The Florida Legislature convened yesterday, kicking off 60 days of what could be a major turning point in the state’s future. Not only will they be plotting to cut over a billion dollars from both public education and medical care for the poor and elderly, Gov. Rick Scott would like to give all of the “savings” to corporations in the form of even more tax cuts. This is based on the demonstrably false theory that cutting taxes somehow increases revenue and makes the state more prosperous. Based on that theory, we should cut taxes to nothing and the state would be rich beyond the dreams of Avarice. But we tried that twice on the national level — first with the Reagan administration and again with the George W. Bush administration — and both created massive deficits (which the Republicans immediately blamed on the next guy) and led to recessions and more hardship for the ones who could least absorb it.
Now, for some reason, my adopted state of Florida has elected a governor who is intent on making the Reagan and Bush tax advisers look like a bunch of Commies. The devastation he and the legislature plan to sow will stunt education in a state that is still struggling to come to terms with its own overcrowded classes and crumbling buildings. As for Medicaid, the proposal to turn it in to managed care ironically recalls the worst fears of the Tea Party’s claims about “death panels” and rationed services. But then, who better to propose such a plan than Gov. Scott, who knows all there really is to know about how to game the Medicare system. But for good timing and a good legal team, he would be occupying an altogether different state house for his corporate sleight-of-hand when he was running the nation’s biggest healthcare provider that got hit with the nation’s biggest fine ($1.7 billion).
The only silver lining to all of this may be that, as BooMan notes, the people of the states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida will realize what they have wrought, just in time for the 2012 elections.
It’s good for Obama’s reelection prospects, but it’s horrible for the people. Everyone is focused on Wisconsin, but I’d say that Florida is ground zero for Republican mismanagement. In 2012, I’m pretty sure that the Republican presidential candidate won’t even want to be seen with most of the GOP governors that were elected in 2010.
But that’s a long time to wait; Florida is stuck with Mr. Scott until 2014, and by then the damage could be so severe that, like the aftermath of the Bush administration, it will take a lot longer to repair than it did to cause it.
Rachel Maddow last night: