The Shameful Hypocrisy Behind The Anti-Mark Schauer Ad

Mark Schauer, the Democratic candidate for governor running against Rick Snyder, is in trouble for a vote he took way back in 2002 as a state representative on a tax for nursing home beds. The Republican Governors Association, led by Chairman Chris Christie, released the following ad, lambasting Schauer for his liberal tax and spend ways. Check it out below.

In case your bullshit detector isn't already vigorously beeping, let me give you a little background info on the ad you just saw.

The tax on nursing home beds was a bipartisan effort to get matching funds. It works like this: The state taxes nursing home beds. That allows the state then to get matching federal dollars that go back to nursing homes that participate in Michigan's Medicaid program.

Ends up that the state receives more in federal matching Medicaid funds than what is paid out by nursing homes for this tax.

So it’s not a case of socialism run amok, with Michigan extracting wealth from the small-business people that operate nursing homes. Nor is it a case of the government taxing the infirm pensioner, because in the end, the care-recipient ends up with value that outweighs their contribution for the bed tax.

The bill also required that nursing home employees have criminal background checks conducted, so that, you know, there isn't a rapist, a murderer, or a member of the Insane Clown Posse giving grandma her sponge bath.

But here's the bigger problem with the ad. The bill that created the tax was supported by both Democrats and Republicans, and was signed into law by Republican Governor John Mathias Engler.

Worse yet, it didn't even come up for renewal under Jennifer Granholm. In 2011, Republican state Rep. Matt Lori  of southwest Michigan sponsored the bill that brought the law up for renewal! And you know who signed that renewal? None other than Gov. Rick Snyder.

Here’s a press-release posted to, which essentially acts as Governor Snyder’s personal blog. Read along, keeping in mind that these press releases are the Governor’s way of explaining why he picked up a pen and scribbled his name on any particular piece of paper.

"By continuing the assessment, the state receives more in federal matching Medicaid funds than what is paid out by nursing homes. These funds are then directed to nursing homes in Michigan that provide Medicaid services."

Are you kidding me? For a vote Mark Schauer took 12 years ago, the Republican Governors Association tags him as the spend-thrift liberal coming to dig the change out of grandpa's pockets. But in the end,  it turns out that:

  • Extending the law was in Rick Snyder's budget
  • A Republican sponsored the bill
  • The extension had bipartisan support
  • Rick Snyder signed it

As the Snyder administration is quick to point out, they didn’t make the ad! It was all the Republican Governors Association! They have “no input on the tone or content” of ads made by the RGA.

Yeah. Right.

The RGA is a club, and as the name implies, its members are Governors of states, who are also Republicans.

Currently, that means that there are 29 members of this club. Considering that Michigan is one of the few Republican-led states that is both populous, electorally competitive, and economically critical to the success of the United States, I think the Snyder administration is underplaying the influence it has with the RGA.

As someone who grew up in the city, I really appreciate the amount of political capital that Snyder is burning by aggressively trying to fix Detroit’s long-term, systemic problems.

But this ad disappoints me.

 Governor Snyder was supposed to be the high-pitched talking, awkward walking, pragmatic businessman who skipped the politics and delivered results.

Congratulations, camp Snyder. With this ad, you've shown your candidate to be either the slimy politician that the left warned us he would be, or a weak leader who can be bullied by a group he should be influencing.  With this fiasco, you’ve switched me from a slam-dunk tough-nerd ballot-puncher to an undecided voter. 

This column is an expansion of a report from the Slash Detroit news show that appeared in Deadline Detroit. To get Slash Detroit in your inbox each week, click here.

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