For sixty years the city has been doling out big salaries to city employees and generous pensions to city government retirees. When times were good and the auto industry was prospering the city could afford it, but several factors conflated to cause Detroit's finances to plummet. The auto industry, suffering in part from foreign competition found itself struggling to stay afloat. A changing demographic in the city was accompanied by soaring crime rates. Crime, high taxes and a recession all drove people out of the city. The population went from over 1.8 million in 1950 to about 750,000 today and many of the residents who remain consume benefits and services but don't pay taxes.
In short, the city can't pay its bills, can't pay those ample pensions, and can't maintain government services. The man in charge of fixing the problem, Kevyn Orr, tried to get unions and others to whom the city owes money to accept a cut but they refused. The city was left with one option, bankruptcy, which will allow it to renegotiate those contracts, but everybody is going to wind up taking a substantial hit.
One might think that the lesson to be learned here is that enacting high taxes to pay bloated pension benefits coupled with all of the unpleasantness associated with a burgeoning criminal class makes for a very poor quality of life, but amazingly the left is blaming conservative fiscal policies for the Detroit debacle. There hasn't been a conservative office holder in Detroit since Noah boarded the ark, but that doesn't matter. It's conservative policies which are being blamed by some liberals for Detroit's undoing.
The most brazen example of this trope is Ed Schultz who packs more subtle deception and misinformation into a few minutes than Dan Brown managed to squeeze into the entire Da Vinci Code. What Schultz elides is that the depleted tax base of Detroit has nothing to do with conservative policies but with migration out of the city due to the utter unliveability of the place. He also fails to mention that the reason Detroit is in such a financial bind is they owe millions to public service union retirees that they don't have, can't raise, but are required to pay.
National Review's Rich Lowery offers some statistics about Detroit's crime rate, tax burden and other fruits of liberal utopianism in a fine essay at NRO. Here's part of what he writes:
The city was at the pioneering edge of urban liberalism and discovered that all the social spending in the world doesn’t deliver order, family stability, education, economic dynamism, or effective governance. In the hands of Detroit’s rotten political class, it proved inimical to all of those things.You can watch a couple of other examples of lefties trying to blame conservatism for the collapse wrought by a half-century of liberal Democrat incompetence here and here.
It was the city’s dysfunction that made it unappealing to the auto companies rather than the diminished state of the auto companies that made the city dysfunctional.
GM had nothing to do with the city council promising benefits to retirees that it couldn’t possibly pay. Chrysler didn’t disgracefully mismanage city agencies. Ford didn’t disastrously degrade the city’s human capital.
[Detroit's] crime rate is five times the national average. Henry Payne notes that 80 percent of the city’s children grow up fatherless, and that of the 50 percent of black men who are high-school dropouts, more than 70 percent don’t have a job, and 60 percent have done time.
It has the highest per capita tax burden in Michigan, despite the low per capita income of its residents. It can’t even collect its taxes well. An Internal Revenue Service audit called its tax system “catastrophic.”
None of this is the product of the “creative destruction” of capitalism; it is the destructive destruction of corrupt statism.
One gets the impression that liberals, seeing the collapse of Detroit coming for a long time, strategized as to how they'd play it when it happened, and decided that, heck, they might as well blame Republicans because most of their base won't know any better and the one's who do will be happy to see the right get pounded for something that they had nothing to do with, anyway.
Either that or people like Ed Schultz are delusional, a possibility that should not be too hastily discounted. Hatred does that to people. Consider the story out of Florida involving a family of four that was involved in an accident a few days ago in which their vehicle overturned. Two men came to their rescue and helped them out of the car, one of whom was, of all people, George Zimmerman.
Immediately left-wingers were making all sorts of accusations, charging Zimmerman supporters with having staged the accident in order to frame Zimmerman as a hero. This is, of course, bizarre. How would average people stage an overturned vehicle, and who in the world would risk their family's lives to pull such a stunt off? One has to be either a moron or blinded by hatred in order to entertain such a theory, but some people on the left would sooner believe this than believe that maybe they had so completely misjudged George Zimmerman in the first place.