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Commentary: Money, and more money

A week from now, the election will be over, we’ll have more or less digested what happened, and go back to contemplating the other daily dilemmas of life in our state.

There’s the issue of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which wants to move from being a tightly regulated charity to being a normal non-profit, with much more freedom to do what it wants, and less responsibility to provide coverage for the uninsured.

We actually have some lawmakers who are arguing that we no longer need to require Blue Cross to cover everybody, because they’ll be covered, more or less, as President Obama’s universal health care plan kicks in. At the same time, however, these same people say we have to get Mitt Romney elected, so they can repeal what they call Obamacare. Logical?

You were expecting logic in an election year? I’m not sure about this, but it seems there may be an attempt to rush the Blue Cross plan through while many of us are preoccupied with the election.

By the way, there’s also a deal going down to merge Detroit’s two giant hospital systems, Henry Ford and Beaumont.

Does anyone really understand the implications of that, or are we too preoccupied with all the campaign commercials, which seem to indicate that every one of the candidates for every office would personally destroy our economy, weaken America, and possibly come to my house and tie my dog on top of my car.

There is, however, one exception, State Representative Stacey Oakes of Saginaw is using a rap video in her reelection bid. I do not claim any major hip hop talent, and I apologize in advance to fans of the art form.

But part of it goes like this:

"Vote Stacey Erwin Oakes and everything fine/Then vote Obama, then tell you momma/it’s gonna be some drama(if) Romney gets in."

I don’t know a thing about Representative Oakes, but you have to admit that has a certain ring to it.
 Elsewhere, however, this election is all about money. Vast sums. Those campaigning for and against the six ballot proposals have so far spent more than $140 million trying to persuade voters one way or another. In the First Congressional District, the one that includes the Upper Peninsula, spending has almost reached $10 million for a two-year job that pays a $174,000 a year.

Meanwhile, both major parties are pouring hundreds of thousands into the race for just one state legislative seat in Marshall, trying to defeat or to prop up House Speaker Jase Bolger, who got caught in an election-rigging scandal in Grand Rapids.

And in the biggest and most expensive scandal of them all, shadowy “issue groups” have dumped $10 million into secretive ad campaigns designed to smear, and elect, Michigan Supreme Court candidates. Not only can’t we stop this spending, we can’t even find out who is behind it.

Next week, this will all be over, and some of the same people who poured money into these elections will go back to telling us our state cannot possibly afford to feed hungry children, provide scholarships, or fix our crumbling roads and bridges.

And some will even believe them.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst. Views expressed in the essays by Lessenberry are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.

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