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Levin, Rogers: Washington dysfunction reflects "fundamental rift"


Two Michigan Congressmen say Washington has some serious problems—and things aren’t likely to get better any time soon.

Democrat Sander Levin and Republican Mike Rogers talked about the current state of national politics at the Detroit Economic Club Monday.

Rogers said stark ideological divides and constant pressure from “third party outside political groups” to toe a hard line amount to “a recipe for bad governance in the next few years.”

But Rogers said it isn’t just Congress. He thinks there’s a “fundamental rift in America today.”

“By the way, I hate to say it, but Congress is really very representative of this country. So if you’re mad at Congress…think about it,” Rogers said.

Unlike some Republicans, Rogers said he thought the recent federal government shutdown was a step too far. He called the shutdown “unfortunate,” and “a serious mistake.”

Levin agreed that dysfunction is now endemic, something he attributed largely to “substantial change in the Republican party.” He said the Michigan delegation rarely meets across party lines to work on common cause issues anymore.

The two Congressman also weighed in on the situation in Detroit.

Rogers said he thought bankruptcy was the right move for the city.

Levin cautioned that the federal bankruptcy court should be “very careful” with the precedent-setting case—particularly when it comes to possible cuts in pension benefits as the city looks to discharge billions in debt.

“We’re talking about the impact of decisions on the lives of individuals,” Levin said. “And we can’t be so removed that we just look at these mathematically. These are people who worked, who are dependent upon these pensions.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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