Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Who's the real piggy, Mr. Drolet?

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer issued a press release today that was brilliant and long overdue.

Brewer Calls on Drolet to Sign Petition to Surrender Free Lifetime Health Care

For those of you in the dark, Leon Drolet is a former representative whose latest crusade includes parading around Michigan with his pig, while trying to recruit people willing to recall legislators who vote for any tax increases. (Picture courtesy of ICDP: Dispatch)

As the ICDP reminds us, "This whole mentality is brought to you by one of George Bush's favorite neocons, Grover Norquist. Norquist once described his goal as the drowning of government in a bathtub by cutting off its funding. Norquist is one of the board members of Drolet's anti-tax group."

Getting back to Brewer, why do I find his press release brilliant? Because he's asking Drolet to put his money where his mouth is, or in this case, put his taxpayer funded benefits where his mouth is. It's all about accountability. Here are the details:
"Leon Drolet is leading his big pig all around the state, bellowing about the alleged misuse of taxpayer dollars, when he's living high off the hog on the taxpayer dime himself," Brewer said. "His behavior is the height of hypocrisy. If Drolet wants to ensure taxpayer dollars are used responsibly, he will sign a pledge to forfeit the free lifetime health care he obtained during his six years as a Lansing politician."

Brewer presented a petition for Drolet to sign, stating that he would forgo his free lifetime health care and other perks.

During his six years as a State Representative, Drolet cost Michigan taxpayers $1.1 million, including more than $91,000 for mileage reimbursements and $72,000 for his "expense allowance" – in addition to the $477,900 spent on his salary.

Drolet currently serves on the Macomb County Commission, earning $34,069 a year. He also pays himself $39,000 as executive director of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, a so-called taxpayer advocacy group. In recent months, Drolet has traveled across Michigan pushing his extremist agenda with a giant papier mache pig he calls "Mr. Perks."

"Mr. Perks certainly seems to have a sweet spot in his belly for Leon Drolet," Brewer said. "This is a man whose has made a living off our taxpayers for years. I challenge Drolet to change is ways and give back to the taxpayers who have been supporting him for years."

Text of the petition:

I, Leon Drolet, do so solemnly swear to stop living high off the hog on Michigan taxpayers' dollars and begin atoning for the more than $1.1 million I have cost our taxpayers over the past six years.

I pledge to put the taxpayers' money where my mouth is by surrendering the free lifetime health care – paid for by Michigan taxpayers – that I "earned" during my six years as a Lansing politician, because I firmly believe that "every dollar the government takes, that is doesn't absolutely need, is theft."
Free lifetime health care after a measly six years in Lansing? It appears Mr. Drolet is the real piggy when it comes to abusing tax dollars.

Lead by example and do the right thing, Mr. Drolet. Surrender your free lifetime health care and save the taxpayers of Michigan some money.

9 comments:

expatbrian said...

Yup, thats the actual hotel color and the pics are posted now. :)

Chet said...

It is an interesting idea by Brewer, but let's make it fair, rather than unilateral disarmament by Leon.

Have Brewer endorse the idea of retroactive repeal of these benefits for all legislators including Democrats.

Right now, Marty Knollenberg (R, Troy) can't even get the Dems to vote yes on a bill that would make the lifetime benefits bill START now (for freshmen 2007 legislators, among which Marty is one) rather than for the class of 2009 legislators.

So, Mark Brewer, put your money where your mouth is and line up the Dem caucus on that one.

Kathy said...

Expat, thanks. I'll stop over and check them out.

Chet, Brewer isn't the one running around eschewing the evils of taxes. He and fellow Dems aren't responsible for the higher tuition rates, cuts to health care for the poor, and demands that state employees freeze their salaries. It's the Republicans - and in particular Drolet - who cry about taxes but put their hands out to take everything they can get.

Like I said in my post, lead by example Mr. Drolet and surrender your taxpayer funded lifetime health care.

leon drolet said...

OK Kathy, I'll do it!

I promise to give up my state paid "lifetime health care benefits" for the next 15 years on one simple condition - that House Speaker Andy Dillon do the same.

Nope. That is asking too much. I'll just do it. I hereby announce that I am giving up my state lifetime health care benefits for the next 15 years!!!

Oh, wait, I don't receive any health care from my years as state rep? Nope, I don't. Health care doesn't kick in for another 15 years. State representatives do NOT GET "lifetime health care benefits" unless they are over 55 years old.

Brewer is, as always, factually incorrect. And I don't get why he and I can't be friends and recall a couple of tax-raising Republicans together? After all, the MI Taxpayers Alliance is nonpartisan. Brewer should be going after the GOP, right?

Christine said...

I have always opposed guaranteed benefits for legislators, after only 6 years of service. (5 yrs and 9 months, actually, to protect the folks who have to resign early to campaign for another office)

Economically, it's ridiculous. I won't even get into that.

Morally, it's wrong for a small (but still too big) group of people to be guaranteed health care that is paid for by a group of people who are not guaranteed to get health care.

They ought to give up those benefits right now. They could if they wanted to.

Leon, you are the one dragging a pig around the state. Give up your health care .. not for the next 15 years, which is not a sacrifice for you at all .. but give up the benefits you would receive after the age of 55.

All your group is doing is campaigning against paying for things that are being used by other people ... their salaries, their services, their education, etc.

If you can't give up a tax funded benefit in exchange for your cause, then stop asking others to give up tax funded services for you.

And this is not what the recall process is for, which I'm sure you know.

Kathy said...

Mr. Drolet, you're still not leading by example. I don't care if you have lifetime health care today or 15 years from now, the point is that you will someday benefit from taxpayer paid health care. You don't seem to have a problem taking something from taxpayers, yet your group runs around the state trying to convince voters that taxes are bad. Bad for whom? Apparently not you, since you're on the receiving end.

BTW, I agree with Christine, I don't think any legislators deserve benefits after only 6 years of service. In fact, I'd go one further and say NO politician - state or federal - deserves better benefits than taxpayers get.

Chet said...

On the other hand, Leon and other reps do deserve an 401-k like contribution for the 6 years that they are there (as opposed to a benefit system that gives them the equivalent of 30 years of vesting for 5 years).

Why is it reasonable for you or Brewer to ask Leon to unilaterally suffer by giving everything up while Democrats like Dillon and others take in that money? That's like asking one side in the Cold War to just give up all their nukes. No rational person unilaterally disarms - though Democrats (not the shrewd ones like JFK or LBJ though) in the past have even entertained that when the stakes were the highest. Your whole line of analysis here is just a press release stunt - cute, but it puts you

If Andy Dillon retro-actively eliminates the benefits for everyone in Leon's class and later (and fairly replace it with a generous but market-rate per annum contribution to an HSA, 401k, or similar instrument similar to the rates on the market), I'm all for it. I'll personally get in Republican faces, including Leon's, and tell them their wrong if any vote or speak against it.

To Mark Brewer and community activists here - you can make it so with a few phone calls. You've levied the challenge. Your challenge begs the solution. Your challenge backfires if you're not willing to carry out your proposed solution on yourself or your allies.

But **it, the Democratic House won't even hold a roll-call vote on stopping the benefits for this class.

Leon - would you challenge trading your benefits for a defined contribution plan if everyone did it?

(and Christine, where has Leon campaigned "against services" like education, or whatever. Your equation of fighting against tax increases (now if he were fighting for tax decreases you'd have a more tangible argument) and cutting specific services is disingenuous. At its barest, he's fighting against ***additional services*** not necessarily cuts. Now you'll argue that the recession necessitates that there'll be less revenue and that implies cuts - but 1) that's hypothetical (no more or less than your criticism of "supply-side" growth) 2) even if true, how do tax increases increase economic growth, especially in the short-or-medium term 3) you need to prove that there aren't prudent cuts available before even considering tax increases, but instead, the Governor started with the idea of tax increases instead of efficiencies - from day one after the election (ah, but not before the election!). The Governor proposed $300 million in NEW SERVICES - and made promises for others - now those are "cuts"?? Give me a break.)

leon drolet said...

"That is not what the recall process is for"? Really? The recall process is in place exactly for removing tax raisers. In fact, it is the only thing in state history that state lawmakers have ever been recalled for.

DAVID WEJRANDT said...

I READ THE PRIOR COMMENTS AND ALL I SEE IS THE SAME PETTY, MEANINGLESS, BICKERING THAT HAS BROUGHT OUR STATE TO IT'S CURRENT CONDITION. WHILE I AM NOT IN FAVOR OF THE HEALTH CARE PACKAGE THE LEGISLATORS HAVE GIFTED UPON THEMSELVES, LET'S NOT LOSE SIGHT OF THE FINANCIAL RAPE AND PILLAGE THAT EXISTING TAXES, AS WELL AS NEW TAXES, ARE DOING TO OUR STATE.
MY PERSONAL ECONOMIC PHILOSOPHY FOLLOWS THAT OF MILTON FRIEDMAN; THE PURPSOE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO MAKE THE ENVIRONMENT SAFE FOR BUSINESSES TO OPERATE. ALL OTHER FUNCTIONS ARE SUPERFULOUS AND COUNTER PRODUCTIVE. SOCIAL PROGRAMS SHOULD BE MOVE FROM GOVERNMENT OPERATION TO A VOLUNTEER BASIS HANDLED BY CHARITIES. EDUCATION SHOULD BE PAID FOR BY PEOPLE WITH CHILDREN THAT NEED EDUCATING, NOT HAVING THE HARD EARNED MONEY OF ALL WORKERS BEING SQUANDERED BY EVER-EXPANDING ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS. WE NEED TO BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY AND PRISIONER WORK PROGRAMS TO MAKE THE PENAL SYSTEM OPERATE ON AT LEAST A BREAK-EVEN BASIS, INSTEAD OF BEING THE ANCHOR AROUND THE NECK OF MICHIGAN TAX PAYERS.
IF IT ISN'T RELATED TO THE OPERATIONS OF THE POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS, MAINTAINING & IMPROVING THE ROADS, OR MANAGING OUR STATE'S NATURAL RESOURCES, WE DON'T NEED IT!!!
WITH OUR CURRENT TECHNOLOGY, A REASONABLE TAX PROGRAM COULD BE RUN ON A POST-CARD BASIS. OUR LEGISLATIVE BODIES SHOULD OPERATE ON A PART-TIME, AND IDEALLY VOLUNTARY, BASIS. I PERSONALLY, AM SICK OF DONATING SO MUCH OF MY INCOME TO SLACKERS & CON ARTISTS ON THE GOVERNMENT DOLE.
OUR STATE AND COUNTRY FLOURISHED DURING TIMES OF MINIMAL GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE. HOWEVER, SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION, THE INCREASING ENCROACHMENT OF BOTH STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT REGULATION HAS BEEN SAPPING THE VITALITY FROM OUR SOCIETY. REPEALING THE RECENT TAX LAWS, AS WELL AS RE-CALLING THE POLITICIANS WHO SADDLED US WITH THEM WOULD BE A GOOD START.