This past weekend, Mitt Romney did what every politician does when they campaign in South Florida, take advantage of our Cuban American hospitality and give us empty rhetoric in return. Sometimes, it is stopping by Versailles and drinking a cortadito; other times, it is eating an empanada, while telling us that if we vote for them they will deliver a free Cuba (yeah, like we never heard that one before). Sometimes, it is trying to flatter our abuelitas with their tacky Spanish -- as if none of us speak English. Almost never do these pandering politicians think they can talk to us about something substantive happening to us right here in Miami, where we live.
Mitt's trip to Hialeah on Sunday was no different. Warm hospitable reception -- check! Posing for the cameras while eating some Latin delicacy (this time it was lechon) -- check! A predictable pitch to do something about the Cuban dictator that has outlasted nine U.S. presidents -- check! Having a close family member address the crowd in Spanish, another check. What was missing? A real conversation about what is really happening to all Miamians and our friends around the country? Mitt will have to get back to us on that one.
Mitt might not notice, but Miamians are still struggling to recover from the recession. In fact, according to a recent study from the Brookings Institute, Miami is one of cities hardest hit by the recession... in the world. At 1Miami, we know how hard the recession has hit our city because our members experience the economic challenge every day. Last week, while Mitt and Newt were circling the state looking for hands to shake and cortaditos to sip, our members hit the streets by the hundreds to demand an economy with good jobs for our hardworking people. We know what won't work because Miami has tried Mitt's solutions before. We've already given the super rich bailouts and blank welfare checks with the promise of good jobs. What did we get in return?
We have a big bank like Wells Fargo in downtown Miami. The same bank that got a multi-billion dollar bailout and pays -1.4% in taxes. But instead of good jobs and vibrant small businesses, Wells became one of the most frequent plaintiffs in foreclosures cases in Miami Dade County. That means more families on the street, less property taxes, and more layoffs of workers that do the jobs that make the city run.
We have two big stadiums, the American Airlines Arena (home of the Miami Heat) and the Miami Marlins stadium. Together they have received over $800 million dollars in taxpayer handouts. Miami Heat owner Micky Arison promised taxpayers that we would see a share of the profits, but we have yet to see a dime. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria forgot to mention that taxpayers would have to pay $2 million a year in property taxes for the stadium's parking garage. Both deals are under investigation, one by the County and the other by the Feds.
We have big ships in our harbor, owned by Carnival cruise lines, which is owned by Micky Arison. Carnival Cruise Lines is based in Miami, except when it is based in Panama. Being based in a bunch of places means that it pays a global tax rate of 1% and avoids most U.S. labor and tax laws. Carnival does employ about 3,500 South Floridians. Which is a lot until you factor in that the company has 85,000 employees in total (most of them low paid foreign workers) and 45 ships. It could fit every single person it employs in South Florida on one of its ships.
As you can see, all we have to show for all the pampering of the super rich is an economy were hardworking people can barely afford to take the bus to work. We all know that you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. That's exactly what Mitt's offering us -- the same ol' greedy pig that got us where we're at today.