While watching Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s State of the State
address last week, I was struck by the similarities I noticed between her
remarks and the State of the State address delivered by Gov. James Blanchard in
1986. What follows are 13 quotes taken from Blanchard’s speech
and their parallels, found in Gov. Granholm’s speech 20 years later.
Blanchard: "In fact, in 1985 a record 23,600 new
businesses started up in Michigan.
Granholm: "In the 12 months since I spoke here last,
more than 1,600 new small businesses opened their doors in Michigan." _________
Blanchard: "After observing what’s taking place
here, author and futurist John Naisbitt wrote that Ann Arbor is among the 10
best places in the nation to open a new business."
Granholm: "In fact, in 2005 we were named one of the
friendliest states in America for Small Business." _________
Blanchard: "Who could have guessed that we could
erase, in just three short years, a staggering $1.7 billion deficit?"
Granholm: "I’m proud that we’ve resolved $4 billion
in budget deficits without a general tax increase." _________
Blanchard: "Solvency has helped us launch a
nationally envied economic program that has brought us jobs from Japan."
Granholm: "Our Japan trip brought commitments for
hundreds of more new jobs from Denso, Tokai, Rika, Hitachi Automotive, and
Blanchard: "From the very first, the number one goal of
this administration has been to create jobs for Michigan residents."
Granholm: "In addition to bringing jobs home, I’ll
continue my fight to keep the jobs we have right here in Michigan." _________
Blanchard: "Second, we must diversify our economy …"
Granholm: "And second, the 21st Century
Jobs Fund, the product of almost unanimous bipartisan agreement — the largest
investment in diversifying our economy this state has ever seen." _________
Blanchard: "Second, we must diversify our economy …
while capitalizing on the emerging field of biotechnology."
Granholm: "At Michigan State University, President
Lou Anna Simon is positioning our state (and her Spartans) to lead the world in
the new ‘bio-economy’ — developing energy and other products from our
Blanchard: "First, we must remain diligent in our
efforts to strengthen our industrial base and make sure we lead the world in
Granholm: "Believe me, Michigan will continue to do
everything in its power to support our manufacturing center." _________
Blanchard: "Fundamental to maintaining Michigan’s
economy is increased innovation."
Granholm: "This is a big deal — and a huge
opportunity for Michigan. Innovators across the country are developing new ways
to power our refrigerators, heat our homes, and fuel our cars." _________
Blanchard: "The new Michigan Materials Processing
Institute will be a bold effort to achieve national leadership in the creation
of new manufacturing materials"
Granholm: The Great Lakes State will be the
alternative energy epicenter of America."_________
Blanchard: "State government has joined with labor
and business to help provide residents with the skills they will need to meet
the challenges of the future."
Granholm: "Thanks to our Michigan Opportunity
Partnership, we’re more successful than ever training and placing employed
people in good paying jobs that exist today in Michigan." _________
Blanchard: "I share the deep concern of parents of
young children, who fear that they cannot honestly promise their children the
hope of a higher education at a Michigan public university."
Granholm: "First, we must make sure that every
parent who’s watching tonight can afford to send their children to college."_________
Blanchard: "Every child has a right to expect that
they will be safe from harm at school. And their parents have that right also.
Schools must have an environment that fosters learning. Local safety programs
funded by state grants will be implemented this year."
Granholm: "We’ll also work to make sure that your
children are safe in their schools." _________
There is probably a good reason why Gov. Granholm’s speech
contained so many similarities to Gov. Blanchard's speech: Cats don’t bark, as the
saying goes. The point here is that politicians are similar animals regardless
of party affiliation, and governors feel an obligation to a) brag about alleged
accomplishments, and b) create an illusion that they’re doing something to solve
problems — real or perceived.
But braggadocio comes with a price, one that is all too
often paid for by the very people politicians claim to care about.
It would be refreshing if the next gubernatorial address
were preceded by a thoughtful reading and analysis of past proposals and claims.
Were they accurate? Did the adopted programs work as advertised? Are we
repeating the mistakes of yesteryear? All of these are questions officials might
want to ask themselves before they conjure up the ghosts of policies past.
Michael D. LaFaive is fiscal policy director for the
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute
headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is
hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.
The 1986 State of the State address was obtained from the Blanchard
collection at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of