Yesterday, in another show of his consistently "bold leadership," Rick Scott hid behind closed doors as he whipped out his veto pen and proceeded to, as some suggested, take his revenge against those in his own party who dared to even hint at trying to find some way of helping Florida's working poor gain access to affordable health care. Those who walked in lockstep with the governor to block Medicaid expansion were rewarded with their pet choices in the 2015 budget, and those who showed signs of being human got similar treatment that we Floridians get from all of them:
Oh, the outrage that flowed from the members of the GOP who fell on the wrong side of the revenge governor! Why, it was shock and awe the likes of which we have never seen! After all, it's one thing to defy the voter's wishes on Medicaid, and Amendments passed for things like fair voting districts and preserving the environment as Republicans routinely do, but it is another thing entirely to take away a Republican lawmaker's pork in addition to any actual beef in said budget.
It should come as no surprise that there was little outrage over what the actual cuts will do to those Floridians who suffer because of them. No, the fury and anger was more about Scott daring to treat those lawmakers with the similar disregard he and they show voters in Florida every year.
From Senate President Andy Gardiner, who tried but failed to put together some sort of Medicaid solution that would please the governor (though there was none, of course) saw his wishes die with a stroke of the governor's veto pen. Gardiner reacted this way:
“While I respect the governor’s authority to veto various lines within our budget, his clear disregard for the public policy merits of many legislative initiatives underscores that today’s veto list is more about politics than sound fiscal policy,” Gardiner said.
“It is unfortunate that the messaging strategy needed to achieve the governor’s political agenda comes at the expense of the most vulnerable people in our state.”
Granted, Gardiner, a health care executive, mind you, did try to put a Medicaid plan together, but aside from that, you could make that same statement about him and his fellow lawmakers just about any day of the week on any given issue. After all, he and his fellow lawmakers are the same ones who quit the session early and went home without passing a budget over the mere talk of providing their constituents with health care, many calling the working poor slackers looking for a handout while working two or more jobs and still not able to afford insurance.
But the real hypocrisy came from one of Rick Scott's biggest cheerleaders. State Sen. Jack Latvala took to his fainting couch as he Tweeted "13 sessions in the Florida Senate. I've never seen anything like this." Yes, in all the years Tallahassee has been under the control of Republicans, they've had each other's backs in screwing over their constituents. But to have a sitting governor screw over voters AND his own party at the same time? This. Will. Not. Stand.
The governor who exercised a hostile takeover of the state of Florida with the millions he gained at the helm of a company known for the largest Medicare fraud fine in history and proceeded to declare war on the citizens living here, has finally crossed the line at Latvala's bridge too far.
Were Latvala not the same man who, until recently, couldn't sing Rick Scott's praises enough and helped get him elected not once, but twice, (why, it seems like just yesterday, when in 2013, and 2014, Latvala worked to help Scott block the vote) one could ask him "excuse me Senator, but have you met Rick Scott?"
As said shock wore off, Latvala said "the governor has declared war on the Legislature."
He predicted Scott will face continued deterioration of relations with the Republican-controlled body.
"There’s stuff in there that he has approved in the past,'' said Latvala, R-Clearwater, chairman of the Senate budget committe on transporation and economic development.
No kidding? This is the governor who claims "record" funding for things like education as he cuts them. He's also the same guy who pretended to flip-flop twice on Medicaid expansion. He's the guy who claims to be an expert on bringing jobs to Florida and then adjusts the numbers to make it look like he did so. And yes, he's the same guy who called this his "Keep Florida Working" budget yesterday as he cut another 1,100 jobs.
So pardon us Senator, if we don't buy your feigned surprise and outrage. This is business as usual. It's just that this time you fell victim to the shameless political power revenge game that Scott loves to play.
As for the blame game, and perhaps still hoping for future crumbs from Scott, Latvala sought to place some of the blame on Scott's staff, the brain surgeons who made Bobby Jindal's (R-Let's-Don't-Be-The-Stupid-Party-Oh-Wait-That's-Me) destruction of Louisiana possible:
"The governor is not being well served by these kids from Louisiana,'' Latvala told the Herald/Times. "I don't recall a governor's office as unresponsive as that one is. They’ve got him totally isolated. You can’t have a meeting without Melissa sitting there. She totally controls the agenda but what are her credentials to do that? She won a campaign."
Latvala criticized the governor for delegating to staff who have little understanding of the budget, the legislative process and make little effort to understand the details.
"The advice is dead wrong,'' he said. "There are so many inconsistencies in the ways those things are applied. They don’t even know what he asked for before."
Let's back up. First of all, these "kids from Louisiana" didn't just fall off a turnip truck yesterday. That turnip truck rolled into Tallahassee a couple years ago. And though Rick Scott is perfectly capable of making bad decisions all by himself without help from anyone else, Sellers is hardly the only one without credentials in budgets and governing. Scott had neither, yet that didn't stop Latvala and his party from jumping on the Titanic in 2010 and riding it out in hopes of finding another four year's worth of icebergs during his reelection. No sir, Latvala didn't seem to notice the dangers until he himself became ice under the bow.
And Latvala is well aware of not just Sellers', but Scott's own inexperience. In a statement he made last year that echoed his above skepticism of knowledge for the job, he said this of Scott:
"People want to elect outsiders to government jobs, but they need to understand if you do that, there needs to be some on-the-job training. I think he's gotten that, and I think every day he's a better governor."
Oh, what difference a year makes, huh?
I suppose you could understand the anger coming from Latvala, the guy who wrote the law that made it possible for Rick Scott to become the first governor in history with a blind trust. (Perhaps now Latvala could do us all a favor and change that? Riight.) But Latvala has now hinted at revenge from the scorned GOP lawmakers like himself:
He predicted Scott "is going to have problems with the Legislature now, worse than he’s had in the past, and these people will go off and take jobs in presidential campaigns and he’ll be left holding the bag."
Yes, to Latvala and the rest, it's just about politics. Who really cares who gets hurt by the damage that Scott, Latvala, and all the GOP do every single year as they ignore voters and legislate in favor of the biggest donors? Those "problems with the legislature" will really just amount to more political football where voters lives are used as props. To them it's just a game where lives, the state, and people who live in it are expendable.
Take a look at Scott's veto list and see for yourself here.