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In the wake of the disappointing May jobs report, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney comically charged that Barack Obama "hasn't put forth a plan to get us working again." Comically, that is, because the same Senate Republicans who gave the February 2009 stimulus bill only three votes filibustered President Obama's proposed $447 billion American Jobs Act last October.  But what Republicans called a "bailout," economists called a winner that could have added up to 2 million jobs and two points to GDP this year.

While a watered-down version of the President's temporary payroll tax cut became law, his proposals for new infrastructure spending, $35 billion in aid to state and local governments to keep 300,000 workers on the payrolls and a $4,000 tax break for hiring the long-term unemployed did not.  But on those last two, it turns out, in the past Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney had proposals of their own.  Now would be a good time to take them up on it.

Call it the Romney-McConnell Jobs Plan.

When President Obama called for a $4,000 tax break bounty to employers, economists were mixed about the impact it would have.  Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, however, was sold on the idea long ago.

Once upon a time, as the record clearly shows, Mitt Romney was an advocate of government action to prime the economic pump. That starts with days as a "severely conservative" governor in Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. As Salon recounted in "The Stimulus Plan Romney Forgot," Governor Romney hoped to improve the Bay State's dismal 47th ranking for job creation:

[T]he governor went big. In February 2005, Romney unveiled a sweeping $600 million stimulus package to kick-start the economy and create 20,000 jobs over five years...Most controversial: Romney wanted to spend $37 million to create new jobs by offering employers $30,000 for each new person they hired.
Echoing the same language the Obama administration would later use in defense of its handling of the economy, spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom pitched the Romney stimulus in advance of Romney's January 2006 State of the State address:
"When we came into office, the state was losing jobs by the thousands every month," said Fehrnstrom at the time. "Today we are adding jobs, and the unemployment rate is almost a full point lower [than] it was when we took office. But we have more work to do."
But if the Republicans' presidential candidate once supported hiring incentives to business owners, the GOP's top man in the Senate once offered up a suggestion for helping rescue cash-strapped state and local governments.

With the exception of Vermont, state governments cannot run budget deficits.  Mercifully, the federal government can.  And as it turns out, both the Congressional Budget Office and economists like Mark Zandi believe aid to state and local governments deliver the among the best bangs for the buck (that is, the multiplier effect) for federal stimulus spending.  As it turns out, during the debate over the stimulus program he opposed in early 2009, Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed an alternative approach to assisting the states:

"If the money were lent rather than just granted, states would, I think, spend it wisely and the states that didn't need it at all wouldn't take any."
Sounds like a great idea.  $100 billion in zero interest loans repayable over ten years for the states choosing to take part ought to do the trick.

To be sure, state and local governments were hit by a triple during the Bush recession that began in December 2007. Tax revenues plummeted even as demand for services including health care and unemployment benefits skyrocketed. While President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) helped fill some of the gaps in state and local budgets, that aid was largely finished by the end of FY 2011. Even though state tax receipts jumped by 8.9 percent last year, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that 30 states still face budget shortfalls in the coming year. Once inflation is factored in, state and local tax revenue has yet to reach pre-recession levels. The result will be continued government job losses in the states.

No doubt, the hemorrhage of workers at the state, county and municipal level have had a brutal impact of the sluggish American economic recovery.  Thanks to intransigent Republican governors and their obstructionist GOP allies in Congress, the shrinking American public sector has slowed the recovery from the Bush recession and added a full point to the U.S. unemployment rate.

That's the word from the Wall Street Journal, where Justin Lahart explained last month that the "unemployment rate without government Cuts: 7.1%."  While the Labor Department's establishment survey shows 586,000 government jobs at all levels have been lost since December 2008, the more volatile household survey of unemployment suggests the total might be much, much worse:

In the three months ended April, it shows that there were an average 20.3 million people engaged in government work, 1.2 million fewer than the average for the three months ended December 2008. That is more than double the job losses registered by the establishment survey.

The unemployment rate would be far lower if it hadn't been for those cuts: If there were as many people working in government as there were in December 2008, the unemployment rate in April would have been 7.1%, not 8.1%.

Back in March, Paul Krugman expressed the same point, but with some inconvenient historical context for the Party of Reagan.  "In fact, if it weren't for this destructive fiscal austerity," Krugman explained, "Our unemployment rate would almost certainly be lower now than it was at a comparable stage of the 'Morning in America' recovery during the Reagan era."
We're talking big numbers here. If government employment under Mr. Obama had grown at Reagan-era rates, 1.3 million more Americans would be working as schoolteachers, firefighters, police officers, etc., than are currently employed in such jobs.

And once you take the effects of public spending on private employment into account, a rough estimate is that the unemployment rate would be 1.5 percentage points lower than it is, or below 7 percent -- significantly better than the Reagan economy at this stage.

In April, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) showed how much better.

Noting that the private sector had gained 2.8 million jobs while federal, state and local governments shed 584,000 just since June 2009, EPI concluded that the public sector job losses constituted "an unprecedented drag on the recovery":

"The current recovery is the only one that has seen public-sector losses over its first 31 months."
Then last month, Krugman's New York Times colleague Floyd Norris offered more detail on "the Incredible Shrinking U.S. Government."
For the first time in 40 years, the government sector of the American economy has shrunk during the first three years of a presidential administration.

Spending by the federal government, adjusted for inflation, has risen at a slow rate under President Obama. But that increase has been more than offset by a fall in spending by state and local governments, which have been squeezed by weak tax receipts.

In the first quarter of this year, the real gross domestic product for the government -- including state and local governments as well as federal -- was 2 percent lower than it was three years earlier, when Barack Obama took office in early 2009.

At his press conference Friday, President Obama explained how the state-level "anti-stimulus" that is holding back the national economy:

Keep in mind that the private sector has been hiring at a solid pace over the last 27 months. But one of the biggest weaknesses has been state and local governments, which have laid off 450,000 Americans. These are teachers and cops and firefighters. Congress should pass a bill putting them back to work right now, giving help to the states so that those layoffs are not occurring.
Or as Obama asked in frustration last October before Senate Republicans blocked the American Jobs Act:
"Are they against putting teachers and police officers and firefighters back on the job?"
In a word: yes.  At least, that is, if the proposals to address the problem come from the Democratic president.  After all, the same Mitch McConnell who once suggested loaning federal funds to recession-ravaged states later brushed off their massive layoffs as a "local problem."  As for Mitt Romney, a man who as Massachusetts Governor pursued stimulus measures to jump-start his state's languishing economy, the Republican nominee had a clear answer on Friday.  As CNN reported:
Romney said of Obama, "he wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."
With Republican friends like Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney, the American people don't need enemies.

* Crossposted at Perrspectives *

Originally posted to Jon Perr on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 10:41 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Didn't the Romney-McConnell jobs bill involve... (3+ / 0-)

    ...the world's tiniest violin?

  •  Next time Romney says (6+ / 0-)

    that Obama has not offered a jobs bill, we should have a contingent there chanting

    "Bullshit, Mitt! Bullshit, Mitt! Bullshit, Mitt!" etc.

    -4.75, -5.33 Cheney 10/05/04: "I have not suggested there is a connection between Iraq and 9/11."

    by sunbro on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 12:19:13 PM PDT

  •  Republicans have not allowed a Vote on Obama Bill (11+ / 0-)

    But, don't expect the USA's MSM to correctly report the News.  They only report the Republican Spin.

    Roger Ailes was correct in 1970 when he proposed the FOX Propaganda Machine.  Until there is a left wing alternative, we can expect that there will continue to be a right wing spin on news and history.

    It works and it is working better and better.  

    "As long as Corporations control Government, there is no reason for Government to regulate Corporations!" John Roberts, Citizens United (SNARK)

    by NM Ray on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 01:19:49 PM PDT

    •  Given the consequences of what's happening... (6+ / 0-)

      to the economy, Republican recalcitrance should be the number one media story in this country right now. Instead, the complicit media is still obsessed with reporting on the story as being a case of "both sides do it."

      But, don't expect the USA's MSM to correctly report the News.
      For political gain, Republicans are willing to blow up our economy, damn the consequences, even though their obstruction is creating very real havoc and hardship to millions of people's lives, and inevitably... their future.

      Yet, all I hear is, *crickets*

      Damn the media

      "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

      by markthshark on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 03:38:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  BOEHNIER/ SCISSORHANDS Jobs plan: (2+ / 0-)

    "We don't need someone who can think. We need someone with enough digits to hold a pen." ~ Grover Norquist

    by Lefty Coaster on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 02:36:40 PM PDT

  •  Whuh..."help the American people" (3+ / 0-) getting rid of the underpaid but devoted public servants who keep us safe, secure, and prepared.  That's a weird definition of help, Mittster.  They do this and then complain about Obama again when there are uncontrolled wildfires, a spike in crime, or another story about educational problems in our public schools.  But then, that's what they want to do--it fits their narrative, and lets them offer their "prescription"...cut more and more and more and more.

  •  It seems the goal is to rduce the government (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle

    so that they can prove it doesn't work.

    We all need to admantly push back and vote in people who believe government is we the citizens doing good for all.

    And stop pitting people against each other.

    Science is hell bent on consensus. Dr. Michael Crichton said “Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing to do with consensus... which is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right,”

    by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 03:00:08 PM PDT

  •  His plan to lower the minimum wage. Bad idea. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean, wasatch

    Mitt Romney "If we can get the minimum wage lowered to $3.80 an hour, we can triple the work force, lower the amount of people collecting unemployment, and raise profit for share holders."

    This is a bad plan.  

    Mitt Romney and his jobs plan only makes money for the super wealthy.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 03:11:11 PM PDT

    •  At $3.80 an hour... (4+ / 0-)

      ... Wouldn't you also need to cut prices in half so those making the minimum wage could buy what they bought before??? What kind of an economy do these people expect to have and how do they themselves expect to continue prospering? Without a middle class, the floor collapses beneath them as well. What part of that don't they get?
      Everyone being in the 1% is a mathematical impossibility!

    •  it's not simply a "bad" plan, it makes no (0+ / 0-)
      This is a bad plan.
      sense economically. employers don't hire based solely on the minimum wage, they hire based on need. it really doesn't matter what the minimum wage is, if employers have no need of additional employees, they aren't going to hire anyone.

      but then, mr. romney knows (or should know) this, he's simply pandering to his simplistic base, and his wealthy financial supporters.

  •  Very simple: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    They want Obama out of office. Obama is already out of power on the domestic front. They've made sure of that. Just one thing remains to be done: Pour hundreds of millions into negative advertising, already under way in a major media market near you.

  •  Be Glad That Mitt Is The Republican Candidate (0+ / 0-)

    I almost hate to say this.  However, if Romney does win the election in November, the American people will be better off under an administration run by him, than they would be under Santorum, Paul, or Gingrich, and those of their ilk.  Santorum is a religious fanatic.  Can anyone see four years of him in the Oval Office, muchness eight!? What about a power broker such as Gingrich?  Can anyone imagine four or eight years of him in the White House?!   In fact, as horrible as it is to say this, but we might be better off if Romney does win in November.  I'll tell you why.  If Obama stays for another four, we can be sure that almost nothing will get done.  The Republicans in Congress and elsewhere will give him no cooperation whatsoever.  And then if Romney does not run again, we might get someone like Santorum or worse.  In fact, we probably would, because by then the mood of the extreme right would be in enough high gear to promote and elect some nut bag.  At least Romney is somewhat moderate since even a lot of Republicans don't like or trust him.  So, with eight years of a guy like Mitt, the Democrats would have a chance to get their stuff together to put a real progressive back in office after Mitt and the Republicans were done screwing things up.  The American people would be screaming for the Democrats again!!!  It would be a landslide victory with a guaranteed eight years of a Democrat in the White House and a Democrat majority in the House and Senate.  Think about this.  Romney is the most "sane" Republican anyone is going to see on a Republican Presidential ticket for a very long time to come.  Mitt is hardly the worst Republican we could have for a President.  Just imagine someone like Christine (whatever her last name is) who recently ran for Congress.  Can you see her as President!! Does the thought of it scare you?  It sure scares me!!!!

    •  I'm not as afraid of him as I am of his advisors.. (2+ / 0-)
      There is John Lehman, the Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, who sources say is a lead actor in the
      Romney cast. Then there are Michael Chertoff and Michael Hayden, the Homeland Security secretary and CIA director who
      both served under President George W. Bush. Two former GOP senators, Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Jim Talent of Missouri,
      also are on Romney's team.

      The supporting cast is also composed of Washington's security and foreign policy veterans: Eric Edleman and Dov Zakheim,
      who held high-level Pentagon posts under the younger Bush. Zakheim's son, Roger, a senior staffer on the House Armed
      Services Committee, is also assisting Romney, along with Dan Senor and Megan O'Sullivan, who emerged as major players
      during the Iraq war.

      Gordon Adams, who oversaw national security budgeting for the Clinton administration, says when Romney's security advisers
      speak, "they have nothing to say." Adams, who is not involved in Obama's re-election campaign, questions Romney and his
      advisers' repeated comments about Russia and building move Navy ships in a time of tight budgets.

      "This is the 'B-Team' of Republicans," Adam says. "And the 'B-Team' brought us Iraq, so I'm not sure they deserve to come
      back into office."

      Everybody got to elevate from the norm....

      by Icicle68 on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 06:23:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not so sure about this: (0+ / 0-)
        "This is the 'B-Team' of Republicans," Adam says. "And the 'B-Team' brought us Iraq, so I'm not sure they deserve to comeback into office."
        In terms of a liberal perspective, sure, these can't be the best people if what you want are results that make things better and more sustainable for the longer term;  but that does NOT mean these are not exactly the team they want. They brought us Iraq, as you said;  if they're being hired to bring us Iran next, are you going to be surprised?

        This is an essential neo-con working group that has delivered in the past, and can be relied upon to deliver again.

        That's enough to scare anyone, and it should.


        by chmood on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 09:45:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think what Adams was saying (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...was that there is a group of "regular" Republicans, a poll from which advisors can be chosen.
          THEN there is the Neocon team, which he refers to as the "B Team."
          Those people didn't rise through the ranks like normal advisors, or get chosen from the military and universities. They were groomed for their roles by the Heritage Foundation and other such organizations.
          Remember the Project for a New American Century?

          Everybody got to elevate from the norm....

          by Icicle68 on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 10:32:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Ugh, no. By virtue of what you just said, Romney (0+ / 0-)

      can get 2 terms of damage plus his successor another term or two. Santorum and Gingrich would never get another term and might even have to resign in the middle of their first term. That's what makes Romney so much more dangerous and bad. He is not going to have moderate policies. It will be like Jersey and Wisconsin and GWB all over again.

      24/7, it's all 'Great news for Romney!'

      by doinaheckuvanutjob on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 08:30:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama is not the key...CONGRESS is the key (0+ / 0-)

      Yes, we need to get the man his second term;  but we also need to make absolutely certain that there are enough progressives - and few enough Republicans - that governance occurs and sane policies get enacted.

      Willard may not be the worst Republican we could have, but this IS the worst time for him to be IN THE WHITE HOUSE, being exactly the Republican that he IS.

      I've been attending to politics since the McCarthy hearings, and IMO we have never been in more danger than we are right now, this election.  Christian extremists, corporate players, and the financiers are settling in for a great big meal that never ends:  if that meal gets served, we'll be Third World - a land where where the wealthy are never crossed or questioned, the "middle class" gets all the 'nice' jobs running things for the wealthy in exchange for enough money to stay out of the gutter, and everyone who can be marginalised has been made both expendable and desperate.

      The march (and drumbeat) toward hyper-efficient feudalism must be stopped.  Now.  I really don't think the nation can survive another four years.  This IS Zombie Reagan's legacy of eevil:  the plan is set, they don't want ideas, they just need a chimp that can sign its name in office.  Just like Reagan.  Just like both Bushes.  Just like every amoral  sociopath / ideologue they run for every office, every time.

      They will not stop.  They've been working toward this for 40 years or more.  It's why they're 'better at messaging':  they've been rehearsing for decades - and, really, what are focus groups for, except to tell political officers how to tune the message so the target audience swallows it most easily?

      We need to go after the ~50% of the potential electorate that never votes - and get THEM to the polls - along with everybody else.


      by chmood on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 09:38:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  These are some seriously warped (0+ / 0-)

    motherfuckers (pardon my french)!  Absolutely no shred of human decency. The Republican leadership seems to have a pathological need to cause pain and suffering, their lust for political power running roughshod over the lives of millions of Americans struggling to get by.

    Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense. Carl Sagan

    by sjburnman on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 03:51:22 PM PDT

    •  Suffer now and Recover Later (0+ / 0-)

      I agree with sjburnman about the RePOOPlican "leadership".  However, my point is that if Romney is elected it will not be anywhere near the disaster it is going to be if Obama gets back in.  Another four years with Obama at this point would guarantee the election of a very right wing Republican during the next election.  A "moderate" like Romney would not even have a chance.  Any pain and suffering a Romney Presidency would cause for four or eight years would be nothing to what would happen in the next election if Obama got back in.  Romney would have no chance again, and someone like Santorum (or worse) would probably be elected.  

      •  Interesting first comment GPG. (4+ / 0-)

        I'm pretty new here too, so I can't claim to speak for the majority of the DKos community but I'm pretty sure you're gonna have a pretty hard time selling that notion around here.  I'm not buying it, that's for sure, and the reasons would make too long a list for a comment.  Others may want to tackle that one.

        You might want to build your first diary around that idea of yours. You'll find out pretty quickly whether it's worth the trouble of bringing it up again.

        Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense. Carl Sagan

        by sjburnman on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 04:28:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nice advice sjb. I am laughing too hard (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sjburnman, maybeeso in michigan

          to even think of a reply longer than: 'Read, read more, read f***ing more. Then start commenting.'

          Somehow I don't think he will equal your first diary hitting the rec list - which it deserved :)

          Very cool Sagan quote, btw. While I always get more peeved by the religious nonsense, absurd science is far more prevalent than many folks realize.

          "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

          by Ginny in CO on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 08:39:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's a great reply! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ginny in CO

            Thank you for your kind remarks.  As for the prevalence of absurd science, I think it's always dangerous when non-scientists (or scientists paid to support a particular agenda) start going on about what the "data" are supposedly telling us.

            If you haven't read Sagan's "The Demon Haunted World" I highly recommend it.  As for my living science idols these days, Neil deGrasse Tyson is at the top of my list.  I have great respect for that gentleman and there are lots of great videos of him around to enjoy.

            Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense. Carl Sagan

            by sjburnman on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 09:00:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Good, I prefer to be at least somewhat (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              constructive.  I am behind on reading - way too many on the list. It might be a good thing to check on Sagan, he was always more grounded than most. I tend to choose books that challenge my beliefs. - could use some supporting ones. Definitely will check out Tyson, the name rings a faint bell I want to investigate.

              John Ioannidis MD is my idol right now. Partly because mainstream medicine has actually been willing to, um, take some medicine! Alliance for Human Research Protection review  on his work and the 11/10 Atlantic article that introduced him to mainstream America.

              If it makes you question your doctor, that is a good thing.

              "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

              by Ginny in CO on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 09:36:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You've been more than somewhat constructive. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ginny in CO

                You have successfully turned me on to this fascinating research.  I have not finished the Atlantic article yet, but I will in just a bit.  I will also be checking out other materials on the good doctor this weekend.  It would seem that you pick your idols well.

                Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense. Carl Sagan

                by sjburnman on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 11:02:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  GREAT diary. Hijacking 2 my club newsletter. (0+ / 0-)

    Be flattered...and thanks for posting this great patch of information and explication. A lot more recs should have come your way already.

  •  In past downturns (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Republicans have supported various economic stimuli to get things going again (see Reagan, Ronald). Their current position is entirely due to their racist hatred of Barack Obama, and their single minded obsession with retaking the White House.

    They don't care about the unemployed losing their homes, or college students racking up huge debts, or small businesses that can't get credit.

    It's all about them.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 05:38:05 AM PDT

  •  SO, the point that needs to be made LOUDLY (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chmood, Icicle68

    Is that the Republicans have DELIBERATELY screwed over America by opposing ANY helpful legislation, in hopes that they could derail the Obama Presidency by affixing blame for the economic slowdown caused by THEIR ACTIONS on a President who has been fighting to rectify the economy the Republicans ruined the LAST time they were in power.

    And, somehow, they actually EXPECT that America is stupid enough to believe this bullshit, and put them back into power again, to finish ruining our nation?

    Sadly, with the aid of unlimited money from their overlords, and the egregious Citizens United decision by a badly partisan SCOTUS, it's working...

    America, we're FUCKED if the GOP takes power again.

    For a better America, vote the GOP out of office whenever and wherever possible and as soon (and as often) as possible!

    by dagnome on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 09:27:31 AM PDT

  •  If Romney gains power, the several hundred (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    thousands of government workers who would immediately lose their jobs would be followed with a 1936-style second dip depression that no war would get us out of.

    We've been here before folks.  FDR could not hold off the people who lacked the courage to keep stimulating the economy until it fully recovered.   And he ended up with four more years of Great Depression.  

    The same thing could still happen here.

    The Muslim said "I wished I had met Christ before I met the Christians" - Rev. Marvin Winins

    by captainlaser on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 10:59:33 AM PDT

  •  who needs more police, when you have (0+ / 0-)

    "Stand Your Ground" laws? volunteer firefighters and neighborhood bucket brigades certainly reduce, if not eliminate, the need for more paid firefighters. with everyone home schooling their children, professional teachers are simply gratuitous. what this country really needs more of are hedge fund managers.

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