Rick Scott was elected Governor of Florida in 2010 by a razor-thin margin that many attribute to his strong support from the Tea Party movement. A large portion of that support was garnered through his highly public opposition to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. However, with the small exception of my Congressional district electing batshit crazy Tea Partier Ted Yoho in 2012, it appears that the Tea Party is on a bit of a retreat in Florida and so, with Charlie Crist now looking like a very formidable opponent for the 2014 gubernatorial race, Scott is systematically reversing his position on a number of issues away from the crazy and toward both the human and the humane.
A huge step in Scott’s attempted move back toward humanity took place early yesterday evening, as he announced his support for Florida participating in expansion of Medicaid under the ACA. He even resorted to the death of his mother to justify the move:
The governor said he gained new perspective after his mother’s death last year, calling his decision to support a key provision of the Affordable Care Act a “compassionate, common sense step forward,” and not a “white flag of surrender to government-run healthcare.”
However, the representatives of Professional Crazy were not amused by this development. From the same AP article:
“I am flabbergasted. This is a guy who, before he was a candidate for governor, started an organization to fight ‘Obamacare’ in the expansion of medical entitlements. This is a guy who said it will never happen on his watch. Well, here it is,” said Slade O’Brien, Florida director of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity.
In other words, AFP notes that Scott was just one more of their huge investments that produced very poor returns.
And McClatchy brings us the Tea Party response, thankfully translated from the original jibberish:
“This is just another example of Republicans lying to Floridians,” said Everett Wilkinson of Palm Beach Gardens, calling Scott “the Benedict Arnold to the patriot and tea party movement in Florida.”
Of course, Florida’s Grifter in Chief (who still holds the record for the largest federal fine paid by a company for Medicare fraud) wouldn’t make this move if he couldn’t further enrich his old HCA co-conspirators or other corporate fraudsters, and so he has engineered a new opportunity. From the AP article: Continue reading
The biggest national story emanating from the August 14 primaries held in several states was the upset by Tea Party political novice Ted Yoho of Cliff Stearns, a twelve term Republican incumbent. Florida Congressional districts were realigned this year and Cliff Stearns chose to move into Clay County in District 3 after he learned he would face another Republican incumbent if he remained at his long-standing Marion County address. Stearns’ move into Clay County was not smooth, as he became embroiled in a scandal in which he was accused of trying to buy off another candidate there. Despite the fact that Stearns had placed himself at the heart of Republican attacks on Barack Obama and liberal causes by staging “hearings” into Solyndra and government funding of Planned Parenthood, he clearly was not seen as conservative enough by the small band of die-hard Tea Partiers in his new district.
Yoho’s ousting of Stearns, however, especially when it is coupled with other national trends, does not mean that he will coast to a win in November. First, it should be noted that the new district is dramatically different from the one which Stearns won repeatedly. While Stearns enjoyed large Republican registration advantages during his career, the new District 3 in Florida is almost exactly 50-50 when it comes to Republicans and Democrats. Figures at the close of registration just prior to the primary (pdf) show there were 175,138 Republicans and 176,788 Democrats in the district. There were also 66,082 voters registered with no political affiliation and when all registered voters were counted, the district came to 431,601 voters.
For his surprising victory, Yoho received a total of only 22,273 votes. That was only 34.4% of the Republican votes cast. Yes, because Florida’s primaries were structured this year to not have runoffs, Yoho won even though 65.6% of Republicans who voted cast votes against him instead of for him. That also means that only 12.7% of the district’s registered Republicans (and only 5.2% of its registered voters) voted for Yoho. It seems possible from at least some of the coverage of this race to believe that the Tea Party Republicans were the most engaged during the primary. If the Tea Party was more engaged than other factions of the Republican party for the primary, then Yoho faces the twin challenges of bringing the other 65% of his party into his favor and stimulating Republican turnout in a district which is evenly split between the major parties.
Larger national trends are likely to have a huge impact on that second question of turnout. When even Dana Milbank is beginning to believe that Republicans’ outrageous positions and actions might provoke divine intervention (but Milbank completely missed that Isaac has been predicted to hit Gitmo on the way to the Republican convention in Tampa), the nation seems to be teetering on the edge of realizing just how crazed extreme Republican positions are. Especially important here is the continued candidacy of Todd Akin, who could force national attention onto the depravity of banning abortions even in the case of rape or incest. Also to be factored in is that Yoho now has the added burden of a Sarah Palin endorsement.
Yoho fits perfectly within the crazed realm of Tea Party Republican extremists. On his website he rails against socialism, endorses Ryan’s Medicare plan, promotes his anti-abortion position, advocates “Drill, Baby, Drill” even though tourism in the Panhandle has barely recovered from the BP spill and even throws his support to the Fair Tax initiative.
Democratic challenger J.R. Gaillot, while facing a very large uphill battle on name recognition after Yoho’s victory garnered national attention, seems poised to take advantage of some of these factors which could weigh down Republicans in November. His positions are far from extreme: he is pro-choice, favors strengthening Social Security and Medicare and favors reform of Wall Street. He also is a strong advocate for equal opportunities for women and the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Despite these entirely reasonable positions, Gaillot chose to define himself as a “Blue Dog/ Old School Democrat” on Twitter (Gaillot followed me this morning and re-tweeted some of my tweets from election night, and that served to remind me that I had planned to write this post last week). While that won’t endear him to me and perhaps many of my 58,619 fellow Democrats here in the more liberal Alachua County which is home to the University of Florida, it may serve him well with the rest of the more rural Democrats and voters with no party affiliation in the rest of the district.
On the surface, Gaillot also seems more suited to a Congressional position, as he is the son of a life-long diplomat and speaks several languages. That seems to have prepared him for Washington a bit better than Yoho’s previous profession that required him to wear gloves that go to the shoulder, although it wouldn’t surprise me for Yoho to follow his “pigs at the trough” ad with one where he uses those gloves to “clean up” Washington.
The elections from earlier this week may well go down in history as a watershed event in which voters finally began to understand, and then to overwhelmingly reject, the most extreme elements of Republican views that take the “pro-life” movement into a completely indefensible realm, demonize collective bargaining and promote institutional racism. Developments reported today in Florida indicate that this re-awakening may be spreading, with a survey of Republican voters indicating that they favor withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq over cuts to Social Security or Medicare when reducing the deficit and with the Tea Party scolding Governor Rick Scott over his failed campaign promises to institute ethics reforms.
Note first the remarkable result in Ohio. In a state that provided Barack Obama an election margin of only 51% to 47% over John McCain in 2008, the restrictions on collective bargaining by public employees put in place by Governor John Kasich and a Republican legislature were voted down by a margin of 61% to 39%:
With a beer in his hand and a smile on his face at the We Are Ohio celebration at the Hyatt Regency, Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern said public workers should not be the scapegoats for the state’s economic problems. “That is the lesson John Kasich must remember after tonight, and if he doesn’t, he’ll be a one-term governor.
“If you overreach, the people will respond. There is no one tonight who could suggest this was about Democrats versus Republicans,” Redfern said, noting the wide margin of defeat. “This is literally about what is right and what is wrong, and what Ohioans feel is important.”
The outcome of the so-called “Personhood Amendment” in Mississippi is no less striking. In one of the most conservative, anti-abortion states in the nation (won by McCain 56% to 43% in 2008), we learned that just as Kasich and his cronies over-reached on collective bargaining, the Pro-Life movement over-reached in Mississippi, as the measure was defeated 58% to 42%:
Objectors also raised the specter of legal challenges. Most of all, many said, the amendment allowed no exceptions for abortions in cases of incest or rape – a claim not disputed by proponents, who are trying to end abortion in the state.
In a statement from the anti-initiative group Mississippians for Healthy Families, spokeswoman Valencia Robinson said, “… (W)e were successful because Mississippi voters ultimately understood that there is no contradiction in being pro-life and standing in opposition to an initiative that threatened the health and very lives of women.”
And in Arizona, voters recalled Russell Pearce, the author of SB 1070, the “papers please” extremist anti-immigration bill. Pearce lost to a more moderate Republican by a margin of 53% to 45%: Continue reading
Last week, when analysts were contemplating a debt downgrade, they put a price tag on it: $100 billion.
A downgrade of the United States’ AAA credit rating is a bigger risk than a default and could over time add up to 0.7 percentage point to bond yields, members of a U.S. securities industry group said on Tuesday.
“That’s on the order of $100 billion over time that we will add to our funding costs,” said Terry Belton, global head of fixed income strategy at JPMorgan Chase. He was speaking on a conference call organized by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, also known as SIFMA.
Over time, he said Treasury yields could rise 60 to 70 basis points on a credit downgrade — “a huge number because we’re talking a permanent increase in borrowing costs.”
That would make it more costly for consumers and business to borrow money and could land the economy back in recession.
That’s a big number though.
A better way of thinking of it is how much every American will have to pay. That $100 billion among 310 million Americans works out to be $322 for every man, woman, and child to pay for the TeaBagger’s little temper tantrum.
To put that in perspective, that’s more than the 2008 Bush tax rebate gave to taxpayers (rebate checks started at $300/person).
So the TeaBaggers are now taking away whatever benefit we got from Bush’s last tax cut.
Has there ever been a populist movement cheering for default & austerity?
We’ve seen default situations around the world, and austerity programs imposed as a result. But popular political movements in FAVOR of it?
Wrong to describe as populist movement calling for austerity. I think it’s partially populist partially astroturf calling for chaos.
Take a look, for example, at who Yochi Dreazen claims is riding herd on the TeaParty ideology at the moment.
Addington has taken on a new role as enforcer of tea party dogma during the intensifying partisan bickering over the debt ceiling. From his perch as the Heritage Foundation’s vice president for domestic and economic policy, Addington is throwing verbal thunderbolts at House Speaker John Boehner’s current debt-ceiling proposal, which he argues will pave the way to tax increases.
The merits of Addington’s arguments about the need to oppose Boehner’s proposals are in some ways less interesting than the simple fact that Addington is the one publicly making them.
And while I’m sympathetic with those who express horror that our torture architect is now whipping the pro-default vote, I think it worth looking more closely at what Addington said to whip the vote.
This man, after all, championed two unfunded wars. In fact, as he and his boss were putting the final touches on the lies that would justify the second, illegal war, his boss overrode the Treasury Secretary’s fiscal concerns about one of several tax cuts, stating, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” And that guy–one of the guys involved in blowing up the deficit with wars and tax cuts–had this to say:
The government has racked up $14.294 trillion in debt — thought of by no-one as a little credit card debt. The spend-tax-and-borrow crowd, currently headed by President Obama, has been in charge in Washington too long. They have mortgaged the futures of our children and grandchildren. Our government is so deep in debt that the share of debt of a baby born today is $45,000.
It is time for the spend-tax-and-borrow crowd to stop. As the President indicated, conservatives want deep spending cuts. In contrast, President Obama wants more taxes, a terrible idea. First, the government already takes too much money from the pockets of Americans in taxes. Second, if Americans give the government more money in taxes, the government will just find ways to spend it, rather than using it to pay off the public debt. Third, raising taxes reduces investment, which cuts economic growth and kills jobs.
So the Heritage Foundation, which of course first invented the legislation–health care reform–that ultimately set off the TeaParty, pays the guy who said, “We’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious [FISA] court,” the guy who wielded his pocket Constitution like a sword as he did battle to shred it, to attack those who “spend-tax-and-borrow,” ignoring all the time that the folks who have been in Washington too long are those who “spend-cut-and-borrow.” Addington’s own people.
Meanwhile, the grassroots part of this? They mustered about 50 people for a rally in DC yesterday, one which many of the TeaParty members of Congress attended. And yet as a desperate John Boehner tried to wield what weapons he had to win votes (the TeaPartiers already led him to get rid of the all-important pork he might have used to persuade the TeaPartiers, and Boehner seems to have given up his former ways of distributing checks on the floor of Congress as bribes), one after another TeaPartier refused to budge, even in the absence of any remaining grassroots movement.
In other words, the TeaParty grassroots movement that used to exist is just the excuse, at this point, for those trying to finish the job they started in 2001 redefining our government.
With the chaos that default will cause, think how much easier it will be to convince voters they need a unitary executive?