2017-03-16 / Columns

Bergman Touts Trump Effort

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

In his quest to curtail what he considers to be excessive federal regulations, President Donald Trump has an ally in Michigan’s new First District U.S. Representative Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet.

In touting a bill cleverly dubbed SCRUB (Searching For and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome) Bergman said:

“People across the First District know that, to be successful in any venture, you have to be able to look at what you have, figure out what’s working and what isn’t, and make changes that help you meet your goals. Those same principles should be applied throughout our bureaucracy. To be successful, our government needs to know what the current regulatory landscape looks like and be able to act on those findings.

“That’s why I support this legislation that would establish a bipartisan commission to review federal regulations and eliminate those that are costly, outdated, and, most importantly, ineffective. Before we can fix the problem, we need to be able to diagnose the problem. This bill takes positive first steps in that direction.”

Those are good thoughts, so long as they are not applied primarily to eliminate environmental and other current regulations that now well serve us all.

Peters Top Dem For Coast Guard

Republicans rule both chambers of Congress, but Michigan’s two Democratic senators are having an impact, especially on Great Lakes issues. Senior Senator Debbie Stabenow also has been a leader on agricultural issues.

Last week, Senator Gary Peters said he would be the Ranking Member (top Dem) of the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.

The subcommittee oversees agencies critically important to the Great Lakes, including the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Weather Service.

With its vessels and helicopters, the Coast Guard is a most welcome federal presence Up North beyond saving lives. Peters said of his role:

“Next to our people, the Great Lakes are Michigan’s most precious resource and play a central role in our state’s economy, environment, and way of life.

“As Ranking Member of this subcommittee, I look forward to continuing my bipartisan work to protect and preserve the Great Lakes and strengthen our economy by advancing commercial shipping, fishing and tourism industries.”

In a comment that highlights an issue that will be of debate, Peters said: “These efforts take on a new urgency and importance in light of reports outlining President Trump’s proposed cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Coast Guard, NOAA, and other important programs – cuts that pose a threat to our Great Lakes.”

Last week, Peters was a leader in a partisan group of 23 senators in a letter urging Office of Management and Budget Administrator Mick Mulvaney not to make a $1.3 billion dollar cut to the budget of the Coast Guard. There are reports that the 2018 Presidential Budget Request could amount to almost 12% of the Coast Guard’s budget being cut.

Peters said: “The U.S. Coast Guard plays a critical role in protecting our Northern border along the Great Lakes, conducting counterterrorism patrols and law enforcement operations, and ensuring the smooth flow of goods on Great Lakes year-around.

“We are concerned that the Coast Guard would not be able to maintain maritime presence, respond to individual and national emergencies, and protect our nation’s economic and environmental interests.”

Peters said, “The Coast Guard is responsible for patrolling 721 miles of Michigan’s Northern border to protect national security and combat drug and human trafficking. In Michigan, they operate a fleet of six cutters, three air stations, and two Aids to Navigation teams that support critical icebreaking operations, conduct search and rescue missions, and provide navigation support to ships on the Great Lakes.”

Grand Politics

Over many decades, Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island has been a site not only of state political gatherings, but also of presidential visits and other national political events.

There’s a flavor of this in the public television special, “Inside Grand Hotel,” to be aired on WCMU Sunday at 8:30 p.m. and again Thursday at 8 p.m.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for the Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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