Passing the Torch

Here's the latest evidence that so-called "economic development" programs are actually nothing more than political development programs: It appears that the state's incentive apparatus has now been enlisted to raise the political profile of Michigan's Lt. Gov. John Cherry, the Democratic heir apparent to replace Gov. Jennifer Granholm when she is termed-out of office at the end of 2010.

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Exhibit No. 1 for this thesis - there will doubtless be many, many more over the next 10 months - is this headline from "Lieutenant Governor Cherry Brings Two Israeli Companies to Michigan." 

This appeared to be a first - in nearly seven years I do not recall the current governor sharing any of the credit for the fruits of her globe-trotting economic-favor granting gambits with Lt. Gov. Cherry. The hundreds of press releases have contained the name only of the chief honcho; in the dozens of press conferences boasting of new jobs the Governor has stood alone, or been flanked by aides including a series of Michigan Economic Development Corp. directors, most recently Greg Main.

But the credit-grabbing mantle may have just been passed.

Curious about Mr. Cherry's alleged job creation prowess, I reviewed the 75 or so Cherry-specific releases on his official Web site. In the first six years of the administration there were 41 of these, but the pace has picked up - 34 have been posted in the first 11 months of this year alone. Of the seven-year total, only three claim credit for landing new companies (and thus jobs) for Michigan. All of these cover the same Israeli firms whose commitments were secured by Cherry and all were released in November, on the 17th, 18th and 23rd, respectively.

The pace is likely to accelerate and include more "jobs" promises made by "winner" corporations in return for discriminatory tax breaks and state government subsidies.