But DeVos told me after my column appeared that he was only using Missouri's Medicaid strategy to illustrate a possible way to replace Michigan's Single Business Tax (SBT). In other words, just eliminate the SBT to make the state more business-friendly, and force the Legislature and governor to deal with the resulting $1.9-billion hole in the state budget.
Not wipe out Medicaid.
I misunderstood. It was my mistake. Honest, but regrettable. I should have made a better effort to make his position clear.
In Christoff's defense, DeVos is the one who needs to make his position clear at all times since HE is the candidate running for office and the one trying to sell himself to the public. Here are the words in question that DeVos clarified for Christoff:
DeVos: What I said was, that we...that there are a multitude of ways that we can resolve the issue. What we want to do...lets, as an example, what ah, do what Matt Blunt, let's look at Matt Blunt, who's the governor of Missouri did, on a totally different issue with regard to Medicare. And that was, he simply said, 'We're going to end the program,' and therefore we promoted then the discussion of how are we going to solve this. But he sent a very clear signal.
This governor, three years ago, as a candidate, said 'We're going to eliminate the single business tax.
It will be a long election season if voters need to clarify DeVos's inarticulate statements, and he'll have no one to blame but himself if he gets labeled the "great miscommunicator" a la Bush.
DeVos did state his position on Medicaid today: "I have never, nor would I ever, advocate the elimination of Medicaid," DeVos said Wednesday. "This program needs to be preserved for those who truly need it: that being the poor and vulnerable. It's a very important program for them."
It's nice to know he won't eliminate Medicaid, although he doesn't say he won't reduce it either. Medicaid consumes one of every four state tax dollars in Michigan, but provides real help to thousands of our most vulnerable citizens. So, what would DeVos do about Medicaid?
"Who knows what the situation will be a year from now?" he said. "Strategies and solutions will be developed over time. There are other program ideas being developed in other states. Other governors are looking at creative solutions."
I hope we hear some of those strategies before November. The challenge for DeVos - besides learning to articulate himself better - is to show the voter why he should be trusted. DeVos is a Republican after all - and his party has consistently slashed money for programs that hurt our most vulnerable citizens. Bush promised not to touch Medicare in his SOTU speech, and then he turned around and did the opposite.
Michigan doesn't need more "compassionate conservatism." Michigan needs a governor who can solve our problems by asking for shared sacrifice from everyone - not just those who have no voice or money to influence decisions.