Today’s Herald column: Gov. Rick Scott’s plutocratic Florida (with bonus David Brooks)

The past is prologue: the robber barons

Why did Rick Scott want to be governor? Clearly, not for the public service, and unless he’s a really bad businessman, not necessarily to make a personal profit (at least not while in office.) So what does this guy want? For clues: ask the Koch brothers…

A clip from my column in the Miami Herald today:

There’s a reason no amount of robocalls and prefab letters to the editor will save Rick Scott from his dismal poll numbers: the nagging suspicion, including among a growing number of Republicans, that whatever his motivations, Mr. “777” isn’t in this for the Sunshine State.

Scott has no history of public service. He popped up on the political radar in 2009 to wage war against healthcare reform. His business mantra was: Let us make a profit, so what? This was back when he was running Columbia/HCA and dreaming of privatized Medicare. So far though, Scott has personally lost money on his $70 million gubernatorial investment.

He doesn’t seem to know much about Florida, and doesn’t appear to be all that interested. He spends more time appearing on Fox News than in media that actually reside here.

Scott’s icy demeanor and blink-free stare could lead the most sober mind to conclude he might be some sort of alien life form. Asked to defend his policies, he blankly spits out Heritage Foundation talking points — kind of like Medicare voucher Rep. Paul Ryan, without the hair.

Meanwhile, his trip to Colorado for a secretive meeting, hosted by David and Charles Koch, with other Republican governors, seemed like creepy confirmation that this guy isn’t so much the governor of Florida as he is one of several interchangeable ideologues elevated to state and federal government in part thanks to the faux grassroots “tea party movement.”

Read the whole thing.

And then, in case you’ve missed it, read David Brooks’ latest New York Times column. The salient clp:

A normal Republican Party would seize the opportunity to put a long-term limit on the growth of government. It would seize the opportunity to put the country on a sound fiscal footing. It would seize the opportunity to do these things without putting any real crimp in economic growth.

The party is not being asked to raise marginal tax rates in a way that might pervert incentives. On the contrary, Republicans are merely being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures that are themselves distortionary.

This, as I say, is the mother of all no-brainers.

But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.

The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.

The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency. A nation makes a sacred pledge to pay the money back when it borrows money. But the members of this movement talk blandly of default and are willing to stain their nation’s honor.

The members of this movement have no economic theory worthy of the name. Economists have identified many factors that contribute to economic growth, ranging from the productivity of the work force to the share of private savings that is available for private investment. Tax levels matter, but they are far from the only or even the most important factor.

But to members of this movement, tax levels are everything. Members of this tendency have taken a small piece of economic policy and turned it into a sacred fixation. They are willing to cut education and research to preserve tax expenditures. Manufacturing employment is cratering even as output rises, but members of this movement somehow believe such problems can be addressed so long as they continue to worship their idol.

Together, we’ve got a collection of extremists, masquerading as a political party. And how do you negotiate with that?

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2 Responses to Today’s Herald column: Gov. Rick Scott’s plutocratic Florida (with bonus David Brooks)

  1. Precious says:

    Scott is a malady on the state of Florida but these days malady seems to be the first name of every politician holding any kind of office.

    How does one stop the ever growing hold of malacious politicians interested in their greedy pockets rather than in bettering the lot of the people.

  2. bmull says:

    When reading David Brooks it’s wise to remember that he opposed the Bush tax cuts because they didn’t do enough to reward the producers of wealth (hint: code word). He’s a Randian, albeit a pragmatic one, which makes him more dangerous than Teabaggers who are just angry people with no coherent ideology.

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