You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

Dingell recruiting Ann Arbor area residents to participate in federal deficit-reduction exercise

By Ryan J. Stanton

Think you've got what it takes to reduce the federal deficit in a meaningful way? U.S. Rep. John Dingell wants to hear from you tonight.

Ann Arbor area residents will have an opportunity to put the federal budget on a more responsible and sustainable path in an interactive deficit-reduction exercise taking place from 6-8 p.m. at Washtenaw Community College, 4800 E. Huron River Drive.

The program will feature Dingell, D-Dearborn, and Sara Imhof, Midwest regional director for the nonpartisan Concord Coalition, which developed the deficit-reduction exercise.


John Dingell

Participants will assume the roles of members of Congress who have been appointed to a special committee to recommend a package of policies to reduce projected deficits over the next decade and put America on a sound fiscal foundation.

The exercise involves difficult decisions and compromises on domestic and defense spending, as well as possible changes in entitlement programs and tax policies.

"We must confront our budget and deficit and I want input from my constituents to find responsible and effective ways to reduce our spending," Dingell said in a statement. "We need to balance investments that will help our economy recover, while also committing to decreasing the federal deficit."

By considering issues such as federal spending priorities, tax policy and entitlement reforms, participants will gain first-hand experience addressing the difficult issues facing policymakers like Dingell and his congressional colleagues, Imhof said.

The program is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and reservations are requested.

To RSVP, email Greg Sunstrum of Dingell’s staff at or call Dingell's Dearborn Office at 313-278-2936.

Callers should provide their full names and email addresses.

The Concord Coalition is a grassroots organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility. Former U.S. Sens. Warren Rudman (R-NH) and Sam Nunn (D-GA) serve as its co-chairs.

Dingell is defending his seat this year against Democratic challenger Daniel Marcin, who is pursuing a doctorate in economics at the University of Michigan.

In his most recent campaign newsletter, Marcin highlighted a new report that revealed only 69,000 new jobs were added in U.S. in the month of May as unemployment rose.

"Economists are screaming for more action on jobs, but it hasn't even been a week yet and we don't hear politicians talking about it anymore," he said.

"Republicans are calling for more harmful belt-tightening. Unfortunately, the Democrats are rolling over and saying, 'You're probably right.' "

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

You know what is funny? His office is here in Ypsilanti, right across from the library. So why isn't he organizing Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti residents I wonder?

Jeffersonian Liberal

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

No thanks, we'll just get rid of deficit spending clueless liberals like you this fall. Since all you can add to the equation is more entitlement spending we're just going to put you and the gutless republicans out to pasture.

Lac Court Orilles

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

The poor and middle class should pay more taxes and the rich shouldn't have to pay any taxes. After all it's the rich that create jobs for everyone else. Eliminate social security and medicare for the poor and middle class. Start a war with Iran so the wealthy can create jobs by manufacturing military hardware. Draft all teachers and send them over to Iran to fight. Pass laws that forbid the Democratic Party, and jail anyone that has liberal thoughts. That's the solution. If the poor and middle class can't make it, too bad cry me a river.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

"Participants will assume the roles of members of Congress." Great! Does that mean we also get corporate sponsorship as well?!?!?

Use Logic

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:31 a.m.

Sigh...yet another story about 'reducing the deficit' - from a lifetime politician, of course. When will people realize that this is a meaningless term? So we go from spending $1.40 to $1.35 for every dollar we take in...where I come from, that's called 'a death spiral into insolvency'. How about a politician trying to ELIMINATE the deficit or - gasp - turn a surplus?

greg, too

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:34 a.m.

How about everyone in Congress (excluding staff) works for a dollar until we get back in the black? Not just this year's budget, I mean eliminating the national debt? Actually make them be the public servants that they are supposed to be.

greg, too

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:15 a.m.

5 hours notice. Yep, he really wants our thought out opinions. He might as well have just stopped into a Tim Horton's and grabbed 5 people and told them to solve the deficit in under 30 minutes. How is this zombie still in office?


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

The walking dead still reign supreme in Washington. We need to vote them out of office.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:32 a.m.

@ SEC Fan, re: "Didn't Congress appoint some "Super- Committee" last year to cut the budget deficit? Heck, that team couldn't even come up with anything...not even a Bad Idea to vote on!" Yes, they did appoint a Supercommittee. But you are wrong, they did come up with a couple of proposals, one of them being a Good Idea: The initial proposal from the Democrats on the committee offered 3 trillion in deficit reduction, including 1.3 trillion in new revenue and 400 billion in Medicare savings, but was rejected on partisan lines for the level of tax increases. On the Republican side, Supercommittee-member Toomey's plan proposed only 1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, including 300 billion in new revenue, but was rejected because it lowered the top marginal tax rate from 35% to 28%. It is ironic that the so-called "Tax-And-Spend" Democrats were far more willing to cut spending than the "Save-The-Poor-One-Percent" Republicans.

Stephen Landes

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:25 a.m.

The major problem with the Federal Budget is that Congress never starts with a clean sheet of paper: the target for each new budget is the previous year's spending plus an escalation factor. The factors used to ratchet up the budget are usually large enough that a few cuts of a billion here or a billion there really work out to just smaller INCREASES! As a first step I looked at the last budget of the Clinton Administration. I chose that budget because 1) many people feel the Clinton years were pretty good financially, and 2) that budget occurred before Iraq and Afghanistan. As a conservative I found it a bit tough to start with a Democrat budget, but it seemed the best thing to do. I applied Federally recognized factors for both inflation and population growth for the period from that Clinton budget to today. In 1999 the Clinton budget was $1.788 Trillion. With adjustments the FY 2012 budget could have been $2.789 Trillion. The actual spending was more like $3.7 Trillion. So much of that increase involves baking the $800+ Billion stimulus into the base budget. So, start with $2.789 Trillion (adjust for inflation on population from FY 2012 to FY 2013) and allocate the funds the same way they were allocated in 1999. Use that as a starting point and adjust the allocation according to today's priorities. Then insist -- DEMAND -- that Harry Reid read the Constitution and propose a budget for the first time in three years. The House has been doing so; no reason the Senate can't, too.

The Black Stallion3

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:18 a.m.

I suggest we get rid of Dingell and anyone else who has been there more that two terms and then we have these elected officials live by the laws that they create instead of making laws that only apply to us servants of their world.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

That is all well and good. But then per say, why do we keep them in office past 2 terms? Are we that comfortable with them doing a mediocre job? Just a thought.

greg, too

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:11 a.m.

Term limits will only pass if those currently in Congress get grandfathered in. And I would be fine with that so that we can stop future Dingell's and future Thurmond's from living off the tax payers dime for a lifetime.

martini man

Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

I am sure there are no easy answers ..but the first step is to vote out the left wing politicians. This will be pretty much an impossibility since they have such a foothold in Washtenaw County and the big urban areas. Maybe a few inroads might be made this November, but it's iffy at best.

greg, too

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:10 a.m.

Please define "left wing politician." I am an independent, so I would like to know what to watch out for. I personally fear both left and right wingers myself. And Republicans and Democrats as well. And Joe Lieberman. And especially career politicians like Dingell.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

If this is anything like the last time, you will get a fixed set of categories to look at. The categories will be designed to stop any real attempt to make any changes and for everyone to "realize" that raising taxes is the only choice. I will bet the following will not be included: 1) raising the retirement age of government workers 2) removing the prevailing wage laws 3) cleaning up 100 years of regulation 4) closing monument design commissions for monuments that have been built (e.g. the Washington Monument Design Commision) 5) consolidation of programs that do the same thing under 1 director (e.g. the 218 programs to fight poverty that are scattered across all the cabinet departments including DOD) The problem is huge, this 2 hour exercise will be one to rally the troops, rather than find real answers. I would be happy to sit down with Rep. Dingell in a multi-hour round table to discuss real cuts.

Dog Guy

Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

And then Colonel Harland Sanders summoned the chickens for a dinner menu symposium.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

Pleasssseeee. Didn't Congress appoint some "Super- Committee" last year to cut the budget deficit? Heck, that team couldn't even come up with anything...not even a Bad Idea to vote on! I mean, even i can come up with all kinds of bad ideas we could vote on! How bout: 1. Sell the naming rights to the Capital Building (and all other federal historic sites/monuments). Heck, Congress is already selling us out, we might as well get something for it. 2. New tax on federal campaign funds. Let's take away the tax exemption for their election/re-election funds. And while we're at it, any monies collected and not spent must be used to pay down the federal debt. 3. Raise the number of years required for Members of Congress to serve before their eligible for retirement benefits and lower the amount to a more reasonable number. I mean, really, eligible for benefits after 5 years of service! That means every single Senator, ever, gets retirement. They should also look into the amounts they are eligible to receive. 4. Congressional Pay Raises. How about they reverse their 1989 vote which gave them automatic pay raises! 5. Reduce Congressional staffs by 10% and Congressional budget by 10%. In 2009, their budget equaled $8.2Million per member of Congress! Really? $8.2 Million for each? Heck, how many us have had to deal with workforce and budget reductions? Why shouldn't they? 6. Or how bout what I do in my own home...No new expenses unless I have the cash to pay for it! Novel concept I know... Frankly, I think Congress should set the example.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

SEC Fan, BRAVO!! BRAVO!! You are so correct! It is time for Congress to stop spending money they do not have. STOP raising our taxes! ...and that goes for the LOCAL politicians also!


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

Retirement should be a 401K with no matching funds. Then maybe we would get less life time members.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

Fix the first line of the second paragraph. Resident should be residents.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

Thanks. Got it.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

The answer is very simple. Spend less or take in more. Or possibly a combination of both. Congress has been spending like there is no tomorrow with little regard to the affect is has on the budget and overbloated deficit. Until congress stops thing about "my constituents and me" and starts think about "we as a country", the deficit and balanced budget issues will never get fixed.

Top Cat

Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

Is today April 1? This cannot be serious. There is no person alive who has cast more votes for more budget deficits and more Federal spending than John Dingell.


Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

What I would like to see is Dingell put in my shoes and try to figure out how to support a family and pay for college. WHY would I want to his job. You figure it out Dingell. Thats what we pay you for.

greg, too

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:08 a.m.

You summed it all up. The man has been in Congress so long, he has no idea what normal people have to go through.