OK, you got me. That’s a made-up name in the headline. But this week’s “Economic Growth Summit” hosted by Florida Gov. Rick Scott is all about the politics of make-believe, so anything goes.
If life was fair, Scott’s summit would feature explanations and apologies to middle-class Floridians who’ve remained loyal to his hardcore conservative economic policies for years now. But life is often as tricky and unfair as…well, as hardcore conservative economic policies. That’s why so many grassroots GOP loyalists are still sinking in the quicksand of stagnant wages and incomes. Shouldn’t they know why it’s so hard now just to climb the economic ladder, much less scale the summit like their multimillionaire governor?
No, turns out this summit is just another PR and propaganda-dispensing pit stop for Scott – and 2016 Republican presidential aspirants Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry and Scott Walker.
Scott sets the tone with tall tales about conservative principles successfully steering Florida out of the Great Recession and into an era of robust job growth and economic recovery – attributing supposed success to anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-government policies that have gotten Florida’s middle class absolutely nowhere – except stuck in the mud of drastically diminished opportunities for upward mobility and longterm financial security.
The plain and simple, verifiable, downright undeniable facts about Florida’s “recovery” are:
- A Rutgers University study performed for United Way shows that for all the credit Scott & CO. take for job growth “…the Florida economy is now more dependent on low-paying service jobs than on higher-skilled and higher-paying jobs. … Low-income jobs dominate the economy in Florida now and will continue to dominate in the future.”
- Florida now has the second most unfair and “regressive” tax system in the USA – anti-middle class and wealth-favoring.
- Florida is now eighth on the top ten list of states letting giant corporations evade paying taxes by hiding profits in offshore tax havens – at a $777 million annual cost in lost tax revenue, and at the great expense of small businesses conservatives claim to support.
- Florida’s income inequality problem has gone from bad to worse while under the influence of economic, tax and labor policies of Scott and Republicans controlling the Florida Legislature. Average annual income for the top 1 percent has reached almost $1.5 million – vs. $34,387 for the other 99 percent of us.
The current GOP cover story to distract public attention from such inconvenient truths goes something like this: Government size and spending is out of control; (poor) people have to take personal responsibility for their economic problems and stop looking for government help; taxes and regulations are the enemies of job creation and economic growth; and oh yeah, every family in the USA deserves a shot at “The American Dream.”
These are a few of their favorite themes, but they’ll never help us 99-percenters achieve our American dreams. If they were more than hollow talking points, then all the government employee and service cuts, all the miserly smackdowns of people in need, all the corporate tax cut cake and Main Street tax cut crumbs, all the growth in low-wage jobs with no benefits…all that would have worked out better by now for working families in states such as Florida.
As you may imagine, Scott & Co. hold President Barack Obama and our federal government responsible.
At least they had the good instincts to stage their propaganda party at Disney World, where magical thinking never goes out of style.
Daniel Tilson has a Boca Raton-based communications firm called Full Cup Media, specializing in online video and written content for non-profits, political candidates and organizations, and small businesses. Column courtesy of Context Florida.