the legislature voted to change the powers of a thing called the Administrative Rules Committee, which basically had jurisdiction over rules that were implemented by the bureaucracy and gave the legislature a lot more control. The governor vetoed the bill. And the legislature in the only time in the 14 years he was governor overrode his veto. He was furious. And it’s intriguing now that that is the sticking point, once again, in Whitmer versus this legislature.

Christine Barry 26:46
It’s an unfortunate thing that the fight over procedures, you know, there, there is already a separation of powers and one of the things you keep hearing from the Republicans in the legislature is that the state administrative board has to be reined in because of the separation of powers. That’s ridiculous. Yeah, you already have a separation of powers you just using those words to confuse people.

Walt Sorg 27:06
Another thing that the governor did this week was to make life a little better for people that are salaried workers in that middle-income range who really were having their employers take advantage of them.

Christine Barry 27:16
Yes. So currently, our federal law says that employees who make less than $35,568 a year are eligible for overtime. But anybody who makes more than that any salaried workers who make more than that there’s no requirement to pay them overtime, no matter how many hours they work in a week. So governor Whitmer is taking this a little bit further and she’s saying, okay, $51,000 is the number. If you make less than $51,000, you are going to get paid overtime for your hours over 40. And over time being time and a half. That’s still less than the Alice report number, which I think is $61,000. But it’s still I mean, that that is a lot of help and I think it brings about 200 thousand more people into overtime eligibility. So all of that will be in the show notes with details.

Walt Sorg 28:06
One note of caution on this. This is a request for rulemaking by the department. And it could be six to 12 months for this rule to go into effect. It’s not something it’s going to happen overnight.

Amy Kerr Hardin 28:17
Up here in Northern Michigan, we have a worker shortage, which I’m sure is the case broadly across the state. And that’s putting some upward pressure on salaries. So this is very good for workers in Michigan.

Walt Sorg 28:28
One of the things the governor did was to make life a little bit easier for people that are in the process of transitioning in their work and looking for work and needing temporary assistance

Christine Barry 28:37
For certain types of assistance, food assistance or emergency help, like utility shut-offs, that kind of thing. There are income levels or income requirements, but there are also asset limits. What that means is you can only have so much stuff are only have so much in assets in order to qualify for these programs. Rick Snyder set that limit to $5,000, which honestly is just not a lot. If you own anything of value, you have to sell it. So governor Whitmer is moving them to 15,000 and remove vehicles from that list. So cash assistance will increase from the $3,000 asset limit the $15,000, state emergency relief, which I mentioned helps with things like utility shut off goes up to $15,000. And there are still income limitations which vary across the programs, but at least you get to keep your car now if you lose your job.

Walt Sorg 29:39
Let’s move to the national scene for our final segment this week. Some quick thoughts first on the republican pizza party down in the SCIF that was designed to make a point about the impeachment inquiry. And I guess I’ll start any demonstration led by right-wing whackjobs Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, and Jim Jordan are going to be entertaining and appealing to the lowest common dominator. What is so hilarious about this demonstration is one-third of the republicans that were demanding to be led into these hearings already had the right to be in that hearing because republicans are fully participating in the depositions that are preliminary to the public hearings on impeachment. I think it’s just a diversion tactic. They’re just they know Trump is going to be impeached for the House of Representatives, and they just want to change the subject because they can’t defend what he did.

Amy Kerr Hardin 30:24
The impeachment proceedings are following a 2015 rule that the Republicans came up with themselves.

Christine Barry 30:30
Yeah, you know, the thing is you you knew it was a stunt designed to get attention and elevate the GOP narrative, that there’s a problem with the process and that this is just Adam Schiff getting revenge on the president or something because he doesn’t like him, when in fact, they just don’t have a defense for the actual impeachment. You know, the content of it, the substance of it, but the thing that was really offensive about this whole thing to me was that they just busted into a SCIF. You know, one of the secure rooms where national secrets are protected, and they just busted in with their cell phones going and they, they tweeted from in there and they were taking video and they did go back and say that they didn’t really tweet from there that those tweets were, you know, sent by staffers or whatever, which I don’t know if anybody cares to believe that. But it doesn’t matter because then those rooms have to be re-sanitized, re-secured. Before they can be used again.

Amy Kerr Hardin 31:28
I saw that the Sergeant at Arms was alerted and asked to investigate the situation. So he’ll probably look he or she will probably look into the tweets and the timestamps on them.

Walt Sorg 31:39
Yeah. And the republicans who staged the demonstration asked to get arrested because I figured there would be more dramatic that way. And to their credit, the Capitol Police are not going to do it wouldn’t be prudent.

Christine Barry 31:51
Yeah, we don’t need to help them with their visuals.

Walt Sorg 31:55
We get a lot of polling data every week and this week was no different. The most interesting to me in the last Last week was conducted by Iowa State University on the Who do you like side it showed Joe Biden really sinking in Iowa and Pete Buttigieg now a strong number two behind Elizabeth Warren. And they measure second choices well in Iowa, because the way the caucuses work if your candidate doesn’t get 15%, in your caucus, you go to somebody else until they get 15%. It’s sort of a ranked-choice voting system there. And all of a sudden, Buttigieg is well ahead of Bernie Sanders. And Biden is running a deep fourth in a state that he really has to win because his whole narrative is I’m the guy who can win.

The other thing in the poll that was fascinating is the first time I’ve seen this done was they asked the democratic activists who do you most not want to get the nomination and the winner of that poll or the loser of it, depending on how you measure it was Joe Biden, Joe Biden was far and away the one that the people who are going to participate in the caucuses don’t want to get the nomination, followed by Bernie Sanders. And then Tulsi Gabbert Marianne Williamson said came and forth. My gosh, you actually did better than Joe Biden, which is pretty amazing. And then everybody else was just kind of a scattering of people based on their preferences. But it was again Biden I think he’s toast is fundraisings bad his supports going down, he continues to screw up on a regular basis. And like it or not, this attack by Trump and the administration on his son in Ukraine is hurting him.

Christine Barry 33:27
Well, I honestly never thought Biden would get into this race if it hadn’t been for Trump being the president. I don’t know if Biden even really wants to be President. I kind of think he would be fine with being the big distraction that Trump attacks while somebody else climbs in the polls. Now, I don’t know if that’s real or just my perception, but I really didn’t think he wanted to be President. I thought he wanted to just ride off into the sunset, except for the fact that Trump was so dangerous and so horrible that he felt like you had to do something.

Walt Sorg 33:57
Yeah, my feeling continues to be the number of the top three The people that are over 70, Warren Biden, or Bernie is going to be the nominee. I can see problems for each of them. Increasingly, Elizabeth Warren’s having problems with the money side of how she’s going to finance all of our programs. Bernie’s age is going to bite him in the butt. Even though he looks good, he’s recovered well, but the fact remains is going to be he’s 78 years old. And a lot of people do not want a President that old and Biden is continuing to self destruct. I really think it’s going to be Klobuchar, Buttigieg or Booker.

Amy Kerr Hardin 34:32
I was just gonna ask you to make a prediction, Walt, and we’ll look back on it.

Walt Sorg 34:36
Of course, you were listening recorded, but I saved the recording. So if I’m wrong, I’ll just erase it. I’ll do a Nixon and erase the tape.

Amy Kerr Hardin 34:45
18 minutes. My goodness.

Walt Sorg 34:48
As I mentioned at the top of the segment, there are seemingly new polls from different sources almost every day in this presidential campaign. All polls are not created equal. To get a better handle on how to read the tea leaves. We’re joined by Bernie Porn. He’s the co-founder and CEO of EPIC/MRA. That’s Michigan’s leading public opinion research company.

Bernie, if you go to the Real Clear Politics, com website, you can find poll after poll after poll after poll. And it’s overwhelming at times. How do you evaluate which ones you believe and whether you believe any of them at this point in terms of what’s likely to happen a year from now,

Bernie Porn 35:23
the results are all over the map. And without knowing whether or not they’re doing it from a list, like when you do a primary poll, in Michigan, we do have the luxury of having all of the list of households who participate in either the Democratic or the Republican primary. And so we can pretty much guesstimate who the participants are going to be in a democratic primary or in a Republican primary and that enables you to proportional eyes it and stratify it and come up with a very close test of what’s going to happen in the primary and under States or nationally, if they’re doing it, just by random digit dialing. I think it’s less accurate in a primary and but probably more accurate when they get to a general election. I would say that until we see some more people get out of the race, it’s going to be difficult to judge. For example, if Sanders were to drop out, because he’s been dropping in recent polls, most of that is probably going to go to Warren, which would probably favor her to win the nomination, I think if that were to happen, and it all depends on what the makeup is of those who remain after the next couple of debates.

Walt Sorg 36:43
After this first series of four events, you’ve got Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. After that, you’ve got Super Tuesday and then the week following. You’ve got the Michigan primary. Is there really much point in polling Michigan until you get further down the line? Are things Most likely going to change drastically in the state depending on what happens with the earlier contests?

Bernie Porn 37:06
They could well and we will be doing polling on the primary for our media clients, we will not test until after Super Tuesday to see what happens there.

Walt Sorg 37:17
What can people do if they’re looking at pulling and trying to define what they really mean? What should they be looking for, in terms of the quality of the pulsar and the quality of the poll?

Bernie Porn 37:27
I think if they look at those who aggregate the data of like 538, or Real Clear Politics, to look at the total picture of polling, they would be better off making judgments. By doing that. It gives you a better idea of whether or not some of the polls may be outliers. Many commentators have suggested that the Quinnipiac poll might be an outlier of others or outlier means that it’s unlike, it’s not normal to the measurement of most polls.

Walt Sorg 38:02
One of the more interesting polls i think is the most recent out of Iowa which shows Mayor Pete Buttigieg skyrocketing into second place in Iowa behind Elizabeth Warren. It shows Joe Biden in a nosedive and Bernie Sanders has been sliding consistently. Do you put much stock in that particular poll or do you want to see more?

Bernie Porn 38:21
I give the greatest credit terms of Iowa polling to the Selzer organization. They do it for the newspaper.

Walt Sorg 38:30
The Des Moines Register poll.

Bernie Porn 38:31
Yes, they have been probably more accurate than any other pollster in Iowa results, and Iowa is so difficult, because it is trying to test who is going to go to the caucuses, and that can be tricky in a caucus state.

Walt Sorg 38:47
Let’s take a look at Michigan a little bit in terms of state politics and state politicians. First of all, the governor versus the legislature. This is something we’ve seen before with split control of state government. The governor with her gas tax proposal which has gone nowhere? And now the standoff over the budget based on what you’ve pulled so far, what can you divine out of the situation? Is anybody winning?

Bernie Porn 39:10
Not really, I think that her favorability numbers have improved slightly. Her job rating numbers are still underwater in terms of how she is perceived,

Walt Sorg 39:22
though compared to her predecessors, wasn’t Rick Snyder underwater most of the time.

Bernie Porn 39:27
Snyder had low numbers after his budget. And after his proposal on business taxes. Actually, he was a little bit worse than Whitmer, I think that she would be higher right now were it not for the 45 cent proposal and the gas tax that is overwhelmingly opposed by Dems independents and Republicans. And it ranges from 75 to like 85% opposition, if you look at polling on other options that are available on, by the way, The proposal that the speaker had come up with in terms of ending the six cents sales tax and fuel and replacing it with a 15 cent per gallon gas tax that was opposed by like 76%. And our polling his idea about having binding for the school employment retirement that was opposed by, in the 60s, as well as the amortization of pension liability, where they would try to replace the money that would be taken away from education and local governments by doing the first proposal.

And I think anything that involves a gas tax increase, and we’ve tested it over the years, and even small amounts of increases, like 6% would be like even up or slightly against it. So that is not that something that people support. However, if you were to take the 6% corporate income tax for businesses, and apply that to those that are non-c-corporations s-corporations that is supported overwhelmingly, probably the strongest. And that would get you about 1.3 billion of the 2.5 that Gretchen Whitman is looking for.

The other thing would be a and we’ve tested this numerous times, a one-cent increase in the sales tax. And although that was something that was included in the road proposal of 2015, it was so convoluted that that’s why it was defeated. However, if you just have a one-cent increase dedicated to road funding, that gets strong support, and that would get you about $1.4 billion to the roads, those two items alone would give you the money needed.

Now, if they were to do it similar to proposal a and have, for example, the 25 or 30 cent increase in the gas tax which would take effect unless the one-cent sales tax were approved by voters, say in the presidential primary election or next November and the presidential November election, I think that the one-cent sales tax would overwhelmingly be approved.

Walt Sorg 42:12
What about a graduated income tax? We’ve talked about this probably for the last three decades ever since it was outlawed in the constitution or 1963. Is there growing support for that? Or is this something where people support it until somebody starts campaigning against it?

Bernie Porn 42:27
Well, we’ve always had support in the 60s, mid-60s in terms of willingness to vote yes, on a graduated income tax, and especially when you have a proposal where most of the folks are either going to pay the same or less and except those with very high incomes. And when you look at what has happened in the graduated income taxes, I think have been adapted by well over 30 states in the country. I think it was 34 or 35 states. There’s no reason for Michigan not to do it, although I think the chamber has indicated that they would adamantly oppose it and try to spend money against it. But if the proponents can have a least enough money to get adequate messaging out, it would likely win. And when you look at states like Minnesota, that has a graduated income tax, you didn’t have people have higher wealth, fleeing the state because they are then paying more with the graduated income tax and Minnesota because of the graduated income tax. And I think, I think a better tax policy on a number of fronts, they’re able to invest much more in education and in the roads, then Michigan is and if legislators and our leaders could try to do some of the things that Minnesota has done. I think we’d be in much better shape with much more funding for roads and much more funding for education. And right now you also have some competition, because if there’s a one-cent increase in the sales tax for roads, or other ways of solving the road funding issue, where you’ve got some competition from educators who would like to see money go toward that, and there’s probably only so much money. So it would probably make great sense to see whether or not Michigan would be willing to support a graduated income tax because then you would have adequate money to both come up with a 2.5 billion or more for the roads as well as the kind of education funding that is needed.

Walt Sorg 44:38
Well, one thing that you and I learned a long time ago when we were both working for the legislature, the best tax policy is a tax that’s paid by somebody else.

Bernie Porn 44:47
Absolutely. That’s why a graduated income tax is supported. I know the one that Townsend had come up with everybody would pay less except for those at the top.

Walt Sorg 44:58
Politically that’s the best tax there is.

Bernie Porn 45:01
There is support for that. Most states have a graduated income tax, a flat rate like Michigan has, uh I think there’s a lot of reason to think that that’s just not the way to continue to go in Michigan.

Walt Sorg 45:17
Bernie Always a pleasure talking with you will check-in after you’ve had a chance to take a look at what’s going on in our Senate race later this winter.

Bernie Porn 45:24
We will be testing that as well as maybe asking some questions about impeachment and who would best match up against our president?

Christine Barry 45:35
That’s a whole lot of week tucked into a half hour

Walt Sorg 45:38
half-hour plus, shall we say?

Christine Barry 45:40
All right, let’s say that.  Thanks to Professor Matt Grossmann and Bernie Porn for helping us out. For more information on all of these subjects, links, videos, tweets, memes, and cogent thoughts. Head on over to our website, Michiganpolicast.com.

Amy Kerr Hardin 45:54
We’d appreciate it if you would also take a moment to rate the podcast on iTunes. The ghost Steve Jobs will look kindly on you for doing so.

Walt Sorg 46:02
Feel free to send your thoughts via the email machine at mipolicast@gmail.com. Please nothing in all caps. And on behalf of Amy and Christine, I am Pierre Delecto thanking you for making us a part of your week.

 

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