Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's dismissive reactions toward the Mackinac Center for Public Policy during a radio interview Friday caught the attention of WJR's Paul W. Smith, who defended the Midland think tank.
Gov. Granholm laughed when Smith mentioned the Mackinac Center's Senior Economist David Littmann, and the governor said she knocked over her pop can when Smith brought up Michael D. LaFaive, director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center.
Smith was interviewing the governor about her recent budget proposal, and when he mentioned LaFaive, Gov. Granholm scoffed.
"Did you cough?" Smith asked.
The governor said she had knocked over her pop can and then shot back, "Why are you quoting those guys?"
Smith explained that Gov. Granholm had previously mentioned think tanks as contributing good ideas.
"Well, OK, I'm sorry," Gov. Granholm said. "I'm talking about moderate think tanks. They're obviously a libertarian, right-wing think tank, and they don't like government at all. So they would like to privatize everything."
"Don't sugarcoat it, governor. Tell us how you really think about the Mackinac Center," Smith said, later telling the governor that Mackinac Center analysts "make some good sense — dollars and cents."
Later in the interview, Smith defended the Mackinac Center and called it a "fine think tank" and called Littmann a "fine economist" and noticed Granholm then laughed.
"I can tell by your reaction you disagree," Smith said.
Littmann holds degrees from the University of Michigan and the Massachussetts Institute of Technology and served as chairman of the Economic Advisory Committee of the American Bankers Association in Washington, D.C. In in early 2005, Littmann retired from his position as senior vice president and chief economist at Comerica Bank after a 35-year career in charge of Comerica's economics department and research library.
"David Littmann is in the Rolodex of every serious journalist in Michigan for the last two decades," said Joe Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, an independent, nonpartisan non-profit. "Journalists interviewed Michael LaFaive 162 times in 2009 alone, including scores of times about Gov. Granholm's policies. Their work speaks for itself."