Monday, May 20, 2013

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

Trigger foes "crow" as wingers whine

"Two weeks after the 2013 Florida Legislature finished its regular session, opponents of Parent Empowerment are still crowing that the bill's defeat represented a victory for 1 million parent activists. There's just one problem: that figure appears to be pulled out of thin air." "Parent Empowerment Foes Inflating Membership".

"Scott backed down"

"The state's largest hospitals were relieved to learn Scott will not spike $65 million aimed at easing the transition to a new Medicaid payment system. In return, hospitals agreed not to ask for more such money next year."

Safety net hospitals lobbied heavily for the extra money, saying a new payment system, known as DRG for diagnosis-related groups, caused massive cuts in Medicaid funding. The House insisted on including transition dollars and the Senate agreed to the $65 million.

Scott's office hinted to hospitals last week that he would reject the money and in response they ramped up their lobbying. Those familiar with the governor's rationale said he felt the formula should stand as is, without consideration for winners and losers.

After hearing from hospitals and their advocates, Scott backed down, but not without obtaining concessions from the hospitals that the funding would last for one year. About 20 hospitals sent letters to Scott pledging to reject additional transition dollars next year, many using a form letter.

"Scott to veto tuition hike, okay Medicaid transition money".

"Rubio mesmerized"

"Rubio mesmerized more than 700 people at the annual Hillsborough GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday night with a familiar speech that resonated more strongly than ever amid revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups, the U.S. Department of Justice spied on Associated Press reporters, and administration staff carefully calibrated their explanations of the Benghazi attack." "Marco Rubio blames President Obama for latest scandals".

Rubio's "pious fervor" stops when it comes to Karl Rove's abuse of Section 501(c)(4) of the IRS Code

As Rubio "mesmerized" Hillsborough GOP robots about how the poor lil teabaggers being victimized by the IRS, Carl Hiaasen reminds us that the IRS "scandal" is at its core about the abuse of the current "gimmick of choice",

Section 501(c)(4) of the revenue code. Groups receiving that golden designation are allowed to collect unlimited contributions without paying taxes.

They’re not banned from political involvement, but by law they’re supposed to be “primarily engaged” in activities promoting “social welfare” and “the common good” — not partisan politics. It’s a total farce.

Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS spent untold millions of dollars on behalf of Republican candidates while attacking Democrats during the last election cycle. On the other side, Priorities USA spent a fortune helping Democratic candidates while trashing Republicans.

Both rabidly partisan organizations enjoy tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(4). They claim to run strictly “issue” advertisements that aren’t really political, which is a hoot.

Hiaasen continues, warning us that
Congress will hold long hearings, brimming with outrage [about the IRS].

No such pious fervor exists for investigating and exposing the fraudulent status of large groups like Crossroads GPS and Priorities USA, which collectively take in hundreds of millions of dollars.

They’re not “social welfare” organizations worthy of a tax exemption. They’re wealthy partisan advocacy machines with purely political missions — to promote their candidates, and to influence voters.

They are prized by both parties as safe and bottomless repositories for huge campaign donations, which is why you don’t see congressional leaders declaring war on the 501(c)(4) charade.

The c stands for ca-ching.

"IRS went after small fry, but let the big ones get away".


"DEP attorneys seek new hearing in permitting case involving employee who testified against bosses".

"Weatherford overreaches"

"The Florida House did the nation a favor by refusing to expand subsidized health insurance to 1 million low-income Floridians, argues Speaker Will Weatherford."

Does the Medicaid expansion drastically raise the deficit? PolitiFact Florida wanted to check it out.

Weatherford spokesman Ryan Duffy responded to our inquiry with a document that includes a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Christina Corieri, a health care policy analyst at the Goldwater Institute, a free-market research group that opposes the expansion of Medicaid.

Corieri's column does not say that expanding Medicaid as outlined in the health care law will drastically increase the deficit. Instead, Corieri says states have "the unique opportunity to veto hundreds of billions of dollars in new federal spending." She said the nearly 30 states that have either opted out or are considering it could save the government $609 billion over the next eight years.

"PolitiFact: Weatherford overreaches with claim that Medicaid expansion drives deficit".

Raw political courage

"Report: Gov. Scott to veto 3 percent tuition increase". See also "Gov. Rick Scott to veto tuition hike".

Scott "eager to use the death penalty"

"Gov. Rick Scott has accelerated the pace of signing death warrants in Florida by lining up three executions over the next few weeks, the most in such a brief period of time in more than two decades."

Scott and his chief legal adviser say they are doing nothing unusual. But legal experts who oppose the death penalty wonder whether other factors are at work — such as Scott's desire to improve his standing with voters as he seeks re-election next year.

Not since 1989, when an unpopular Gov. Bob Martinez set a record by signing six death warrants in a single day, has a Florida governor been so eager to use the death penalty.

"Gov. Rick Scott speeding up Florida inmate execution process".

"Scott's anti-tax zealotry"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "When does Florida's self-proclaimed "jobs governor" say no to potentially thousands of new jobs? When those jobs run headlong into a misguided tax stance that discriminates against Florida businesses and workers but helps carpetbaggers."

The defense that Gov. Rick Scott's office provided last week for why the state would not strike a deal with to build a warehouse in Florida is tortured, and underscores once again how Republican leaders' continued refusal to support efforts to modernize sales tax laws to encompass out-of-state Internet retailers is hurting Floridians and their communities.
"From 'jobs governor,' a job-killing move".

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida pays price for Scott's anti-tax zealotry".