June 10, 2012

The Problem with "Anyone But..." Part 1

In a discussion about the Republican Party and its tendency to bolsterits positions with whopping lies, the other party confessed that they didn't particularly care for Mitt Romney.  "But anyone but Obama will be a better choice."

This is a flawed argument, one only held by those too lazy to actually think it through.  So let's  examine the folly of voting for "Anyone But."

"Anyone But Alex Sink"

In 2010, Florida elected Republican Rick Scott to governor.  Although implicated in a Medicare fraud that resulted in the largest criminal fine in US history, and even though many of his own party  believed that he may have had a part in that fraud (no charges were filed because his underlings  wouldn't rat him out), he beat out his squeaky clean opponent, Democrat Alex Sink, a banker with a solid record of success in the private sector.

As quoted in the Miami Herald on November 3, 2010:
"I wouldn't have voted for him if I had another Republican to choose from,'' said Frank Paruas, a 38-year-old Kendall Republican. "I think Alex Sink isn't a bad person. But I just couldn't vote for anyone in the Democratic party right now.''
He didn't vote for Rick Scott, per se.  He voted for "anyone but" the other party's candidate.

Florida has paid the price since.  And I mean that literally. 

"My egregious blunders only stack this high!"

Right off the bat, he rejected the popular high-speed rail project that was going to begin with a stretch from Tampa to Orlando as the first link.  It would have been paid for with  $2.4 billion in Federal stimulus funding with matching funds from the private sector, and would have resulted in thousands of jobs, with no Florida tax dollars coming out of the state budget.  And since it was only the first stretch of a rail from Miami to Tallahassee, we'd have continued to have return on the investment for decades to come.

To add injury to insult, just a few months later, he approved a 61 mile commuter rail project at a cost of $500 million to state taxpayers.  He slashed other budgets to fund this one train line that would only serve its 61 mile  stretch.

So that's $2.9 billion before the end of his first year.  But there's so much more.

He signed off on a law imposing mandatory drug testing on welfare applicants, even though studies shows that less than two percent of applicants use drugs.  And in fact, the program produced no savings, instead adding another $45,780 to cover the cost of reimbursing the 98% of applicants who passed the test.  And in fact, similar laws had already been struck down.  And so to, was this one

At least one lawsuit is still pending, so we don't know how much this turkey will end up costing Florida.  To add insult to injury, he tried to pass a similar law for state workers, which courts quickly swatted down.

Rick Scott has also signed off on legislation that violates the Constitution of the United States.  The most recent example is the voters purge; while the idea isn't a bad one, Florida is required to submit any changes to voter eligibility to the courts, due to the state's egregious civil rights violations in the past.  They didn't.  

Scott is now squandering tax dollars to fight a battle he's already  lost.  Is the purge necessary?  Apparently not; so far, less than one percent of the voters in question have turned out to be ineligible.  Earlier in the year, a judge declared an earlier attack on voters' rights to be unconstitutional.

Scott also approved a law that penalizes any firm that does business with Cuba, a clear violation of Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution, which states unequivocally that only Congress has the right to regulate commerce with foreign nations. More tax dollars wasted to fight for a bad law he should have

That's somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 billion dollars wasted because voters chose "anyone  but" the other candidate.

But we mustn't forget his "other" accomplishments.
  • he gutted education funding by $500 million, and that's not including the millions pulled out to fund "charter" schools.
  • attempted to remove the state's prescription drug database, which was successfully showing which doctors were issuing too many prescriptions and which pharmacists were buying more pills than were being dispensed in prescriptions.  He claimed it was to "save money," but it relied on no state funding.
  • attempted to privatize prisons over the objections of his hand-picked Secretary of the Department of Corrections, who resigned in protest.  The Florida Legislature ultimately rejected Scott's plans.
  • made crippling cuts to programs that serve the severely disabled, potentially risking the lives of thousands of Floridians.
  • oversaw the creation of the nation's worst unemployment program, making it extremely difficult for the unemployed to apply for the paltry benefits available; denials for procedural reasons (forms incorrectly filled out) skyrocketed by 200%.
  • passed a new PIP auto insurance law that does little to protect drivers, and less to reduce Florida's exorbitant insurance rate.
  • is attempting to remove Citizen's Property Insurance Corporation, a state run insurance company created in the wake of Hurricane Andrew that is the only option available to thousands of homeowners.  The group can't turn anyone down, and must charge the highest rate in the market.
By the end of his first year, polls showed that voters would then elect Democrat Alex Sink by a wide margin if given an opportunity to do so.  In a more recent Republican Party poll, Scott lost out to an obscure state representative who, ironically, was selected because he was "anyone but Rick Scott."

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