Monday, February 09, 2009

Obama Taking The Argument For Stimulus To Hard Hit Florida


Alan Grayson wants to help Obama fix the problems Connie Mack helped Bush cause

Today President Obama visited Elkhart, Indiana to explain the benefits of his Stimulus Plan and how it would help rescue the economy from a deadly and catastrophic Republican policy agenda that has driven the economy of the nation-- and of millions of working families-- off the cliff. Indiana is a traditionally Republican state, one of several Obama won in November. Another is Florida-- and it's there, in hard hit Ft. Meyers-- that the president will be delivering a similar message tomorrow morning. Yesterday's NY Times featured a poignant story set in the Ft Meyers area, In Florida, Despair and Foreclosures.
Welcome to the American dream in high reverse. Lehigh Acres is one of countless sprawling exurbs that the housing boom drastically reshaped, and now the bust is testing whether the experience of shared struggle will pull people together or tear them apart.

The changes in these mostly unincorporated areas outside cities like Charlotte, N.C., Las Vegas and Sacramento have been swift and vivid. Their best economic times have been immediately followed by their worst, as they have generally been the last to crest and the first to crash.

In Lehigh Acres, homes are selling at 80 percent off their peak prices. Only two years after there were more jobs than people to work them, fast-food restaurants are laying people off or closing. Crime is up, school enrollment is down, and one in four residents received food stamps in December, nearly a fourfold increase since 2006... [I]n 2007, it all went quiet. Houses stopped selling. Foreclosures multiplied. The median home price in the Fort Myers area dropped to $215,200 in December 2007, from a peak of $322,300 in December 2005. It had fallen to $106,900 two months ago.

9.8% of the adults in Lee County (Ft. Meyers) are getting unemployment insurance. Many more are unemployed or underemployed. And things are getting much worse there, as in most of the country. As MSNBC reported yesterday, the unemployment benefits safety net is fraying. Republican members of Congress are screaming bloody murder that unemployed workers have gotten too much already and shouldn't get more but almost half of the 11.6 million jobless workers nationwide are no longer receiving benefits. The first thing the Republicans wanted to cut from the Stimulus Package was aid for these people. Anyone in a tough spot and not working is a bum according to GOP ideology-- even if that same ideology is what caused the economic disaster that has the economy in a shambles.
The shortcomings are fueling the recession as an increasing number of workers fall through the cracks and curtail spending. The trend highlights what economists say is a growing need for a 21st century makeover of a program started in the depths of the Great Depression.

...Jobless benefits are essentially mini-financial stimulus packages for struggling American families. Helping laid-off breadwinners continue to purchase goods and services until they find new jobs ultimately bolsters the economy and makes further layoffs less likely.

The Republican Party attitude was summed up by Heritage Foundation loon James Sherk, from the outfit that drew up all the Bush economic policies for the past 8 years and has been helping the Obstructionist Caucus nuts like DeMint, Isakson, Vitter and Burr come up with the harebrained arguments they keep making in their attempt to further destroy the economy with failed and discredited GOP dogma. "It does reduce the pressure and incentive to go out and search for a new job," is his-- and their-- attitude about unemployment insurance.

This is the area represented by one of Florida's most extreme right-wing congressman, Connie Mack, a doctrinaire Bush rubber stamp and unyielding enemy to working families. Last year he sucked up almost $90,000 from the real estate industry in legalized bribes-- and also took in $58,588 from Wall Street, $27,293 from lobbyists and $23,800 from Big Oil and Gas. And its their interests, rather than his constituents', that he has always represented in Congress. He raised over $1,290,000 for his re-election campaign last year, against a Democrat, Burt Saunders, who only spent $165,327. His next race probably won't be that kind of cakewalk. That's because part of the extremist base of the Florida Republican Party wants him to run for the Senate seat being abandoned by Mel Martinez. The progressive Democrat in that race, state Senator Dan Gelber was an early supporter of Barack Obama's and he is standing with him on the need for a major Stimulus effort. He thinks Ft. Meyers is the perfect place for President Obama to come to tomorrow. "Florida is losing jobs faster than any other state and has the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation," Dan told us. " With 800,000 Floridians now jobless Floridians will have no appetite for the right wing political opportunism rearing its head in Washington. The severity of Florida's economic crisis stems from its previous unflinching and unthinking allegiance to far right conservative orthodoxy. We have made our state 'tax friendly' but failed to invest adequately in public education and work force development.  So our wages are low, job security is precarious and now people are really worried what tomorrow will bring."

Please help DWT keep America moving forward on the right track, by keeping another lunatic fringe rightist like Mack out of the Senate and instead electing a stalwart proven progressive like Dan. We've opened an ActBlue page for his campaign. If you wonder if supporting progressive candidates like Dan does any good, I hope you've been watching another Florida progressive, Alan Grayson, holding Republican evil doers' feet to the fire now that he's been elected. His analysis of why southwest Florida's economy is in such dire straits applies to areas all over the state and all over the U.S.
We are witnessing the results of 28 years of conservative rule: foreclosures, unemployment, inflation, war, poverty, hunger, desperation and despair. Government has been disabled. Ordinary people feel dispossessed, despised and damned.
But the solution is painfully obvious: we have to help ourselves. Not the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds. Not Big Business.  Not Wall Street. Not the rich. Us. We need to stop wasting our tax money on nonsense, and spend it on the things that we need and use: roads, health care, housing, schools and so on. Then the economy will heal itself.
In 1798 Congressman Robert Harper (SC) said, "millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute." The Republicans today are saying, "trillions for Wall Street, but not one cent to help people keep their homes." But that is exactly the thinking that created this mess. That's the failed, weak thinking that we have to put behind us, to have any hope of making things better.

And that's exactly what President Obama wants to leave behind-- and he needs support from people willing to stand up with him for working families, the way Alan Grayson and Dan Gelber are. Back in Lee County, Randy Burns the 50 year old owner of Lehigh Discount Furniture is getting mostly calls from people wanting to sell their furniture so they can move. “Until there’s jobs and foreclosures stop,” he said, “nothing’s going to change.” Yep, and that's what President Obama needs Americans to tell David Vitter and Jim DeMint and John Cornyn and Richard Burr and the rest of the clowns who would rather see America fail than see Obama succeed. By the way, if you are in Florida, please let Senator Mel Martinez know you want him to vote for the Stimulus Package. Governor Crist has asked him to and he's... up in the air about it. He needs to hear from voters. His phone numbers in DC are (202) 224-3041 and (866) 630-7106 and you can also reach him with this e-mail form (for Florida residents only). And, please, don't forget Dan Gelber.

Part 1 of President Obama's speech today in Elkhart:

Part 2 is here.

UPDATE: Democrats Shut Down Obstructionist Filibuster Of Obama's Stimulus Plan

Every Democrat plus 3 Republicans-- Arlen Specter, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe-- and the Senate's freak of nature, Joe Lieberman, shut down the GOP attempt to kill the Stimulus Bill with a filibuster. Cloture passed 61-36-- with Judd Gregg (R-NH) abstaining and John Cornyn (R-TX) accidentally locking himself in a restroom stall and missing the vote. Next step: a conference committee with the more working families-oriented House Democrats to iron out some very serious differences between the 2 bills.

The Senate bill-- the one crafted by Collins, Nelson, and Lieberman-- costs between $7 billion and $20 billion more than the House bill and creates far fewer jobs (around half a million less than the House bill). Here's a chart that shows how many fewer jobs per state, although I might add that it means between 1,831-2,316 fewer jobs in Maine, 1,931-2,543 fewer jobs in Nebraska, and between 2,116 and 3,465 fewer jobs in Connecticut. Nice of these three clowns to sacrifice their constituents for... lower taxes for rich people. (Florida loses between 29,607 and 35,706 new jobs.)


Yesterday I noticed that President Obama brought area congressmen from both sides of the aisle with him to Elkhart. Although Florida's Republican Governor Charlie Crist will be with him in Ft Meyers today, he isn't bringing obstructionist wingnut Connie Mack with him. Mack was on Morning Joe today claiming-- falsely-- that he opposed all the Bush policies that have caused the economy to tank. Mack, in fact, was a reflexive rubber stamp throughout the Bush era, and his voting record shows him, along with fellow extremists Jeff Miller, John Mica, Howdy Doody and Ander Crenshaw, in complete lockstep with every aspect of the Bush-Cheney assault on America's working families. As you can see, the brain trust at Morning Joe weren't aware of that.

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At 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howie, the photo is Cornelius Harvey McGillicuddy III; he was a Reagan flack; his son is now in the same congressional seat.

At 2:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did the Taxas Wingnut tap his foot and pick a piece of paper off the floor while he was locked in th estall? I live in Lee Co. FL and I haven't heard an FN single word from the worthless Mack.

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