Saturday, June 15, 2024

'All eyes are on Michigan': BBC World Questions visits Lansing, debates cost of living and upcoming election

June 5, 2024
Panelists Sarah Anthony, John Damoose, Matt Grossmann, Kaitlyn Buss and Jennifer Root at BBC World Questions in Lansing on June 4th, 2024.
Panelists Sarah Anthony, John Damoose, Matt Grossmann, Kaitlyn Buss and Jennifer Root at BBC World Questions in Lansing on June 4th, 2024.

BBC World Questions hosted a panel of Michigan legislators and political experts in Lansing on Tuesday, June 4. The panel answered audience questions surrounding the upcoming presidential election and the rising cost of living in Michigan. 

BBC Presenter Anu Anand began addressing the panel, saying that Michigan “will play a key role in the outcome of November’s presidential election.” 

“The Michigan vote went to former President and Republican nominee Donald Trump in 2016," Anand said. "Current President Joe Biden won the state in 2020, but by a narrow margin. So, which way will it go this time? All eyes are on Michigan."

Michigan State University Political Science Professor Matt Grossmann said he predicts the winning presidential candidate will take Michigan's 15 electoral votes by a narrow margin, similar to previous election cycles. 

“We'll have another close election, and any factor could swing it,” Grossmann said. “The overall difference between this time and the previous time is that Joe Biden is less popular.” 

The Detroit News Assistant Editorial Editor Kaitlyn Buss said Michigan is seen as an important swing state due to its large number of uncommitted voters in the Democratic primaries because of dissatisfaction with Biden’s actions in the Israel-Hamas war. 

“The time between now and November is a lifetime, and there's a lot that can happen,” Buss said. “I think it is going to be a vote-moving issue for a lot of people who would have maybe otherwise supported Biden.” 

Dissatisfaction with the selection of presidential candidates isn’t necessarily new to most union workers, Service Employees International Union Michigan Executive Director Jennifer Root said. 

“I have protested every president in my lifetime, including the ones I voted for," Root said. "That’s my job."

Grossmann said the current political polarization in Michigan is reflective of that across the country. 

Anand described economic concerns as “a top issue in Michigan and much across America,” and said the rising cost of housing, car insurance, medical costs and fuel prices are also deciding factors with Michigan voters. 

Michigan Senator Sarah Anthony (D-21) said high monthly rent payments is a key concern when it comes to the cost of living in Michigan. 

“What I have heard from men, women and children across my community and across the state, and what we hear is protesters on the Capitol telling us that the rent is too damn high, and that no one can find affordable and quality housing options,” Anthony said. 

Anthony said she is working to address cost of living concerns through retirement tax and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Michigan Senator John Damoose (R-37) said there is “a role for international security spending” when discussing budget allocations. 

“Without international security, and without defending our borders, there's no domestic spending that matters if we're under attack,” Damoose said. “But beyond that, our families are suffering, there's no question. We have a really high standard of living in this country, but there are groups that've been left behind.” 

Anthony said that she, and other legislators, are “trying to work to reconfigure the calculus” of ensuring economic stability among Michiganders. 

“At the end of the day, the wealthy and well-connected will always do okay,” Anthony said. “But in a society that we try to ensure that everyone is ok, we are missing the mark and our priorities are completely out of whack.” 

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