Sunday, March 10, 2013

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.


"Jeb!" apologists out in force

Marc Caputo swoons over Jebbie's "must-read for anyone who wants to know more about the mind of one of the GOP’s top idea men. Its roughly 250 pages move at a surprisingly quick pace."

Caputo relegates what less sycophantic observers have called Jebbie's "spinning excuses — and seeking to undermine other Republicans," like Rubio, to a mere slight disagreement" with Rubio:

The fact that Rubio and Bush have a slight disagreement on legalization set the Washington chattering class ablaze with speculation of fallout between the two friends. Both deny it. Aides say the two are closer to brothers than friends (their homes are less than 4 miles apart) and that if they disagree, no one would know outside of their tight circle.

“Jeb was writing a book. He wasn’t writing a bill,” Rubio said, echoing Bush and implicitly pointing out the latter is harder.

“Marco’s stepped up incredibly well. We’re close friends. This whole People Magazine-whatever-you-call it, it’s really kind of, you know, childish. It’s juvenile, untrue,” Bush said.

"Jeb Bush on immigration: 'A lot of hair on fire — Mine isn’t'". See also "" and "PolitiFact: Has Jeb Bush flip-flopped on immigration and a pathway to citizenship?" (it it "true" that "Bush has made a 'flip-flop-flip' on immigration")


From the "values" crowd

"State may shrink mental health-care spending".


Well, Will, why?

Aaron Deslatte: "Why do lawmakers legislate by anecdote?"

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, brought up his own childhood memories of having a brother who died of cancer, leaving his family reliant on the government "safety net" to get through. He later clarified that the state's Medically Needy program had helped pay $100,000 in medical bills.

Nonetheless, he told House members, "I believe [the expansion] crosses the line of the proper role of government."

Later, he defended his use of the story, saying he was communicating empathy with the public.

"To personalize a story is to let people know you're not looking at this from the perspective of someone who's lived with a wonderful, Cadillac health-insurance plan their whole life and has never experienced life outside that. I have," Weatherford said.

"I think personal stories are an important thing for a public official to do. You're explaining your 'why.' Not just what you're doing, but why."

On Monday, the Senate's committee studying the Affordable Care Act could decide whether or not to follow the lead of the House and oppose expanding Medicaid for the next three years to nearly 900,000 uninsured earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty.

"Medicaid expansion pits anecdotes against economists' numbers".


The Original Teabagger

Jeb Bush, who was a teabagger before teabaggery was cool, and one of the most divisive politicians in Florida history*, has the temerity to claim "President Obama won a second term in the White House in part by 'dividing the country'". "Jeb Bush: Obama won reelection by ‘dividing the country’".

This is the same genius for whom, as reported in Time Magazine, "basic competence has been an issue". Among the many examples of his divisiveness include his kow-towing to the religious right, once nearly provoking "a constitutional crisis -- and a confrontation between dueling lawmen":

Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo wasn't to be removed from her hospice, a team of Florida law enforcement agents was en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted -- but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge's order, the Miami Herald has learned.

Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park, the small town where Schiavo lies at Hospice Woodside, that they were on the way to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding Thursday.

For a brief period, local police, who have officers around the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called a showdown.

In the end, the state agents and the Department of Children and Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice.

"We told them that unless they had the judge with them when they came, they were not going to get in," said a source with the local police.

"The FDLE called to say they were en route to the scene," said an official with the city police who requested anonymity. "When the Sheriff's Department, and our department, told them they could not enforce their order, they backed off."

The incident, known only to a few, underscores the intense emotion and murky legal terrain that the Schiavo case has created.

It also shows that agencies answering directly to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had planned to use a wrinkle in state law that would have allowed them to legally get around the judge's order. The exception in the law allows public agencies to freeze a judge's order whenever an agency appeals it.

Participants in the high-stakes test of wills, who spoke with The Herald on the condition of anonymity, said they believed the standoff could ultimately have led to a constitutional crisis -- and a confrontation between dueling lawmen.

"Report: State Tried Schiavo Grab". As Paul Krugman noted, there was "little national exposure for a Miami Herald report that Jeb Bush sent state law enforcement agents to seize Terri Schiavo from the hospice - a plan called off when local police said they would enforce the judge's order that she remain there.")

More: "When Jeb Bush speaks, people cringe".

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*Divisiveness is just the beginning of the story: A former federal prosecutor looking into Jeb's lucrative business dealings with a now-fugitive Cuban, "considered two possibilities -- Jeb was either crooked or stupid. At the time, he concluded Jeb was merely stupid." "Bush Family Value$".


Transportation Dan

"Webster's 'to-do list' heavy on transportation projects".


"Hypocritical, hard-hearted" Weatherford

The Palm Beach Post editors: "Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, wants to deny one million Floridians access to the Medicaid program that bailed out his family. Rep. Weatherford was trying to show empathy last week when he spoke of how the 'safety net' had paid for the care of his cancer-stricken younger brother. Instead, he showed hypocrisy." "Weatherford hypocritical, hard-hearted on Medicaid expansion".


Raw sewage and "fast rising sea levels"

The Miami Herald editors: "The battle between Miami-Dade County and federal and state environmental regulators over fixing the county’s decrepit sewage system has gone on so long that concerns about rising sea levels have now entered the fray." "Sewage solution requires public access". See also "In Miami-Dade, fast rising sea levels, deep trouble".


What about the part where "it costs money to close a plan"

Aaron Deslatte: "Despite a challenged analysis of the financial risks and rewards, the House is advancing a massive overhaul of the state retirement system that critics said would subject future workers to the whims of Wall Street."

But critics complained that Florida's pension fund was one of the best-funded in the country and that Republicans were trying to shift risks for public employees' retirement planning for no reason. . . .

Brad Heinrichs, CEO of Fort Myers-based Foster and Foster, an actuarial firm that advises state and local pension funds around the country, told the panel he didn't agree with the financial losses that Milliman had assumed.

"I struggle to understand the magnitude of those numbers," he told the panel. "Our studies tend to show that it costs money to close a plan."

"Committee advances bill to revamp pension system".


"$11.7 billion-a-year sieve"

"U.S.-Mexico border: a 2,000-mile-long, $11.7 billion-a-year sieve".


Enough

"Palm Beach County government employees, who haven't received across-the-board-pay-raises since 2009 due to the struggling economy, say they have had enough." "Unions pushing Palm Beach County for pay raises".


Fair weather Chavez foes

"Venezuelans have had ties to South Florida for decades, but the community’s presence grew during Hugo Ch├ívez’s 14-year presidency." "Venezuelans share a long history in South Florida". The Sun Sentinel editors: "Hugo Chavez's lasting legacy on South Florida".


Fladems "False"

Politifact: "With an eye toward his 2014 reelection effort, Gov. Rick Scott has tried to portray himself as a pal of teachers and families who rely on public education. He talks often about how he boosted education spending in 2012 and this year proposed giving teachers a $2,500 pay raise."

The Florida Democratic Party said in a press release that Scott called education “not a ‘core function’ of the state.”

The Democrats point to Scott’s 2011 comments about his budget proposal that included massive and wide-ranging cuts — including to education. Scott called for focusing on “core functions” of the state.

Scott cut the education budget in a year when he talked about funding for “core functions.” But he never specifically said education was not a “core function.” It’s a stretch and a leap of logic for Florida Democrats to claim otherwise.

We rate this claim False.

"What Gov. Scott did and didn’t say on education".