Thursday, July 03, 2014

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

"Floridians Paying a high price for the failures of Scott and Republican legislators"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Floridians are paying a high price for the failures of Gov. Rick Scott and Republican legislators. The governor and the lawmakers refuse to act to accept billions in federal Medicaid expansion money. It is a morally and financially indefensible position, and now the cost of their ideological stubbornness is even clearer."

The White House Council of Economic Advisers on Wednesday released a state-by-state analysis on the consequences of states' decisions when it comes to Medicaid expansion, putting numbers to what has long been the driving motive for support among business leaders in the state: the economy. Florida, which has refused to accept $51 billion to expand Medicaid over the next 10 years, ranked second in opportunities missed for jobs, better health and economic impact.

It's past time for Scott — who ran for office on the slogan "Let's get to work" — to move off the sidelines and insist Republican legislative leaders accept Medicaid expansion money to improve the personal health of Floridians and the economic health of the state. And with the governor and Republican lawmakers ignoring the issue, voters should be prepared to hold them accountable in the fall elections.

"The high cost of governor's inaction on health care."

"The White House has a Medicaid expansion argument for Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Republicans: It creates jobs."

A state-by-state report released Wednesday estimates that Florida will lose out on 63,000 new jobs, mainly in health care, from 2014-2017. That’s the three years that the federal government would have paid the entire cost of providing health care to 848,000 people.
"The study by the Council of Economic Advisers — titled “Missed Opportunities” — is part of an ongoing push by the Obama Administration on a central part of the Affordable Care Act." "White House report: Medicaid expansion would create 63,000 jobs in Florida". See also "" and "White House: Rejecting Obamacare cost Florida 64,000 jobs."

John Romano: "In his heart, Scott might still despise Obamacare, but it seems he no longer wants to debate it. He dodges questions and has toned down his talking points."

The Council of Economic Advisers released a study on Wednesday that suggested Florida's refusal to expand Medicaid — a key component of the president's health care plan — is actually costing the state more than 63,000 jobs in the next three years.

Granted, this was a study produced by a White House group, and so there will be accusations of partisan mathematics.

But this report is not an outlier. The Florida Hospital Association commissioned a similar study by the University of Florida last year; it predicted that Obamacare would create about 122,000 jobs by 2023. Furthermore, these would be higher-paying job opportunities than we are accustomed to seeing in Florida.

And now the governor, whose mantra has been job creation, is faced with explaining why the state would willingly pass up tens of thousands of desirable jobs, not to mention why it would fail to provide preventive health care for poverty-level residents.

You might recall that the governor seemed to recognize the benefits of Medicaid expansion last year when he reversed his position and endorsed the acceptance of federal funds.

But the problem is, he has never followed up. . . .

Some might call that a flip-flop. I would suggest it is leadership.

Nearly a dozen Republican governors have championed the idea of Medicaid expansion. Instead of worrying about polls, instead of allowing the fringe of their party to dictate their decisions, instead of abandoning people in need, those governors eschewed partisan politics to do what was right for their residents.

Around here, Rick Scott no longer wants to talk about it. His silence is our loss.

"Gov. Rick Scott silent on jobs Obamacare would provide."

Walk off

"Florida’s first openly gay legislator is automatically reelected after his GOP opponent is disqualified - her filing fee check bounced." "David Richardson, Florida’ first openly gay legislator, reelected when GOP opponent’s filing check bounces."

"GOP Cabinet incumbents build up cash"

"Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater continued building large fundraising edges over their Democratic challengers during the first three weeks of June, campaign-finance reports show." "GOP Cabinet incumbents build up cash for re-election campaigns."

Bondi stands with "Liberty Council" crowd

"Attorneys for gay couples, the state of Florida and proponents of so-called traditional marriage squared off Wednesday in a lawsuit seeking to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage enshrined in the state constitution by voters in 2008."

Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose office intervened in the case just last week, takes the position that U.S. Supreme Court rulings – including the one last year that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act – give states sole power to define marriage. Florida defined it as between one man and one woman in the 2008 voter referendum.
"Sides square off on Florida’s gay marriage ban."

"Jeb!" struggles for relevancy

"Florida Celebrates 15 Years of A+ Plan for Education."

Crist concedes his attacks on teachers union were a mistake

"A group representing the liberal wing of the state Democratic Party has issued a report that compares Charlie Crist’s and Nan Rich’s stances on education, favorably for Rich and less so for Crist. The report, by the state party’s Progressive Caucus, notes that as a former Republican, Crist backed drastic changes in education proposed by former Gov. Jeb Bush."

Crist has since said his backing of vouchers and attacks on the public school teachers union were a mistake.
"Liberal caucus favors Nan Rich over Crist on education."

What are Jeb's views on Fluoride?

DWS jumps Jebbie because he, "like most prominent members of the Republican Party, won't accept the science of climate change. When asked if he believed that global warming was primarily man-made, Bush claimed, 'I'm a skeptic. I'm not a scientist.'" "In Massachusetts, Bush and Baker Ignore Threat of Climate Change." See also "Jeb Bush Faces Political Hazards in Backing Charlie Baker."

"Tonya Harding of Florida politics" forgives all

The Scott-McCollum "primary fight was marked by nastiness."

Among other accusations, McCollum attacked Scott’s record of heading a company that committed massive Medicare fraud and Scott sought to link McCollum to former state Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, convicted of defrauding the party.

One McCollum TV ad said Scott “pocketed $300 million … ripping off taxpayers” as CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain. The company had paid a $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud.

At one point, McCollum said Scott was spending “obscene” amounts of his own money on the campaign, accusing him of buying the governor’s office. Scott eventually spent nearly $75 million of his money on the primary and general election campaigns.

Scott, meantime, portrayed McCollum as an entrenched, self-serving politician who “spent his entire life feeding at the public trough either as a politician or as a lobbyist.”

After the Florida Department of Law enforcement began investigating another Scott health care company, Solantic, during the campaign, Scott said at a news conference “(you) abused the power of your office and abused the public trust” and called McCollum “the Tonya Harding of Florida politics.”

Scott contended in a widely criticized television ad that McCollum “backed Jim Greer’s efforts to hide financial regularities” in the state party, and asked in a newspaper ad, “What is Bill McCollum hiding?”

"Bitter primary now history, McCollum backs Scott re-election."

PC Games

"Charlie Crist’s latest left turn has drawn the critical eye of the Republican Party of Florida."

Crist’s campaign gift of a NASCAR sponsorship for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway triggered a formal complaint from the RPOF claiming the sponsorship’s market value far exceeds the $3,000 limit for in-kind contributions to a statewide candidate.

Driver Josh Wise’s No. 98 Ford will be covered with Crist for governor artwork during the nationally televised race Saturday. Wise’s car is owned by Mike Curb, a musician and record company executive and former lieutenant governor of California. (One of Crist’s friends, Mitch Bainwol, is a former Washington lobbyist for the Recording Industry Association of America.)

The complaint, filed by RPOF executive director Juston Johnson with the Florida Elections Commission, says a previous corporate sponsorship of a Josh Wise car cost $55,000. Johnson also quotes an online post by Wise in which the driver said, “We try to get 55-60K per race.”

“Nice try,” said Crist campaign spokesman Brendan Gilfillan, who said the GOP got its facts wrong. The sponsorship was an in-kind contribution to Crist’s political committee, Charlie Crist for Florida, which is not subject to the $3,000 limit.

“We appreciate them drawing more attention to the car, though,” he said.

Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign noted that the official car-by-car entry list on NASCAR’s website lists the sponsor as “Charlie Crist for governor.” The name of Crist’s political committee is Charlie Crist for Florida — but the actual lettering on the car itself says “Charlie Crist for Florida 2014.”

"GOP files elections complaint over Charlie Crist's NASCAR sponsorship."

The best they can do?

"Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera on Wednesday dashed off a missive in defense of Tampa’s last large-scale cigar factory." "Gov. Scott seeks break for Tampa’s last cigar factory."

Koch brothers stand with Rick Scott

"Gov. Rick Scott is getting help from Americans for Prosperity, which has begun phone banking and canvassing across Florida." "Koch brothers' group assists Scott campaign."

Weatherford insists on sharing his wisdom

"Even though he faces term limits in November, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, shows no signs of heading to the sidelines as he continues to support Republicans in congressional and legislative races across the Sunshine State. Only 34, Weatherford is expected to be a future candidate for higher office." "Will Weatherford Shows No Signs of Leaving Political Stage Despite Being Term-Limited."

Scott "honors" group key to his re-election bid

"As Gov. Rick Scott tours the state this week honoring military veterans, he is honoring a bloc of voters that could help in his difficult re-election fight." "Gov. Rick Scott honors veterans, a group key to his re-election bid."

Florida spends $5M to lease test questions from Utah

"When students take a new standardized exam next year, many of the questions they'll tackle will come from Utah — despite a push for a 'test specifically designed for Florida's needs.'"

Florida will spend more than $5 million to lease test questions from Utah. The deal will help the state roll out its new Florida Standards Assessment as planned next spring — a timeline officials concede would be hard to meet if they had to develop and then field test their own questions.

But the decision has prompted critics to suggest Florida is moving too quickly to replace FCAT.

Florida is leasing questions because of a "rushed, compressed time frame," said Kathleen Oropeza of Fund Education Now, an Orlando-based parent group. "It's not a thoughtful, careful transition. … It's not in the best interests of children."

Some superintendents also questioned how test items created for Utah would work in Florida, which has a demographically different school population

"Critics rap using Utah questions for FCAT replacement exam."