Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oh man, this is SPOT ON. And how VERY SAD...


Stephen Goldstein
November 13, 2011

Attention, all Florida "Occupiers": You want an agenda. Here's an agenda.

It's been snowing in Florida. We've had a blizzard of promises from Gov. Rick Scott about creating jobs, reducing unemployment, and jump-starting the economy, ever since the tea-party favorite ran for office — and in the year since he won.

During the campaign, if anyone asked him about Everglades restoration or education or Medicaid or anything else voters wanted to discuss, he had a stock answer, and I'm paraphrasing, "Jobs, jobs, jobs. I know how to create jobs. Judge me on the economy, on the hundreds of thousands of jobs I'll create. I'm from the private sector. Only the private-sector creates jobs, not government. Let's get to work."

Floridians, historically not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier, fell for Scott's bravado, banking on his CEO skills to get us out of our economic doldrums.

The cornerstone of Scott's campaign was his 7-7-7 plan: He boasted that he would create 700,000 private-sector jobs in seven years through seven steps (like cutting state spending, eliminating government regulations, and enticing companies to Florida with taxpayer handouts). He said over and over that his jobs would be in addition to the 1 million jobs that economists then estimated would have been created as a result of normal growth — no matter who was governor.

But recently, the guv has apparently lost faith in his ability to deliver — so he's desperate. He "revised" his promise, saying jobs would grow by 700,000, hoping everyone would forget about the normal growth projection.

Then, after he got caught, he flip-flopped, saying he would create 700,000 jobs on top of normal growth, but questioning the prediction of 1 million new jobs. Recently, Scott told a radio station in Central Florida, "I could argue that I don't have to create any jobs. I just have to make sure we don't lose any jobs."

Well then, how embarrassing for the guv that Solantic, the company in which he had a multimillion-dollar investment until recently, is moving its executive team from Florida to Tennessee. (Scott sold his stake in Solantic after he was elected to avoid conflicts of interest, but only after a public outcry.)

The guv has been quoted as saying he was "disappointed" the company was moving, adding: "I believe that we've put ourselves in a position that this is the best state to build businesses. But some people, I guess, don't agree with me."

I guess — like at least some of his former employees and the people to whom he sold his business.

Another key element of Scott's 7-7-7 plan is also backfiring. The guv insists that, if he gives companies tax breaks and cash incentives, they'll create jobs. But Scott's newly created Department of Economic Opportunity has recently reported that, since 1995, Florida (mostly GOP) governors and legislators pledged $1.7 billion of taxpayer money in 1,521 company "stimulus" deals. They have produced few, if any, jobs, however. Thirty-three companies were awarded $24.5 million to create 5,696 jobs, but they actually lost 1,550 jobs, and yet they were still paid $10.8 million.

No matter. Even in the face of an undeniable, failed strategy, Scott himself has awarded $98.6 taxpayer millions to companies pledging to create more than 21,246 jobs — and he wants millions more to do the same.

You don't have to be a weatherman to see which way the wind is blowing: The hot air of Rick Scott's campaign promises has turned into a snow job that is having a chilling effect on the Florida economy and that will freeze us out of prosperity for the foreseeable future. He's burying us in an avalanche of flaky economics, out of which it will take us decades to dig.

Florida "Occupiers" need to camp out at the capitol and put the heat on the guv and state legislators, brandishing signs like "End Corporate Welfare," "Where Are the Jobs?" and "You're Fired, Gov. Scott!"

If they don't, sooner than later, a long line of Floridians may be following Solantic to Tennessee.

Follow Stephen L. Goldstein on Twitter at @DrSLGoldstein, or email him at trendsman@aol.com

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