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Thursday, June 17,2010

Virg Watch

Rebutting Dillon and releasing an economic plan

by Neal McNamara

Tuesday and Wednesday were big days for Virg Bernero, fending off a TV ad launched by Democratic rival Andy Dillon, and releasing his state economic recovery plan.

Dillon launched his campaign ad on Tuesday, which focused on hiring Michigan workers first, though the Detroit News reported that the Chicago firm AKPD (started by Barack Obama political adviser David Axelrod) produced the ad.

Bernero’s response mostlf focuses on Dillon’s claim that he helped keep companies from laying off Michigan workers. He hammered Dillon for overseas investments made by the firm Wynnchurch Capital, where Dillon was managing director in the beginning part of the decade.

On Wednesday, Bernero released a “strategy to bring jobs back to Michigan and put citizens back to work as part of his Michigan Main Street Agenda.

This line from the press release sums up the plan well:

“To create new jobs in Michigan, Bernero believes we must restore the prowess of our advanced manufacturing capabilities instead of abandoning them.”

Bernero’s plan would eliminate the Michigan Business Tax “surcharge,” create “green manufacturing zones” at abandoned auto factories through tax incentives, try to make every major city in Michigan a zone for EB-5 visas (they allow foreigners to live here as long as they invest $500,000, though is some cases they have to invest $1 million), work with the state’s federal delegation to rebuild roads and bridges and “fight for fair trade, not free trade.” Bernero also again mentioned his plan for a state bank.

The press release on the plan was short on details. Questions about the plan sent to Jamaine Dickens, Bernero’s spokesman, went unanswered. A phone call was also not immediately returned. Bernero’s plan said he intended to create the nation’s most favorable tax climate, but did not specify how. The plan’s outline was also not clear on whether tax incentives for companies to reuse old auto plants already existed or would have to be created. It was also not clear whether a governor could unilaterally create a tax incentive. Most such incentives are administered on a local level, though the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Legislature have a hand in creating statewide incentives.

In endorsements this week, Bernero got the thumbs up from the Young Democrats of Delta County (it’s where Escanaba is) and the Wyandotte Democratic Club.

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