This page has been saying for a while that the billions in Medicaid expansion dollars will enable the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to prevail as cash conquers kooky ideology. That money-money-money theme still holds true, only the audacity of taxpayer theft has been expanded to monstrous proportions.
It has never been about health care for needy citizens, in case you were under some delusion that the GOP majority in Tallahassee gives a rat’s heinie about the “health care” part of “health care dollars.”
Since the US Supreme Court decided ultimately to uphold the ACA (Florida led the legal fight), and then the election victory of Barack Obama (even in Florida), Florida’s GOP has been hinting that it was giving serious consideration to playing ball on federal health care reform [ahem] given the billions of dollars that could flow into the coffers of their corporate sponsors. The billions of federal dollars would be part of an expansion of Medicaid to reach uninsured citizens with low incomes, directly and fully paid by the US government for the first 3 years and then 90% of the cost until 2020.
When Gov. Rick Scott recently allowed that he would sign a Medicaid expansion bill in an apparent quid pro quo exchange for the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) permission to privatize Medicaid statewide, the gauntlet was then thrown down to the Florida House and Senate. (By the way, Medicaid privatization is a profoundly bad idea that has been costly and performed terribly in trials in a 5 county test program in Florida. Despite the evidence, HHS catered to Scott, a profoundly stupid move by HHS.)
Without the privatization permission, it’s still a really sweet deal. How sweet? States get the uninsured covered, but as was stated earlier, only a few seem to care about health care for citizens. More importantly to GOP legislators, health care providers get a huge pot of new money to help with their profitability, and in the case of hospitals, some payment for the millions of dollars in monthly losses from providing care to the uninsured. Such losses have been a huge burden for community hospitals like Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, and have been a primary driver in the negative fiscal forecasts. These billions of federal dollars would help not only hospitals but also medical practices which have taken losses, and generally provide a generous boost for the entire state economy. This infusion of cash may end up having greater economic benefit than the billions in high speed rail money that Rick Scott cavalierly tossed back to DC.
Add in the Medicaid privatization permission that HHS gave Scott in an apparent quid pro quo for his acquiescence on Medicaid expansion, and you can see a whole new string of companies, private insurers and their HMOs, cashing in on the deal. What seems to be the theme is that every corporate interest is getting bought off to provide health care at taxpayer expense, meaning the corporations get big profits and citizens get nickled-and-dimed on their health care plus, as taxpayers, fund their leveraged profits. Giving citizens less health care becomes the corporate goal, subsidized by taxpayer’s health care dollars. What? Is something wrong with this picture?
But now it gets worse.
HHS recently gave permission to Arkansas to take federal Medicaid expansion dollars and hand them directly to private insurance companies to pay for private policies for the uninsured. Why is this idea even worse than privatized Medicaid?
According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, it will cost about $9,000 to buy a person private insurance on the health insurance exchanges created by the law, compared with about $6,000 to add the person to Medicaid.
That would be a 50% increase in cost for the Arkansas plan! It certainly doesn’t bother Arkansas legislators since they won’t be paying much of anything for it.
(Despite the obscenely hysterical rhetoric about state costs to administer expanded Medicaid, everyone knows it amounts to chump change and it’s a great deal for the states. Funny how that noise has evaporated these days, isn’t it?)
With this 50% increased cost, will there be more health care, more people covered, more generous or comprehensive benefits? No. NO! It’s the exact same health care, but with a 50% profit premium for corporations. This is why corporations spend what amounts to a pittance to buy some legislators; their return on investment is mammoth … and shameful.
If legislators and their corporate sponsors ought to be ashamed, it is hard to think of the appropriate punishment for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and her administration for handing out such an absurd and useless gift to GOP dominated state legislatures since water-boarding really is torture. It certainly wasn’t necessary since privatization permission – again, a terrible mistake – had already been granted. Now a key lever for cost containment has been eliminated. There will be no incentive to responsible management, just the vast sucking sound as taxpayer dollars are transferred to corporate profits and shareholder equity. Remember W’s Medicare prescription drug bill? Deja vu all over again!
Clearly insurers like Florida Blue (Blue Cross/Blue Shield – the biggest campaign donor in Florida; sorry, hospital association) and others are upset at the thought of having to provide coverage without guarding against pre-existing conditions, i.e. cherry picking the “healthy ones.” They don’t believe they will benefit sufficiently, and, let’s not kid ourselves, their corporate benefit and bottom line are the primary concerns, not health care.
Expect our state legislators to come up with disgustingly transparent spin as they pivot toward an Arkansas plan. Try these code phrases, like Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville):
… they seek a Florida solution, not a Washington solution….
or summa cum weenie Mark Wilson of the Florida Chamber:
If it’s a take Washington’s mandate or nothing question, the Florida Chamber stands in opposition to Washington’s version of a one-size-fits-all Medicaid expansion. While we are against what Washington passed in its current form, we are for a flexible Florida solution.
or House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) trying to stay on message with the Chamber – okay, Wilson told him what to say and he memorized it:
Like the House, the committee gathered the facts and decided that Washington’s inflexible approach to force Florida to take a ‘one-size fits all’ policy choice is not in our state’s best interest.
Obviously it isn’t a one-size-fits-all policy, and they know it. The GOP/Chamber spin doctors should be convicted of malpractice and incompetence for that pathetic line.
There is some other nonsense about personal responsibility and other window dressing you may hear like the Chamber’s 11 prerequisites for expansion (LOL!), but you, wise reader, understand that the real ambition of GOP legislators is unfettered profits for their corporate sponsors, not minding at all that it comes at taxpayer expense … again.
In a reversal of his longstanding contempt for and condemnation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) known as Obamacare, Gov. Rick Scott endorsed Medicaid expansion. His hasty press conference came immediately on the heels of an announcement by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services that Florida could largely proceed with its scheme for privatizing Medicaid statewide.
Ah-ha! The fix was in, you think – a quid pro quo. The feds and the guv say, ‘No way.’ But you, smarty pants progressive, Daily Marion reader, “You’re right!” You have read our posts on this subject.
Following the Supreme Court decision on the ACA, it seemed to us like ideology would remain Scott’s guiding light, but then in considering the amount of money involved, it was recognized that billions of dollars can motivate remarkable turnarounds in attitude. While Scott is alienating his Tea Party base and other (former) allies by betraying them on Obamacare, he exposes himself to a challenger from –hold your breath – a worse conservative who will continue to demonize Obamacare. Still, the possibility of a quid pro quo seemed in the works to us:
Did Gov. Scott manage to pull a quid pro quo from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius that will have Florida as more cooperative participant in the ACA Medicaid expansion in exchange for this scandalous profit-from-the-poor scheme?
A huge concern is oversight of this privatization scheme. Those are the details that should be of paramount concern. The feds need the ability to apply close scrutiny, intervene, and have the authority to cut off poor performers swiftly since dismal performance has plagued the pilot program in a variety of ways. In general, Florida has a terrible history of compliance with federal rules.
Florida CHAIN, a health care advocacy group, stated:
Consumer health advocates have fought hard to ensure that access to care and consumer protections remain a top priority. We are encouraged by the inclusion of those protections and the movement toward a more transparent, inclusive process and more robust independent monitoring. We are hopeful that the final language and implementation will reflect what is most important – full access to quality health care for Medicaid beneficiaries with proper oversight.
There has been an expected push back from the legislature since they don’t like it when governors act independently. House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) released a statement:
“Governor Scott has made his decision and I certainly respect his thoughts. However, the Florida Legislature will make the ultimate decision,” state GOP House Speaker Will Weatherford said in a statement Wednesday. “I am personally skeptical that this inflexible law will improve the quality of healthcare in our state and ensure our long-term financial stability.”
Don’t think that the legislature is likely to torpedo this deal. This is just turf defense. They have all been waffling since the SCOTUS decision, and got really shaky-bakey when Romney lost. Prime legislative health care leader, Sen. Joe Negron (R-Stuart) said this week:
Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, chairman of the Senate panel reviewing the law, told the Palm Beach Post there is “clearly a nexus between the two … Without the waiver, we are not likely to move ahead with expansion.”
How likely is the Senate (and the House for that matter) to move ahead with Medicaid expansion? With Gov. Scott taking the lead, and the heat, it opens doors for the GOP legislative leaders to kick a little dirt, look down, and admit the federals dollars will make their best-est friends, the medical and insurance lobbyists, really damn happy. Um, what ideology?
Scott lamely tried to conjure a fig leaf to cover himself; a three year test drive of Medicaid expansion. Right. Once you let it in, it will be as entrenched as Medicare.
Now it would be a pleasant surprise to see the GOP leaders doing a bona fide, come-to-Jesus, on their knees expression of compassion for the poor souls who have no health insurance, who have suffered, who have been in pain, and who even stood to lose their lives. So, maybe a bit more emotive than the Governor:
Scott … said that he still had questions about the health care law but called the three-year Medicaid expansion a “compassionate, common sense step forward.”
Gee, that’s “gushing” for Gov. Scott who was also quoted as saying:
“I cannot in good conscience deny Floridians [healthcare].”
Okay, that last one made Snow White awaken and Pinocchio blush. Scott’s medical history indicates he has never been plagued with “conscience,” certainly not a good one, and is highly unlikely to be afflicted by one now.
Seriously, you know what’s going to make this a no-brainer: b-b-billions! How much are we talking about? Well,
Families USA released a report that said making more lower-income Floridians eligible for health coverage under Medicaid will yield 71,300 new jobs and pump $8.9 billion more in economic activity into the state.
Lawmakers have been getting an earful, like from the hospitals. You can imagine all the lobbyists who have been pressing legislators to figure a way to say “yes” to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion billions. The Florida Chamber is among those cheering Scott’s decision – here the Miami Herald has a nice compilation of the wide variety of reactions.
With HHS okaying a privatization scheme for Medicaid, it’s definitely a done deal, not “compassion” at all. Health insurers and HMOs will be scrapping for a piece of the multi-billion dollar pie and market share, instructing the legislators that they’ve purchased to simply set the table for their taking.
It’s a sweet deal, alright. First and foremost, about a million Floridians will finally be getting health care. For them, it’s the sweetest deal – a genuine life-saver.
No matter how predatory the health insurers are likely to be (and rest assured, some will be true to form), it will still be better than no health care for the uninsured, and there will be recourse. Expect some shaky years for starters, but honestly, a competitive private marketplace for Medicaid could force insurers to do the job right or lose the contract to a competitor. But it’s definitely a sweet deal for the Florida health care industry, too.
Will everyone be happy? Not the Tea Party. The rest? Well, they certainly won’t admit to happiness … on their way to the bank.
In an appalling show of bombastic and bumbling ineptitude, three of five Marion County Commissioners – all 5 Republicans – voted Tuesday morning to deny the Amendment 11 tax exemption to poor, longtime resident seniors. Despite public pressure from news articles and a Star Banner editorial that chastised the Commissioners for their reluctance, and about a dozen public commenters who appealed for its adoption during the meeting, commissioners made it clear that poor seniors are not as important as half-baked, hypocritical ideological positions.
After approving $350,000 in tax breaks for R+L Carriers, a huge trucking company owned by local mega-millionaire “Larry” Roberts, which is locating a logistics center at the old Taylor, Bean and Whitaker office building near North Magnolia Ave., Ocala, pictured right, there was a presentation by an official from ICE of US Homeland Security whose ill treatment by Commissioner McClain is the subject of another post.
A parade of public comment ensued, most seeking adoption of the Amendment 11 tax exemption which was passed by Florida voters last November by 61%, and also by 61% of Marion County voters. Adoption would require a super-majority of commissioners – 4 of 5.
Amendment 11 narrowly defined who would qualify for a complete property tax exemption;
- resident in the home for 25 years,
- income under $27,000 per year, and
- over age 65.
An exact number of possible qualifying properties has not been provided, but the County Tax Appraiser estimated the annual cost at $162,000 per year. The Marion County Commission’s annual budget exceeds $500,000,000; yes, over $500 million.
Among those struggling to pay their property taxes, James Bowden of Belleview explained how he had lived in Marion County his entire life, never made great money in a community known even today for its abysmally low wages, and how his taxes had increased to accommodate others as the community grew by leaps and bounds.
David Sullivan from northwest Marion told how he was now “broke” and too old to work any longer, and called the impact on the county budget “miniscule.”
Anita Frauenshuh of SW Hwy 200 said that her household would not benefit from Amendment 11 but she stood as an advocate. She noted that the affected seniors had paid taxes and contributed to the community’s economy and well-being for over 25 years, and were still doing so. Further, the 61% voter approval was not simply votes from likely beneficiaries, but a popular endorsement by all citizens.
Irvin Curtin of Belleview, who had been mentioned in the first article raising the issue to the County Commission, asserted that 60 of 67 Florida counties plus 118 municipalities had adopted Amendment 11. He wryly commented that with a $162,000 cost and a $500,000,000 budget, “there isn’t much slack to be picked up.” He noted that there are dozens of tax exemptions in the county’s property tax code, and it was “reprehensible” for commissioners to oppose this one.
Nancy Noonan of Summerfield contrasted the commissioners’ willingness to commit $30 million of taxpayer funds for rich local developer John Rudnianyn to have an unneeded exit ramp on I-75 to benefit his neighboring property, yet couldn’t allow a mere $162,000 for longtime resident, poor seniors. Sge calculated that the funds set out just for Rudnianyn’s wish would pay for the Amendment 11 exemption for 185 years. She said it seemed that the wealthy and privileged could get taxpayer funds, but deserving seniors were dismissed.
Tea Party leader Butch Verrando bellowed against adoption in threatening terms for commissioners’ re-election. Verrando claimed that today the amount was $162,000, but in 5 years it would be $1 million, and in 5 more years it would be $5 million. He was just pulling the numbers out of thin air, of course. He’s Tea Party; that’s what he does. He further showed his complete ignorance of the subject by declaring that if adopted, the exemption would make Marion County into a “repository for every old person who has no income.” He called it a “socialist agenda.” He probably thinks lunch menus are a socialist agenda, too.
Commission Chair Bryant had John Schaefer, the county’s Fiscal Manager, verify the $162,000, and he noted that adoption was up to each county or municipal government. It did not apply to school taxes. As far as Verrando’s assertion of gigantic increases, Schaefer said “one could speculate” that increases could possibly occur over time without guessing any amounts.
County attorney Guy Minter noted that the law allows for “periodic adjustment for income limitations.”
At the end of the public comments, new commissioner Earl Arnett (pic left) moved adoption of Amendment 11 and gained a reluctant second from fellow new commissioner David Moore (pic right). Let the crazy begin.
Arnett noted that 17% of seniors struggle with their day-to-day costs, and allowed that this would provide needed relief. Moore didn’t like a narrow tax break for a special group, and preferred across the board tax cuts, yet remained reluctantly in favor.
Commissioner Carl Zalak tried to claim that charity was not the government’s business, that it was a matter of personal free will. Indeed, it would be hard to categorize the county’s giveaways to wealthy families and rich corporations as “charity,” but they were giveaways nonetheless. It seems he did not consider the difference between the undeserving and the deserving. Typically, the rich and powerful don’t need government charity, but they get it all the time from the County Commission. The deserving simply don’t get (or deserve) anything in the upside-down world of Carl Zalak. To top off his inane comments, he said it was “picking winners and losers.” Huh? Who? Well, that’s so dumb, irrelevant, and out of context, it doesn’t deserve further comment.
Commissioner Stan McClain reiterated his favorite line that property taxes are just plain wrong. Therefore, you might think he would be in favor of this tax exemption for poor seniors. You would be wrong. His view reflects another bowl full of wacky. He correctly chastised state legislators for not simply taking action themselves and making local officials do their work. He went on to rail about the accumulated cost of $162,000 year after year, and what the county would not be able to do as a result.
As Ms. Noonan said, this pittance would be paid up for 185 years with the money committed to Mr. Rudnianyn’s useless exit ramp. McClain had no problem at all with the Rudnianyn giveaway, to cite just one glaring example of wealthy welfare. Advocating the so-called Fair Tax which is a regressive and harmful tax scheme, McClain said there were too many property tax exemptions, it was an unfair system, that only a small segment of the community was actually paying taxes, and soon everyone would want a tax exemption. If you were looking for a consistent and logical explanation from McClain, that was as close as it came. None of it made much sense or held much water. His final flourish was to call the Amendment 11 exemption “progressive, liberal tax policy.” Loopy, I know, but that’s what he said; a tax break is “progressive, liberal tax policy.” Yup, and he’s been elected three times.
Any hope for an intelligent remark from an experienced county commissioner was lost when Commission Chair Kathy Bryant started. She babbled about working two jobs and raising four kids and helping an elderly neighbor, none of which connected to the issue at hand. (What, she is a “real” person, too?) Finally she said adoption of Amendment 11 would “open Pandora’s box” and have everyone wanting a tax break. They must all have been reading from the same playbook. Ya’ think? Niblock’s “Poppycock” or did they think it up by themselves? She, too, parroted the meaningless criticism that the property tax system is broken. She claimed that “only property owners support county government” and it was unfair. This would be shocking news to the many folks who pay a variety of taxes that form revenue streams for county government. If taxpayers don’t own property, they don’t seem to exist in Commissioner Bryant’s world, much less count for anything. Of course, even if you do own property and qualify for Amendment 11 tax relief, you still don’t count for anything with Commissioner Bryant. Get rich if you want attention.
As broken as they claim the property tax system apparently is, none of the commissioners seem capable of lifting a finger to fix it. Isn’t that why they were elected? But enough logic; there are exemptions that rich people need to stay wealthy. Consider the impressive agricultural tax break likely received by mega-millionaire Larry Roberts, private owner of R+L Carriers – yeah, the one getting that tax break mentioned in the beginning of the meeting. His ag tax break for his mammoth horse farm on oodles of northwest Marion acres is worth a bundle. The aerial view at left shows the Roberts estate. Pretty nice.
It’s the same agricultural exemption used by developers for choice properties worth millions; ‘plant pine and you’re fine.’
Sorry, poor seniors who have lived here for over 25 years: you can go and suck an egg.
It was a sad and shameful day for Marion County as the majority of commissioners failed to serve its people fairly, turning a blind eye to their own hypocrisy while offering a stupidly inconsistent ideology in condemning poor, longtime resident seniors for daring to seek a puny tax break.
You may be disappointed that all the gory details of Florida GOP shenanigans in the era of former Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Chair Jim Greer won’t be dribbling out for weeks, but surely you also realize that no cash bought this outcome. It is unimaginable that a woeful tale of corruption that involved large sums of money and the biggest names in the Florida GOP would be determined by some kind of cash payoff of which the public will likely never learn. Heaven forbid!
Yes, Jim Greer suddenly decided to plead guilty first thing on Monday morning when jury selection was scheduled to begin. Greer was accepting the inevitability of a likely prison term of anywhere between 3 1/2 and 35 years. As recently as last week, Greer and his attorney promised a trial of salacious disclosures involving GOP heavyweights and stalwarts that would reach out and likely besmirch folks like ascendant darling US Sen. Marco Rubio, former Gov. Charlie Crist, former Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum, former US Sen. George LeMieux, and a host of statewide GOP leaders including big donors.
Greer had been willing to go to the mat in demonstrating his innocence while “promising a Shakespearean tragedy in which ‘everyone dies in the end.’”
Well, there were also cheap weenies like powerful State Senator John Thrasher (R-Jax pictured below), who assumed leadership at RPOF after Greer. Thrasher decided to stiff Greer on the severance package – $11,000 per month for a year – which RPOF committed to furnish in a written agreement. Yes, W-R-I-T-T-E-N. Reneging on a deal is bad form as former House Speaker turned big time lobbyist Dean Cannon stated, and was seconded by former Senate President Mike “Dirty Hari” Haridopolos who admitted lying at first about the very existence of the written severance agreement. But who could imagine the upright citizens at RPOF actually buying off the silence of their shamed leader of scams and schemes. Right?
It may seem like an obvious case of divine intervention that has touched the tarnished soul of Jim Greer and brought him to repent of his evil ways and confess his trespasses. Say it with me, brothers and sisters: Hallelujah! Amen!
But his revealing and candid January, 2013 interview with Miami New Times disclosed this previous self-reckoning:
Today, finally, the Greers blame themselves. When Jim talks about his time as [RPOF] chairman, he adopts the persona of a sinner at confession. “I spent too much,” Greer says, looking away. “I think I should have recognized that I didn’t need to stay in a five-star hotel. I should have set a better example, and I didn’t.”
Oh, wait. There was that talk about another attempt to buy Jim Greer’s silence with hush money. A documented offer from over a year ago clearly has no bearing on today’s sudden declaration and would never indicate any ongoing attempt by RPOF to shut him up. Similarly, that all of this had come out prior to the Republican National Convention in Tampa was entirely – no doubt about it! – coincidental.
Indeed, there were some fascinating stories about which we had hoped to learn more.
Remember the golf cart filled with prostitutes at the Bahamas getaway for party officials and donors? Surely it was all a misunderstanding; a few boys getting a bit wild and out of line. You know how it can be when you’re away from home and living large on corporate contributions. Besides, those gals didn’t, like, have business cards that said “Prostitute” on them. Did they?
Then there was this titillating tidbit:
[Judge Marc] Lubet also will decide whether the public and the media should have access to a salacious-sounding four-page interview taken from a witness. Richard Hornsby, an Orlando defense lawyer representing two unnamed witnesses, tried Thursday to prevent it from being shared with the defense. Lubet took a break to read over the document and decided the state must release it to Greer. He said he will examine case law as to whether it should be shielded from public view because of, in Hornsby’s words, its defamatory nature.
Again, you know how people like to make up stuff or get too excited. Although the judge seemed to feel it was admissible, judges can get carried away, too.
There may have been some intriguing revelations from his Number 2 at RPOF, the huggable Delmar Johnson, who seemed quite familiar with the lovely lady guests in the golf cart at the Bahamas shindig, among other things. You know just by looking at Delmar that, with his straight-shooting sincerity, he has a big future in time share resales.
Some folks may have wanted to hear more about the explicit RPOF strategy of denying the vote to blacks and Hispanics which Greer could have elucidated under oath. It is difficult to imagine since the avowed purpose of the voter suppression law sponsored by Ocala Republican Rep. Dennis Baxley was to prevent voter fraud, no matter how non-existent and nonsensical the whole charade might be.
As Jim Greer awaits sentencing, we are left with this memorable statement by the disgraced former RPOF Chairman:
“This trial will continue to show that nothing has come from Republicans and there’s no reason for them to keep power,” Greer says. “The people need to know what the Republican Party is. It’s dysfunctional.”
Really, Jim, we don’t need your trial to know the truth of that statement.
Vaya con dios! Greer, we hope you took the RPOF people to the cleaners … again.
Readers of the Star Banner may have been stunned to read the post-inaugural address editorial entitled “Missed Opportunity” that expressed disappointment in the President’s remarks. Their criticism was that Obama had missed the opportunity to
… reach across the aisle, to mend some fences, to create an atmosphere of cooperation in Washington ….
Surely the Star Banner itself featured stories that time and again recognized the dangerously dysfunctional conduct of Republicans in both the US House and Senate. Click here for a review of recent history on the budget alone for the memory impaired.
Here are some highlights; the debt ceiling default threat (round 1) with credit downgrade, Boehner refusing the Obama-initiated Grand Bargains – TWICE! – the government shutdown threats (rounds 1 and 2), the sequestration threat, the new debt ceiling default threat (round 2), and plenty of smaller threats to bring pain and damage to citizens, like the contemptible delays in voting FEMA disaster aid to Sandy victims in the northeast, FAA Re-authorization, and voting down the Disabilities Treaty which former GOP Sen. Bob Dole advocated.
Public opinion has consistently failed to support the GOP’s ideological tantrums that refuse to raise taxes on anyone, and particularly not for rich people or fat corporations. The GOP lost a national election which functioned much like a referendum on these very issues, yet the GOP remains intransigent. They are willing to continue menacing our nation’s well-being while exposing vulnerable citizens to deprivations and abandonment.
But the editors at the Star Banner think Obama missed an opportunity to inspire with
…words like compromise, and sacrifice, and working together for the good of the country.
What planet are you folks reporting on? In the one which most of us inhabit, the most sensible, rational, and constructive ideas are routinely dumped on the junk pile, having been suffocated by the strangling idiocy of Tea Party. Their myopia perceives only one set of answers that applies to every issue; no taxing, cut spending, deregulate, dominate. End of monologue.
Whenever a national threat du jour finally gets addressed and overcome, it is because Republicans have decided to allow a miniscule amount of common sense into their narrow fundamentalist equation.
It is not because Obama and the Democrats failed to offer compromises time after time after time that we’ve had the ghastly national experience of the last four years. It got started in today’s extreme form with the Tea Party in 2009 and has been sustained by those extremists having taken over the GOP today. Congress was nothing to celebrate before, but most thinking folks regard twin pimples on the butt to be more helpful than Tea Party darlings Rich Nugent or Ted Yoho who represent us today.
The Star Banner apparently feels, as most media outlets these days, that there is some insanity that requires a balanced presentation, tilting reality to provide the loonies with an equal seat at the table of intelligent public opinion. Seriously, get a grip. They belong in a time-out chair, not an equalizing booster seat.
Is Obama only okay if he is doing some wimpy sell-out of a compromise, trying to minimize the egregious policy damage of the Tea-crazed while staunching the wound to sanity with constructive measures, however small and hamstrung?
The nation is ready to hear what we can do, what our chief executive can get done, and how we can move forward despite the national minority that has lost its mind and is willing to hold all of us hostage until we capitulate to their demands. That’s what we needed to hear and that’s what he said.
The outreach to these dangerous deluded won’t stop, but by omission, Obama has made it clear that reconciling with the dissenters won’t be a priority like it had been four years ago. They’ve had their best chances over the last four years. Incredibly, they blew off every single opportunity, even repeatedly defeating measures that they had supported themselves, simply to deny Obama any victory of any kind. They arrogantly believed that their destructive efforts would achieve a Republican giving the Inaugural Address on Monday. They gambled and they lost. But they can’t accept it.
We know the president will need to compromise, and we progressives expect to be pretty pissed off at some of the things likely to appear on the trading block. But for heaven’s sake, let’s get moving! We’ve had enough of being held hostage by the GOP at every turn. Call their bluff and act like you won the last election handily, President Obama, despite the highly successful and coordinated GOP efforts to suppress voter turnout.
If the austerity reactionaries can’t abide with working with the president, if they demand Obama’s failure and damn the national cost as they have for the last four years, then Obama would be an ass to emphasize the nicety gestures for which the Star Banner pines. That editorial may have given your Republican readers something to feel good about, but really, Star Banner editors, Tuesday’s editorial focus was pure crap.
There is little doubt that Charlie Crist’s recent party switch to the Democrats is a prelude to a run to recapture his former role as Florida’s governor. Can (or should) progressive Democrats swallow hard, hold their nose, and get on board with a Democratic Crist? For Democrats, progressive activists in particular, there is great consternation that Crist is hardly the champion of its values, just a washed out, flip-flopping, ex-Republican. Hardly inspiring.
His record as a Republican showed him in his early legislative career as a first class hard liner who enjoyed the limelight of being known as “Chain Gang Charlie.” As Education Commissioner and later Insurance Commissioner, he developed a more populist attitude, earning the respect of educators and the ire of insurance companies while right wing Republicans began regarding him with considerable suspicion.
He bested more conservative challenger Tom Gallagher in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary by tacking to the right and declaring himself a “Ronald Reagan Republican,” winning the nomination and the office.
As Governor, his populism migrated to opportunism, noted in these pages as a weathervane and a chameleon for his willingness to switch positions and cater to prevailing political winds. His popularity with the electorate ultimately kept him as an asset to the GOP, even though the base came to thoroughly dislike and distrust him (with good reason).
Crist’s usually astute political moves were swamped by the extreme shift among Florida Republicans as the Tea Party surged following its 2010 ascendancy and rigid ideological fidelity became required in GOP ranks. Crist swung himself Gumby-like as far right as he could during his campaign for the US Senate, but he couldn’t distance himself from his past, most notably the infamous embrace of President Obama and his vocal support for the President’s fiscal stimulus legislation.
Marco Rubio’s upstart Senate candidacy surged, lifted by Tea Party loyals and other extremists for whom Rubio seemed to pass the ideological sniff test, even though Rubio has always maintained his distance from them. (Talk about an opportunist!) Facing a heavy GOP primary loss, Crist preemptively dropped the GOP and ran unsuccessfully as an independent.
His recent self-promotion as a new Democrat signals the start of the Democratic primary for governor. Polls show Crist favored over all likely contenders, particularly over Gov. Scott – not a great feat since even Republicans seem to favor a primary challenger to the ever unpopular Scott.
No one should expect Crist to hew to a consistently progressive line. Progressives tend to diss Crist in favor of those more ideologically defined like Sen. Nan Rich (pictured), former Sen. Dan Gelber, and others who remain completely unknown to Florida voters outside of their own circles.
The complaining noises about Crist from the camp of 2010 Dem loser Alex Sink have fallen flat. Sink ran away from Democratic positions in 2010 (literally; there was a video of Sink glaring icily at a reporter who persisted in asking about her stance on the health care bill before dashing/stalking off in a silent huff), she can hardly grouse about Crist not being enough of a Democrat. Sink lost to a crook, Rick Scott, presenting herself with a conservative message only a Republican could love (except she was out-conservatived by the Tea Party schmuck – what a shock) and blessed with yet another failed Tallahassee insider campaign plan that has yielded her almost no notoriety just 2 years later for a possible second run. Great job.
That she lost by a hair in a wave year for the Tea Party is small consolation. Scott was (and is still) a crook and a schmuck with a personality akin to the creepy robot HAL of Kubkrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Scott has remained wildly unpopular with the electorate since his inauguration, and is even disliked within his own party. A worse major party candidate for governor is unlikely … ever.
While Republican operatives stew behind Scott’s back about finding a candidate who doesn’t suck and isn’t utterly loathsome, Democrats find themselves – apart from Crist – with the possibility of a recycled Sink and a bevy of potential unknowns statewide. Those lesser knowns generally have better progressive credentials than Sink or Crist, but any reasonable person would view them as unelectable against a modestly well known, well funded Republican.
If you dismiss the notion of watching Sink, who sank, sink again, and admit the severe electability limitations on the rest, then let’s recall the realpolitik directions of 1992, the DLC, and Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign. You’ll recall that Republicans had held the Oval Office for 12 years in dominating fashion. Albeit weakened, Bush, Sr. was game for another Mondale or Dukakis liberal. However, the moderate Clinton got the nod and eked the win. While gaining the presidency for the Dems, progressives can recount many painful concessions from the gutting of welfare to the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Still, it was a Dem in the Oval Office.
Clinton, for all of his progressive faults, made Democrats electable at the national level once again, bringing closely competitive presidential races since. We forget just how crushing were the defeats of 1980, 1984 and 1988.
Could Crist supply an opportunity for Dems to gain the governorship, providing a Democratic executive counter weight to the Republican legislature, likely to remain theirs for the foreseeable future? Would having a moderate and, yes, unpredictably political animal like Crist elevate realistic Dem positions to serious consideration and force a retreat for the GOP legislature’s draconian agenda? Would having an official voice of moderation in Tallahassee help give Dem candidates greater credence, leveling the incline in competitive legislative districts? In short, can progressive Dems realistically expect to seize the governor’s mansion in one fell swoop, or is there a process that can begin unfolding with a Dem Gov, even Charlie Crist?
I’m thinking about it. What do you think?
In one of the most remarkably inept comments from a Florida legislator this year – a huge accomplishment when there is so, so much competition – State Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-NRA/ALEC/Ocala) has offered this counsel (includes video):
Responding to the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting that left 20 children dead, Rep. Dennis Baxley said Monday that schools would be safer if principals and teachers were authorized to carry guns…. [emphasis added]
Baxley said that declaring schools to be gun-free zones makes them targets for deranged people who know they can’t be stopped because guns aren’t allowed in schools.
“I do think the observation that in our zealous and intent efforts to try and keep children safe with gun free zones, we have inadvertently created a sterile target for deranged activity,” Baxley said.
The Ocala Republican said schools need to be in a position of meeting force with force when events like that happen.
Realizing that this blindingly stupid notion has caused you to lose your breath, your sight, and your slim grip on reality, let’s pause while you recover. [pause, ed.]
Baxley is even out in front of the National Rifle Association (NRA) which has pulled down its Facebook page and Twitter feed, presumably to avoid hosting un-NRA supportive commentary. Baxley is the NRA’s chief sponsor of legislation in Florida, including the unforgettably foolish “Stand Your Ground – Shoot First” law which this page has covered several times; here, here, and just recently here.
What is obviously wrong with Baxley’s suggestion is that he has omitted so many people who could still be armed. Why simply arm teachers? We must ask:
- Would this measure protect substitute teachers? They could really use the help. How about instructional support staff?
- Would Baxley leave custodians defenseless? Shooting Windex into the eyes of a shooter or swinging the barf mop is simply inadequate.
- How about cafeteria workers? Those stale muffins may be tough, but can they knock out a determined gun man?
- Shouldn’t bus drivers be armed since buses are easy targets?
- Are administrative staff not included and left as sitting ducks?
- Shall we expose School Board members when they are confronted by enraged by citizens (and fellow school board members)?
- Finally, and most obviously, wouldn’t it make the most sense in Baxley’s line of logic to simply arm the children?
On the other hand, Baxley is promoting armament for teachers, like those who teach your children, who taught children at Sandy Hook ES; you know, union thugs. How wise is that?
The old classic TV show, All in the Family, occurred in a time when airliners were being routinely hijacked by armed gunmen and often taken to Cuba. The arch-conservative main character Archie Bunker suggested in a mock video rebuttal in one episode that if you armed all of the airline passengers, the hijackings would end. The ridiculous notion was met with thunderous laughter from the studio audience who recognized instantly how ludicrous Archie’s idea was. Click below to see the video clip.
As asinine and extreme as Archie Bunker’s remarks were regarded in the early 1970s, they are being touted today by a local elected official as a serious response to one of the most tragic massacres – a slaughter of innocents. If Rep. Dennis Baxley has no more sense than this, then the only people who should be more ashamed are the pathetic individuals in Marion County who have returned this sponsor and supporter of some of the most reactionary, destructive, insensitive, and just plain bad legislation for (now) six terms.
In years between his legislative stints, Baxley turned his ardently professed conservative Christian stances into a job as Executive Director of the Florida Christian Coalition. As a Christian, Baxley reads from a different kind of Holy Bible. In the sermon on the mount, when Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ Baxley’s version refers to the famed Colt Single Action revolver known as “Peacemaker.” That’s some Jesus, Dennis! Will you hold a candle to celebrate the Prince of Peace next Monday, or the HALO warrior?
I’m sorry, but such contemptible hypocrisy is utterly unconscionable.
In case you missed it, the Sunday paper’s retail flyer for Gander Mountain featured a great deal on the back page – $100 off – on a .223 Bushmaster semi-automatic assault rifle complete with a 30 round magazine, the only practical purpose of which would be waging a very violent, sustained attack on other human beings, like at Sandy Hook ES. Only $799 plus ammo.
Here’s a Christmas shopping tip from Dennis Baxley – buy one of these high powered suckers for your child’s teacher. Or better, get one for your kid, or any neighbor kid; they’ll need it in school so long as people like Dennis Baxley are elected to public office.
With Baxley leading the way in Florida by showing just how low the discussion can be submerged, we can all hope that real intelligence will yet become manifest, even among Republicans, and that Florida’s legislators will begin the long overdue circumspection that would repeal the tragic “Shoot First – Stand Your Ground” law for starters. Just for starters. Please.
Watch Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi for a short while and you realize that she is sticking out from the GOP pack, and she seems to want it that way. One ought to expect that she is looking ahead in her political career.
While she was mentioned by pundits in veep speculation for Mitt Romney, she doesn’t yet have national level star power. Her headline role in the Supreme Court case against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), her history of appearances on Fox News, and her striking good looks which draw gossipy attention, have all made her a rising star, to be sure.
Her star shined bright enough to earn a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention. Frankly, it was terrible as she shared the podium with timorous Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. For her part, Bondi clumsily read aloud to the teleprompter as her hands disjointedly tried to appear graceful and life-like – watch the video, but beware: it’s painful. Still, it’s recognition of her notoriety and popularity, particularly with the GOP base.
The ambitious nature of Florida’s Attorney General has been well known.
At first as AG, there appeared to be heavy handed tactics and early missteps surrounding the firing of two staff lawyers, known for their prosecution of foreclosure fraud, followed by Assistant AG Andrew Sparks’ critical memo for Bondi’s weak pursuit of foreclosure and consumer deception cases the day before he quit. There were also the embarrassing job changes by top staff who joined finance/foreclsoure firms under investigation by the AG’s office. In retrospect, Bondi just “winked” to the banking and housing finance community to show that she was playing on their team.
The distinction is noteworthy since Bondi garnered more headlines this fall with her insistence on having a major voice in how federal foreclosure fraud settlement funds were going to be spent, about $300 million for Florida. Yes, she coddled the housing finance cretins when her office confronted them, but when their cash landed in her lap via federal settlement, it was a political opportunity to play the ‘high-minded leader’ against the ‘grasping legislature,’ while mouthing a populist appeal:
‘We are diligently working to get this money distributed as soon as possible to help homeowners,’ [Bondi] said. ‘I’m not going to talk about backroom conversations, but I’ll tell you I’m working as hard as I can, my staff is working as hard as they can. This money needs to go to homeowners. That’s where it was meant to go, and that’s where it should go.’
Yes, that kind of political posturing is where your attention is being directed. And check this out:
While governors in other states have played an active role in the mortgage settlement, Gov. Rick Scott has been mum. When asked last week about his opinion about the $300 million and the disagreement between Bondi and the Legislature, he would only say: ‘I think attorney general Bondi will do a good job.’
Can you say “awkward”? Scott knows he can only look bad if he tries to challenge Bondi. Point: Bondi.
Bondi was very visible with GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney; Rick Scott was invisible, please! Bondi was an attractive asset; Scott was a bumbling liability. From the Florida GOP, only Rubio was more chummy with Romney/Ryan.
Senior Florida political reporter Bill Cotterell penned a recent column for Florida Voices claiming Rick Scott will be a strong candidate in 2014 with a solid record to make his case.
Cotterell downplays Scott’s atrociously low popularity and high un-favorability ratings that have relentlessly plagued Scott from inauguration. (Remember, he won in 2010 by a whisker.) Whenever his numbers improve, it’s often because he has done nothing, like this fall during the presidential campaign when Scott’s most public venture was inside a local Republican headquarters where a handful of old ladies were phone banking for Romney. He was as hidden away as crazy Uncle Louie.
When Scott does something, like pull a $10,000 college degree idea from thin air, people realize that Rick Scott is a total waste and an incredible jerk – they hate him all over again, just when they had begun to forget about him.
Yes, Scott has money – his own and an early bankroll of $5 million from donors. He can take credit for a variety of items that will play well with the base, but he can’t help being awkward and ill-equipped beyond his stupidly simplistic talking points. No matter what they say, legislators are not going to the mat for Rick Scott if there is another viable option. Politicians are as loyal as convenience allows, certainly true for Republicans.
Where Bondi has prominently shown her mettle is on the ACA. Her fierce posturing and unwavering attacks stand in marked contrast to the recent waffling of both Gov. Scott and the legislature as the boys depart from absolute rejection of state health insurance exchanges, and now even consider some possible Medicaid expansion within ACA. O. M. G!
Tea Party-ers – the base that propelled Rick Scott’s insurgent candidacy – have been hearing that ACA/Obama is satanic for years and the baggers are not altering this tenet of Fox faith in light of reason, events, or corporate cash. If Scott and the legislature cave to the corporate medicos drooling at b-b-billions from Medicaid expansion, the GOP’s ideological activists may find this betrayal unforgiveable.
Their hard line has gotten sclerotic following the national disaster of Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping “conservatism of convenience.” Expect them to seek an alternative to Scott, the jerky sell-out who looks (and sounds) like a Q tip.
Bondi will be ready, having stayed doggedly hardline as she parrots the Tea Party line, and having curried favor with two key GOP constituencies, ideological and corporate. She is young, attractive, sharp, passionate, and has been a popular figure in the key Tampa Bay market area as well as having national visibility. She is what Rick Scott can never be. Think Nikki Haley of South Carolina replacing Mark Sanford.
The little that Scott has going for him – hardline, uncompromising conservatism at its most ideologically idiotic – will be gone amid his attempt to moderate himself to electability, including acting sensibly toward implementation of the ACA in Florida. The hardliners will cut him loose in a heartbeat (or hang him in effigy).
Watch Pam and see if you think she is getting ready to give Rick Scott a run for his money in 2014.
And then think how Charlie Crist compares to Pam Bondi. Hmm.
This panel was formed following excellent investigative reporting in 2011 by the Miami Herald called “Neglected to Death.” It revealed appalling neglect and abuse in lightly regulated Assistant Living Facilities (ALFs), and showed the death of 70 individuals from such abysmal conditions in about ten years.
Amid the furor, Gov. Scott directed a stern-sounding, vigorous response: empower citizens and crack down, form an investigatory panel and fix the problems! At the time, it seemed Scott was serious about disallowing more bad practices by the ALFs when he vetoed the facility owners’ desired deregulation that would have allowed complaints to be hushed up with secrecy. The law was sponsored by Rep. Matt Hudson (R-Naples) and scandal magnet Rep. Daphne Campbell (D-Miami Shores). Campbell got lots of attention last summer for her Medicaid fraud investigation and six figure IRS tax liens.
As is now evident, this was really short-hand for appearing to address the issue while things simmer down. Taking advantage of the issue being off the front pages and blogs for over a year, this industry-skewed panel produced yet another scandal whitewash, handing the powerful ALF industry and its lobbyists not so much as a wrist slap.
‘[Providers] are probably doing cartwheels right now,’ said Brian Lee, a resident advocate and director of Families for Better Care.
If this scandal panel whitewash has a familiar ring, it should.
In mid-November, the panel investigating the “Shoot to Kill” law (a.k.a. Stand your Ground) concluded that the law needed no real change, despite the tragic killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin whose shooter may yet be fully protected from prosecution. Click here for the post examining this panel’s outrageous report.
Before November was over, another black teen, Jordan Russell Davis, had been shot and killed in a hail of bullets, and his shooter, Michael David Dunn, is expected to invoke immunity from prosecution thanks to the “Shoot to Kill” law’s shield. Click here for the post on this latest incident.
The Scott ALF panel was also stacked, just like Scott’s “Shoot to Kill” panel, indicating a pre-determined result. It included Rep. Matt Hudson, mentioned above for his industry coddling deregulation law that Scott surprisingly vetoed. The Assisted Living Workgroup was endowed with industry insiders and other political chums. One member was Larry Sherberg, an ALF owner cited for neglectful conditions and care. No surprise that Larry was upset by thoughts of reformist regulations:
A key member of the panel, Sherberg, 60, has argued that the push for stricter regulations — including harsher penalties — will hurt the industry.
Larry is not typically the kind of fellow who should be on this investigatory panel. But Larry wasn’t alone:
More than a dozen assisted living facility executives landed positions on the panel, a sign to advocates for residents that passing reforms will be a challenge.
Gov. Scott was able to channel “The Amazing Kreskin” by predicting the panel’s outcome by auto-suggestion over a year ago:
Governor Rick Scott called for the task force. Scott, who is for less regulations overall, says neglect by a few bad facilities may be making the whole industry look bad.
The panel’s failure to produce substantive reform follows on the legislature’s deeply disappointing failure to produce anything to protect senior citizens in its 2012 session, choosing instead to protect the industry.
The panel’s final report calls for keeping things just as they are for the most part, proposes some re-arranging of the oversight deck chairs, and reviewing existing processes. It seems audacious, but the recommendations include a proposal shielding ALFs from complaint disclosure, just like the law that Hudson sponsored and Scott vetoed, as described above. Yup, déjà vu all over again! This is what the report says:
Enable a public record exemption for AHCA complaints. Complaints filed with AHCA are currently not protected from disclosure. Consider adding confidentiality to AHCA complaints equivalent to that of the Ombudsman.
Remember, it took the Miami Herald’s investigation to get any kind of response to ghastly ALF problems, not Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) doing any watchdog activism. (As Long-Term Care Ombudsman Brian Lee’s case showed, advocacy that disturbs the owners will get you fired by Pink Slip Rick.) AHCA was asleep at the wheel as a rule, as described here:
… a drop in state inspections of homes by 33 percent, and a pattern of reducing penalties against bad homes. The Herald found that the state could have shut down 70 homes in 2008 and 2009 for such violations as abuse and neglect leading to deaths, but closed just seven. [bold added]
Now the panel recommends allowing owners to hide the complaints behind state-sanctioned secrecy! What could possibly go wrong?
Again, Brian Lee had nailed it nine months ago as the legislative session was wrapping up and nothing was happening:
‘The only reason they’re doing it [considering reform legislation] now is because they’re under the media spotlight. A year from now, or two years from now, when all the dust has settled, those facilities are going to go back to business as usual.’
If you were wondering who in Tallahassee was doing the work to protect the people, particularly vulnerable seniors (and even the unarmed getting shot and killed), you would be mistaken if you thought it was elected officials like Republican legislators or Governor Scott. Their collective indifference toward the exploitation, endangerment, and brutalizing of Florida citizens in order to protect powerful industry and partisan interests becomes more appalling by the week.
On Cyber Monday, the online retailers’ version of Black Friday, consumers were predicted to have spent $2 billion on that single day, having spent an estimated $1 billion online on Black Friday. If you live in Florida, you were able to make your purchases and generally evade paying any sales tax at the time of sale (unless the retailer is based in Florida).
While Florida has bled red ink from its state budget for years, slashing spending for everything from education to health care to environment, one of the major sources of state revenue – the sales tax – has failed to collect anything near the amount possible from online sales.
Few states have taken the steps needed to collect sales tax from online purchases.
A leading opponent of any online sales tax has been giant online retailer Amazon.com. Amazon has been playing ‘let’s make a deal’ with state legislatures for years, offering to build facilities, make capital investments, and bring new jobs in exchange for forgoing or delaying imposition of any online sales tax, like in Tennessee, for example. The delaying tactic is in the expectation that Congress will institute national guidelines for online sales taxation. Apparently Amazon and their online retailing cohorts like eBay and Overstock.com have not considered Congress’s grinding dysfunction to do anything about taxes, tax codes, or tax anything.
These tactics by Amazon are a marked change from its earlier bullying, like in Colorado in 2010 and Illinois in early 2011 where it fired its in-state associate retailers in retaliation for the states’ imposing the sales tax. The idea was to deny sales through any state-based associates; no in-state sales, no sales tax collection. When you’re Amazon, you don’t mind taking a loss to deliver a black eye to an opponent.
There has also been the tactic of rewarding those who give Amazon what it wants, like in Arizona, where new distribution centers are being sited as long as there is no hint of any online sales tax.
Here is how the map looked in late 2011 as Amazon did its wheeling and dealing, published by TheStreet.com.
Amazon has decided to face the music as its tax firewall crumbles, exposing it to myriad state and local sales taxation rates and destinations. Given Amazon’s ability to handle retail traffic, it doesn’t seem like processing sales tax collections should be such a struggle. It seems more likely that Amazon (a) doesn’t want the added cost of doing such tax processing, but moreover (b) doesn’t want to lose the pricing advantage it has always enjoyed over brick-and-mortar “Main Street” retailers who have always had to collect and remit sales taxes, and have always had those taxes built into their pricing which adds 6%-9% to the cost.
You can watch Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos swallow really hard and often, blink a lot, and tell a CNN/Money interviewer last month that Amazon has always supported a federal rule on state collection of online sales taxes and thinks it will happen soon.
So, I know you’re wondering where Florida fits into the picture, being a major retail state with significant budgetary needs. Haven’t heard anything? Well, you haven’t missed anything; there is no talk of going anywhere near collecting an online sales tax in the Sunshine State.
This is pretty remarkable since heavy hitting, right wing, pro-corporate lobbyists like Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, and Florida Retail Federation actually support a Florida online sales tax, or at least they say they do. The Chamber estimates that Florida will fail to collect about $450 million in sales tax revenue this year.
Since these lobbying groups typically can buy their way to the souls of GOP legislators, what’s the hold up? Usually, it’s idiot ideology rearing its ugly head – yes, I mean you, Tea Partiers. While the Chamber and their corpo cronies point out that it would simply be the collection of an existing tax, not the imposition of a new tax, we still have had dim-witted responses like this one from former Senate President Mike Haridopolos in October, 2011:
“I think we made a pretty firm statement as far as sales taxes are concerned or tax increases, that there would not be an increase in taxes,” Haridopolos told reporters … “If there were any adjustments, we’d have to see an equal reduction somewhere else … The income revenue from increased taxes would not be passing the Senate, and it would not pass the House,” he added. “And if somehow it passed both chambers – which I consider the likelihood zero – the governor would surely veto it, if it was a revenue enhancement.”
In true anti-government mindlessness, Haridopolos would have required reduced government spending to offset the addition of new tax revenue. It makes absolutely no sense, except as ideological flatulence. Gov. Scott follows similar logic, unsurprisingly given his historic proclivity for Tea.
This needs to be remembered when the next budget proposal gets kicked around in Tallahassee this spring. These clowns cry about the state’s lack of funds and insist that the skinny people tighten their belts further while the fat cats let their belts out with tax breaks and privileged treatment. These same GOP clowns won’t lift a finger to act intelligently and take the steps needed to begin collecting the cyber sales tax.
That $450 million would surely help, but first Florida needs worthy leaders.