Wednesday, February 1, 2023

TIM SKUBICK: Not a bad first date

Does anybody out there remember your first real date?

You had to put your best face forward, not say anything stupid and hope that this was the beginning of a beautiful romance.

The “first date” syndrome is in full bloom in the state Capitol as the Democrats are trying to figure out how to court the Republicans who will be needed from time to time to get stuff done.

And this week the Opening Day of the “date” was, shall we say, a little bumpy. In some cases, it was like forgetting to open the car door for your date while in other situations it showed signs of cuddling up to one another in the front seat unencumbered by seat belts.

For example. Instead of a fight over making sure the first African American was not elected speaker of the House. The Republicans played nice and in a true sign of bipartisanship, put up a vast majority of their votes for Rep. Joe Tate including a public endorsement on the floor by the new House GOP leader Matt Hall.

Oh sure, there were nine Republicans who voted no, but they are from the Freedom Caucus, patterned about the similar one in the U.S. House, and these ultra-conservatives don’t play nice with anybody most of the time anyway.

One thing that riled the R’s was one of their own waited hours in line to file the first bill of the session. But when the door opened to the office to do that, the new speaker cut in line and used his “speaker’s prerogative” and got the first bills that the D’s wanted leaving the GOP lawmaker upset.

Cries of “abuse of power” echoed the Capitol dome as the Republicans were none too pleased about being “treated this way.” Welcome to the minority folks.

In the scheme of things, it was not a major setback and was quickly replaced by something with significantly more substance and impact on your life.

Both parties came out on Opening Day embracing tax cuts for seniors and needy families.

Can you say kumbaya?

Sure they had different ways to deliver the tax relief, but the fact that they had a philosophical agreement to do it, meant it would eventually get done. Details to follow.

The governor got into the act by adding a dash of “willingness to work together” to the soup.

The next day Gov. Gretchen Whitmer marched into the hall to a thunder of applause from pro-Democratic supporters who have been geeked by this new power of control they have.

She unveiled her tax cuts. The Republicans don’t agree with her proposal to eliminate the senior pension tax for just public employees as the R’s think every retiree, public and private, should get the break.

Rather than dig her heels in, the governor reflected that this was just the start of negotiations on the issue which meant she is willing to play Monte Hall and make a deal with the other guys for the “good of the people.” It was a feel-good moment and the way the process is supposed to work.

So all and all the first date was not a bust and while there was no good night kiss at the door, there was some hand-holding going on, which sometimes leads to … well you can figure that out.

Tim Skubick is a syndicated political newspaper columnist who also anchors and produces the weekly PBS show “Off the Record.”

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