The “grand bargain” sounds like a special sale at Macy’s.
But until now, it’s been the political holy grail — a noble-sounding but unobtainable goal. This was the phrase used by President Obama, before he failed to broker a deficit deal with Congress three years ago.
But on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder was at The News describing the Detroit “grand bargain” as an almost fait accompli, a “unique situation” that by autumn could change how people talk about Detroit.
A bipartisan Senate majority passed $195 million in aid to Detroit pensioners, the result of an effort that included a Lansing visit from U.S. Judge Gerald Rosen, the methodical mediator in the bankruptcy case, as well as Mayor Mike Duggan and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
The “grand” part of the deal, largely engineered by Rosen, involves breathtaking optimism and imagination — the idea that nearly a billion dollars can be raised by convincing various parties they must be part of the Detroit bankruptcy solution. Philanthropies, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and even the GOP-controlled, Detroit-averse state Legislature are all kicking in to the city pension funds.
On Tuesday, the Skillman Foundation proffered another $3.5 million.
This big bargain is less like a sale than a massive Red Cross drive requiring seemingly disinterested parties to donate blood.
It’s beginning to feel like a Facebook tease — the amazing Michigan political feat you won’t believe!
The Senate’s vote on Tuesday (which included one Democratic and 16 Republican nays) was the latest sign that leadership, collaboration and compromise are not mythical concepts but real ones that can be observed and even jointly celebrated.
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, joked at a press conference that pulling off the vote was “fun,” by which he meant that it had been excruciating.
Although many of his fellow Republicans refused to buy into the expansive “we’re all in this together” grand vision, the aid package passed, and without any strictures limiting the Detroit Institute of Arts millage.
Meanwhile, Duggan was praising Brenda Jones this week, a rare instance of a Detroit mayor cheering on a city council president. Snyder, in a meeting with The News editorial board, said nice things about Duggan.
The state’s politicians are in the midst of a giddy, bankruptcy-induced love fest.
Maybe it’s a temporary thing. But everywhere you look, there’s a sense of focus and commitment to get Detroit out of bankruptcy and out of decades of political and economic mire.
Detroit’s fast-track bankruptcy, guided by Judge Steven Rhodes, is miraculously proceeding on schedule. Although pensioners and union members will need to approve the bargain — which may not seem quite so grand to them — they’re likely to be at least as open to reason as members of the Legislature.
Judge Rosen called the Senate’s move a “template for how things can be accomplished in a political environment and in a nonpolitical way.”
That suggests the state’s politicians could work together again, on future grand projects. It’s a thought.