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That explains it:

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s 2011 tax increase on retirement income from pensions is haunting the Republican as he runs for a second term in a graying state still recovering from the recession.

Polls have shown Snyder, 56, in a dead heat with Democratic challenger Mark Schauer, 52, a former state legislator and congressman who’s hammering Snyder for hurting pensioners while cutting business taxes by $1.4 billion.

“I’m very sorry I voted for Mr. Snyder,” said Rosalind Weber, 67, a retired state worker from Ionia who calls herself an independent. “I won’t vote for him again. I didn’t like what he did with the taxes.”

Snyder bucked a decades-old trend among states of reducing taxes on retirees. While other issues are stirring the race -- Michigan’s 7.7 percent July unemployment rate (USUSMICH:US) remained above a 6.2 percent U.S. average -- the pension tax is driving a Democratic drumbeat for change in Lansing, where Republicans control all three branches of government.

Until Snyder’s changes took effect, Michigan had exempted most pension payments from the income tax, now at 4.25 percent. He created a three-tier system for retirees born before 1946, after 1952 and those in between. Members of the youngest group were hit hardest; instead of being allowed to exempt $47,309 in retirement income, they’re now taxed fully until age 67. Then, they get a $20,000 exemption. - Businessweek, 9/3/14

Mark Schauer (D. MI) has been hitting Snyder hard on this issue so it's no wonder this race has tightened greatly:

EPIC-MRA recently gave Schauer a two-point edge — his first in 14 months — and Mitchell Research has Snyder up by a single point. Real Clear Politics, which averages results, now pegs Snyder’s lead at 1.2 points.

“I’ve always said that if Mark Schauer could pull within the margin of error in some major polls by Labor Day that it would be a horse race,” said TJ Bucholz, a Democratic consultant and founder of Vanguard Public Affairs. “And I think it will be.”

Snyder ran a Super Bowl ad in February and another commercial in June, but his campaign has been relatively quiet these past few months as the governor attempted to stay focused on his day job.

That changed this week when the Snyder campaign released a new television ad, and FCC records suggest the governor is poised to stay on the airwaves through the general election.

“The campaign really ought to begin in earnest now, but we’ll have to see what Snyder does,” said Bill Ballenger, a former Republican state lawmaker and founder of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter.

“If he continues to just tread water or act like all he has to do is be governor, I think he’s going to have real problems on November 4.”

Snyder’s new TV ad, which suggests Michigan is on “the road to recovery,” is a new take on his “comeback state” theme. In it, he highlights elimination of a projected budget deficit he inherited, a shrinking unemployment rate and creation of some 300,000 new private-sector jobs.

But Ballenger suggested the governor will have to be more aggressive in order to sell what he called “happy talk” to residents around the state who may not be experiencing a rebound in their own personal finances. - MLive, 9/3/14

Here are a few signs that Snyder and the GOP are nervous. First there's this:

WOOD TV 8 in Grand Rapids has postponed separate debates for Michigan’s gubernatorial and U.S. Senate elections because Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land have not accepted their invitations.

In a story published Tuesday, WOOD-TV said that it had scheduled a U.S. Senate debate for September 8 and a gubernatorial debate for September 10.

U.S. Rep. Gary Peters accepted the invitation, but fellow U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land did not. Likewise, Democratic challenger Mark Schauer accepted the invitation but Snyder did not.

The station is still hopeful to have the debates, according to 24 Hour News 8 News Director Rebecca Sapakie.

“We remain hopeful that both sides of the governor and U.S. Senate races will come together and allow us to offer voters a real, televised, live debate,” Sapakie said in a statement. “Our viewers have important choices ahead and they deserve the opportunity to compare candidates’ views on critical issues facing our state and country.”

The postponement comes as the mid-term elections gear up after Labor Day. Voters will head to the polls on Nov. 4, which is nine weeks away. - MLive, 9/2/14

And then there's this from the RGA:

The ad takes multiple benchmarks of economic decline and blames the entire mess on Granholm and Schauer. On the one hand, this can be viewed as fair opinion, based on all the carefully assembled facts that surround it, and thus outside the purview of Truth Squad. On the other, this ad is a beautiful example of how a stream of undeniable facts can still lead to a conclusion with critical omissions. As has been widely noted, LINK to Ballard’s column any reasonable analysis of Michigan's economic meltdown in the past decade cannot ignore the near collapse of the state's automobile industry, a fall underway well before 2003 that continued into 2010. There is arguably no other state as dependent on one industry.

A report, “Where Have All the Michigan Auto Jobs Gone,” by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, a Kalamazoo-based nonprofit research organization, concluded that Michigan was “on its way to relinquishing its dominance in the auto industry” by 2000. It noted the industry was already losing its competitive position to foreign rivals. Michigan lost 211,000 auto jobs from 2000 to 2007, the report stated.

The Upjohn analysis does not mention tax policy or any government action as a cause for the fall of the industry. Rather, it states that “factors such as inflexibility in responding to changing consumer preferences, rising oil prices, the accumulation of large legacy costs from generous health care and pension benefits to retired auto workers, and the higher production costs associated with an increasingly older, higher-paid incumbent workforce eroded their competitive position.”

It is also evident that Michigan's economic slide began in 2000, under the administration of GOP Gov. John Engler. In June of 2000, motor vehicle employment – including parts and vehicle manufacturing – in Michigan stood at 332,700. By the end of Engler's term in December 2002, auto employment had fallen by 54,000 to 278,600. Overall employment dropped by 243,000 during the same period as manufacturing employment fell from 971,000 to 900,000.

Michigan's decline continued through the decade, accelerated by the national financial crisis of 2008 and collapse of the nation's housing market that began in 2007. General Motors filed for bankruptcy in 2009, with $82 billion in assets and $173 billion in debt. Michigan hit bottom in March 2010, with an overall drop in jobs of 800,000 and loss of motor vehicle jobs of 216,000 since 2000. The ripple effect of the automotive plunge was considerable. A 2010 study by the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research, a nonprofit industry research organization, concluded that jobs in the automotive industry contribute to at least four other jobs.

Leaving aside what role, if any, Granholm played in deepening Michigan’s financial spiral, it’s worth noting that Schauer served as minority leader in the state Senate and that Republicans controlled that body during both of Granholm's terms, making it unlikely he could meaningfully impact any aspect of the state’s economy. (Schauer spokesman Zack Pohl has also noted $1.4 billion in income tax hikes on individuals that Snyder pushed through in 2011, including those on pensions, homeowners and low-income residents. It compares in scale to the 2007 tax hikes Schauer voted for.) - MLive, 9/3/14

Not to mention Democrats are fired up:

Vice President Joe Biden addressed a crowd of spectators who congregated at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull for the 2014 Detroit Labor Day Parade on Monday.

When Biden took to the stage, he said American workers owe a debt of gratitude to union workers.

“You’re the reason why every other American worker has any of the basic rights they have,” Biden told the crowd. “It’s because of unions.”

Vice President Joe Biden told hundreds of Detroit-area union members that they deserve a “fair share” of any improvement in corporate profits.

Biden spoke Monday on the grounds of the former Tiger Stadium ahead of organized labor’s annual parade Monday. He stuck with populist themes, criticizing corporate pay and companies that leave the U. S. for lower taxes.

He says workers don’t want a handout. Biden says, “Just give them a chance.”

Biden was preceded on the stage by labor leaders and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and Gary Peters, the party’s nominee for U.S. Senate. -CBS Detroit, 9/1/14

And Schauer is making a big promise to a key constituency:

BTL: Can you describe how a Schauer/Brown administration would look to the LGBT community vs. the current Snyder/Calley administration?

Schauer: Our administration is going to look like and be like the people of our state, including members of the LGBT community. That is very important. And so, it will be in top administration positions, in key state appointed positions, in state government and in key staff positions. Just look at our campaign. I've actually lost count of the number of LGBT people on our campaign staff.

Gov. Snyder is running off qualified, talented people to help him run the state today. I know that for a fact. I recently met a lesbian and her partner. Not only can they not get married here, but she works for one of the state departments; I won't say which one, but she does important work. And she said there is insensitivity within the department and among the leadership of the department that creates an unwelcome atmosphere. So she and her partner are considering moving. And I said, 'Hang in there. Things are going to be different when I am governor and Lisa is Lt. Gov.' We want to make sure we send a positive signal to current state employees who are members of the LGBT community that they are welcome, they are valued, we want their talent, we cannot afford to lose their talent. And, you know, that is going to be expressed in all kinds of ways. And we look forward to the opportunity to recruit that talent in top staff positions and throughout the state government. - Pride Source, 9/4/14

We can and will beat Snyder, we just have to make sure our base comes out to the polls on Election Day. Click here to donate and get involved with Schauer's campaign:

And while you're here, how about donating and getting involved with Rep. Gary Peters (D. MI) U.S. Senate campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Sep 03, 2014 at 05:57 PM PDT.

Also republished by LGBT Rights are Human Rights, Kossacks for Marriage Equality, LGBT Kos Community, In Support of Labor and Unions, Milk Men And Women, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Motor City Kossacks, and Michigan, My Michigan.

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