It was fitting that the day before Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper were to meet in Windsor, Ont., and Detroit today to announce a deal to build a second bridge over the Detroit River, a new economic study said the new span would increase Michigan's gross domestic product by $2.2 billion and add more billions in construction and other jobs.
That certainly won't be enough to end Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun's ongoing propaganda campaign against the bridge or put a little spine in the backs of Republican lawmakers quaking at Moroun's threats to finance tea party-type candidates to run against them if they back the bridge.
But the study released Thursday will come as one more reason for Snyder to prove, by sticking by the bridge plan, that he is what he advertised himself to be — a businessman who will do what's best for Michigan, whatever the political fallout.
On Wednesday a state House committee tried to throw more sand in the gears by approving a supplemental budget that would prohibit using any state money for the Detroit River International Crossing unless authorized by the Legislature. The full House approved it Thursday.
Grandville Republican Rep. Dave Agema, who introduced the supplemental bill, claimed his only goal was to defend the state constitution by ensuring Snyder doesn't spend money lawmakers didn't authorize. How good of him. The reality, of course, is that this is more Matty Moroun.
Ever since it became obvious the bridge would never get an OK by a GOP-led Legislature — back in the Gov. Jennifer Granholm days — the Canadians have been absolutely unwavering: They will pay Michigan's $550 million share of the $2.2 billion estimated cost of the bridge and the state won't have to spend a dime. Bridge tolls will pay for operations and upkeep.
If you have any doubts the bridge will be able to pay for itself, take it from Matty. He has spent an estimated $15 million in the past couple years to mount a series of (almost entirely false) TV ad campaigns to submarine the bridge; he is right now paying even more to have petition circulators try to get a bridge ballot issue on the November ballot.
Think about it: If Moroun really believes the bridge will cost the state millions, why does he want so badly ($15 million worth) to build one himself? It's nonsensical.
Thankfully, Snyder won't be swayed and the Canadians are smart enough to do the math. They know that a second international crossing will mean billions in the long run for the Canadian economy, and they're ready to make the investment.