Some see Detroit's failures as the nation's burden, considering how much the city's automotive past helped generate prosperity elsewhere. In April, City Councilwoman JoAnne Watson called for a $1 billion federal bailout, saying Detroit was "worth at least as much as General Motors or Chrysler or the Wall Street bankers."
Bing wants the city's 48 unions to concede to job and benefit cuts, threatening that if the city does not gain control of its finances it may lose the right to determine them. Michigan's governor has the power to dispatch an emergency financial manager who is enabled to hire and fire employees, void union contracts, and make changes without the approval of the mayor or city council. There are vivid precedents: former Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) appointed a manager to take over the towns of Pontiac, Ecorse, and Benton Harbor. The current Republican governor, Rick Snyder, did the same for Detroit's public school system this year. [Editor's note: This paragraph was corrected to credit Governor Granholm with the town manager appointments.]
"It's more than a threat," Bing says of the state takeover. Last year the city paid $191 million in health care to union employees and retirees and $200 million in pension payouts, both of which Bing says are "unsustainable."