Rising debt: It's always the other party's fault

In today's edition of the Friday files, we're spotlighting lackluster candidates, imprisoned innocents and your letters.

But first, a look at the massive debt this country is racking up.

Many of us have been concerned about this growing mountain of red ink for quite some time.

But it's been interesting to hear from some of the politicians suddenly screaming bloody murder about it.

U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, for instance, has decried deficit spending as loudly as any local. The Brooksville Republican even took to the House floor last month to accuse Washington of spending money "like a teenager with a credit card."

She's right. But it's curious to hear her say so, seeing as how she voted to raise the nation's debt ceiling to about $9 trillion back when George W. Bush was running the show.

In fact, every single Republican in Florida's congressional delegation — including those bellyaching about spending now — voted to raise the debt ceiling when I last wrote about it in 2006.

Perhaps it isn't the debt to which all these folks so strenuously object … as much as who's asking for it.

But hey, Republicans don't have the market cornered on debt-related double standards.

In fact, back in 2006, one Democratic senator got awfully high and mighty in criticizing Brown-Waite and the other Republicans for piling up the debt. "Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren," the senator said, calling it "a failure of leadership."

That senator was Barack Obama.


Another week, another round of uninspiring headlines in the gubernatorial race.

Bill McCollum spent a lot of time apologizing for the fact that he voted against the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday back when he was in Congress. Yeah, things like that can come back to haunt you. (McCollum's excuse: He must've been a little "naive" at the time.)

While McCollum was back-pedaling, Alex Sink was simply dodging. She refused to take a position on whether health-care reform is constitutional. "I'm not a lawyer," she said, "so I can't have an opinion." (The problem with that is that, unless Sink is getting a law degree between now and November, she apparently wants to be the first governor in state history incapable of taking a stand on legal issues.)

To paraphrase Jack Nicholson's Joker: This race needs an enema. And one has to imagine that Paula Dockery, one of the lesser-known candidates — or even someone who hasn't yet entered the race — is eager to provide one.

Righting wrongs

An update on the tragic — and largely ignored — trend of imprisoned innocents in Brevard County:

With three men already exonerated after years in prison, the courts have approved DNA testing for a man who, national advocates say, will be the fourth.

The man is Gary Bennett — whose lawyers maintain he never committed the 1983 murder for which he is still imprisoned. Samples from the case were collected this week.

Good. There's no reason not to use modern science to determine guilt or innocence — especially because this man was convicted with help from the same fraud of a dog handler who helped wrongly convict the other three.

The most disgusting part of all this is that it took 27 years for Bennett to get this far. Plenty of people — including justice advocates from Florida to Washington, D.C — have asked Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum and State Attorney Norm Wolfinger to call for an independent investigation into whether more people were wrongfully convicted. But perhaps because the people rotting wrongfully in prison cells were simply regular Joes — rather than muckety-mucks or campaign-check writers — all three career politicians have ignored the calls for justice.

If Bennett is ultimately vindicated, some of his lost years will be on these men's hands … if not their consciences.

Your turn

Wednesday's column about legislators trying to change the law — and allow local politicians to spend your tax money on telling you how to vote on issues — touched a nerve. Here's what you guys had to say.

As usual, great column!  I don't want my tax dollars spent trying to get me to vote their conscience/wallet — which appear to be one and the same lately. — Linda G.

Funny how money and motive are often linked, ain't it, Linda?

Your piece on this is stupid and naive.Steve G.

Oh yeah, Steve? Well, two can play that game. I think you're a doo-doo head. And I'm rubber and you're glue.

Dear Scott, Thank you for nailing to the side of a barn the blunder and anti-American tactic by legislators to repeal the perfectly wholesome law preventing propagandizing on the public dime … Their motive is transparent. Rebecca E.

Thanks, Rebecca. And you're right about the transparency. I'm afraid we've gotten so bad about re-electing the schmoes who continually swindle us that the schmoes don't even try to be sneaky about it anymore.

Scott Maxwell invites you to comment on any of his stupid columns at smaxwell@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-6141.

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