Cruz earns foul for blaming Detroit’s decline solely on Democrats

How we make the call

Truth Squad assigns five ratings to the political statements we review, in descending levels of accuracy:

No factual inaccuracies in the statement and no important information is missing
Mostly accurate
While the statement is largely accurate, it omits or exaggerates facts, or needs some clarification
Half accurate
Truths are interspersed with mistruths, or the speaker left out significant facts that render his/her remarks misleading in important respects
Mostly inaccurate
The major point or points made are untrue or misleading, even while some aspects of the claim may be accurate
The statement is false, or based on false underlying facts

Who:Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas
What:Response to question about job creation in Detroit
The Call:Foul

Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News cited Detroit’s decline as a manufacturing center, and asked Cruz, “What specifically would you do to bring manufacturing jobs back to America and train residents of cities like Detroit to do those jobs?”

Relevant statement from the debate:

“Let me start by observing that Detroit is a great city with a magnificent legacy that has been utterly decimated by 60 years of failed left-wing policies.

“You know, Henry Ford revolutionized automobile manufacturing and brought automobiles to the middle class. During World War II, Detroit provided — funded the arsenals of democracy to help us win World War II. In the 1960s, Detroit was the Silicon Valley of America. It had a population of 2 million people, had the highest per capita income in the country.

“And then, for 50 years, left-wing Democrats have pursued destructive tax policies, weak crime policies, and have driven the citizens out.

“This city now has just 700,000 citizens. There are vacant homes, one after the other after the other. Crime has been rampant, and it is an outrage. And let me say to folks in the media: That is a story that the media ought to be telling over and over again, the destruction of left-wing policies and the millions who have hurt because of it.”

Statements under review:

“ the 1960s, Detroit was the Silicon Valley of America. It had a population of 2 million people, had the highest per capita income in the country.

“And then, for 50 years, left-wing Democrats have pursued destructive tax policies, weak crime policies, and have driven the citizens out.”

Cruz appears to identify the beginning of Detroit’s troubles around the time of the violence that shook Detroit in the summer of 1967, 49 years ago, and offers the well-worn narrative that the riot (or uprising, as many call it) under a Democratic mayor helped launch decades of destruction in the city.

While there is certainly evidence that a succession of mayors failed to make the hard budget decisions required in a shrinking city, and the corruption of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick remains a stain on Detroit, Cruz’s history dramatically oversimplifies the factors that contributed to Detroit’s loss of manufacturing jobs, population and tax base, trends that actually began more than a decade before the violence that rocked Detroit in 1967.

In “Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit,” the historian Thomas J. Sugrue traces Detroit’s downturn to conditions having little to do with the political party running the once-powerful city.

Detroit, like other northern industrial cities, saw job losses beginning in the 1950s as large companies automated production and moved plants to the suburbs, rural areas and to Southern states. Detroit, whose population peaked at 1.8 million in 1950 (not the 1960s), was overly reliant on manufacturing, and poorly positioned to diversify when those jobs began to vanish. And, as Sugrue noted, jobs were dwindling even as blacks continued to move north to industrial cities like Detroit, where the promise of a better life was often replaced by systemic racial discrimination. Whites, meanwhile, had already begun to flee Detroit in the 1950s as more African Americans arrived. The pace of white flight and the businesses that catered to them only accelerated following the riot, further decimating Detroit’s tax base.

The mayor at the dawn of Detroit’s economic decline in the 1950s: Albert E. Cobo, a Republican, who campaigned against the “Negro invasion” of white neighborhoods, and whose signature accomplishment was a blockbuster expressway project that eventually help ease the path of suburban flight.

Simply put, the population and economy in Detroit declined from a complex mix of factors, both local and national, involving Democrats and Republicans. The city, once home to 300,000 manufacturing jobs, is now down to 30,000.

The Call: Foul

Cruz oversimplified and misrepresented the myriad factors that produced Detroit’s slow-motion decline.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Mon, 03/07/2016 - 10:55am
Fascinating--scrutiny of Cruz, Kasich, Rubio. No scrutiny of Clinton, Sanders, Trump. Obviously, they are pure as the driven snow. ...or maybe their shortcomings don't fit your "analysis" model. Cruz may be guilty of oversimplification, which is often necessary when time is limited. I assure you that Republicans would be indicted in the press of they had run Detroit while it was in decline. The "White Flight" narrative is itself an oversimplification, in that anyone who was able pretty much fled Detroit. Those who weren't able voted for democrats. Go figure--there's a vicious cycle. Evidence that intentions are useless when the principles are flawed. You're probably hoping that conservative voters will say, "Oh, Trump must be OK." Believe me, America needs Cruz.
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 11:05am
This, too, is oversimplified, but pretty darn accurate as far as it goes.
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 12:40pm
BigDCvx if you have been reading Bridge before now you would have seen the foul's by Clinton and Sanders. Just because you don't agree with Bridge because they are calling foul on your guy or your way of thinking doesn't mean that they do it to all.
John Grant
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 3:29pm
Only a simple mind could oversimplify an over simplification. Cruz's analysis is not just false, it is a deliberate obfuscation. It is a Big Lie. In the 50's, the lily-white Republican execs at the Big Three-plus saw they could make more money -- not by making better cars -- but by moving plants to low-tax, low-wage and/or non-union areas. Billions were spent buying up huge tracts of cheap farmland in places like Livonia (which had not yet incorporated as a city) and where a local government -- what little there was -- could be bought and sold; Livonia gradually became the whitest city in America; this movement to places.that could hardly even be called suburbs were made solely for profits. The plan included movement of manufacturing to the anti-union South and eventually overseas. In the early Sixties, my father was offered a plant management job of a new plant in Puerto Rico as part of Ford's moving factory jobs overseas to take advantage of cheap labor. Estimates are that between 300,000 and 400,000 good paying jobs were moved out of the Detroit area. To suggest that any Detroit-area politician had the the power of Ford, GM or Chrysler's CEOs displays a depth of ignorance on the part of Ted Cruz equaled only by the constant repetition of these Fox right-wing talking points. This all took place as auto profits were huge -- well before the so-called "collapse" of the industry to foreign/Japanese competition. The collapse had to do with the crappy cars the Big Three were making, a failure due to their own ignorance and arrogance, rich, white Republicans. I don't remember any Democrats as heads of auto companies. Blacks and Democrats were not the decision makers, not the power brokers. Cruz would have you believe that the unions had the power and the desire to move their jobs away from where they lived and worked.
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 10:56am
Setting aside the absolute fact that Detroit has been a one party (Democratic) state since the mid 60's, what is it with the undeniable skilled workforce available in Michigan, why did so many companies choose to leave and new companies elect to by-pass Michigan in favor of other locations? Could it be the heavy UAW/organized labor influence - (A Democratic Party Partner)? The State's awful business tax system and high cost structure - (Again designed by Democrats to favor unionized businesses)? The overall bad regulatory, business climate and bureaucracy (Democrats)? Aside from any Milliken actions (the epitome of a RINO), what is that the Republicans did to chase jobs out and repel any new entries? Please help identify.
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 11:07am
I'll be watching for a serious answer... if there is one.
John Grant
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 4:32pm
Dear Matt, First of all, Detroit is a city, not a state. Second, Michigan is a state. It has the power over hundreds of cities in the state. To suggest to you the difference in the relative powers of the two legal entities, let me cite the Emergency Manager (EM) law. Third, the EM law allows the governor, with a simple finding, to replace any legally elected official in the municipalities, including mayors, city council members and elected school boards, stripping them of their powers. For example, the EM for Det. Public Schools, in the last seven years, appointed by a Republican governor, with Snyder's full support, has managed to cut the student population in half and double its debt, which now is either $700 million or $2 billion depending on how you figure it. Fourth, the Republican state government has reduced revenue sharing to the cities by billions of dollars. Affluent Detroit was the tax engine that paid for the development of the whole state, never getting back the tax monies paid to Lansing. Fifth, the Republicans have cut school financing -- at all levels -- by billions of dollars. Billions in tax breaks were given to corporations with the promise of a boom in economic growth. Needless to say, the state has not experienced anything like an economic boom. In fact, the failure to fund universities and repair infrastructure -- such as roads -- has no doubt discouraged economic growth. Sixth, let's have an EM put some lead in the water. Estimates say this could cost the taxpayers of Michigan half a TRILLION dollars just to settle the law suits. Seventh, what sane corporation would move its operations to a Third World state? cutting taxes was a disaster created by the Republic Party and the Teabag Lickers, who don't believe in Science, Math, taxation, or regulation. Happy to live in a parallel universe where the poisoning of the children of Flint is somehow their own fault. Didn't they know we were going to gut the MDEQ? Didn't they know that science and regulations are for chumps and Democrats??? They just should have been born white.
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 6:01pm
John, Where do I start? The term "One party state" refers to a governing unit ruled by one political party, most people are smart enough to understand that term rather than think it refers to an actual "state". Regarding the EM, you are saying Detroit wasn't going "bankrupt"? Owing hundreds of $millions to employee retirement plans along with other creditors? And because of stupid constitutional provisions sticking state tax payers with $hundreds of millions and climbing? And soon to have its schools do the very same thing? A very unique view point you have. Although I agree slightly, dump the EM, cities should be allowed to go bankrupt sticking all their creditors and employees (without state taxpayers having to bail them out), since Detroit has been losing population for 50 years, did Snyder cause this before he was Gov.? Are you blaming Snyder for the collapse of Detroit's real estate prices and foreclosures too? Did he call his banker buddies to do this? Revenue sharing cuts? All cities took these cuts, why didn't they all go bankrupt? Another question to your other absurd points, why is it that it's only cities in the higher tax states (MI IL, MD, NJ) were having serious troubles rather than the big cities in the low tax states TX, AZ, FL, MO, GA? Rather than just accusing them of being a bunch of ignorant Tea bagger racists let's try for something intelligent.
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 12:00pm
As the article states, the problems in this state and in the city of Detroit are complex, and Cruz blaming it on 50 years of Democratic control is false. Over the past 50 years there has been 37 years of republican governors and only 12 of democratic governors. Everyone loses sight of the fact that we are "one state", and to take the "simplistic, uneducated" approach of blaming the "right or left", keeps us right where we have always been. When you have an out of balance government, with incompetent political appointees, whether right or left, the condition this state is in right now is not surprising. The problems in Michigan are the result of long term, bipartisan, unjust policy. And who wins in this: Those with the most money, and that is the republicans who now blatantly buy elections. These are the same ones who don't care about the most vulnerable of the world, but are self serving egomaniacs(as seen in our current state government). These are the same ones who mold the truth from their own world view, and have never woken up hungry or figuring out where the next meal is coming from. I expect to hear from these same folks how they did grow up poor, but "pulled themselves up by their bootstraps" and made it big. They also had many advantages people of color never had. I love a good discussion, but when people do not educate themselves about the reality of the "other", they are speaking from their "advantaged" lives and not understanding what it is like to have lead tainted water to drink, to learn after the fact your baby may have been poisoned by that water. The total lack of compassion and empathy I have watched expressed in these discussions is heart breaking.
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 1:52pm
Bernadette, We have seen disproportionate amounts of State and Federal funding being plowed into Detroit and its various institutions for the last 40 or 50 years. Please be specific, what influence did the Republicans have and what did they do to wreck Detroit?
Lola Johnson
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 2:11pm
Matt, Interesting concept. Can you please cite those "disproportionate amounts" that flowed into Detroit? Proportionate to what?? For the last several years, all Michigan municipalities have had to struggle with decreased revenue-sharing. Sure, they had Kwame Kilpatrick, but I suspect there were a few Republican hands in the pot, also.
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 6:19pm
Lola, how much per student does Detroit spend/receive verses state average? Why does WSU get twice as much per student as GVSU in state aid? The revenue sharing formula has way favored Detroit over outstate communities for years. (Good riddance!) These are facts. The more you dig the more you will find. As asked before, given the revenue sharing cuts were across the state why is it that Detroit, Flint and Benton Harbor (All Democrat enclaves) had the problems where other cities not? I missed Republicans being prosecuted for misappropriation (like Detroit's Mayor) maybe this is just as imaginary as blaming them for Detroit's problems?
Chuck Fellows
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 2:40pm
Oh let us begin with real estate red lining. And how about the flight of capital to higher returns. Then we had the blatant discrimination through policy that decimated neighborhoods (Interstate free way planning for example), or the flight of "Tribes" to the burbs for more affordable housing, homogeneous communities and the wide open spaces. Or just ask the question "Why?" and find answers in "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jacobs or the "Public Image of Henry Ford" by Lewis.
John Grant
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 5:14pm
I really don't understand how some people feel that they are free to make up facts. I can prove, citing only two facts, that this is not true. 1. Ronald Reagan eliminated General Assistance (welfare). GA was the sole safety net for unemployed adults. It provided basic subsistence on a temporary and/or emergency basis, paying rent, providing bus tickets, food stamps and employment training. One of the reasons it became important to extend unemployment benefits in tough times was the elimination of this one safety net available in ALL developed nations. Because jobs were disappearing in Detroit at the speed of light, this income support program kept many Detroiters functioning. 2. Bill Clinton eliminated "welfare as we know it." After vetoing two Republican bills, Clinton caved on the third. It wasn't "welfare"' it was ADC, a guaranteed income support for single-parent children till the age of 18. This guarantee was reduced to 3 to 5 years, and the mother needed to work. Of course, this was targeted at African-American and poor white women. In summation, besides the ever decreasing revenue sharing from Lansing, the reduction of assistance benefits to children and the unemployed alone meant money coming into Detroit from the federal government was radically decreased.
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 6:22pm
So Detroit puked because they didn't get their welfare?
Tue, 03/08/2016 - 12:02pm
Matt,ass Once again a "simplification" of a very complex problem, and it goes back over a century. The auto industry is the "business" of Detroit. Back in the day Henry Ford needed workers in his factories and offered the $5.00 a day, there was an influx of large numbers of workers from the south. Some white and some of color. The decline in MI began in the 1950's. Yes the first half of the century the the population swelled, and then after the continued improvements in the assembly line, greater automation and technology, corporate America figued out how they could use less man power, and the decline just continued. White flight happened over the next several years, and due to Jim Crow Laws, over building of housing and no restrictions on urban sprawl, the suburbs grew rapidly and Detroit became the only refuge for blacks and elderly. I remember clearly the "block busting" practices by realtors and scare tactics by the media. All of these policies were a combination of state and local policy and practices. Any one who thinks this is just a Detroit problem is only fooling themselves.
Tue, 03/08/2016 - 12:19pm
Matt, I apologize for the typo on the last message, I was not calling you a name, it was an oversight.
Tue, 03/08/2016 - 4:53pm
Bernadette, I get the issue that productivity often (and especially where labor/cost issues exist) pushes out labor in favor of technology and capital equipment (remember this when you push for a higher minimum wage.) . My question still stands, why did the many new businesses and industries arising over the last 5 almost completely reject SE Michigan as an alternative even given the natural abundance of skilled experienced labor? I don't buy it was Republican policies. Further the flight from Detroit (not just white!) correlated with Coleman Young, the disintegration of black families and Great Society policies replacing fathers with the Daddy state, Detroit government was all to happy to participate. But nor do I buy the premise, that concentrated minority communities (who also faced discrimination) is anything new nor is it an automatic predictor of poverty and crime. Another question, why didn't we see poor minority communities in the south and west going through Detroit's situation? They never had any of the benefits of the previous decades of accumulated wealth. Maybe because they didn't have a Coleman Young? What party was he again? Thanks
Robert Kleine
Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:26pm
Cities in the Northeast and Midwest have been losing population for decades for many reasons. The movement to the South and West is due to weather, lower wages, an improved racial climate among many reasons. The move to the suburbs has occurred for racial reasons, to escape higher taxes, and declining public services, particularly schools, and a desire for more space. Michigan cities have been hit harder than cities in other states because we have a dysfunctional system of local finance. Many states have metro governments or county wide govts. You can move to the suburbs and still be in the same jurisdiction. Maryland allows counties to piggy back on the state income tax, up to 50 per cent of the state rate. Michigan and California have the most severe restrictions on locals revenue raising ability and the most cities with fiscal problems. From 2000 to 2014, state aid to local govts increased an average of 46 percent. Aid declined in only 4 states. In Michigan the decline was about 50 percent. The next largest decline was about10 percent. Also in 1998 the state agreed not to cut Detroit's revenue sharing if the city cut its income tax rate. The city complied. The state did not.
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 6:33pm
If Cruz is over simplifying has Truth Squad is over rationalizing? “Cruz appears to identify the beginning of Detroit’s troubles around…” This statement leaves me with the impression that the Truth Squad is more about creating something to refute without having to verify. ‘Appears’ and ‘around’ seem to be less about factual and more speculative. Why only identified a Republican, Albert Cobo, who was Detroit mayor in the early 50s, there were both Republicans and Democrats that followed? Were they suggesting he started Detroit’s decline or was it his resistance to ethnic participation? If it was the latter, I wonder if the Truth Squad ever heard of ‘Hunkies’ or ‘Pollocks’ and the prejudices they experieinced before the “Negro” immigration to Detroit. I wonder if the Truth Squad recalls Detroiters’ views of Hamtramck back in the day. It may have been more appropriate to mention his efforts in the development of the highways through Detroit. “…the time of the violence that shook Detroit in the summer of 1967…well-worn narrative that the riot (or uprising, as many call it) under a Democratic mayor helped launch decades of destruction in the city.” Is that to suggest that the Truth Squad does not believe that event wasn’t a significant contributor in the rate of decline in Detroit? I wonder how the Truth Squad wouldn’t view people’s reaction driving [I-94] through the City on that July afternoon seeing a pall of dark smoke being fed by fires across the City as a significant factor in looking the future. Did Cruz claim Detroit’s decline was triggered by that event or was it simply a step on the path? “…in the 1950s as large companies automated production and moved plants to the suburbs, rural areas and to Southern states.” I wonder how the Truth Squad determined that large companies’ jobs migration began in the 50s. The largest integrated manufacturing plant was opened in 1924. That plant was a significant moving of Ford jobs out while Detroit still prospered. “Cruz oversimplified and misrepresented the myriad factors that produced Detroit’s slow-motion decline.” Does oversimplifying make a person wrong? If there are many factors does the omission of a factor make a person wrong? I am still wondering who did more misrepresentation. This article raised my concerns about the Truth Squad rather than about a candidate. At this point, none have made a case for my support.
Tue, 03/08/2016 - 8:03am
Another huge part of the problem, besides "white flight," came during the beginning of the resurgence of conservatism, when mostly Republican CEOs saw a chance to increase their "shareholder values" by shipping good paying jobs overseas, to maximize their paychecks, while not giving a damn about what happened to the workers in the once great industrial cities of America! The CEO paycheck grew exponentially, while everyone else's stagnated to the point where people are making today what they made in the 1980s, while their costs for healthcare, transportation, housing and other necessities far outgrew their incomes.
Thu, 03/10/2016 - 12:28pm
Look at facts. Where democrats have been in charge it is same story over & over again and again. Broke. Dying or dead. Wanting someone/anyone else to take care of'm. Go pound sand. Cruz would fix the whole mess given the chance. Maybe even Trump? But to allow any democrat to run so much as a latrine cleaning service is a utter waste of energy. If it isn't a hand out, a democrat wouldn't know how to attain it.
Robert Kleine
Thu, 03/10/2016 - 1:17pm
Why are Democratic states like Minnesota and Maryland doing so well?
Fri, 03/11/2016 - 10:24am
Considering the Democrats have been in control of Detroit for roughly the last 50 years.... Why won't these Democrats accept responsibility for anything?