MSNBC's Schultz: Democracy is Dead in Detroit, Republican 'Parasites' to Blame
Ed Schultz has spent weeks blaming Detroit’s recent bankruptcy filing on Republican policies, even though the city has been firmly in Democratic hands for decades. The bombastic MSNBC host has called the city a “conservative utopia,” arguing that Republican anti-union policies have “gutted Detroit.”
Schultz’s latest tirade came on Saturday’s The Ed Show, when the left-wing host bizarrely claimed that Republicans have “taken democracy away from Detroit.” Schultz further suggested that Republicans “circumvent[ed] local elections in this country” and “discard[ed] what people want and say about their communities.”
Now, it’s not entirely clear what Schultz meant by taking “democracy away.” He could have been referencing Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R-Mich.) efforts to help Detroit resolve its debts and rein in government spending. But Schultz couldn’t provide one fact to back up his wild accusations, instead doubling down on the harsh rhetoric:
The people who once built the cars won’t get the pensions they were promised, but the big automakers are doing just fine, after we help them out with federal money? But for the worker? Well, to hell with the workers. Workers don’t mean anything. This is the conservative utopia.
Apparently, Schultz forgot that a Democratic Congress and a Democratic White House bailed out the “big automakers” in 2009, and that the same Democratic White House confirmed just last week that it would not bail out the city of Detroit. Hardly a “conservative utopia.”
Schultz also ignored the fact that Detroit has elected only one Republican city councilor and exactly zero Republican mayors in the last forty-plus years. But the host may be so desperate to absolve Democrats of all blame in Detroit’s bankruptcy that he simply can’t consider the facts.
Instead, big Eddie chose angry, partisan rhetoric, suggesting that conservative critiques of the city’s culture are racist:
Conservatives are using the most insulting language possible that they can come up with to blame unions, blame black people, blame their culture, for Detroit’s troubles.
Schultz’s tirade focused on conservative Washington Post columnist George Will, who cited Detroit’s feral dog epidemic, high illiteracy, and high rate of single-parent households as evidence of a “cultural collapse” on ABC’s This Week. Of course, Will never blamed African-Americans for Detroit’s bankruptcy. But Schultz seems desperate to distract from the clear and obvious mismanagement of Detroit by Democratic leaders:
Union-busting is the real parasite. Conservative policies which help businesses out for years – and are now saying, we don’t want to fund public education. We’re not going to go down that road to health care. We don’t care what those workers did for all those years. These are the real parasites who gutted Detroit.
Many intelligent voices, on both sides of the political aisle, have weighed in on Detroit’s financial collapse. The Washington Post’s Zachary Goldfarb blames an auto industry that employs “fewer people” and pays them less. Forbes’ David Marotta cites Detroit’s sky-high property and corporate income taxes. When a city is falling apart, those policies discourage folks from moving in – particularly wealthy individuals, who are more mobile and can find jurisdictions with more favorable tax policies.
The Detroit Free Press, hardly a conservative newspaper, offers perhaps the most substantive take. The paper’s editorial board accuses city officials of “betray[ing] its retirees,” “shortchanging” pension funds for infrastructure spending, defaulting on pension obligations, and offering “pension sweeteners” that have raised costs and shrunk the city’s work force.
Although none of these papers directly blame Democrats, they certainly don’t blame Republicans, as Schultz has done. Few would argue that Detroit’s problems are exclusively Republican or exclusively Democratic.
Then again, Ed Schultz carries a rare breed of partisanship, and vicious anti-GOP rhetoric, to the Lean Forward network each and every weekend.
See the full transcript below:
The Ed Show
August 3, 2013
5:02 p.m. Eastern
ED SCHULTZ: And here comes conservative commentator George Will, flat out insulting Detroit on national television.
GEORGE WILL [on ABC’s “This Week,” July 28]: Can't solve their problems because their problems are cultural. You have a city, 139 square miles. You can graze cattle in vast portions of it. Dangerous herds of feral dogs roaming there. You have three percent of fourth graders reading at the national math standards. Forty-seven percent of Detroit residents are functionally illiterate. Seventy-nine percent of Detroit children are born to unmarried mothers. They don’t have a fiscal problem, Steve [Rattner]. They have a cultural collapse.
SCHULTZ: Hold it right there. You mean to tell me that a third grader just absolutely, just out of nowhere, learns how to read? Teaching doesn't mean anything. Resourcing classrooms? No, there's supposed to be magic being made in a big city like Detroit, when jobs are being shipped overseas. Let's just turn it over and blame the kids – it’s a cultural problem. It’s the corporate culture that has starved this city.
So now, George Will is taking the insults to an entirely new level and blaming an entire political system for Detroit’s problems. George Will calls the city’s bankruptcy “Detroit’s death by democracy.” Isn’t it ironic they [Republicans] have taken democracy away from Detroit? He compares the unions to a parasite. Conservatives want to, see, plant this image of this disgusting bug in your mind when you hear the word “union.” George Will says the unions devoured Detroit from inside out, leaving nothing but an empty husk? Conservatives are using the most insulting language possible that they can come up with to blame unions, blame black people, blame their culture, for Detroit’s troubles. But the real parasites, my friends, are their conservative ideals that are coming from state government and from the feds.
Forbes – oh, this is a success story. Forbes reports that Detroit automakers posted their best July sales since 2006. The people who once built the cars won’t get the pensions they were promised, but the big auto makers are doing just fine, after we help them out with federal money? But for the worker? Well, to hell with the workers. Workers don’t mean anything. This is the conservative utopia. An entire city is decimated after spending decades in service to a major industry, which is manufacturing. None of these conservatives are going to go out and bail out Detroit, who helped out the automobile industry. They’re not going to do that, the same way they did the automobile industry.
In fact, Detroit gets less financial help from the federal government than the country of Colombia, who we help out all the time. The United States is going to be sending Colombia about $323 million next year, while Detroit is slated to get less than $109 million. They [Detroit’s leaders] have already said that they will use that [money] for bulldozing communities. The stock market is seeing record highs, and major companies are celebrating big sales. That’s good for America. But where is the investment in American workers? So we’re just going to let an entire city just go off into the dust? Because some Democrats were in charge of pension plans and fair wages in America. But now it’s the big banks. They are now asking the judge for first dibs on the city’s tax dollars. Residents staged a protest on Friday. I don’t think they’re going to give up. But apparently the banks want to pick the bones clean before Detroit can even get back on its feet?
UNIDENTIFIED DETROIT RESIDENT: We say take it from the banks. The banks destroyed Detroit. They trapped Detroit into high-interest loans. And now, they’re demanding first lien on all tax dollars. And they want to take it from our pensions. So we’re saying “hell no.”
SCHULTZ: So they want first in. The big banks. Your tax dollars went to save the financial sector in this country. Will your tax dollars go to float a loan to the people and the workers of Detroit to rebuild their communities? Hell no. Big banks are the real parasites of Detroit. And the people are the victims in this. Union-busting is the real parasite. Conservative policies which help businesses out for years – and are now saying, we don’t want to fund public education. We’re not going to go down that road to health care. We don’t care what those workers did for all those years. These are the real parasites who gutted Detroit.
You know, I was honored last week. I received an e-mail from the president of Oxford University. And I have been asked to speak in October, over in England at Oxford University at the Debating Society. And they want to hear from a liberal. And the perspective of a liberal in American politics. How in good conscience can I go over to Oxford and talk about America, without mentioning Detroit? And what really has happened?
We now circumvent local elections in this country. We discard what people want and say about their communities. They don’t have ownership. It used to be a democracy. But apparently, now, it is not. We have corporations that refuse to invest in communities because, you see, we have this attack on labor. We don’t like paying anybody anymore. In fact, we’ve even got a political party in America that has voted 40 times to take away health care from Americans. We don’t care about the outcome. The only thing we care about is the ching [money]. The only thing we care about is profit. We are now developing a society of the haves and the have-nots. We’re attacking public education. We’re not investing in infrastructure. We have bridges that are falling down.
[Sarcastically:] But America is a great country. You folks at Oxford ought to come on over and check it out – if you have money. Because, you see, we want to reduce your taxes if you’re the wealthy.
America has had greatness. And there are elements of this country that are unparalleled in the world. But we are falling from within by not counting on American workers and viewing workers as a value. Viewing communities that need to be resourced as the heartbeat of this country. What changed?