- The Washington Times - Monday, July 5, 2010

RAISING ARIZONA

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist recently received a $25 million grant from BP for an “emergency tourism marketing campaign” to counter growing public perceptions that the Gulf oil spill was ruining the Sunshine State. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer — who faces “thoughtless” boycotts and bad press because of the state’s tough new immigration law — is countering the potential drop in tourism on her own, however.

“Despite threats by some to Arizonans because of misinformation about immigration law enforcement, I am confident that Arizonas reputation and brand remain strong, and that the truth is prevailing,” she says.

Mrs. Brewer has met with tourism and hospitality leaders, along with the Arizona Mexico Commission; they have about $280,000 to devote to a new task force to bolster local tourism, the state’s No. 1 “export industry.” And the immigration law, known as SB 1070, plays into the strategy.


“Steps include creating a proactive communication plan to clarify facts and misconceptions about SB 1070 for travelers to Arizona,” Mrs. Brewer’s office says.

OWE PHOBIA

Folks who support the “tea party” movement are more alarmed by the federal debt than they are by terrorism, according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll released Monday. When asked to rank “extremely serious” threats to the future of the U.S. and their own well-being, 61 percent of the tea partiers cited the big fat federal debt, making it their No. 1 concern.

Fifty-one percent cited terrorism, followed by “the size and power of the federal government” at 49 percent and health care costs and illegal immigration, both cited by 41 percent. As far as big government goes, eight out of 10 tea party activists said the feds were “doing too much” in the realm of individuals and private business; another 57 percent approved of the federal government promoting “traditional values,” the poll of 2,063 adults found.

ALREADY HERE

The press is bandying the dreaded “d-word” around, delivering alarming predictions that a 1930s-style economic depression looms, and that the Dow Jones industrial average is mimicking the patterns from the era of bread lines and hardship. But wait. A depression is already a factor, says investment analyst Harry S. Dent, author of “The Great Depression Ahead” — published two years ago.

“The media is suddenly all over the ‘d-word.’ But the ‘d-word’ already emerged in 2008, when the banks were unwinding and the real estate bubble was bursting. It was inevitable. This happens throughout history, about every 60 to 80 years. We saw it after the Roaring Twenties. But the big mistake this time is that these economic phenomena have been allowed to grow to extreme proportions,” Mr. Dent tells Inside the Beltway.

President Obama missed a huge opportunity. When he was elected, the real estate bubble had peaked. Instead of listening to advice from Goldman Sachs or Timothy Geithner and the rest, he should have listened to someone more in the mainstream,” he continues.

“Rather than going through a Chapter 11-style reorganization here — that’s what businesses do, you know — the government is still trying to keep the old system together. People are still getting crazy loans, for example. How can these top advisers not see that you can’t use debt to solve a debt crisis?” Mr. Dent asks.

HIDDEN HURTS

Health care reform has produced some collateral damage for America’s veterans: a new tax on prosthetic limbs, pacemakers and other vital medical devices. Proponents claim the tax could raise $20 billion over the next ten years, yet it contains no exemptions for the nations 22 million veterans, and exhibits some ruthless undertones.

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