Poll shows public opposition to taxpayer-$s for new US-Canada bridge
Polling by political consultant Dick Morris shows that public opinion prefers private to government financing of a toll bridge between Detroit Michigan and Windsor Ontario. A sample of 500 Michigan residents got 51.8% support for a privately financed second span to the Ambassador Bridge to 27.6% preferring a "government owned bridge" with 20.6% saying don't know or declining to answer.
A poll of Canadians done at the same time asked if they support a new government sponsored toll bridge if it involves a Canadian government loan of $550m to Michigan. 63.2% said they opposed this, 27.8 supported it and there were 9% don't knows.
The polling was conducted by political consultant Dick Morris under a consulting contract with the Ambassador Bridge company owned by the Moroun family. Like almost everything they're involved with the Bridge company sponsored poll has unleashed a torrent of passionate denunciations.
The editor of a "Build the DRIC now" website which campaigns for the new government sponsored "DRIC" span wrote: "Today, the Moroun Misinformation Tour comes to Lansing led by self-proclaimed tax crusader and Washington insider, Dick Morris. However it seems that Morris' concern for protecting taxpayer dollars is about as fresh as the ink on his new Republican Party membership card…
"Hiring Dick Morris to speak on taxes is like hiring Kwame Kilpatrick to speak on government ethics. The only thing Dick Morris knows about taxes is how to avoid them…
"Appearing on the cover of TIME magazine two weeks in the row in 1996… as the consultant who 'has Clinton’s ear' and the next week as the consultant who liked to impress prostitutes by allowing them to listen in while talking to the President….
"Morris, who takes credit for Clinton's political turnaround, was fired as Clinton’s political advisor after the prostitute scandal….Morris is orchestrating the Moroun campaign that continues to lie about the cost of the (DRIC) with national and local advertising making false claims that the construction of the bridge will cost Michigan taxpayers."
Tom Shields a fulltime-DRICky: "So a guy (Morris) who was fired because he couldn't live up to the ethical standards of the Clintons is passing judgment on the (political) DNA of Gov. Snyder, and other Republicans like John Engler and (L.) Brooks Patterson? I don't think so."
And a press officer in the Governor's office told reporter Bill Shea at Crain's Detroit Business that the Ambassador Bridge company's "entire campaign to date seems to be based on misinformation… The truth is that the proposed trade crossing enjoys wide support among agricultural, business and university leaders to name a few. But, since (Dick) Morris doesn’t live or work in Michigan, it’s not surprising he may not be aware of that."
Amb Bridgies unfailingly shoot selves in feet
As is often the case the Ambassador Bridge company is its own worst enemy. Dick Morris is a former Bill Clinton adviser who shared some of his boss' fondness for relations with young women.
He's been in trouble with the IRS over millions of dollars.
Plus he's passionately partisan - a Democrat-turned-Tea Party Republican. Hardly the guy anyone smart would hire for credible public opinion polling.
Sure enough neither the Ambassador Bridge nor Dick Morris people have so far not said how they found their samples of interviewees. And they haven't released the full wording of the questions people were asked, or the questioners' script.
All helpful to those who want to discredit the polling, slam the Ambassador Bridge company, and push the DRIC.
Rarely is money spent so counterproductively as Matty Moroun spending lobby money on Dick Morris!
It would be difficult if you searched to find a DC operator with so little presumptive polling credibility as Dick Morris.
Morris poll may be accurate
And yet….and yet, Morris' polling may well be accurate in this case. The public is deeply concerned about governments taking on more debt.
Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal writes: "The American establishment has finally come around, in unison, to admitting that America is in crisis, that our debt actually threatens our ability to endure, that if we don't make progress on this, we are going to near our endpoint as a nation."
She was reporting after a bipartisan "fiscal summit" in Washington of the Peterson Foundation.
She quotes Bill Clinton, no less, as warning of the danger of structural deficits saying "arithmetic still matters."
Unsustainable the buzzword of the decade
"Elected officials began to get the message. Now they've got it. Our spending and debt are - and it is interesting that this is the first great buzzword of the new decade - 'unsustainable.' "
Because of concern among the public that governments have got overextended and taken on too much debt there is skepticism about government projects like the DRIC.
If the Dick Morris poll question was posed in terms of possible losses by the Michigan state government versus a Moroun risking his own money on a parallel span, then 52% support for the Moroun parallel span versus 28% preference for the government DRIC bridge is highly plausible in today's political climate.
Supporters of the DRIC bridge call the notion of losses to the state and taxpayers "misinformation" even "a lie."
Weather forecast "a lie"
The is similar to saying a weather forecast of rain next week is a "lie." It's saying too much too soon.
It is too early to say if Michigan state taxpayers will be on the hook because:
- there is no investment grade traffic and revenue study of the financial prospects of the DRIC
- there is no finance plan for the new bridge
- there is no state enabling legislation enacted that lays out the powers of the as yet unnamed authority intended to negotiate with the Canadians and how far it can put taxpayers on the hook
- there has been no call for proposals to finance, built, operate and toll and there is no public private partnership in place to allocate risks and responsibilities
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's position has always been that Michigan taxpayers should not be on the hook for the new bridge.
His staff have no need to rubbish the Dick Morris public opinion polling. The results are what you'd expect in the current political climate. It says the public does not want a government bridge built with commitments that put taxpayers on the hook - just the position Gov Snyder has taken when he has addressed financing.
It doesn't say public opinion opposes a new government sponsored bridge if it manages to get private investors to take the risks of the new bridge.
from virulent supporters: