MI economy, guns at the Capitol, virtual campaigning. Brian Calley and Eric Schneidewind join us.

May 11, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, May 11, 2020

  In this episode:

  • Michigan Safe Start Plan to open the economy, Republican lawsuit
  • President of SBAM, former LG Brian Calley on the state of small business in Michigan
  • Guns in the Capitol Building? It doesn't have to be that way.
  • Eric Schneidewind on Trump's attack on the Affordable Care Act
  • Virtual campaigning, The Lincoln Project
  • This week in John James
  • Big Gretch
  • Transcript


Jump to:

Michigan Safe Start Plan to open the economy, Republican lawsuit

May 4, 2020

Today I am returning Enrolled Senate Bill 858 to you without my approval, for several reasons.

First, the provisions of the bill run contrary to the recommendations of public health experts. I remind you that section 51 of article 4 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963 declares that the public health and general welfare of the People of the State of Michigan are matters of primary public concern.

Second, proposed subsections (5) to (7) are inconsistent with subsection 1 of section 3 of the Emergency Management, 1976 PA 390, as amended, MCL 30.403(1), which vests responsibility in the governor for coping with dangers to this state or to the People of the State of Michigan presented by a disaster or emergency. I will not sign any bills that constrain my ability to protect the people of Michigan from a deadly pandemic in a timely manner.

Third, the bill does not comply with constitutional requirements, and even if it were constitutional, would be ineffective as it was not given immediate effect.

I will continue to execute the laws consistent with the Michigan Constitution of 1963, and in accord with the best interests of the health, safety, and welfare of the People of the State of Michigan to whom I express my gratitude for taking the difficult steps necessary to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

In light of these considerations, I am vetoing Enrolled Senate Bill 858.


Gretchen Whitmer





GOP lawsuits

.@MiSenate @Mi_Republicans are looking for any way they can to cut back on @GovWhitmer's powers ... this is part of an ongoing effort and these are things that they would never do to a @MiGOP governor ― never. ~ @MarkBrewerDems https://bit.ly/3ciqqqQClick To Tweet

President of SBAM, former LG Brian Calley on the state of small business in Michigan


.@SBAM survey: 1 in 7 small businesses not confident that they will survive .. this would totally change the landscape of the MI economy, where so many of our communities are built around small businesses. @BrianCalley @MiChamber @rstudley #COVID19Click To Tweet
'I suspect that many feel that their type of business could safely open up if allowed, but that doesn’t mean that consumer habits are going to return to normal levels anytime soon' @briancalley @sbam @michamber #COVID19 Click To Tweet
'the further you get outside of SE Michigan, the higher the degree of confidence is that ... people would patronize these businesses if they were allowed to operate.' @BrianCalley @SBAM @RStudley #COVID19 Click To Tweet
The Paycheck Protection Program made it possible for restaurants to survive on just takeout activity. It's been the most effective tool for small business that anybody’s come up with so far. ~ @BrianCalley @SBAM @MiChamber @DetroitChamber Click To Tweet
.@BrianCalley advice to @GovWhitmer: 'show as much info as you can about what the future will hold .. what the time horizon looks like. The information can change, but give people something they can start working toward'. @SBAM #COVID19Click To Tweet
New survey: 35% of small businesses would need additional physical space to meet social distancing guidelines. ~@BridgeMichigan @BrianCalley @SBAM @MiChamber @LansingChamber @DetroitChamber #COVID19 https://bit.ly/3dAZlPB Click To Tweet
New survey: More than 50% of small businesses don’t have the ability for their employees to work from home. ~@BridgeMichigan @BrianCalley @SBAM @MiChamber @LansingChamber @DetroitChamber #COVID19 https://bit.ly/3dAZlPB Click To Tweet
'if you’re in an intensely public facing type of a business — and there’s been no indication at all given, if you’re talking one, two three months or longer until reopening — it’s harder to have confidence' ~@BrianCalley @SBAM @BridgeMichigan https://bit.ly/3dAZlPB Click To Tweet

This is just here because it's a classic:

Guns in the Capitol Building? It doesn't have to be that way.

Note:  Dana Nessel totally ruined this section about an hour after we finished recording.  But we're ok with it.

The armed left

Eric Schneidewind on Trump's attack on the Affordable Care Act

“This action to toss out the #ACA without a realistic substitute is putting the health of our country and its residents in jeopardy.” @DanaNessel @MiAttyGen #healthcare https://bit.ly/35MeHhEClick To Tweet
A repeal of the #ACA and #Medicaid expansion could mean loss of coverage for 720k Michiganders and the end of protections for more than 4.1m Michiganders with pre-existing conditions @DanaNessel @MiAttyGen @MichiganAdvance @LainaStebbinsMI https://bit.ly/35MeHhE Click To Tweet

Virtual campaigning, The Lincoln Project


This week in John James

Big Gretch




Walt Sorg  00:00

The presenting underwriter of the Michigan Policast is Progress Michigan providing a strong, credible voice that holds public officials and government accountable and assists in the promotion of progressive ideas.


Gretchen Whitmer  00:17

Two months ago when our numbers were climbing exponentially, Michigan had that third highest number of COVID cases. And we still have the third highest number of deaths in our country. And we are the 10th largest state. And so because of this, Michigan's had a uniquely tough time with COVID-19. And that's why we had to be so aggressive and that's why I've solicited all of this expertise as we've made decisions along the way.


Walt Sorg  00:42

It was exactly two months ago, just 61 days, when the governor's office sent out a press release with the headline Michigan announces first presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. Since then, 4500 Michiganders have died from the virus, nearly 50,000 infected more than 1.2 million Michiganders have lost their jobs. This is the Michigan Policast. We're all about Michigan politics and policy and the national pandemic that is impacting our pleasant peninsulas. I'm Walt Sorg celebrating two months of social distancing holed up in my condo in Lansing.


Christine Barry  01:14

And I'm Christine Barry, well isolated in bucolic Corunna,


Gretchen Whitmer  01:19

We've really pushed the curve down dramatically. We've saved our health system, we've ramped up our PPE and testing and tracing which has enabled us to safely begin to phase in sectors of our economy.


Christine Barry  01:32

Governor Whitmer extends her executive orders through the month of May even as the state cautiously begins the process of reopening our economy, her objective, move forward without triggering a second wave of infections.


Gretchen Whitmer  01:45

There are case studies abound that those who resume life as it was who drop all of the social distancing and the masking can go right back into a second wave and that wave can be as deadly or worse than the first, and certainly as economically damaging as the first, and that's why this staged recovery is so critical.


Christine Barry  02:08

The governor announced a six stage plan for completely reopening Michigan's economy, the most significant being the resumption of manufacturing at the state's auto plants.


Walt Sorg  02:19

At the same time, Michigan small businesses are really struggling, many business owners are pessimistic about their chances for survival. I'll be talking with the President of the Small Business Association of Michigan, former Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley,


Christine Barry  02:32

And Attorney General Dana Nessel has, as usual been hyper active. She's advised lawmakers that it is possible to ban firearms from the state capitol. But the commission in charge says maybe not. And she joined with other democratic attorneys general in opposing the republican effort to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act. We'll talk with the former president of AARP about what repealing Obamacare during a pandemic means for all of us.


Walt Sorg  03:00

We'll have our usual assorted political notes, including the lawsuit legislative republicans have files to strip the governor of her ability to lead effectively in an emergency. We begin though Christine with the reopening of Michigan and Governor Whitmer six step timeline for a return to something approaching normalcy. What is the six step timeline?


Christine Barry  03:18

Well, like you said, Well, there are six steps to the Michigan safe start plan and they are progressive in nature. So they build on each other and each one has a pandemic related benchmark that has to be met before we move to the next. And it should be noted that these benchmarks can also be used to move us back to an earlier step if we start to see increased risk. The first two steps are uncontrolled growth and persistent spread. And those seem to be behind us. Right now. We're currently in Step three, which means that we've observed a decline in case growth. And each step also has a course of action defined with it and in this case, in Step three, the course of action is continued social distancing, continued use of face masks and no gatherings, there's also of course of action for businesses, we can begin to open, lower risk businesses that can adhere to strict workplace safety measures. So in this case, we're talking about construction, manufacturing, real estate, outdoor work, that kind of thing. The benchmark specifically that we have to meet in this step, if we want to move to step four is a combination of factors relating to health care system capacity, the status of our testing, contact tracing and containment protocols. And then of course, we also need to see a sharp decline in cases and death. And all of that is associated with step three. And each step has all of that kind of information associated with it.


Walt Sorg  04:43

As I'll be discussing with Brian Calley a little bit later, these steps are really important, not just so businesses can reopen, but so that customers will show up, you can have open doors, but if nobody shows up, it's not gonna do any good. And especially for businesses where there's high interaction, direct interaction between customers and the business, it's going to be critical that each step be met. Every survey I've seen shows the governor's getting overwhelming support for her cautious approach to this, even though you've got the White House on the other side, and you've got a very vocal minority. Some of them of course, as we've discussed it carrying firearms to the Capitol to make their point. But it seems to be like the governor's she is, I think, rightly concerned about that second wave. I saw something on the news this morning, we're recording on Sunday. And I saw on the news this morning, they're starting to have a second wave now in South Korea, in Japan, and in Hong Kong, they thought they had it licked, and now it is beginning to start again. And that is what would be devastating for Michigan's economy. Can you imagine opening up the auto plants and going through all of that and opening up businesses and two weeks later having to shut everything down again,


Christine Barry  05:50

one of the things she mentioned that you can yet we'll link to this document so you can dig through all the details. But one of the things that is in that document is how risk is assessed. And it's a number of factors. It's not just one thing. So even if our cases went down, if we have observed that our healthcare system would not be able to handle a surge in cases, then we would still be considered high risk. So I don't know exactly how South Korea in these other places have managed their recovery out of the pandemic and then ended up in a second wave. But I think that this one is really prepared with a lot of caution and forethought, like we mentioned at six steps and four through six are improving containing and post pandemic. They all have had information about what we think we need to do to continue to be safe, and what businesses can start to reopen and what activities can resume. It's an interesting document as a nice guideline, and hopefully people will find it helpful.


Walt Sorg  06:49

What are the important steps that has now been taken as the state has launched its contact tracing program, It got off to a rocky start because the contract was awarded to a company that was capable of doing it but had pulled political ties which pushed off the Republicans. So they go through the process again. And now it has been turned over actually, I think it's to a subsidiary of Rock Financial. And they're going to start doing the contact tracing. But we've got a really good demonstration of how important this is, even though the White House's the testing and contact tracer use it that big a deal. The reality is even in the White House, which has daily testing of key staff, and has contact tracing that you can't believe, for crying out loud. Dr. Fauci is now in quarantine. Because of the contact tracing he's been exposed at the White House, he's not ill, but he's been exposed to it. They're demonstrating at the White House how important this is yet they're telling the rest of the nation now you can go back to work, you don't need this. And I think that's what the governor really wants to see more than anything else is to have a very vibrant and very effective testing and contact tracing program


Christine Barry  07:48

That's talked about in the in the safe start plan as well about how important it is that that testing program be robust and be stable and accessible. So there's there's a lot of things of interest in there. And it's funny that you mentioned the white house because I think that almost every every headline that comes out of the White House these days actually show you can contrast her actions with that, and it makes her look good.


Walt Sorg  08:15

What are the industries I wanted to commend is one of the is probably the industry that has been hit the hardest in Michigan, it's the restaurant industry, rather than just complain and say, hey, you're killing as governor with the shutdown. They have a positive approach to it. The Michigan Restaurant Association has put out a 28 page detailed game plan that is members could use that would be the guideline for reopening restaurants submitted it to the stage say, hey, let's talk about this. This makes sense for getting our industry back into gear. I'm not gonna get into the details of what they're proposing, because I'm not I forgot the expertise. But I like the approach. It's a cooperative approach, recognize that we have a real problem and we need a real solution.


Christine Barry  08:50

They seem to be specific enough to have credibility to come to the table and say, This is what we think is safe now. These people and I worked in restaurants for just way too many years, and I feel really comfortable saying that most restaurant owners and managers understand how personal of a service they're providing to people, when you're making somebody food. That's a very personal service, you have to take it seriously. But I also know that when you get slammed at lunchtime shortcuts are taken, there has to be some way for them to take this further, I think to show the public that yes, you can have confidence in us that we're going to keep our promises. But this is a great first step by them. I really like how they put it together. And just came forward and said, here's here's what we're willing to do. It's an investment to Walt, if you look at how much they're willing to invest not just in equipment, but in training and in extra extra labor that it takes to do these things.


Walt Sorg  09:50

They'll be realistic, hey, look at this gonna be hard, but we're willing to do what's hard because we've got to do what's right. Meanwhile, at the Capitol, we have our good friends in the legislature. And they've had a different attitude towards all those, which is basically let's go to court because we don't like how the governor is treating us.


Christine Barry  10:06



Walt Sorg  10:07

Yeah. Where do you start?


Christine Barry  10:08

One of the things that really stands out to me is that Mike Shirkey goes on and on about the number one priority being to limit the governor's powers. It's more of a political move than anything else. I don't think that you really get anything out of doing that, because things are moving quickly enough. that by the time this comes to fruition, you won't need to limit anything.


Walt Sorg  10:32

Yeah, well, it's gonna take a long time to get through the court system plus the judge that has been handed this case, Cynthia Stevens. I had the pleasure of working with her many, many years ago, when I was working at the State Bar of Michigan. She was on our board of directors along with the person who was then the Wayne County Council woman by the name of Jennifer Granholm. And that's where they got to know each other. And I'll tell you, Cynthia Stevens is no bullshit judge. She is not going to put up with any political game. She's been around for a long time. She started as a Wayne Circuit Judge Then  was elevated to the court of appeals by Governor Granholm. And she is going to listen to this case. And she's going to be very thoughtful about it. I suspect by the time it gets to the state Supreme Court, which it will, we're going to be in a completely different world by then we may have a vaccine by the time it gets to the Supreme Court, I can easily see the Supreme Court putting this thing off so that by the time it gets to them, it's moot. They don't have to deal with it.


Christine Barry  11:23

I agree. I think I don't think it matters for the here and now there are a couple of other significant things, though. I think it was Senator Tom Barrett, who was saying he wouldn't encourage any sort of electronic signatures to help get the issue on the ballot because they're looking at a petition drive. And one of the things mentioned was that a gay rights group was trying to do that and he wouldn't support that. I just thought that was kind of interesting.


Walt Sorg  11:48

And the idea for the Senate Majority Leader Shirkey, that they're going to do a petition drive to put this on the ballot. First of all, if they did get it on the ballot, they'd lose. Secondly, I know from personal experience, Say you're going to do a petition drive and actually making it happen are two different things, it is a very difficult thing to do. And during a pandemic right now, it is impossible to do unless you do electronic signatures. And they don't even have the time under state law right now they have until next week to turn in the signatures to get it on the ballot this year. So that's not going to happen. Constitutional amendment, if they want to do it through that route, they would have to have all the signatures in by the first week in July. And you're not going to collect a half million signatures electronically or any other way by July. When you start right now, the whole thing is just a lot of political posturing as far as I can see, but it makes Shirkey happy. My biggest concern is will all of this bad blood carry over into dealing with the budgetary crisis that the state is facing? There was a story earlier this week that state tax revenue collections in April was down 43% from last year now part of that was delays because they put off the payment deadlines for the income tax for sales tax and all that, but even so that is a precipitous drop and the cuts they're going to have to be made and they're going to need more revenue from someplace if the feds don't come up with a significant bailout package for the states, Michigan is going to have to raise taxes somewhere because they simply you'd have to shut down state government with the kind of cuts they'd have to make without a tax increase.


Christine Barry  13:18

Well, I just think that, again, is going to be a ballot initiative to get taxes increased. And I understand, you know, the challenge because of the pandemic, but I don't see the Whitmer – Shirkey relationship improving it all, do you?


Walt Sorg  13:32

No, and they've got to live with each other for too long. They can live with each other for two more years. Even if the house is flipped in November and you get a democratic house, you're still gonna have a republican senate until the end of the governor's first term. And that tension is gonna go on and on and on and on. They just clearly I don't think they just don't like each other. I think it's part of the problem. He has called her drunk with power. He has called her a batshit crazy among Other things and then he backs off and does it again. The combination of Mike Shirkey, with his attitude towards the governor and Lee Chatfield know the 30 year old Speaker of the House with just total lack of experience, really for the job that he's got right now. It's a very dangerous combination for the state when it's facing such a critical pair of crises, both healthcare and economic.


Christine Barry  14:19

Yeah, it really is Lee Chatfield, you know, I don't have any reason to really call him a bad guy, but like you said, He's, he's young, and I think that he's inexperienced, and he comes to the job, mostly informed by his faith and his Christian schooling and his ideology. And Mike Shirkey, you know, anyone who goes out there and tells the public the governor is a dictator and of the things you've said before, and is comfortable hanging with the homies who pushed their way into the Capitol to yell at people, and then turns around and calls them Jackasses. I mean, this guy is just not good at the politics and he's not good at policy.


Walt Sorg  14:57

I look at him I almost see Rudy Giuliani. Action then I look at the speaker, Lee Chatfield. And in some ways I see Jared Kushner.


Christine Barry  15:05

Oh god.


Walt Sorg  15:06

I don't know if that's an insult to Kushner to Chatfield.


Christine Barry  15:09

I mean, don't you think that Jared Kushner is just a tall child from the Village of the Damned? Like to me, oh my god. I guess Lee Chatfield could be that. I don't know, he does tweet some pretty awful things.


Walt Sorg  15:24

Okay. People start the memes on Twitter with that one.


Christine Barry  15:28

Yeah. Okay. So as we mentioned, the impact of the pandemic on not just restaurants, but many small businesses has been horrific.  A new survey from the Small Business Association of Michigan details the challenges facing the folks who employed about half of all of our workers in the state. We talked with the president of SBAM, former Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley.


Brian Calley  15:48

Well, we asked our members, how confident they were about just survival. And we were very disappointed but not terribly surprised with the results that we received.  About one in seven, small businesses were not confident that they were going to survive. And I should probably try and put that into context. You might wonder, like, how does that compare to a baseline? We don't normally ask in a survey, how confident are you surviving the next few months? It would make sense to because, you know, small business owners and entrepreneurs, they tend to be very optimistic people can do, you know, I can make it through anything, type of people and, and so it would be unusual for a business owner to say, Yeah, I don't think I'm gonna make it to the next few months. So I think that that baseline would be normally pretty close to zero. And, and so one seven is a lot and this sort of thing that would totally change the landscape of our economy, especially here in Michigan, where so many of our towns and our communities around the state are built around small businesses.


Walt Sorg  16:57

And it seems to be like a two-tier depression. for small businesses, the ones that are being hit the hardest, are the ones with the entry level jobs, especially in the hospitality industry.


Brian Calley  17:07

Well, I think that the, it's the jobs that are that are more intensely public facing are the ones that they can't see the horizon right now. So if you're in manufacturing, and you know, okay, we're coming back on next week, this has been really hard. But, you know, I can see what's my future holds. If you're in the hospitality business, or in tourism or personal care, like a salon owner or something like that. There's no light at the end of the tunnel, yet. There's no indication not even a clue that has been offered yet on whether we're talking about two weeks or two months. And so I think that those are businesses that are particularly pessimistic right now about their chances because the uncertainty is at a maximum.


Walt Sorg  17:50

One of the things we know from the survey data is that even if the governor were to flip the switch and all businesses are to reopen tomorrow, the customers might not be there.


Brian Calley  18:00

Well, we don't know how customers will react and we know that it's going to be different. So, so in while we didn't specifically ask, When do you think you should open up? I, I suspect that many feel that they they their type of business, they could safely open up if allowed, but that doesn't mean that consumer habits are going to return to any sort of normal looking level anytime soon. So it's a big question mark. But one thing that I think is the case, especially as we look at the attitudes of the small business owners themselves, that the further you get outside of Southeast Michigan, the higher the degree of confidence is that there is still a market out there that people would patronize these businesses, if they were allowed to, to operate.


Walt Sorg  18:50

We know that the pandemic started out in the Detroit area in the Detroit area was hit very hard, but it seems like that it's moving west and north right now, and the attitudes may change As things get worse outstate.



well, actually, I don't think that is what the data shows. I know that in West Michigan, for example, there's a now that the testing is very robust. They feel like for the first time, they have a good idea of what the prevalence has been all along. But if you if you track that along with hospital activity, and same is true for Northern Michigan, you'll see that it's nearly non existent in northern Michigan, and it's been plateaued for some time in West Michigan. So even though you've seen the case loads rise, there has not been a lagging impact on hospital admissions, which tells you that, that it's the prevalence of the disease has been identified more robustly, but does not appear to have been growing. So so I don't know I mean, you always have to be careful and you have to monitor these things closely. But I know that especially in in the in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and even in the Traverse City area, I think they've had long periods of time now where they have very few or even zero active cases.


Walt Sorg  20:08

Of course, the federal government has passed the Payroll Protection Program, which had a very rocky rollout. And a lot of the money did go to larger businesses initially. How, though? Is it working out for your members across the state?


Brian Calley  20:19

I believe it is working. There are to the extent that, that restaurants, for example, can survive on on just take out activity. I think the Paycheck Protection Program made that possible. That's one industry example. But really, across the board, we saw most businesses take advantage of this opportunity. And, and so I think it gives them a shot at making it through what is hopefully the deepest part of the valley. But it's it's difficult to say because in terms of what the long term prospects are, so I heard some people call it a stimulus. I don't think it's a stimulus as much as a survival package. And so it's just it just gives you a shot at Seeing the other side of the valley. And then and then you have to reevaluate and see where things are at that point, but it has, I think it's been the most effective tool for small business that anybody's come up with so far. And the other thing I'll say is that round two has gone much, much better than round one, round one, the average loan size was was about almost $300,000. And when you consider that that's based just on two and a half months of payroll that would that would tell you that it was it was the larger small businesses they got that got the money in the first round, in the second round that average loan size. The first week, it started out at about 90,000. But then it's gone down each day since then. And so that tells me that it's getting much, much deeper into truly small businesses and in that that to me, that's very good news, because that's where I think the highest risk of failure lies.


Walt Sorg  21:57

When you talk with the governor. What do you say? What are you advising Governor Whitman to do and dealing with this pandemic?


Brian Calley  22:02

Well, first is to, is to, is to try and show as much as you can about what the future will hold, giving people some kind of an indication of what the time horizon looks like, you always have to put qualifiers on it because you know, the information can change, but more of an indication about what requirements are going to be, as soon as you decide on them, I don't think is an example. Just because restaurants can't go into business for sit down dining, if they have regulations in mind that are going to be required, why not share those now so that people can start working on how they need to change their business models or how they deliver their products and services in order to to meet those requirements of the future. So I think just more information and, and sharing would be would be helpful. And part of that is some I hesitate to use the word psychological because you know, I'm not I'm not a doctor, but the idea of giving people something they can control, they can get ready they can start working toward i think that that would send a strong message and maybe provide people a little bit of hope that might be feeling hopeless right now,


Walt Sorg  23:13

you ran for governor, of course yourself in 2018. When you go home at night, you're talking with your wife, or you're just sitting there thinking to yourself, do you ever think about, well, if I were elected governor, what would I be doing?


Brian Calley  23:25

I have thought about that. You know, I've been in but I've thought about it in a lot of different ways. I know that when you're governor, you have access to a lot more information that's kind of generally out there and available. I try to keep that in mind. Because I know governor Whitmer has access to more information that I have being on the outside now. But I also pay close attention to what's happening around the country as well. And and so I think that there's a lot of best practices and some comfort that can come from looking at what our neighbors and what other states are doing and what's working well. And what hasn't worked as well, you have the benefit of hindsight in those cases to compare and contrast different aspects of actions that are taken. But, you know, it's difficult to say because, you know, not it's hypothetical. But as I look across the country, I think there's a lot of good examples to pull from.


Walt Sorg  24:16

Brian Calley, thank you so much for joining us on the Policast, I look forward to talking with you again in the near future.


Brian Calley  24:22

My pleasure. Thanks. Well.


PSA  24:29

You have questions about the 2020 census, and we have answers. Let's go to caller number one. Well, what is it? Good question. It's a simple questionnaire that counts everyone living at your address on April 1. next caller. So why should I take it because it guides how billions and funding gets used each year for things like clinics, fire stations, public transit, and so much more. Holly three, go ahead.  What's it has to do with representation?  Well, your state's population determines the number of seats It has in the US House of Representatives for the next 10 years. Next, how do you take it? Just look for an invitation in the mail starting March 2020. Then completed online by phone or by mail. Let's go to our final color.  Is my information safe.  Yes, it can't be shared with anyone. It's the law. Thanks for joining us. And don't forget to shape your future. Start here. Learn more at 2020 census.gov.


Barack Obama  25:33

The response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty. It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset of what's in it for me and to heck with everybody else when that mindset is operationalized in our government,


Walt Sorg  25:58

Barack Obama has finally Come out and engage in this campaign in a big way. In a conference call with former staffers from his administration, he was caught on tape evaluating the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic. And kind of speaking for a lot of people when he basically called the president incompetent.


Christine Barry  26:36

It seemed appropriate to have Donald Trump's visit to a mask factory in Arizona, accompanied by the Guns and Roses version of Live and Let Die blaring over the public address system. It seemed to be the perfect metaphor for Trump's mantra of wanting to open the economy regardless of the cost in human lives, a cost that even he now admits could be upwards of 130,000 dead in the first wave. Live and Let Die could also be the theme song for the assault rifle wielding gun nuts who infested the Capitol last month and are threatening to return again this week. There's a move on to banned guns from the Capitol, just as there are dozens of other state capitals as well as other state office buildings, courtrooms and local government offices.


Walt Sorg  27:18

It's an interesting dynamic kind of inside baseball. The attorney general has sent a letter to the legislature saying Yeah, the Capitol commission, which is an appointed group of people that basically run the building, they're in charge of the tour guides and things like that. But they have the right to banish guns from the building just as they've already banished signs that are on sticks because they can damage the some of the artwork inside the Capitol, and John Truscott is the vice chair of that committee. He's who was formerly Governor Engler's press secretary says not so fast. I don't think that we have that right. The dynamic is that he used to be business partners with the Attorney General's Public Relations Director Kelly Rossman-McKinney And the two of them are on opposite sides of the issues. It's almost it's not quite as bad as the situation with Kellyanne Conway and her husband, George Conway, but there's a little internal fight there that I find very entertaining. I think given the power behind her that the Attorney General side's gonna win on this thing, but they the republicans are very, very leery about anything to irritate the gun people. There's even a story on local news that Attorney General Nessel after putting out those letters been getting death threats, which doesn't surprise me it sickens me, but it doesn't surprise me. The other thing was really interesting too, is one of our state representatives who lives here in Lansing, Sarah Anthony, who represents most of the City of Lansing, when she went to work, she's an African American, and when she went to work, after the demonstration, several of her constituents all African Americans provided an escort for carrying semi automatic weapons. And they were kind of making a point and Sarah was widely applauded in the Lansing area for that move to demonstrate just how crazy this whole situation is.


Christine Barry  28:58

Yeah, and you know, I am opposed to open carry in general, I just think it's stupid. But when I saw them, escorting her, I was just so happy because it was, like you said, a demonstration that there's more than one side. And I'll tell you what the the more conservative open carry advocates will say, you know, we we want this right for everybody. I don't think that's the case. There's a difference in how people are treated. And there's a difference in how they're perceived. If you come from, well, I'm just going to say it if you're a black person carrying a gun, you're going to be perceived differently than a white person carrying a gun. That's just all there is to it.


Walt Sorg  29:40

Well, same goes for joggers in Georgia.


Christine Barry  29:42

You know, how many how many times are we going to see that those kinds of atrocities. The LG had put out a tweet over the last couple of days. I forget when it was about that incident, and it's heartbreaking. How many times are we going to do hashtag justice for before something changes for these folks. You know, and this is this is I think one of the things contributing to the increase of firearms on the left. I mean, there's, you know, study after study shows that the left is arming itself more and more in response to the rights proliferation in general. I don't think more guns and more open carry. I don't think that's a good thing. And I'm, I'm a shooter, Walt, you know, I'm a member of a gun club. I mean, I don't have a problem with guns. I just don't like open carry. And I don't think the proliferation is good, but the racism that runs so deep in this country, affects everything, you can't be unarmed and you can't be armed and be a black person in America.


Walt Sorg  30:42

This whole thing brings to mind an incident several months ago at the Capitol with another state representative from the Lansing area Kara Hope, put a sign in her office door declaring her office to be a gun free zone. And she was ordered by the Speaker of the House to take it down because she couldn't declare her office to be a gun free zone because that was the second amendment violation.  That's gonna be the dynamic you run into with the Capitol.


Christine Barry  31:03

Yeah. And, and to a certain extent, I understand there are people who believe very firmly that that second amendment right, is the foundation for all other rights. I think that's I don't agree. But again, I think that this is Lee Chatfield being informed only by his upbringing and not by any sort of experience in the world, certainly not by any sort of compassion or interest in how the other side might see things.


Walt Sorg  31:30

It's really interesting to when you go across the street from the Capitol, Dewey's to the Capitol buildings like City Hall, and to enter City Hall, you go through a metal detector. And the last time I went over to city hall to actually go over to see the mayor, and I had to leave my pen knife at the desk, a little two inch pen night that's on my keychain, because that was considered too dangerous. But if I go to the Capitol, I could walk in there with an AR 15.


Christine Barry  31:55

I mean, you just you look scary, Walter, I can understand why that's true, if people are paying attention, they would say Hold on,


Walt Sorg  32:02

Well my quarantine beard is just freaking people out.


Christine Barry  32:05

You know, I think just one last point on this. I think it isn't just about racism. I also think it's about which side of the aisle you're on. We've seen I think John Lindstrom said something about how Detroit activists were put through metal detectors when they wanted to come and protest something about the Detroit schools. I know that when I went up to the Capitol during Rick Snyder's administration, there was all this, you know, everybody was freaking out over Occupy this Occupy that and we were treated. I felt we were treated quite terribly compared to how we were treated when we would go up there during Granholm administration. So I, I think that the right is always going to find a reason to be afraid of the left and they're always going to find a reason to allow the right to come in with their weapons. Briefs were filed last week with the US Supreme Court in a case that would completely repeal the Affordable Care Act, stripping millions of people of health insurance even as we battle, the biggest healthcare crisis in a century. And Donald Trump is quite blunt in his intentions,


Donald Trump  33:13

Obamacare is a disaster.  But we've run it very well. But what we are doing is we want to terminate healthcare for under Obamacare, because it's bad. And we're replacing it with a great health care at far less money, and it includes pre existing conditions, there will never be a time when we don't have pre existing conditions included. So so so what I'm saying then, is we're going to replace ObamaCare with great health care at a lesser price. And and you won't have the individual mandate, which was expensive and terrible and very unfair to everybody. And it was very unpopular.


Christine Barry  33:54

Right Of course, he's never actually provided any details of this plan to make healthcare better, less  expensive and still cover pre existing conditions. Attorney General Dana Nessel is one of the state attorneys general who is fighting the White House.


Dana Nessel  34:07

Effectively it would destroy Obamacare and all the protections it provides to people during this crisis. And it's really hard to imagine how the Trump administration could explain risking our entire healthcare system and our family's health during the course of a global pandemic. But that's exactly where we're at today.


Walt Sorg  34:29

Also fighting the administration is the American Association of retired people, AARP on behalf of the nation's seniors. I talked with the former president of that organization, Lansing attorney, Eric Schneidewind.   Eric as you look at what the Trump administration is doing, continuing to try to repeal the ACA through its filing with the Supreme Court. Are you shocked dismayed or just accepting it for what it is?


Eric Schneidewind  34:52

I think stunned or dismayed would describe my feelings. I mean, when you think about this is the worst health crisis. In over 100 years to strike the United States, and in the midst of that the proposals of the Trump administration and their actions would raise rates for 60 million people on Medicare, make medical care more expensive, and would take away all healthcare from about 20 million Americans and leaving them with the option of either forgoing medical care in this terrible health crisis, you know, or going badly into debt.


Walt Sorg  35:33

The President has been saying since the campaign really that he wanted to replace the America the ACA with something that was better, less expensive and would still cover pre existing conditions. We haven't seen that yet though. In the computer world, we used to call that vaporware.


Eric Schneidewind  35:50

No and there the options that they did flow. Certainly we're nowhere near as comprehensive in for instance, as Medicaid expansion Over 17 million low income, Americans got pretty good health care, through Medicaid expansion and the options they were proposing were far less comprehensive because they simply didn't fund it as well. Also, they allowed insurance companies under that act to go ahead and issue policies which are quite limited. They might have limitations on pre-existing conditions, they might have limits on annual or lifetime expenditures for healthcare. So the options that they tried to substitute unsuccessfully, I'm happy to say we're either far less comprehensive or covered far less people,


Walt Sorg  36:44

some of the ripple effect of repealing of the ACA, that it seems as though the hospitals which are already struggling financially as a result of the pandemic, they'd be hurting even more because they would lose so many of the accounts actually pay their bills that have a lot more unpaid services in the emergency room.


Eric Schneidewind  37:04

That's exactly right. And that's that's one of the reasons why this would cause a rate increase. Because under the ACA, a lot of low income people got really good coverage under Medicaid. And that service and the medical care was paid for by the government to the hospitals. In return, the hospital's agreed to give all Medicare recipients a cut in the costs which translated into lower premiums. Well, if you go back on that deal, if you abolish the Medicaid expansion, now the hospitals have got to cover the cost of low income care and they won't do it as well. But some care though, they'll provide and then they won't give the discounts anymore to all the rest of the Medicare recipients so we'll all get a rate increase.


Walt Sorg  37:54

We've also got the issue of the cost of prescription drugs going up, especially with the new drugs, the ones It's being developed right down in Kalamazoo at advisor, among others, they basically can charge whatever they want. And with the doughnut hole, it could get really expensive real fast.


Eric Schneidewind  38:10

Right? People tend to forget that back in the old days before 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was passed, if you spent back then a few thousand dollars on drug costs, and you were up to that point, the Medicare Part D paid about 75%, you pay 25. But then you pay 100% of the next two to $3,000 before your coverage kicked in, again. Well, thanks to the ACA, that entire doughnut hole as of this year has been eliminated. So Medicare Part D, pays the same percentage all the way up out to almost $6,000 and then it drops you know Much, much lower contribution from the enrollee. So the doughnut hole was eliminated, but it would come right back. And if you had high drug costs, it would cost you thousands of dollars more. If you are in Medicare Part D.


Walt Sorg  39:16

I don't think a lot of the people who listen to this podcast would argue with the concept of universal health care, they might argue over the details, but certainly the concept. Well, what about the general public? What is the polling the public opinion research that's been done by AARP show? In terms of overall political implications of what the President's doing?


Eric Schneidewind  39:36

You know, I don't have access to the most recent polling data. I know that the programs such as the Affordable Care Act, it's interesting at first people were, were a little concerned and then over the years, a majority, a substantial majority of the public support this program and think it is doing good. I certainly remember that polling data. So The expansion has one public support the ACA is supported. And I might add, the part of the ACA that eliminated the right of an insurance company to deny coverage for a pre existing condition is extremely popular. But think about this wall in the middle of a pandemic, when you might have the aftermath of an infection or beginning an infection. And if you can't be guaranteed that an insurance company will cover you, you know, they may deny coverage to millions of people without the ACA. That is extremely likely, in my opinion. So the parts of the ACA that really protected people and allowed them to get insurance without being denied, or wildly popular, I think I can say, and even the programs like the expansion of Medicaid and all that have a substantial majority of the citizens supporting


Walt Sorg  41:00

In talking with the attorney general about this a few days ago, she indicated that she didn't believe this would be a case that this case would be decided by the Supreme Court before the election. Do you still think it's going to be an issue in the campaign. Is this something that AARP is going to be talking about right up to November 3?


Eric Schneidewind  41:18

Well, once again, I don't speak officially for AARP. But I think that the protection of seniors and ensuring they are not denied for pre existing conditions is really top of mind for AARP and always has been, and then defense of the ACA and Medicaid expansion. And the exchanges where people who are not quite eligible for Medicaid, they have a little more money can go out and buy coverage, good coverage and get a subsidy to make that affordable. That traditionally has been supported by AARP and I do not see that change.


Walt Sorg  41:56

Eric Schneidewind always good to talk with you. Thanks for joining us on the Policast


Eric Schneidewind  41:59

Thank you


Walt Sorg  42:06

okay, some political notes from the week First of all, the Biden campaign is adapting to the new world of politics. The Bidens are literally running a campaign from their basement using zoom to travel the country. Dr. Jill Biden's last in person campaign stuff happened to be in Lansing. I was at that event and was over at the Impression Five Science Museum, her first virtual campaign appearance also in Michigan.


Jill Biden  42:29

You know, the world has changed immeasurably since that trip. And we've had to figure out what it means to run a presidential campaign when you can't fly or have a bus tour, or even visit people's homes. So today, we're trying something new, a virtual visit to Michigan, right here from our home here in Wilmington, Delaware. Now, it's certainly not the campaign. I imagined


Walt Sorg  42:58

Nor is it the campaign anybody Imagine it's interesting. I've talked to several people that are running to be national convention delegates for the Democratic National Convention. And I keep asking, I said, well, there's not going to be a convention. Or if you are a delegate, it's going to be on zoom. And it's kind of predetermined, but they're still running. Personally, I think this kind of works out in Biden's favor for a couple of reasons. it'll it'll eliminate the wear and tear on him physically, like presidential campaign is just grueling physically. And if he could run a campaign, basically from his basement, it cuts down on the wear and tear which will cut down on his gaffes. The other thing is it gives Donald Trump more opportunities to make mistakes, because he's out in front. And if there's one thing we do know, it's that he can make a lot of mistakes.


Christine Barry  43:41

Well, I kind of see it differently because I don't have a problem with virtual campaigning at all, I think that's great. However, if you're campaigning online, you're missing all the people who aren't online and we talked about that a little bit with Jon Hoadley doing his virtual events. You're completely missing the people who can't See you. And you're not going door to door. I don't know if there is a component of people going door to door with some door hangers or something that might be like I don't even know if you can do that right now. But we need to get out the vote in this election, and we need to get to the people who don't always vote. And you can't do that if you're just sitting at a computer, you know, delivering your message that way. So I'm not sure. I don't really care for it being heavy on virtual. But I understand that, you know, right now, I think that's our only option.


Walt Sorg  44:33

Another dynamic is the vote by mail component. We just had a, an election in Michigan in many communities that are local elections. And the Secretary of State reported, first of all, we had record turnouts in the elections that were held in various municipalities and school districts around the state, and 99% of the votes were cast by mail. Only 1% actually went to the polls. In Michigan, of course, we've got laws that make that possible. What's going to be fascinating is the states where it is much more difficult to vote by absentee ballot some states require you actually get a notarized statement that you're not going to be able to go to the polls, other states. So you can only do it based on a certain age. That's going to be dynamic, and it's something that Republicans simply don't want. They are fighting it tooth and nail. They think that male in elections is the end of the Republican Party. And they could be right.


Christine Barry  45:23

Yeah. And you know, Trump is Trump is leading the charge talking about all the fraud, you know, totally unsubstantiated. At least as far as I know, if there's, if there's something out there, I haven't seen it. You see county clerk's and county recorders all over the nation talking about vote by mail being easier and better and it increases turnout. It's safer. But then you listen to the republicans even even republican county clerks though like vote by mail and no reason absentee.


Walt Sorg  45:57

Well the five states where they do it now. Utah, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Colorado. I think that's all five of them. They've got experience with it. And they say it works. The Secretaries of State of all of those states who run the elections are all very favorable. Utah, by the way, is probably the only red state in that group. But still the Utah Secretary of State is very supportive as well.


Christine Barry  46:18

I think it's great. I think it was in Michigan. It took it was decades overdue.


Walt Sorg  46:24

God bless the folks who put proposal three through led by the ACLU.


Christine Barry  46:28

Well, Michigan is also in the first group of states where a ‘Never Trump' group of Republicans, called the Lincoln project is running a TV ad that has sent the Great Pumpkin into a lather.


The Lincoln Project  46:40

There's mourning in America.  Today, more than 60,000 Americans have died from a deadly virus Donald Trump ignored. With the economy in shambles more than 26 million Americans are out of work. The worst economy in decades. Trump bailed out Wall Street But not Mainstreet this afternoon, millions of Americans will apply for unemployment. With their savings run out. Many are giving up hope. Millions worried that a loved one won't survive COVID-19. There's mourning in America and under the leadership of Donald Trump, our country's weaker and sicker and poor. And now, Americans are asking if we have another four years like this, will there even be an America?  Paid for by The Lincoln Project which is responsible for the content of this advertising?


Walt Sorg  47:40

I love these guys. And they were so smart. The first place they ran this ad was on Tucker Carlson show on Fox News, because they knew the President would see it and he took the bait. He went absolutely batshit crazy on Twitter at 1230 in the morning, with a series of tweets, attacks. These people, including George Conway, our good friend, Kelly, Ann's husband, and as a result, their expenditure of a few hundred thousand dollars, got millions of dollars in publicity. It got people to pay attention to a very well crafted ad that harkens back, of course, to the brilliant ad that Ronald Reagan ran for his reelection campaign, which was born in America without the ‘u', and was very upbeat. And this plays off of it just so beautifully, in every way, is one of the classic political ads of all time, this will be in the political history books down the road.


Christine Barry  48:32

Well, one of the things that stood out to me was the line, millions of people are going to apply for unemployment. And with their savings run out, many are giving up hope. This is kind of not the point that we were talking about. But it's still an important point. This pandemic has, I think, widened the cracks of society so much that everyone can see them. Everyone can see the divisions in society now. But I think in the same way, you're also starting to see some overlap. lapping of struggle. So how many times how many laws or bills have we seen the republicans push through to say you cannot get any assistance whatsoever. If you have an asset, if you have a car, if you have anything in the bank, we're not going to do anything to help you. And now imagine all of these people all of a sudden being in the same boat for different reasons. It's because of a pandemic. But now they understand, wow, I would have to sell my car if I couldn't get on employment. You know, like if I had to exhaust all of my assets before I could get unemployment. I wouldn't have a car. How would I buy a car again? If these questions and these thoughts are starting to become more common, maybe we'll see a shift in compassion toward people who struggle in the future. I don't know if that's true. But that line really stood out to me because of all the bills. He seems like every year, there's a bill out that says you'll have to work harder to get assistance from Michigan.


Walt Sorg  49:56

All this of course leads us inevitably to this week in John James, the alleged Republican candidate for the US Senate actually emerged briefly from his political closet. He did a short interview with the Sinclair owned a broadcast station, the CBS affiliate over in Kalamazoo, in which he really didn't say a whole heck of a lot other than basically Donald Trump's doing everything that he's capable of in fighting the pandemic. He also responded to an article in Politico, which stated that he basically tried to break away quietly from Trump and played both ways. He's 2,000% behind Trump, but he disagrees with Trump, and there's no problem with that. As far as the issues that we're facing this week, we're getting the usual from John James… And the most recent poll of the senate race, which was released by Fox News shows Gary Peters with the 10 point lead over john James. I was talking with some pollsters Earlier in the week about the situation. And as long as Joe Biden continues to run strong in Michigan, Gary Peters is doing all the right things, and should have no problem getting reelected, but it's a big but, John James has got a lot of money behind it because it's really the only republican race other than Alabama where they think they could flip a democratic seat. But Gary Peters should be okay. As long as he doesn't take anything for granted. For what I've seen. He's not taking anything for granted right now.


Christine Barry  51:26

He's doing a pretty good job James has I saw this headline with James raising all this money, but he still has such low name rate recognition, but I don't think that's terribly unusual. I mean, give him a few more months, and then we'll probably if he's going to show up for the race, that's when he'll do it.


Walt Sorg  51:42

Well, he's running an ad right now that basically reintroduces him to the electorate, and it says, Hey, here, i'm john James. I'm a veteran. I went to West Point I fought over in Iraq. I've run a business and I'm a good guy. And I don't argue with any of that. But he's also saying we need some experience in Washington to solve Michigan's problems. Well, that's kind of Gary Peters thing.


Christine Barry  52:02

Well, his only experiences, he hates socialism, but he runs a business that benefits from socialism every 10 years. I mean, that's his experience, right? What What experience does he have with public policy? Now? He does a lot of volunteer. Well, I don't say volunteer work, but he does support a lot of charities with this business. I agree with you. I don't think he's a bad guy at all. But I don't want his I don't want him to have that seat.


Walt Sorg  52:28

The military thing is kind of funny because I think the Gary Peters actually outright so militarily, Gary Peters is I think a lieutenant commander of the Naval Reserve, and I think he outranks John James.


Christine Barry  52:39

Ouch. Speaking of Ouch, we wrap up with the latest from the Billboard charts. Governor Whitmer has a new nickname and a new theme song compliments of rapper GMac Cash. Look out here comes Big Gretch.


GMac Cash  52:55

To our governor, Big Gretch! …..


Walt Sorg  53:12

that's it for this week Policast, our thanks to Eric Schneidewind, Brian Calley, and GMacCash as well.


Christine Barry  53:20

And for more information on today's subjects head on over to Michiganpolicast.com we'll have all the links and videos tweets means sometimes we get a little snarky. We welcome your feedback. Just email us at mipolicast@gmail.com


Walt Sorg  53:34

thank you so much for letting us occupy your ear from a socially safe distance. We're back in a week.


Donald Trump  53:39

We want to terminate health care

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