And yet, Jennifer M. Granholm, the former Democratic governor of the state, who led it through much of its rocky last decade, says she sees a key lesson from Michigan — a warning, perhaps, more than a model — for the rest of the nation as it tries to create jobs and emerge from an economic funk.
“Everything that is hitting the country hit Michigan first,” Ms. Granholm said in an interview, reflecting on eight years in office in which the state’s economic crisis overshadowed all else. Her response to the crisis, she said, was to cut spending, cut government jobs, cut taxes — the very approach now being promoted elsewhere, particularly after Republican victories in statehouses around the country in 2010.
“We tried all of those prescriptions, too,” said Ms. Granholm, whose final term ended with the start of this year. “We did everything that people would want us to do, and yet it didn’t work.”
She added: “Laissez-faire, passivity, tax cuts, hands-off does not work. And, really, that’s the lesson from this laboratory of democracy which is Michigan.”
The only approach that showed glimmers of success, she said, came when the federal government stepped in — to bail out the auto industry, for instance, and to send stimulus funds that encouraged companies like the ones in Michigan now creating lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.