Morning essay: Obama’s American Job Act vs. Rick Scott’s Florida job inaction

By on September 13, 2011

The following is a guest column from award-winning writer Daniel Tilson:

The day before President Obama introduced and urgently appealed for passage of the American Jobs Act in a nationally televised speech to a joint session of Congress, Florida Governor Rick Scott expressed his advance disapproval.

Fresh off having been voted America’s worst governor in a new poll, Scott preemptively protested that our government wasn’t a good source of solutions to the economic and employment crises plaguing our nation. He said:

Look, bigger government hasn’t worked, more taxes hasn’t worked, more regulation hasn’t worked, so we got to change course.”

Plainly, if not well put. Not accurate either. The simple truth is that we haven’t had “more taxes” under President Obama – we’ve had less, especially for working and middle class folks.

What about that “more regulation” statement? Well, following eight years of Bush-Cheney deregulation that led to corporate-created disaster dramas like Enron, BP and AIG; the Obama administration’s regulatory reforms have barely survived GOP dismemberment, much less had time to have “worked”.

And so the very things that recent experience proves “haven’t worked”; tax cuts for the wealthy and a “wink & nod” approach to regulatory oversight; those are the very things Scott is selling as core components of his solution to the Jobs problem.

Just in case anyone doubts whose side he’s on, he’s also pushing hard to limit the rights of citizens to sue un/under-regulated companies for any damage they may do to the lives and/or property of the Floridians he is sworn to serve.

Back when he was inaugurated in January, Scott referred to Taxation, Regulation and Litigation as “The Axis of Unemployment”. He promised to create 700,000 new jobs on top of the 1.5 million new jobs that economists already predicted would be created as part of a long recovery cycle.

He requested and got hundreds of millions of dollars from the Republican-dominated state legislature to pass out as “incentives” (tax breaks & giveaways) for businesses – including the right to give away up to $2-million at a time without any legislative approval whatsoever.

As we now head into mid-September, eight months into his term, estimates of new jobs created on Scott’s watch hover somewhere around the 60,000 mark.

That’s not taking into account the many thousands of “old” jobs that have been lost in schools, prisons, and all across the public sector, as Scott and Florida’s GOP legislative leaders balance their budget on the backs of government workers and millions of citizens dependant on the services they provide.

Then there are the estimated 100,000+ jobs that will be lost if Scott and his colleagues succeed in turning Medicaid into a moneymaking machine for private, for-profit insurance company HMOs.

And then there are the 100,000+ new jobs that would have been created, had Scott not crashed & burned (to score anti-Obama political points) the federally funded Sun Rail project planned for Central Florida.

By any and all objective measures, Rick Scott’s record on Jobs speaks for itself – with a barely audible stutter. Which would seem to make it bad form for him to be ripping a new federal initiative that might actually help Florida.

The question is how much the American Jobs Act would help the Sunshine State, if the public somehow manages to rally round it and demand its passage. Here are some of the Florida-specific projections:

  • Average $1,430 tax cut for each household
  • Emergency extension of unemployment benefits
  • $1.5 billion to rebuild roads & transit (creating up to 20,000 new construction jobs)
  • 25,000+ Firefighter/Police/Education jobs saved/created
  • Over $2.5-billion to repair foreclosed & vacant homes, helping create jobs and stabilize the housing market
  • Over $1-billion in School construction funds (creating up to 16,000 jobs)

After attacking that proposed aid package for his suffering state, the Florida governor clarified what he meant when he said, “…we got to change course.”

We have to give more autonomy to the states and let them be the laboratories they were supposed to be.”

Like lab rats put through the wringer before being plucked up and tossed out in the trash, the working & struggling people of Florida cannot afford to be experimented on much longer by Rick Scott and the Republican Party of Florida.

If enough of us test subjects can’t come together and shut their lab down in 2012, then we’re all in danger of finding out the hard way just what “more autonomy” really means to them.

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