Never one to miss a chance to politicize a possible crisis, today Rick Scott used a briefing on Tropical Storm Andrea as yet another chance to blame something on President Obama, while asking for help from "big government" which he rails against until he needs it.
As I wrote back in April, and May, the sequester that Republicans voted for resulted in forced furloughs that could hamper forecasting and monitoring of hurricanes during this year's hurricane season, which is predicted to be above average.
During Scott's briefing today, he expressed similar concerns regarding hurricane related sequester cuts, but placed the blame on President Obama, ignoring the fact that Republicans were responsible for them. However, when he got to specifics, he didn't mention a thing about cuts to the National Hurricane Center, nor the National Weather Service.
This is the formal statement he released:
Today, Governor Rick Scott expressed concerns that sequestration cuts to the National Guard could slow down the response time of first responders during a storm.
Yesterday, Governor Rick Scott called on US Senators Rubio and Nelson to help restore funding cut from the National Guard as a result of the federal budget sequestration, and remove this imminent threat to Florida’s emergency response functions during hurricane season.
To be sure, the National Guard response is important, and those furloughs will begin in July, subject to local bargaining requirements. But why is his concern limited to these furloughs specifically?
Well, could this be the reason?
On Tuesday afternoon the House passed a measure directing House appropriators, in the absence of a budget agreement with the Senate, to adopt spending levels in the Republican budget. That blueprint calls for enormous cuts to spending on everything from science research to education to health care, in order to rescue the Defense Department and other politically favored agencies from the ravages of sequestration.
Given that members of the Republican Party march in lockstep when handing out blame, talking points, and outrage from one manufactured scandal to the next, it's not a stretch to assume that the powers that be thought an approaching tropical storm would be the perfect time to not only try and place blame elsewhere for consequences of damaging sequester cuts, but as a chance to give Republicans in Congress a hand at pushing to restore defense funding in order to use it as another bargaining chip in negotiations over their next manufactured budget crisis.
After all, in order to restore defense funding, Congressional Republicans want to slash the part of the budget the funds our kids’ education and our investments and treatments and cures for cancer and other diseases. Rick Scott has always been happy to cut social programs, education, and cut things that hurt the homeless, elderly, children, teachers, the unemployed, and yes, even veterans, and choosing instead to give away tax cuts and other sweet deals to corporate cronies. Everyone wants a strong defense, but we have a huge defense budget, and let's don't kid ourselves, there are lots of hefty private contractors in Republican districts who benefit from those funds.
It wouldn't be a surprise if Scott was told to do his part in the larger scheme of things to help House Republicans push for more selective sequestration kabuki, while using a Tropical Storm, and Floridians as a way to sink more and more money into defense projects. Add that to another chance to place false blame on the President rather than on the GOP where it was due, and I'm sure Scott was more than happy to oblige. Again, the National Guard furloughs and the others wouldn't be happening at all if it weren't for the Republicans who used them as a bargaining chip in the first place. Now they're using them again.
I don't know if that's his motivation or not. But once again, it would be nice if Gov. Scott was concerned about all those who face cuts, and all Floridians and their safety, not just a select few. One of the good things about Florida during hurricanes in the past, regardless of who was in the Governor's office, politics were pretty much ignored and everyone pulled together.
But Florida is changing under Rick Scott. It will be a shame if Floridians have to give up even this to that Republican agenda.