Posts tagged ‘President Bush’

04/17/2012

Mandate Candidate Tax Disclosures

Although the Federal Election Commission requires Presidential candidates to reveal assets and liabilities on Ethics Form 278, there is currently no law mandating the disclosure of tax returns, but there should be. Although it has been a tradition for over four decades for aspiring Presidents and incumbents to release several years of tax returns, Mitt Romney has surrendered only two. The Congress should impose a 7-year mandatory look-back period to correct this type of reluctance.

During the 2008 Republican primaries, Mitt Romney refused to disclose any tax returns whatsoever, and so far in the 2012 race, he yielded only his 2011 return, which showed 20.9 million in gross income, and his 2010 papers, that disclosed another 21 million in revenue. Voters are entitled to many more years from Romney, if he expects to be taken seriously in November.

President Barack and Michelle Obama released eight years of tax returns before the 2008 election. They grossed $240,000 in 2000, $275,000 in 2001, $260,000 in 2002, $238,000 in 2003, $207,000 in 2004, 1.6 million in 2005, $991,000 in 2006, 4.2 million in 2007, and 2.6 million in 2008. Since becoming Commander-in-Chief, he reported 5.6 million in 2009 (only $374,460 in Presidential pay), and 1.7 million in 2010, and his 2011 return. Sen. John McCain also made his tax returns public in 2008.

George W. and Laura Bush reported $936,000 in 2007, $765,000 in 2006, $738,000 in 2005, $784,000 in 2004, $822,000 in 2003, $856,000 in 2002, $811,000 in 2001, and $894,000 in 2000. Sen. Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry also showed us their numbers.

Bill and Hillary Clinton disclosed $417,000 in 1999, $509,000 in 1998, 1 million in 1996, $316,000 in 1995, $263,000 in 1994, $293,000 in 1993, and $290,000 in 1992, in addition to several other returns, all the way back to 1980. Bill’s 1996 challenger, Sen. Bob Dole, also surrendered to the media his tax returns.

George H. W. and Barbara Bush grossed $456,000 in 1989, $452,000 in 1990, and 1.3 million in 1991. His challenger, Gov. Michael Dukakis had no problem releasing his tax returns.

Ronald Reagan reported $345,000 in 1987, $320,000 in 1986, $394,000 in 1985, over $400,000 (illegible) in 1983, $741,000 in 1982, and $412,000 in 1981.

Jimmy Carter reported $270,000 (illegible) in 1979, $254,000 in 1978, and $350,000 in 1977. President Ford also showed the public his tax returns.

Richard Nixon reported $736,000 in 1969, $262,000 in 1970, $262,000 in 1971, and $282,000 in 1972.

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12/20/2011

Iraq: Bush’s War Was A Total Waste

After nearly nine years, the War in Iraq ended, with the names of 92 Wisconsinites who died there, printed in the Wis. State Journal. While 89 returned in body bags under President Bush: 9 (2003); 23 (2004); 18 (2005); 16 (2006); 15 (2007); and 8 (2008); three died while Obama was President: 2 (2009) and 1 (2010).

The War in Iraq (2003-11) actually started with the Gulf War (1991) surrender document, which required the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction. UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter, a former Marine Corps Major, and his team, searched for, and destroyed weapons, over a seven year period (1991-98). When Ritter resigned in 1998, he announced Iraq had been disarmed.

Despite the disarmament, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle, and 15 others wrote a letter to President Clinton in 1998 saying the removal of Saddam Hussein through a pre-emptive strike “needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.” In response, Clinton announced the U.S. cannot allow Iraq to acquire nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, as he declared a regime change policy, and started bombing suspected Iraqi sites.

Under President Bush, a Defense Dept. strategy for pre-emptive War in Iraq was approved in Aug. 2002. Despite a National Intelligence Estimate, dated Oct. 2002, which reported: “Iraq does not yet have a nuclear weapon, or sufficient material to make one,” Bush declared at a State of the Union in Jan. 2003: Iraq tried to acquire uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger. He said: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Although Bush conceded on March 12, 2003, there was no evidence to link 911 to Iraq, officials constantly implied there was a connection, leading the NY Times to report 42% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for 911.

Bush’s team scared many uninformed Americans in March 2003 by conjuring up images of a “mushroom cloud,” and by spreading the ridiculous notion Saddam Hussein had rockets capable of delivering chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons to the U.S.

The disciples of Bush whipped up crazy ideas, like Iraq could be defeated in one week. Richard Pearle, chair of the Pentagon Defense Policy Board, said in 2002: “Support for Saddam will collapse with the first whiff of gunpowder.” Less optimistic Defense officials predicted the war may last for “months.”

The Bush Administration argued Americans would be welcomed. Vice President Chaney said on Meet the Press on March 16, 2003: “We will in fact be greeted as liberators.” Military planners said the occupation will result in “flag-waving crowds hugging British and American soldiers.” Rush Limbaugh repeated the propaganda.

Bush’s people believed a large ground force would not be needed, as Rumsfeld said we could invade with relatively few troops, supported by air support. Rumsfeld rejected advice from senior military officials, who said a larger army would be required.

Congressman James Moran of Virginia, one of the few to speak the truth as to why the U.S. was about to go to war, said on March 13, 2003: “If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for war with Iraq, we would not be doing this.”

Bush tried to obtain UN Sec. Council Resolution to make his war look legitimate, but the level-headed Jacques Chirac of France wisely threatened a veto, as others also voiced opposition. Bush finally abandoned his attempt to gain UN approval on March 17, 2003.

Cowboy Bush nevertheless went it alone, and issued an ultimatum on March 19, giving Saddam and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq, or face war. He amassed 210,000 U.S. troops: including 150,000 in Kuwait, 10,000 in Saudi Arabia, and 50,000 at sea. American teams studied plans to find hidden weapons of mass destruction (WMD), as Halliburton, a company run by Cheney from 1995 to 2000, looked forward to making billions on post-war contracts.

Once the war started, the search for WMD became a top priority. Gen Tommy Franks said there were 2,000 to 3,000 possible weapons sites. When no hidden stockpiles were found, the military initially said some areas were not yet accessible. Gen. Myers reassured us on March 31: “there is no doubt they have chemical weapon loaded in artillery shells.” Chief Warrant Officer Gonzales, a member of a weapons team, said on April 16: “we’re not going to find just a smoking gun, but a smoking canon; it’s just a matter of time.” “It’s going to take time,” Rumsfeld repeated, on April 19, fabricating a story “they buried things,” and “used underground tunnels.” Later, Rumsfeld admitted Iraqis will have to find them, because “the inspectors didn’t find anything, and I doubt we will.” Bush nevertheless reassured Americans on June 10 he was convinced Iraq had WMD, and proof would be found. Press Sec. Fleisher advanced the ridiculous argument those who say Iraq does not have WMD have the burden of proof.

Meanwhile, Scott Ritter re-appeared in April 2003 to say I told you so: “I don’t see how these weapons could exist,” because the unconventional arms Iraq possessed were destroyed or degraded. Joe Wilson, a former Ambassador, came forward in July 2003, to say for 8 days in 2002, he was in Niger investigating reports of an attempted weapons sale, and found nothing but forged documents and fraudulent intelligence. British Prime Minister Tony Blair finally admitted on July 11, he no longer believed WMD would be uncovered, causing Bush on July 12 to shift blame to others, suggesting CIA Director Tenet approved the Jan. 2003 reference to obtaining nuclear weapons materials from Niger.

David Kay, the man who headed the U.S. weapons search, told Congress on Sep. 29, no WMD were found and we were all wrong. Ritter wrote a piece on Feb. 6, 2004 entitled, “Not Everyone Got it Wrong on Iraq’s Weapons,” challenging Kay’s assertion “we were all wrong.” Rolf Ekeus, another weapons inspector, declared Iraq was fundamentally disarmed as early as 1996. Hans Blix, the UN weapons inspector just before March 2003, said his team found no evidence of WMD. By 2004, it was clear Bush had relied rumor, speculation, exaggeration, and falsification to lead the U.S. into war. Florida Sen. Bob Graham said Bush knowingly did it.

If U.S. troops had vacated Iraq after the Statue of Saddam Hussein was knocked down in Baghdad on April 10, 2003, or when Bush declared an end to hostilities on May 1, or when he landed on the Aircraft Carrier Lincoln near San Diego on May 2, or as soon as Hussein was captured on Dec. 15, 2003, perhaps the war would have been easy, but Bush made the additional mistake of occupying Iraq.

When 10,000 Shiites and Sunni Muslims joined hands through the streets of Baghdad on May 20, 2003, to oppose the U.S. occupation, fair warning was given. U.S. officers soon reported unexpected resistance, while Americans were bing lied to and told Iraq would not become another long 8-year struggle, like the one in Vietnam.

It did not take long before the brass changed their story as to how long the war would take. Gen. Myers said:  “Nobody ever promised a short war.” Deputy Defense Sec. Wolfowitz said it would take at least 6 months to create a new government. Ari Fleisher said they were a year away from turning over control.

Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, then triggered a guerilla war by issuing a decree on May 20 banning all Baath Party members from public sector jobs. Rumsfeld had to admit in July 2003 “we are still at war,” as he predicted attacks against U.S. forces would grow more vicious. Not enough troops were available to maintain order, or to guard supply lines, and once again Rumsfeld had to admit he might need more than 147,000 troops.

Instead, tours for enlisted men were extended indefinitely. Our troops became tired of patrolling hostile Iraqi streets in the extreme heat in search of an invisible enemy. It became unsafe for them to venture off post. Many accused the Pentagon of dishonesty with regard to their length of stay and mission. Finally, Rumsfeld adjusted the duration of the war saying: “We will be there as long as it takes.”

Well, we stayed nearly 9 years. We lost a lot of lives, and took a lot more. We destroyed a lot of property. We spent billions. After 9 years, it is really not a stretch at all to say, Bush’s war was a total waste.

09/06/2011

Draft Is No Answer To Contractor Army

President Bush’s privatization of the military through the use of independent contractors led to cost-control failures and billions in waste, fraud, and abuse, and though his cost-prohibitive Contractor Army must now come to an end, the alternative is not a military draft; the answer is to withdraw from our foreign wars.

The military draft, last used durnig the Vietnam War, came under increasing attack, between 1965 and 1973, as monthly quotas escalated, and many argued the Selective Service was unfair.

Of the millions who came of age during the war, whether in college or not, 32% did not serve, because they were 4-F, which meant physically or mentally unfit. Married men, and those with children, also avoided conscription. The burden of military service fell largely upon those who were single and physically-fit.

One popular myth was that all college students were completely exempt from the draft. While it is true they received “2-S” deferments in the early years, as long as they studied full-time and maintained good grades, 56% served after their deferments expired, a number that compares favorably to the non-college-bound group, from which only 46% joined the military.

When President Nixon arrived, college 2-S deferment were eliminated and local draft boards were replaced by a military draft lottery that exempted no one. The 1st lottery, on Dec. 1, 1969, for men born from 1944 to 1950, led to 162,746 draftees in 1970. A 2nd lottery, on July 1, 1970, for those born in 1951, took 94,092 in 1971. A 3rd lottery, on Aug. 5, 1971, for men born in 1952, summoned 49,514 in 1972. A 4th lottery, on Feb. 2, 1972, for those born in 1953, called hundreds more before the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam in 1973, and Congress ended the draft.

The real problem with the draft was not the exemption of the unfit, or the grant of deferments to fathers, married men, or college students; it was the denial of liberty to draftees. It was the further insult of giving them only a relatively small sum in combat pay to engage in the most hideous of acts. If market forces had determined their pay in Vietnam, the cost would have been just a prohibitive as it is today, under the Contractor Army created by George W. Bush.

The answer to the problem of the extremely expensive Contractor Army in Afghanistan and Iraq is not to return to conscription, for if draftees received market rates, they too would have to be paid what the Contractor Army now takes, and the U.S. would still be on the verge of bankruptcy. The answer is not to force young men into service for a pittance; it is to end our foreign entanglements.

09/02/2011

Military Privatization Led to Great Waste

The Commission on Wartime Contracting concluded that at least 31 billion, and possibly as much as 60 billion appropriated by Congress for the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over the past 10 years, was lost to contract waste, fraud, and abuse.

Unlike previous conflicts, where the U.S. used uniformed military units, with strict chains of command, and established budgetary procedures, President George W. Bush instead employed independent contractors to privatize operations in the field, resulting in massive cost-control failures. He avoided expanding the armed forces, because a draft would have been needed to fill their ranks, which would have turned Americans against his wars.

Now, the U.S. wastes billions on private security companies in situations where military personnel could have been used. Contractors now represent more than half of the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. The number of contract employees used by the Defense Dept., State Dept., and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) exceeds 260,000. 46,000 Americans and 214,000 Iraqi and Afghan nationals are employed. In some areas, independent contractors outnumber the U.S. troops in the field.

The basic problem with the use of so many private contractors is mismanagement. As the number of contractors increased, but the size of the agencies charged with overseeing them remained flat, the ability to manage budgets deteriorated. Government agencies simply lack the staff to manage the greater number of contractors.

It does not take a rocket scientist to know that private contractors are going to soak the government for every dollar they can take, and someone needs to stop them from ripping us off. The problem is the profit motive is not being offset by taxpayer watchdogs. In the rush to war, there was a lack of competitive bidding, and once contracts were awarded, it was just too easy to renew them.

Much of the waste, fraud, and abuse, stems from contractors doing too much. There was poor planning before Bush started his wars, and the U.S. did not understand the needs of the host countries, or their long-term development goals. Many projects were ill-conceived, and are now abandoned, or not maintained.

The Commission reported: “poor planning, management, and oversight of contracts, led to massive waste.” They recommend a phase out of the private contractors. It is time to dismember Bush’s Contractor Army. It is simply too expensive as compared to the military, whose soldiers and Marines have fixed pay grades.

07/28/2011

Ask Eisenhower Re Budget, Not Reagan

One of those free copies of the right-wing USA Today was laying around the hotel lobby, and since I had a minute, I glanced at the opinion page, where the editor asked “What Would Reagan Do?” regarding the Debt Limit. I kind of chuckled, because the borrow-and-spend policies of the past 30 years started under Reagan, and he would be the last person we should ask for advice.

If Republicans wanted a true fiscal model, they should instead ask: What Would Eisenhower Do?” The General was the last Republican to deal honestly with balanced budgets. He knew enough about military spending from his service to warn the nation, as he left office, against the Military-Industrial-Complex.

President Reagan on the other hand, raised the Debt Ceiling 18 times, and just used his Hollywood credit card to keep borrowing. He cut corporate income taxes, but increased Social Security taxes on ordinary workers. His misguided borrow-and-spend policies predictably increased the National Debt threefold over eight years.

Reagan’s apologists now re-write history, as they defend his borrow-and-spend military programs by suggesting they somehow ended the Cold War. The truth is one man ended the Cold War, and his name was not Reagan, it was Mikhail Gorbachev. After Gorbachev wisely withdrew from Afghanistan in 1988, he advocated reform by promoting glasnost (openness) and perestroika (rebuilding). Once Reagan was out of office, and no longer a threat to the Russian people, Gorbachev conducted open elections in 1989, for the first time in 70 years. Gorbachev’s policies allowed for a Soviet dissolution in 1991. Reagan’s out-of-control military spending had nothing to do with it.

The bottom line is for the past 30 years, the U.S. has been in a borrow-and-spend mode. Since major sources of tax revenues were given away by Reagan, Bush, and Bush Jr., the government does not have enough money. In the Eisenhower days of the 1950s, there had to be tax revenues, before any spending took place, and yes, that included military budgets for wars, like the ones Bush Jr. started in Afghanistan and Iraq. Eisenhower would have raised taxes to pay for those wars. The Republicans of today would be wise to use Ike’s approach as their model for governing.

07/26/2011

Somalia Should Pipe West African Water

A drought responsible for the lowest amount of rain in 50 years has caused a return of famine in the Horn of Africa, in Southern Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. There was a similar episode 20 years ago, and a solution is needed for this recurrent problem.

While there is an immediate need for relief, work must also begin now on pipelines to redistribute the overabundance of water in West Africa to the dry regions of Northeast Africa. Four of the top 15 wettest nations on earth are in West Africa, including: Guinea, which ranks #1, Sierra Leone #3, Gabon #4, and Nigeria #15.

Guinea has a 200-mile Atlantic coast (9 N) and a rainy season from May through Dec. Sierra Leone (8 N), bordering Guinea, also has a swampy 210-mile Atlantic shore, which receives 195 inches of rain each year (April-Dec.) These poor states could benefit greatly from the sale of rain water to the dry regions. Gabon, in the elbow of West Africa (0 N), and also on the Atlantic, has Sep. through May rains. Nigeria, located on the West African south coast, has rain from April through Oct.

Gabon and Nigeria, both rich from oil revenues, have money to finance water pipelines, and experience from pumping oil. They could join with the Economic Community of West African States (ECWAS) to finance two water pipelines, one along a northern route, from the Atlantic at Guinea and Sierra Leone, due east through Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and into Somalia. A southern equatorial pipeline could start in Gabon and go east through the Congo, DRC, Uganda, Kenya, and also into Somalia.

Pipelines would bring a more permanent solution to the recurrent problem. The last time Somalia needed aid, Operation Somalia was authorized in 1992, but relief could not be delivered due to fighting in Mogadishu. President George H. W. Bush decided to prevent mass starvation by authorizing a U.S. Marine airlift. When President Clinton took office in 1993, he increased the size of the mission, under Operation Somalia II. When the U.S. started seizing weapons, however, they were accused of neo-colonialism, causing a Mogadishu mob to down two U.S. helicopters and murder U.S. soldiers, bringing the relief mission to an end.

The drought stricken area should not have to rely on airlifts for relief. Pipelines can and should be built. It’s just a matter of leadership, intergovernmental cooperation, and willpower.

07/14/2011

Debt Ceiling Plan is Unconstitutional

Since the federal government continues to spend more than it is receives in taxes, there is a serious U.S. Budget shortfall, which can only be corrected by raising taxes or by increasing the Debt Ceiling so more money can be borrowed.

Since the Republicans, who control the House, are refusing to raise any taxes, the only solution is to increase the Debt Ceiling. But they are promising not to do that either. They simply will not acknowledge that the wars President Bush started have cost the country vast sums of money, which must be paid through taxes.

Not wishing to accept responsibility for their irresponsible acts, Sen. Republican leader Mitch McConnell came up with a Debt Ceiling plan that would get the Republicans off the hook by allowing them to blame President Obama for the entire fiscal mess. Their plan is to delegate the ability to raise the Debt Ceiling to the President, so when the Debt Ceiling is raised, as it must be, the right-wingers will be able to blame it all on President Obama.

The plan is Karl Rove politics at its best. Unfortunately, the idea is unconstitutional. If the Republicans would read the U.S. Constitution, they would learn the power “to borrow money” is specifically delegated to the Congress (Art. I, Sec. 8). It is not a power assigned to the Executive. The Congress must approve of any measure to raise the debt. Any attempt to throw the hot potato to the President would violate the Constitution.

President Obama should veto any bill that attempts to shift from the Congress to the Executive the authority to raise taxes, or the power to borrow money. The debt ceiling hot potato must remain in the House, until they act like adults, take responsibility, and either significantly cut defense spending, or raise taxes to pay for the wars their party supported. Its time the House Republicans got serious about what must be done to avoid a national crisis.

05/23/2011

Obama’s Historic Mideast Speech

President Obama delivered a historic speech on May 19, 2011, in which he first addressed the two wars President Bush started, by saying 100,000 troops have already returned from Iraq, and U.S. soldiers and will soon be coming home from Afghanistan.

Obama next referred to the peaceful changes in Tunisia and Egypt, during the Arab Spring, and the ongoing revolts in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain. He reaffirmed U.S. support for self-determination, the freedoms of speech and religion, peaceful assembly, equality for men and women, and voting rights. He said journalists must be respected, and an open Internet access must be allowed, since legitimate democracy needs an informed citizenry.

Obama condemned Libya’s Col. Qaddafi for launching a war against his own people; advised Syria’s Assad to stop shooting at demonstrators; and asked President Saleh of Yemen to follow through on his commitment to transfer power.

While Obama reasserted a U.S. commitment to Bahraini security, he boldly admonished the royal family for using brute force, making mass arrests of Shiites, and for destroying their Mosques. He told them to release political prisoners and engage in dialogue.

Finally, Obama showed great courage, as he suggested that Israel stop building illegal settlements, and end their longstanding occupation of Palestine, by withdrawing to the pre-1967 borders.

In his historic speech, Obama lamented: “The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on and on, and sees nothing but stalemate…The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome… The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace…Endless delay won’t make the problem go away.”

Obama told Israel and the world, the Palestinians have suffered “the humiliation of occupation,” and have not lived “in a nation of their own…The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.” Obama noted “Israeli settlement activity continues,” as he bravely suggested the coordination of a “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces…”

Obama simultaneously warned the Palestinians they will never realize independence by denying the right of Israel to exist, as he said: “Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable.”

Obama correctly concluded a lasting peace will involve two states, Israel, as a Jewish state, and Palestine, as the homeland for the Palestinians. This is almost exactly what the UN has been saying for 44 years: “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

During the past 44 years of violence, Israel has illegally occupied Palestine, and it’s about time a strong American President directly suggested giving peace a chance by retreating to the 1967 borders. It is not only the right solution, it’s the only one that has a chance.

05/18/2011

National Debt: Lower It The Left Way

Rational people have always believed that except in extraordinary circumstances, taxes must cover spending. We lost our way when President Reagan and the supply-siders made taxes a dirty word, and introduced voodoo economics. Things worsened as Reagan’s disciples, like the light-weight President Bush II, increased the policy of borrowing-and-spending, to where debt is out of control.

When President Eisenhower served (1953-61), the debt increased just 8.2% in 8 years, from 266 to 288 billion. During the Kennedy and Johnson terms (1961-69), it rose only 22.5%, from 288 to 353 billion. In the Nixon-Ford years (1969-77), national debt climbed 97%, from 353 to 698 billion. Democratic President Carter (1977-81) slowed the growth rate to 43%, from 698 to 997 billion.

Things really changed when President Reagan (1981-89) and his supply-side Republicans arrived. Reagan was able to fool voters into believing the budget could be balanced through simultaneous tax cuts and spending increases, but as he gave taxes away, the debt shot up a whopping 186%, from 997 billion to 2.8 trillion.

Republican President Bush I next increased the debt another 57%, from 2.8 to 4.4 trillion, before Democrat President Bill Clinton, allowed only a more modest rise of 32%, from 4.4 to 5.8 trillion.

The country then suffered through another major dose of borrow-and-spend, as Bush II gave away prescription drugs, and started two wars, without raising any taxes. Debt went up a staggering 105%, as Bush II more than doubled it, from 5.8 to 11.9 trillion.

While national debt was modestly increased by Democrats Kennedy-Johnson (22.5%), Carter (43%), and Clinton (32%), the amount added by the latter-day Republicans is unsustainable, as Nixon-Ford brought it up 97%, movie star Reagan used his credit card to add 186%, and Bush II borrowed to increase it by 105%.

While deficit spending has been the norm for a long time, and both parties deserve some blame, it is time to recognize that the budget-balancing Republicans of my father’s generation left the building with Eisenhower, long ago. The time for tax breaks is over. We have to attack the debt the right way, which is to say, we have to do it the left’s way, by electing fiscal Democrats.

05/13/2011

Unemployment: Republicans No Help

The Republican-controlled Florida House and Senate voted to increase unemployment by cutting 4,492 state jobs. They also plan to spend 700 million less than last year. They did exactly the opposite of what most economists would do, and of course their rookie Tea Party Gov. Scott, approved of their misguided policies.

Florida Republicans should certainly know we are not out of the Great Recession, which started in 2008, when George Bush was President. What is unclear is whether they have any clue as to how to get out of it, or worse yet, whether they care. While no one expects all of them to have a college degree in economics, they should at least have studied the subject, before taking office.

When a local economy is stagnant, as ours is, state government can apply Keynesian economics, to stop high unemployment from becoming chronic. Florida could have created employment by spending more, not less. They could have used fiscal policy to grow the economy out of the recession, by creating jobs.

It is almost like the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. While President Obama and the federal government are doing the right thing by spending for the purpose of stimulating the economy, the Florida Republicans are doing the wrong thing by budgeting less and causing more unemployment in a recession.

Unemployment not only hurts the unemployed, it harms the entire local economy. When unemployment remains high, buying and selling declines. One ripple effect is a decrease in state sales taxes. If the Republicans had increased spending, through fiscal policy, jobs would have increased. This in turn would have stimulated buying and selling, and would have increased sales tax revenues.

While the Republicans gave away 60 million in tax cuts to businesses, and forfeited another 37 million, by raising corporate income tax exemptions, from $5,000 to $25,000, there is no guarantee any of this will increase investment, or generate jobs. If wealthy taxpayers remain timid on new investments, and instead save money, there will be no resulting increase in employment.

There would have been no better public works investment project, to cure the ill effects of the recession, than the high-speed rail plan our governor foolishly rejected. Florida could have used federal dollars to construct a railroad, and could have stimulated all kinds of jobs. It’s sad, but Scott just doesn’t understand economics.

Public works projects are a much more direct and certain way of stimulating employment. During the Great Depression that started in 1929, the government provided public sector employment that stimulated the economy. Unemployment dropped from 23.6% (1932), to 16.9% (1936), and down to 14.6% (1940), before WWII itself finally brought about a full employment economy.

Next year, when the Republican Party is in Tampa for their National Convention, I am sure they will complain about Obama. When they say the President did not create enough jobs, I hope the St. Petersburg Times will remember to ask why they voted to directly eliminate state jobs, spent millions less during the Great Recession, and thwarted Obama’s efforts to turn things around.