Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mitt to America: Drop Dead

Some may recall that President Ford, on Oct. 29, 1975, gave a speech denying federal assistance to spare New York from bankruptcy. The front page of The Daily News the next day read: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” 
         Mr. Ford never explicitly said “drop dead” but the faux quote captured the spirit of his remarks.
Today, Mitt Romney, he of the Let Detroit go Bankrupt fame, channeled Ford.
First, the background. President Obama committed one of the worst sins a politician can commit: he told the truth. “The private sector is doing fine,” said the President. Of course, it doesn’t feel fine to millions of Americans who are looking for a job, or whose homes are under water. But the truth is that the private sector has done a prodigious job of creating jobs, thanks, in part to the stimulus, the bailout and the payroll tax holiday, all opposed by Republicans. 
Meanwhile, in the name of austerity or deficit reduction, money to States has been cut substantially, with the result that teachers, fireman and cops have been laid off.  The resultant net loss of public sector jobs is the reason that the unemployment rate is not at or below 7%.  
And that, in a nutshell is what the President was talking about. It was clear from his comments, but even a Democrat like Paul Klugman had to admit that Obama “screwed up” with that line.  When the President, and his surrogates took to the airwaves to clarify, Willard couldn’t resist the chance to step in it.
First, he called the President's suggestion that the Federal government had anything to do with the hiring of teachers, cops and firefighters, “absurd.”
That’s just Willard being ignorant. As HuffPo tells it:
In 1975, Congress passed the predecessor law to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, designed to improve special education. Programs under IDEA received $11.6 billion in funding in 2012, and much of that money goes to hiring teachers.
In all, the federal government pays for nearly 11 percent of the country's public school costs.
Uncle Sam also funds thousands of police jobs ever since the Community Oriented Policing Services program was created in 1994. In its first eight years, COPS provided about a billion dollars annually, mostly for hiring. In 2010, separate from any stimulus spending, the federal government awarded $298 million for 1,388 officers. It spent $247 million to hire more than 1,000 officers in 2011. About 800 will be hired with $111 million in 2012. The Congressional Research Service estimated that as of January 2011 the program had paid for the hiring of 117,000 officers.
The feds have doled out less for firefighters, but the money is still substantial. In 2009 and 2010, the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded some $630 million under Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants, hiring about 3,400 firefighters. Grants are still being awarded in the 2011-2012 period, for which Congress has set aside about $640 million.
But wait! There's more! When the matter was brought to his attention in the friendly confines of a Fox News studio, Romney doubled down on the stupid. He criticized President Obama's stance that the Feds have to do more to help the States, to avoid layoffs of critical workers. He said,
[The President’s] got a new idea though. And that is to have another stimulus, and to have the Federal government send money to try to bail out cities and states. It didn't work the first time, and it certainly wouldn't work the second time. 
Wouldn’t it just have been simpler for Romney to say to the cities and states: Drop Dead!

“... and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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