If President Obama Had a City, It Would Look Like Detroit

Title courtesy of a tweet Mark Steyn quoted Friday on Rush’s show.

As a bit of a Detroit hobbyist (some people keep bees or make craft beer), I thought I could offer comment on its bankruptcy. As someone who’s followed—indeed chronicled and predicted—its descent (reprimitivization, really), today, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of Detroit.

The auto industry didn’t ruin Detroit, the Democrat Party did. Running the cities finances like a petty cash drawer for government unions is no way to succeed in municipal life.


Detroit has been losing population for decades, today’s 700,000 or so being roughly 40% of its high of 1.85 million. But that decline has been a plummet over the last decade:

Detroit lost almost 26 percent of its population between 2000 and 2011.

The last Republican mayor of Detroit left office over 50 years ago. The two most prominent mayors since that time were Democrats Coleman Young, who ran the city incompetently for 20 years, from 1974 to 1994, and Kwame Kilpatrick, who ran it corruptly—and into the ground—from 2002 to 2008 (when he resigned under indictment). The very same years the city lost over a quarter of its population.

The only mystery to Detroit’s bankruptcy is what took it so long.

A judge has tried to insert herself into the process, but…

[T]he order from Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina ultimately could have little effect because the bankruptcy case already was filed in federal court, and federal law generally trumps state law. The city filed a motion requesting to include the state as a party in the bankruptcy code’s provisions that put on hold all lawsuits against the city, a clear attempt to fight the Ingham County ruling by preventing the state from being sued in similar fashion. The city is asking U.S. District Judge Steven Rhodes to hold a hearing on Tuesday, or earlier, to decide this and other matters.

Friday’s legal wrangling marks the beginning of what is expected to be a lengthy bankruptcy process that will involve more than 100,000 creditors, which include the Police and Fire Retirement System and the General Retirement System and its 20,000 retirees.

Orr provided retirees some temporary relief Friday, telling the Free Press that pension and health care benefits are safe for at least the next six months.

Again, it wasn’t the auto industry what did in Detroit. Just ask the president:

“Just a few years ago, the auto industry wasn’t just struggling – it was flatlining,” Mr. Obama said. “GM and Chrysler were on the verge of collapse. Suppliers and distributors were at risk of going under. More than a million jobs across the country were on the line – and not just auto jobs, but the jobs of teachers, small business owners, and everyone in communities that depend on this great American industry.”

His administration, he argues, “refused to throw in the towel and do nothing. We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt. We bet on American workers and American ingenuity, and three years later, that bet is paying off in a big way.”

You can say that again.

It’s all over for Detroit but the squabbling over scraps. What the Democrats have wrought, Republicans are left to clean up. Let’s just hope for our own sake, it doesn’t cost us any more. Any more than it already has, that is:

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