Monday, November 11, 2013

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

"Florida, the eternal land of suckers"

Carl Hiaasen: "Good-time Charlie Crist is back."

He wants to be governor again, and polls show he would beat Rick Scott if the election were held today.

Big deal. Richie Incognito would beat Scott if the election were held today. . . .

During the last campaign, Scott spent about $75 million of his own dough, having made a fortune presiding over a healthcare conglomerate that perpetrated one of the largest Medicare frauds since the beginning of Medicare.

In a sane and sensible place, that’s a résumé that would kill a person’s chances for high office. But not in Florida, the eternal land of suckers.

This time around, Scott will have the full backing of the Republican establishment, which basically shunned him in 2010, and a richer war chest for attacking Charlie Crist.

Hiaasen reminds us "that voters look for different qualities in their governors, and they’ll often cross party lines. That’s how Jeb Bush won two terms in Florida, and that’s how Crist got elected in 2006 — by lots of Democrats voting for a Republican."
That doesn’t mean they’ll vote for him next year just because he switched to their party. Being likeable gets you only so far. People want a governor who’s tough, caring and steady.

We ended up with Scott because Charlie left the job. He doesn’t get a free pass back to Tallahassee without some explaining.

"Charlie Crist is back, but he doesn’t deserve free pass".

Baggers target Buchanan

Jeremy Wallace: "The Tea Party Leadership Fund has created a “Primaries for Traitors” fund aimed at raising money and recruiting candidates nationwide to run against Republicans who voted to re-open the government in mid-October. Among their targets: U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key." "Tea Party targets Buchanan".

"Jolly conductor on a Florida train to nowhere"

The Sunshine State News' Nancy Smith comes out with both guns blazing, arguing that for "20 years Charlie's been the jolly conductor on a Florida train to nowhere, stopping at stations, picking up people bound for some promised destination, but Charlie's train never arrives." "Charlie and Me: Why Love Never Bloomed".

"Wash with money. Spin. Repeat"

Marc Caputo writes that

On Saturday, Obama golfed with former basketball star Alonzo Mourning at the exclusive Grande Oaks Golf Club in Davie, site of the classic 1980 comedy movie Caddyshack. Then it was back to Washington.

Thus the political cycle churns: Wash with money. Spin. Repeat. . . .

Obama made sure to rebut Republican critics, like those in Florida, who have raised a fuss about people without insurance while simultaneously refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. That denies the possibility of coverage to as many as 848,000 Floridians.

“More people could have healthcare via Medicaid,” Obama said. “But that’s not happening because of politics.”

Republican Gov. Rick Scott ducked the issue in a written statement.

“The President’s healthcare law is causing hundreds of thousands of Floridians to lose their health insurance plans. The White House should focus on helping these families, not Medicaid, which our state just recently reformed to be more flexible, accessible and cost-conscious,” Scott said. “Unfortunately, the White House’s politics of deflection and distraction won’t give anyone their healthcare back, even after the president promised that if they liked their plans, they could keep them.”

"Scott’s comments are also laden with deflection, distraction and misleading opinion."
First off, those who have lost their current individual-market insurance plans will qualify for new ones. So it’s not as if insurance coverage is really lost.

And the overwhelming number of people aren’t affected by this because they’re insured through group plans provided by their employers. Still, Obamacare is raising the cost of some large-employer plans as well.

True, some people will pay more (despite Obama’s suggestion to the contrary). But some will pay less. Many will have better coverage and more access to coverage. There’s not enough data yet. Just spin from both sides.

As for the Medicaid reform Scott referenced, Obama’s administration signed off on it. And if Medicaid is so much better now, it makes the argument against expanding it more strained.

"Scott tepidly called for Medicaid expansion this spring, but did almost nothing to get the GOP-led Legislature, particularly the conservative House, to sign on. Earlier in the year, Scott said he opposed Medicaid expansion and provided misleading financial numbers as a justification."
Republicans who control Florida — which has the nation’s second-highest rate of uninsured people — have done almost nothing to make insurance better or more affordable. Before Obamacare, tens of thousands of Floridians lost coverage yearly and millions experienced double-digit price increases without much attention from legislative leaders.

"Nationally, according to a new Pew Research poll, the president’s numbers have begun to tank. But the Affordable Care Act’s approval ratings (which are poor) have appeared to hold steady amid the barrage of negative publicity over the failures of Obamacare’s sign-up website."

Polls show Scott’s approval ratings remain low as well, and that former Gov. Charlie Crist, who wants his old job back, would probably beat Scott if the election were held today.

The Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat attended one of Obama’s high-dollar fundraisers in Coral Gables on Friday, waved to the news media from the balcony on Coral Way, and then sauntered down to the news-starved cameras (blocked from the fundraiser) afterward to grab free and easy media coverage for the nightly news.

When he was a Republican and then an independent in his failed 2010 bid for the U.S. Senate, Crist trashed the Affordable Care Act. Now, as a Democrat, he praises it. This is Crist’s sixth run for statewide office.

Wash with money. Spin. Repeat.

Much more here: "Government dysfunction is the new normal".

Trib editors equate healthcare "lies" with Bush saying Iraq had WMDs

The Obama's "healthcare lie" is, according to the Tampa Trib editors equivalent to George Bush "saying Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction." "President refuses to recognize Obamacare’s flaws".

The editorial is silly. Here is a more accurate picture: "Stop the faux outrage over Obama's 'healthcare lie'".

"A quietly effective member of the GOP majority"

"At 62, Rich Nugent is that rare breed of politician who is actually happy where he is instead of looking to move up the ladder. There’s a temptation to write Nugent off as a back bencher since he was first elected to Congress in 2010 and isn’t the flashiest of congressmen. But a close look shows Nugent has become a quietly effective member of the GOP majority." "Rich Nugent: Florida's Quietly Effective Conservative Congressman".

"Once a close friend and ally of Crist's"

"Republicans came out in droves last week to tee off on Charlie Crist as he launched his bid to challenge Rick Scott. One of the GOP leaders who took a few whacks at the former governor was once a close friend and ally of Crist's who could be looking to make a political comeback down the road -- George LeMieux." "George LeMieux Steps on Crist to Springboard Back to Limelight".