If governors can’t fix global inflation, they can’t stop global viruses

Whitmer’s admission of reality is reason to sign bills limiting emergency powers

With all of Michigan watching, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer threw away her magic wand.

At Tuesday night’s debate with Republican challenger Tudor Dixon, moderators read Whitmer an audience question: “What steps would you take with state legislators to help relieve the weight of inflation for Michiganders?”

“I want to add to that,” said WXYZ newsman Chuck Stokes, one of the three moderators. “Is this a sign to an average citizen that the Whitmer-Biden economic plan has failed?”

“A governor cannot fix global inflation,” Whitmer said, “but what I can do is put more money in your pockets and that's exactly what we’ve done.”

Wait, what? A governor can’t fix global inflation, says the governor.

Two years ago, weren’t we told a governor could fix a global virus? That if the governor simply pulled the right levers of government, the COVID numbers would go down, and the hospitals wouldn’t be overrun, and we’d live to stay home and stay safe another day?

Was that not the premise of lockdowns? Is that not why we accepted it when state officials declared our livelihoods “critical” or “non-critical”?

Two years later, with two weeks to Election Day, and in a dead heat with a still-unknown challenger, Whitmer admits that she holds no magic wand.

Michigan locked down longer than other Midwestern states, with a greater impact on businesses, and it still had higher deaths per capita. By no measure was its COVID response a success.

Earlier this month, Whitmer vetoed eight bills that would have limited the emergency powers of the governor’s office.

The governor should ask to see those bills again and take a favorable look at the remaining 22 similar bills. Michigan still has 30 emergency powers laws on the books.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the fiction that emergency powers can ward off global problems, there is no need for their extended and repeated use. Not by the governor’s office, and not by executive branch agencies. Emergency powers don’t solve problems, they only give the government power to create more.

On the bright lights of the debate stage, Whitmer defined down the powers of the governor.

If Whitmer can’t fix global inflation, she can’t fight a global virus. And she never could.

Saying so is the first step. Swearing off emergency powers is the next step.

And what better way to manage public expectations? The next time a fearful scenario comes, and hashtags full of Twitter users are begging to feel the government’s mighty hand, the governor can admit reality: I’m only human, after all.

James David Dickson is managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. Email him at

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.