The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

“Fix the Damn Roads” Means You Pay

Mar 18, 2019

During her campaign, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, was best known for her slogan, “Fix the Damn Roads!” Its angry approach struck a note with many workers sick of constant flat tires and other car repairs resulting from pothole-covered roads.

After years of reactionary economic and social policies enacted by Republican Governor Rick Snyder and a Republican-run legislature, it’s not hard to understand workers placing their hopes in the newly elected governor. Whitmer never explained in her campaign how she intended to “Fix the Damn Roads,” but surely a Democrat would come up with some way to make the wealthy pay, right?

It took all of two months after taking office for Whitmer to reveal her hand. She proposes to raise the gasoline tax by 45 cents a gallon by October of 2020. It’s yet another tax that hits workers harder than anyone.

Michigan is one of very few states which impose a sales tax on top of gasoline taxes. Michigan drivers already pay the sixth highest combined taxes on gasoline in the country, according to taxfoundation.org. The added 45 cents a gallon would make Michigan’s rate the highest in the country.

The State of Michigan completely eliminated its Business Tax and property taxes on manufacturing equipment in 2012, not to mention plenty of corporate tax breaks it’s handed out over the years under administrations controlled by both parties. Road fixes could easily be funded by increased business taxes.

Instead, Whitmer makes it abundantly clear she represents the same interests as the Republican who preceded her – those of the corporations and the wealthy. No wonder Michigan’s largest organizations pushing the bosses’ interests are soundly behind her!

Despite the current reactionary political climate, both in Michigan and at the federal level, it would be a mistake if workers fall for the notion that simply replacing Republicans with Democrats will mean our interests will be met. That will take a real fight on the part of the working class and the creation of a party of our own.