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February 04, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-02-04

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4A - Wednesday, February 4, 2009

4A Weea FbaThe Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Calling for tough cuts
Granholm's efforts to balance state budget are critical
L ast night, Gov. Jennifer Granholm delivered her annual
State of the State address from the floor of the Michigan
House of Representatives. With the federal stimulus pack-
age - which could fund many state programs - facing an uncer-
tain future, Granholm focused on several major suggestions to
reduce the state budget. She also implored state universities to
freeze tuition for the upcoming school year. These efforts to pre-
vent an increase in college tuition costs are necessary to provide
for the state's economic revival, which hinges upon establishing
an educated workforce. With this goal in mind, Granholm's bud-
get cuts should be adopted, and the state must work with univer-
sities to keep the price of a Michigan education low.



Y1- o c'Mog 15 over
ii Lp

A stimulating solution

During her address, Granholm suggested
massive budget changes to counter the defi-
cit predicted for the upcoming fiscal year.
When the new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1,
Michigan's budget is anticipated to be short
a staggering $1.6 billion. In response, Gra-
nholm suggested cutsto state agencies across
the board, which would mean eliminating 10
of 16 state departments and funding for the
state fair. She also requested that the State
Officers Compensation Commission, which
sets salaries for elected officials, cut salaries
by 10 percent.
Though these cuts will probably mean job
losses for some state employees, they are
nonetheless necessary so that the state can
control its budget. Now, more than ever, the
state needs to decide which expenditures are
vital to the well-being of the state - and cut-
ting education funding just isn't acceptable.
The state needs higher education to be acces-
sible and affordable to diversify Michigan's
economy with a workforce well educated in
a variety of academic fields.
Cuttingstate departments is vastly prefer-
able to the 7.1 percent across-the-board cut to
public university funding that was suggested
last month. These cuts, in conjunction with
other plans to save money in the state's cor-
rections system, will hopefully prevent the

state from cutting education funding.
And if the state is able to avoid cutting
education funding, these universities will
be more prepared to heed Granholm's call to
freeze tuition rates. Considering that tuition
here at the University has increased 34.6
percent in the last four years alone, an end to
the constantly increasing rate would bewel-
come to college students and their families.
But this becomes an impossible goal to. live
up to if the state ends up slashing education
funding. Granholm said that if colleges can
freeze tuition rates, the state will reward
them with funding. The University should
feel compelled to take her up on this offer.
In her discussion of the state's finances,
Granholm also mentioned the pending fed-
eral stimulus package. She noted that, while
there are projects that could benefit from
the federal aid, the stimulus package isn't a
cure-all for Michigan's problems.'And she's
right - the federal stimulus package mak-
ing its way through Congress is an uncertain
prospect. And, no matter how much money
Michigan gets, it won't solve our overarching
budget problems in the longterm.
If our options are between cutting funding
to higher education and scaling back on non-
essential spending, we would much rather
sacrifice the state fair.

The word "stimulus" always
makes me giggle. It just sounds
dirty to me. But despite the
fact that I never left
puberty, the stimu-
lus everyone is talk-
ing about today is
hardly a dirty joke.
In fact, it's probably
the nation's great-
est hope for salvag-
ing the economy.
Last Wednesday, M
the House of Rep- ATTHEW
resentatives passed GREEN
President Obama's
economic stimulus
package. Supporters and critics alike
have deemed it one of the largest
social spending programs since the
New Deal. Its basic tenets include vast
increases in funding for education
and Medicaid, more unemployment
benefits and the creation of public
works projects to secure employment
for millions of Americans.
In addition, the stimulus sets aside
funding for increased broadband
access, alternative energy investment,
financial assistance for college stu-
dents, infrastructure repair and health
care for blue-collar workers. It also
protects unemployed Americans from
losing their health care coverage.
In hopes of appealing to conserva-
tives, Obama pressured Democrats
to exclude a measure that would
make contraceptives more accessible
through Medicaid. Contraceptives
help many families stay afloat and
serve as a crucial element of family
planning. Failing to aid families with
this is an unfortunate means of com-
Nevertheless, close-mindedness
has compelled conservatives to ignore
the Democrats' concessions. Many
believe the package should focus on

things they view tobe more pertinent
to the economy. What they fail to rer-
ognize is that investing in the afore-
mentioned programs is investing in
the economy..
ProvidingAmericanschools withthe
resources to better educate American
students will lead to a more intellectu-
al workforce. Maintaining affordable
health care will inevitably result in
more people staying healthy and work-
ing more efficiently. Focusing on alter-
native energy will probably help save
domestic industry and simultaneously
rescue the environment in which all of
us work and live. And similar realities
are to be found for each individual part
of the stimulus.
"Well, fine," Republicans might
say, "lots of fancy new programs -
but there aren't enough tax breaks
for 'real Americans.'" In fact, a third
of the stimulus package goes back to
taxpayers in need in the form. of tax
breaks. But it's important to note that
in spite of what conservatives might
say, tax cuts alone are simply not the
The purpose of a tax cut is to
encourage taxpayers to spend more
at businesses affected by the failing
economy. But at a time when credit is
at a virtual standstill and people are
increasingly nervous about spending,
what little they have, money unspent
in taxes would likely be saved rather
than reinvested into struggling busi-
nesses. Thatmeansmajor cutsintaxes
at this point in time would decrease
government revenue while doing
nothing to help moribund businesses,
in effect making things worse.
To illustrate this point Congress
enacted amoreconservativeapproach
last year to an economic stimulus
program by passing a $168 billion tax
cuts and rebates package. That was
in February 2008. Are we more eco-

nomically sound in February 2009, or
were Americans once again duped by
the myopic social philosophy of the
far right?
To be fair, when discussing public
policy and especially economic poli-
cies, it's important to look carefully
at both sides. When members of both
parties have dissenting opinions in
Congress, representative democracy
is playing its 'A'-game and coming
closer to a holistic middle ground. But
when those opinions yield only bitter
argument - and no results - then the
process is entirely undermined.
Stimulus - it may
sound naughty,
but it's needed.
The House did manage to pass
Obama's stimulus plan, so any further
discussion might seem like a non-
issue. But it passed without a single
Republican vote, and the stubborn-
ness exhibited by House Republicans
scares me. It's a powerful pigheaded-
ness and it must not continue into the
future. There are too many important
bills to pass for partisanship to get in
the way of professionalism.
Regardless of whether or not
everyone on Capitol Hill agrees with
the current terms of the stimulus
package, policy gridlock will get the
U.S. nowhere. That much is clear. If
liberals are willing to come to the
table ready to bargain, Republicans
ought to do the same.
Matthew Green can be reached
at greenmat@umich.edu.




Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be less than 300
words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. Letters are edited
for style, length, clarity and accuracy. All submissions become property of the Daily.
We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.
MSAs Band-aid solution


If any students were still unconvinced of the
ineptitude of the Michigan Student Assembly,
Monday night's Town Hall Meeting has surely
convinced them. Setting the tone for the night
was yet another laughable tirade against the
"Zionists" allegedly in control of MSA and, by
extension, U.S. foreign policy. What followed was
as equally detached from reality; MSA and other
student government leaders took questions from
a small audience of about forty people (comprised
mostly of those already in student government),
assuaging their concerns with nothing more than
recycled and unfulfilled campaign promises.
MSA has spouted a lot of rhetoric of late regard-
ing "accountability," but this is not it.
Over the past week, MSA's Gaza resolution
debacle has brought on a deluge of coverage
detailing its shortcomings, but none were as tell-
ing as Monday's Letter to the Editor (Student
government leaders to hold Town Hall Meeting,
02/02/2009) penned by none other than the
presidents of MSA, LSA Student Government
and the University of Michigan Engineering
Council: Sabrina Shingwani, Leslie Zaikis and
Danny Hsiao, respectively. The central thesis of
their letter seems to be that better communica-
tion with students will lead to more effective
student governments. On the surface, this is hard
to disagree with. A dialogue with constituents is
essential for an efficient government, student or
The problem is that it's completely insincere.
If MSA truly wanted transparency, it might con-
sider updating its website. The most recently
listed meeting minutes and resolutions are a full
11 months out of date. Likewise, this letter would
seem to be the extent of MSA's advertising for the
town hall meeting. Where was the mass email?
Where were all the flyers? A meeting with the
public doesn't work if the public doesn't know
where or when to meet.
The letter goes on to play one of the oldest
(and, incidentally, least effective) cards in the
political deck - blaming the media. The authors,

in an attempt to shirk responsibility for their
administrations' lack of transparency, compares
MSA to NASA. She claims that, like NASA, only
MSA's failures are publicized while their suc-
cesses go unnoticed. While comparing MSA to a
U.S. government agency is an interesting attempt
at implying legitimacy, the comparison is ridicu-
lous. If this is truly the case, then I challenge the
student governments to explain.why every robot
that gets shipped off to Mars is front-page news.
IfMSA is hurting for some positive press, it has
no one to blame but itself. Sure, not everything
MSA does right will make the papers. But with
a budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars,
the lack of newsworthy projects or initiatives is
simply a disgrace. The letter from the presidents
exposes the "town hall meeting" for what it real-
ly was - not an opportunity for real feedback,
but rather a public relations band-aid to stem the
recent bleeding only long enough for inevitable
student apathy to kick back in.
So how do we fix MSA and finally restore
accountability to student government? The
solution is quite simple - we must rid our-
selves of the single-party system. That means
we need an alternative to the Michigan Action
Party. Despite years of stagnation and scandal
(remember Zack Yost and Anton Vuljaj?), and
the same unfulfilled campaign "promises" each
semester, MAP continues its single-party reign
over student government. Without another
party in serious contention, voters cannot oust
the ineffectual party from office. Consequently,
our elections have become just about as mean-
ingless as North Korea's.
If there is any real leadership left in student
government, your mandate is clear. Break off
from your party bosses and forge into the future
under a new banner. The voters will reward
you. Until you do, your "town hall meetings"
will remain nothing more than "Tammany
Hall Meetings."
Jim Brusstar is an Engineering sophomore.


Argument against LSA foreign
language requirement is faulty

Patsy recycles ti
right. He argues th
ed to build his way
construction of th
been encouraging

TO THE DAILY: seven years prior t
I just read a viewpoint in the Daily in which an out- Patsy's other ma
of-state freshman complains to everyone about having ment in 1938 rems
to fulfill the foreign language requirement (Foreign lan- New Deal progran
guage frustration, 02/02/2009). The author says he does course of 1936 and
not want to take any more Italian, because he does not the fastest rate in1
like it and will never use it. He also informs us that no one 14 percent. In 1938
should be required to study languages, alluding generi- starting another re
cally and inanely to a globalized world in which everyone reason? Roosevelt,
speaks English. attempted to balan
How nice. First of all, people should take a language works projects.
that interests them and that they could someday use. That With a bit of hon
way, they can take a more serious interest in studying it. tics he cites prove t
If you don't want to take Italian, you shouldn't. Second, if
you don't believe you should have to fulfill this University Zachary Martin
requirement, keep in mind that you knew what you were LSA sophomore
getting yourself into when you came here. And no stu-
dentis entitled to skip the foreign language requirement, Daschlesc
because the University has good reasons for enforcing it.
Obviously, only a minority of the world's population can forpolitic
speak English. But beyond that fact, not everyone wants
to, nor should they have to. The aim of this requirement
is to prepare you to be a world citizen, willing and able to TO THE DAILY:
work respectfully and cooperatively with other people of In the wake of
the world. Assuming everyone will speak English to you director of the Del
is arrogant and incorrect, and this attitude perpetuates es nomination, ant
an embarrassing stereotype of Americans abroad. such as Bill Rich:

he standard dishonest claims of the far
hat President Herbert Hoover attempt-
out of the Great Depression, citing the
e Hoover Dam. In reality, Hoover had
construction of the dam since 1922,
o the stock market crash. ,
jor piece of evidence is that unemploy-
ained at 19 percent after five years of
ms. He leaves out the fact that over the
1937, Gross National Product grew at
US history. Unemployment dropped to
, the GNP fell and unemployment grew,
cession after five years of recovery. The
after a half-decade of deficit spending,
ce the budget by cutting back on public
esty, Patsy would realize that the statis-
he necessity of government spending.
,ndalprompts the need
al accountability
Tom Daschle's withdrawal from his
partment of Health and Human Servic-
d as other high-profile political officials
ardson and Nancy Killefer have been



forced to drop
Adam Ajlouni isn't it time w
LSA senior under review fi
People faile.
Patsy should have considered all before the pet
While Bill Ric
statistics in New Deal evaluation officialskneed t
ing back contr
was the Senate
TO THE DAILY: more than $80,
In.order to justify his opposition to the proposed eco- is called tax ev
nomic stimulus package, Vincent Patsy marshaled a host This is beyond1
of statistics to suggest that both the New Deal and World don't find amoi
War II failed to pull the United States out of the Great
Depression and, instead, made it worse (Recession and Asa Smith
depression myths, 2/3/2009). LSA freshman

out of the limelight due to similar scrutiny,
e examine our officials before they come
or high-profile jobs?
d to realize these things were happening
ople in question were up for nomination.
hardson was preaching about how public
o do what is best for the people, he was kick-
acts to political supporters. Tom Daschle
e majority leader while he failed to declare
,000 in income in 2007. For anyone else, this
asion. For politicians, it's an, "Oops, sorry."
unacceptable. Just imagine the skeletons we
ng our other 535+ public servants.


Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke,
Sutha K Kanagasingam, Shannon Kellman, Edward McPhee, Matthew Shutler,
Neil Tambe, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder

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