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Rick Scott has taken his years-long fight to keep people from getting access to health care to monumental levels of absurdity recently in Florida, and if it weren't for the fact that people are dying every day because he and ideologues in his party are using them as political footballs, it would be funny.

It's not.

Now he's twisting his excuses to block Medicaid expansion into a pretzel of fail. Picture Scott as a snake swallowing it's tail and that's about where we are now. He's threatening to sue President Obama because funds for hospitals are at stake, thanks to all of Scott's and the GOP's political tactics just to avoid giving the working poor access to health care. Yes, the man who refused to take Florida taxpayer dollars from the feds for Medicaid expansion (which went to other states who DID expand Medicaid) is now threatening to sue the President because Florida may not get LIP funds without it. 

Yes. Chew on that for a moment.

So far the lawsuit is just a threat and nothing has been filed, but that hasn't stopped Scott from heading to his base (FOX news) to whine and complain while trying to distract people from the meltdown now occurring in his own party as they attempt to balance the budget. Some Republicans in the legislature are having second thoughts about their monumental Medicaid blunder, while others are steadfast in their effort to keep low income families in Florida from having any access to the care they need. So now the GOP may not be able to pass Scott's budget, and this mess of their own making is about to blow up in their faces.

In his attempt to distract everyone from reality, Scott said this, about the Obama administration, to FOX viewers last night:

"They don't care about the low-income families because they're willing to walk away from a program. This is the Sopranos," Scott said during an interview with Fox News on Thursday night. "They're using bullying tactics to attack our state. It's wrong. It's outrageous."

I must have missed the episode where Tony Soprano and Paulie Walnuts held a gun to the head of a rival while trying to give them money for people who couldn't afford health care.

The White House responded:

"It's difficult to explain why somebody would think that their political situation and their political interest is somehow more important than the livelihood and health of 800,000 people that they were elected to lead," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a briefing Thursday.

"Difficult to explain" is putting it mildly, which is why Scott's having so much trouble doing it. Worse, here he comes with yet another taxpayer funded lawsuit to add to all the others, including Pam Bondi's failure to block Obamacare altogther before the Supreme Court. Because Scott and the GOP "care about Florida families" and their hard earned money.

Nice try Rick, but anyone who has watched this ugly chapter in Florida "governing" history unfold is well aware of who the real bullies are. You and Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee have perfected not caring about low income families to an art form. This is a mess of your own making that's coming home to roost.

In other words, as Tony Soprano said, this is "like King Midas in reverse." Everything you touch is turning to s--t."

Cross posted at Beach Peanuts

Discuss

Rick Scott's climate change denial problem is about to get a whole lot worse, not just for Floridians, but for Rick Scott's political career:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is making it tougher for governors to deny man-made climate change. Starting next year, the agency will approve disaster preparedness funds only for states whose governors approve hazard mitigation plans that address climate change.

"If a state has a climate denier governor that doesn't want to accept a plan, that would risk mitigation work not getting done because of politics," said Becky Hammer, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council's water program. "The governor would be increasing the risk to citizens in that state" because of his climate beliefs.

The policy doesn't affect federal money for relief after a hurricane, flood or other disaster. Specifically, beginning in March 2016, states seeking preparedness money will have to assess how climate change threatens their communities. Governors will have to sign off on hazard mitigation plans. While some states, including New York, have already started incorporating climate risks in their plans, most haven’t because FEMA's old 2008 guidelines didn't require it.

Anyone who thinks Rick Scott would never do anything as crazy as stand between Floridians and FEMA money hasn't paid attention to what he did with the state's federal Medicaid money. He sent it to other states rather than push to expand Medicaid purely for political reasons. Because of that, people are dying every day who can't afford health insurance.

Rick Scott doesn't see putting millions of lives at risk as a problem when his right-wing political policies are at stake. People aren't just dying without health care in Florida. Look at the DOC prisoner and DCF child deaths on his watch. Just add potential disaster victims to the list. After all, this is the man whose Department of Environmental Protection sent a state employee for a mental health evaluation because he simply wrote the words "climate change" in his notes during a climate change meeting.

 

Scott is allegedly thinking about bringing his disastrous policies to the national stage with a potential U.S. Senate run.

There's no doubt in my mind he'll thumb his nose at these funds the same way he did with Medicaid. 

And if he does, the next hurricane or disaster in Florida may do to his political career what Hurricane Andrew did to South Florida in 1992.

Cross posted at Beach Peanuts

Discuss

Last week, news broke that Rick Scott's Administration had ordered his agencies to refrain from using the terms "global warming, climate change, and sustainability." 

Later, on an edition of "All In With Chris Hayes" on MSNBC, that same whistleblower said the term "sea level rise" was also forbidden.

Soon after, the governor who denies climate change exists because he's "not a scientist" also denied he had issued such a gag order.

Scott also claims to loathe "big government" and has made a crusade out of keeping Floridians from gaining access to health care, not to mention fighting that same battle nationwide before he decided to purchase the governor's office.

Well, a funny thing happens when all those policies collide, much like a perfect storm created in the now hostile atmosphere of climate change.

It seems that if uttered in the course of business in Scott's administration, those terms that must not be named can also get you an appointment for a mental health evaluation, something that Scott denies everyday Floridians by blocking health care from those who can't afford it.

A Florida state employee is in hot water for speaking about climate change at an official meeting and keeping notes of that discussion in official minutes, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In response, his superiors at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued him a letter of reprimand, ordered him to take two days leave and then told him not to return until he had medical clearance of his fitness for duty.

Barton Bibler is a long-time DEP employee who now serves as Land Management Plan Coordinator in its Division of State Lands. He attended a Florida Coastal Managers Forum on February 27, 2015 at which climate change and sea-level rise were discussed among a mix of public attendees. Mr. Bibler’s official notes on this meeting reflected all of that discussion. He was directed to remove any hot button issues, especially explicit references to climate change, and then was given a letter of reprimand for supposedly misrepresenting that the “official meeting agenda included climate change.”

As he was given the reprimand on March 9th, Mr. Bibler was told to not return to work for two days which would be charged against his personal leave time. Two days later he received a “Medical Release Form” requiring that his doctor supply the DEP with an evaluation of unspecified “medical condition and behavior” issues before being allowed to return to work.

PEER (Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility) is now asking the DEP Office of Inspector General to launch an investigation into Bibler's allegations.

There's also this, from PEER's press release:

“Bart Bibler has fallen through a professional looking glass in a Florida where the words ‘climate change’ may not be uttered, or even worse, written down,” stated Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips, a former DEP attorney, pointing out that Bart Bibler has no idea whether he will ever be allowed to return to work. “If anyone needs mental health screening it is Governor Rick Scott and other officials telling state workers to pretend that climate change and sea-level rise do not exist.”

Yes, millions of people in Florida, nationwide, and around the world couldn't agree more. It's those who deny reality as it swirls around their ankles, especially those who govern one of the states who will suffer the most from doing nothing about climate change, much less speaking the words, who some might say have earned a trip to a rubber room rather than those who merely take notes at a climate change meeting.

Then of course, there's another term altogether to describe those elected officials who deny climate change at the expense of others AND who take donations, trips, and profits from those very same industries who are hastening the point of no return for the environment.

Use your imagination.

Cross posted at Beach Peanuts


Discuss

Last week, news broke that Rick Scott's Administration had ordered his agencies to refrain from using the terms "global warming, climate change, and sustainability." 

Later, on an edition of "All In With Chris Hayes" on MSNBC, that same whistleblower said the term "sea level rise" was also forbidden.

Soon after, the governor who denies climate change exists because he's "not a scientist" also denied he had issued such a gag order.

Scott also claims to loathe "big government" and has made a crusade out of keeping Floridians from gaining access to health care, not to mention fighting that same battle nationwide before he decided to purchase the governor's office.

Well, a funny thing happens when all those policies collide, much like a perfect storm created in the now hostile atmosphere of climate change.

It seems that if uttered in the course of business in Scott's administration, those terms that must not be named can also get you an appointment for a mental health evaluation, something that Scott denies everyday Floridians by blocking health care from those who can't afford it.

A Florida state employee is in hot water for speaking about climate change at an official meeting and keeping notes of that discussion in official minutes, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In response, his superiors at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued him a letter of reprimand, ordered him to take two days leave and then told him not to return until he had medical clearance of his fitness for duty.

Barton Bibler is a long-time DEP employee who now serves as Land Management Plan Coordinator in its Division of State Lands. He attended a Florida Coastal Managers Forum on February 27, 2015 at which climate change and sea-level rise were discussed among a mix of public attendees. Mr. Bibler’s official notes on this meeting reflected all of that discussion. He was directed to remove any hot button issues, especially explicit references to climate change, and then was given a letter of reprimand for supposedly misrepresenting that the “official meeting agenda included climate change.”

As he was given the reprimand on March 9th, Mr. Bibler was told to not return to work for two days which would be charged against his personal leave time. Two days later he received a “Medical Release Form” requiring that his doctor supply the DEP with an evaluation of unspecified “medical condition and behavior” issues before being allowed to return to work.

PEER (Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility) is now asking the DEP Office of Inspector General to launch an investigation into Bibler's allegations.

There's also this, from PEER's press release:

“Bart Bibler has fallen through a professional looking glass in a Florida where the words ‘climate change’ may not be uttered, or even worse, written down,” stated Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips, a former DEP attorney, pointing out that Bart Bibler has no idea whether he will ever be allowed to return to work. “If anyone needs mental health screening it is Governor Rick Scott and other officials telling state workers to pretend that climate change and sea-level rise do not exist.”

Yes, millions of people in Florida, nationwide, and around the world couldn't agree more. It's those who deny reality as it swirls around their ankles, especially those who govern one of the states who will suffer the most from doing nothing about climate change, much less speaking the words, who some might say have earned a trip to a rubber room rather than those who merely take notes at a climate change meeting.

Then of course, there's another term altogether to describe those elected officials who deny climate change at the expense of others AND who take donations, trips, and profits from those very same industries who are hastening the point of no return for the environment.

Use your imagination.

Cross posted at Beach Peanuts

Discuss

People will recall President Eisenhower's farewell speech for his warning about the dangers of an emerging military-industrial complex.

It far overshadowed another powerful message in Eisenhower's January 1961 address - his appreciation for cooperation between Congress and his Administration during his eight years as President. But that point has become particularly relevant these days. 

"Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation," Eisenhower said. 

"The Congress and the Administration, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together."

It is troubling to contrast the former Republican president's view with the Republican norm today. Compared with the growth and relative well-being of the middle class in Eisenhower's day, today's trend is one of increasing income inequality between the rich and well-off and everyone else.

Eisenhower could say - as he did in his address - the nation avoided war during his tenure (despite crises in the Middle East and the belligerence of the Soviet Union). The United States remains at war today after more than 20 years of bloodshed, with some arch Conservatives in Congress seemingly eager for more.  

Today, the Republicans' quest to separate themselves from nearly everything President Obama supports stands in contrast to what the Eisenhower Administration and Congress achieved to lead the country through an era of prosperity. But rather than Eisenhower, Republicans worship former President Reagan, whose rope-a-dope military budgets successfully dared the Soviet Union to keep pace and led to its demise, but whose trickle down/supply side economics has failed the majority of Americans today.

Yet wealthy business interests and the elected extremists they bankroll can rely on a voting bloc that amazingly supports candidates and policies that adversely affect their own self-interests.

One example involves a disconnect between health care politics and one's odds of facing serious medical problems. The American Cancer Society predicts the lifetime risk of developing cancer for men is slightly less than one in two and for women a little more than one in three.  It predicts 1,658,370 new cancer cases and 589,430 cancer-related deaths in 2015 in the United States. Think back and into the future for several years and millions of people have been, or will be at risk. And that just involves cancer.

Do opponents of the Affordable Care Act or creation of a more inclusive, more equitable national health insurance system, get it?  Instead, they vote to maintain moneyed health industry interests, while some embrace an ideology of excessive individualism, such as those at a 2011 Republican Presidential campaign debate in Tampa who shouted out support to let people die in lieu of enacting a better national health insurance program

Until the majority of Americans make political decisions in their own self-interest, let alone combine self-interest and a long-term vision for the nation's well-being, the solution to issues involving the middle class and the poor can be captured in two words: Keep worrying. 

But some leaders have not given up on the notion that if a majority of people would turn out and vote, that could advance the interests of the many over the few.

President Obama focused on the impact of the lack of voter turnout, which reached a 72-year-low in 2014 mid-term elections at 36.4 percent of eligible voters casting midterm election ballots in his recent South Florida Town Hall meeting on immigration

"In the last election, a little over one-third of eligible voters voted. One-third! Two-thirds of the people who have the right to vote ... stayed home. I'm willing to bet that there are young people who have family members who are at risk of the existing immigration system who still didn't vote.

"Why are you not participating? There are war-torn countries, people full of poverty, who still voted 60, 70 percent. If here in the United States of America, we voted at 60 percent, 70 percent, it would transform our politics. Our Congress would be completely different. We would have already passed comprehensive immigration reform."

Progressive activists in a number of states have begun efforts to register more voters, against the tide of politically created obstacles to vote. One noteworthy effort, the "90 For 90 Voter Registration Project" in Virginia, has a goal to register at least 90 new voters in each of Virginia's 2,550 precincts.

It draws inspiration and the numbers 90 from Dr. William Ferguson Reid, a Virginia physician who turns 90 years old on March 18 (Wednesday). Wills Dahl, the author of a Baltimore Post-Examiner profile last month on Reid, characterized Fergie as a civil rights icon, appropriate for a man whose 1967 election as the first African American winning a seat in Virginia's General Assembly in the 20th century is but one of myriad achievements. 

"So much money is involved in politics today, our only salvation is to get people to realize this is a war and our only weapon is to vote," Reid said in an interview Saturday with Beach Peanuts. "The Koch brothers are spending more than $800 million to influence the next election, but they have only two votes, the same two as you and your husband have. It is the only way to fight back."

Reid said the 90 For 90 movement began when he was asked what he'd like for his 90th birthday. It's gained momentum from his friends and a number of candidates vying in Virginia's off-year elections, with June 9th primaries. Adding nearly a quarter-million voters would seem to be a daunting goal with such short deadlines, but that's where Reid's experience, intellect and energy pay off.

"I have an advantage because I have been involved in politics since 1955 (creating a Virginia group called the Crusade For Voters), so I can see things from a long perspective" Reid said.

"It's not just about the next election. We can't do it overnight. Each election should be a dress rehearsal for the next one."

 

Cross posted at Beach Peanuts 

Discuss

The Florida House GOP just took a brief break from using Florida school students as political footballs to focus on the teachers and pass a bill that would allow them to carry guns:

The proposal (HB 19) would let schools superintendents designate employees or volunteers to carry concealed weapons on school property.

Any designated individuals would have to have served in the military or law enforcement, and undergo special training from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

They would also need to hold concealed weapons permits.

In Florida, all that's required to obtain a concealed weapons permit is being 21 or older and having the ability to "demonstrate competency with a firearm," whatever that means.

What qualifies as special training from the FDLE isn't specified, but under Rick Scott's Administration, towing the line for his policies would probably do the trick, wink, wink.

Regardless, all the training in the world doesn't eliminate the possibilities for innocents being hurt or killed in the crossfire of "friendly fire" when schools turn into the wild west.

Molding students into testing machines for school profiteers in a militarized school zone ordered by the NRA takes priority over getting a well rounded education in Florida.

Dodging bullets while meeting strict test requirements: No pressure kids!

Cross posted at Beach Peanuts

Discuss

When Rick Scott speaks in public, no one expects coherence.

No one expects facts. 

Those expectations certainly weren't dashed in Scott's State of the State speech for this year.

Scott kicked off his beatitudes this time around by making a joke about the former, his "world renowned oratorical skills" as he referred to them.

Hilarious. We can now add attempts at humor to his list of monumental failures.

Of course, Scott can joke all he wants. The fact remains that his "jokes" are at Floridians' expense, and they're far from amusing. In the past, his awkward public speaking skills may have helped to put a human mask on his ulterior motives, a distraction from the ugliness of his policies and what they actually do to those Florida families he claims to care about so much. Unfortunately, the mask doesn't do the trick anymore.

After four years of devastating policy results, Scott isn't fooling anyone. Sadly, it no longer matters much, because voters, for some reason many of us still can't figure out, just handed him another four years to keep it up. Since he doesn't need to run again, he can well afford to thumb his nose at each and every one of those voters while he creates a rosy, fictional public fairy tale to cover up the true story of Rick's Wonderland. Because the real story isn't for the faint of heart. It's no bedtime story. For those feeling the impact of the tale, it's the nightmare that never dies.

It's not Wally World, folks, but the wonders of Rick's theme park are closed to Florida's everyday citizens who can't afford a ticket. That Florida Welcome sign says it all. Florida is open for business, at our expense.

In his speech, Scott even gave a name to his latest tall tale:

Florida Exceptionalism: The place where dreams come true.

"We want more people to chase their dreams in Florida."

"Chase" being the operative word here, because it's a chase all right. If average Floridians living under Scott rule the last four years were dogs, they'd be chasing their tails. Florida families chasing those dreams are going nowhere, and many have stopped chasing altogether. 

For all his talk of Floridians chasing their dreams, what did he propose to help them reach their goals this year? This:

"I have recommended cutting the tax on cell phones and TVs for every Florida family so they can save around $43 a year for spending as little as $100 a month on cell phone and TV bills combined."

Holy coupons Batman! Now, you add that "around $43" this year to the $25 some people saved on auto tags from Scott's dog bone last year and the possibilities are endless! Maybe someone should pop that Scott bubble with a pin to inform him that a lot of hard working Floridians can't afford to feed their families while working two jobs, so $100 a month for a cellphone isn't even on their dream radar. Never mind that the unemployed are even worse off since those jobs Scott promised largely never materialized, and they can't afford gas to job hunt because the unemployment benefits they're entitled to are locked up in the cyber-hell that is Scott's newfangled unemployment website. (Incidentally, the man responsible for that botched website is making six figures, so you can sleep at night knowing that he can afford a cellphone even without the "around $43 savings." Rick Scott says you're welcome.)

It goes without saying that permanently ending tax on manufacturing equipment is about as useful to working families as that imaginary cellphone, and a proposed college degree on the cheap is still well out of reach when you take out everyday expenses. Poverty in Florida has skyrocketed under Scott, so things like a college education are a pipe dream for many at best.

Scott also waxed poetic about more "historic" K-12 funding, because everything he proposes funding is historic, or so he tells us.

No.

Try histrionics though and you'll hit the mark. We've seen this education funding shell game before and it's getting really old. What Scott taketh away the first year, he giveth back a fraction of the next, and so on, and so on...

"Just like any business, we should expect education to become more affordable each year, not more expensive."

This is one of my favorite parts in his speech, because he really slipped up here. He always promised to "run Florida like a business" which common sense has shown to be a really bad idea. But he's run it more like his business. He acts as if he owns the company (blind trust) and is also the CEO. This may be the first time he's exposed himself for believing that to be true. We, the citizens are merely employees, and every once in a while he gives us the new version of a Christmas bonus: A scant savings on an auto tag or a cellphone. Don't spend it all in one place, kids!

Then of course there's his environmental fairy tale. This one has been told so many times before that people stopped listening long ago. In fact, it's almost amazing that he keeps telling it. The only wind in his sails this year is Amendment 1 which more people voted for than voted for him. But voters dreams are likely to be dashed there too, because no one really believes Scott and the GOP legislature will follow through on that any more than they did with the fair district amendment voters wanted. If they cared about what voters wanted they would have left the voting amendments alone in the first place.

Now granted, we can't light our tap water on fire yet, but Rick's working on it. Who could forget the "oops, we accidentally, illegally fracked" incident? How about Scott's oil and gas investments (the ones we know about)? How about sneaking around on the ranch with Big Sugar? Then of course, the big one, what nearly amounts to extortion via our Duke Energy bills. We're paying for pretend power plants that will never break ground. One thing Scott did that actually was historic was being one of the first in the country since the 1970's to propose multiple new state nuke plants while solar energy lags in the Sunshine State. Why use a free resource for power when you can use taxpayer dollars to fund the next potential Fukushima times four, am I right? As Scott was proposing those new nuke plants, reports of sea rise in South Florida were making headlines everywhere, but remember, Rick's not a scientist so scientific facts don't exist for him.

No sir. If you believe that Rick-I'm-Not-A-Scientist-Scott is a green governor, he's got some St. Johns river water blessed by the magic wand of (Tinker Bell) the Koch family via Georgia-Pacific he'd like you to take a sip of. That sound you hear isn't fairy dust, mind you. It's the ka-ching of Koch campaign cash. Let's Keep Working!

A few other things dreams are made of in the Sunshine State now that didn't make the cut in Scott's speech this year:

Prison deaths under his Department of Corrections, child deaths under his Department of Children and Families, Medicaid expansion that he never pushed for, missing public records, missing emails, missing and hidden financial disclosures, his politicization of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Baileygate scandal, and so many, many more I don't have the time to mention because this post is long enough already.

Suffice it to say, he can make all the claims he wants (and make them awkwardly) but it won't change the fact that he's killing the dreams of people in our state every day, and he's got four more years to finish the job, and to finish the state off before he heads into the sunset a much richer man than he was when he first bought the office back in 2010, yet we'll still be here living the nightmare left in his wake.

"Florida has long been a place where dreams come true."

Rick Scott's Florida Exceptionalism: The place where those dreams go to die. 

 

Cross posted at Beach Peanuts
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Conservatives love to paint the Affordable Care Act subsidies as "free stuff," and if you're unlucky enough to get into a conversation with them over it, they're happy to dismiss you by laughably telling you they're paying for your health insurance! Obamacare moocher, you!

Unfortunately, conservative politicians and some of their "assistants" in the media are happy to misinform the general public as to exactly how the ACA works (some even have no idea themselves, but that doesn't keep them from spreading the ignorance far and wide.) 

The truth of the matter is, if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to destroy ACA subsidies, the impacts won't be limited to those who will lose their subsidies. Such a ruling against the ACA would snowball in several directions like raising premiums for everyone, and increased costs to cover emergency rooms which are the only alternative for many without insurance. 


In Florida, where Rick Scott and the Republican legislature have refused to set up a state exchange and Medicaid expansion, the impacts will be devastating if the ACA virtually goes away.

Despite some lawmakers who voiced concerns as the legislative session opened this week, there are still no plans to expand Medicaid this year, leaving those falling into the "Scott gap" without affordable health insurance to fend for themselves. 

It should also come as no surprise that Rick Scott's State of the State speech this week made no mention of Medicaid or health care at all. In fact, he recently told a conservative group that if the Supreme Court destroys ACA this summer, adding millions more Floridians to the list of the uninsured simply because he and the GOP refused to expand Medicaid and set up a state exchange, that's not his problem.

As disingenuous and cruel as that statement is, it isn't his problem. But he did his part to cause the problem. After all, he built his career on fighting against affordable and fair health care, and he's made a nice profit at the same time. When his former company tossed him out after they received the largest fine in history for Medicare fraud, he walked away with a golden parachute. Then he went on to purchase a seat in the Governor's mansion, where he's proceeded to keep even the poorest individuals he's supposed to work for from gaining access to any kind of health care, with an assist from the GOP. Is he making a profit from that too at Floridians' expense? We have no way of knowing, since his investments are walled off from public view in a blind trust.

So if millions more who lose insurance under a SCOTUS ruling against the ACA join those already uninsured in the Florida Medicaid gap, it will be a huge costly problem for the rest of us, from literally dying without health insurance to skyrocketing costs for the insured, just to name a few. And yes, misinformed conservative apologists will lose right along with the rest of us. They just won't find out until it's too late.

Meanwhile, Rick Scott and the Republicans really couldn't care less.

Cross posted at Beach Peanuts

Discuss

Before the November election last year I wrote that the first four years of Rick Scott's arrogance and incompetence would pale in comparison to another four years under a two-term governor with nothing to lose when there's no longer an election to worry about.

Well, the wait to see that come to fruition is over. 

Coming on the heels of his arrogant politicization of the FDLE and his blatant ignorance of Sunshine Laws (again), now comes another chapter in the Republican Medicaid expansion fight, coupled with the upcoming actions of the U.S. Supreme Court that could very well take affordable health insurance away from over a million previously uninsured Floridians who signed up under the Affordable Care Act. Those newly insured clearly love the benefits of having health insurance (yes, Republicans among them) and no longer face the worry that they're just one step away from bankruptcy should they get sick.

That could all end very soon if conservatives on the Supreme Court end ACA subsidies and return Americans to the days when their health, life, and death were at the mercy of corporate insurers. "Obamacare" is more than a talking point and a scare tactic, and the previously uninsured like making decisions about their own health care without losing everything they have due to an illness without it. Some Republican politicians are beginning to realize that, but many more still don't, or they do but just don't care.

Put Rick Scott into the latter category.

In case there's anyone left who thinks Scott cares if even more Floridians die without health insurance, this quote from Scott in the New York Times should clear that right up for you. When asked what would happen if those insured under the ACA in states who didn't create a state exchange, like Florida, lost their subsidies because Florida refused to set up such an exchange, Scott simply dismissed those Floridians as if they were excess baggage:

This week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case, King v. Burwell, that challenges the legality of the subsidies in more than 30 states, including Florida. The case, developed by conservative legal scholars, argues that only people using state-run marketplaces are entitled to subsidies.


If the court agrees — a decision is expected in June — subsidies will disappear in states that do not have their own online marketplaces, almost all of which have Republican-led governments that oppose the law and have resisted creating state exchanges. No state would be more affected than Florida, where more than 1.6 million people have insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, the most in the nation, and almost all of them receive subsidies.


Yet there is little talk of a Plan B here, such as creating a state-run exchange where subsidies would still be available, if the Supreme Court strikes down the subsidy program. Asked about the case last month at the American Action Forum, a conservative advocacy group, Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, said, “This is not my program.” He added, “It’s a federal problem.”

Not his problem.

Never mind that, had Rick Scott lifted a finger to make sure those in Florida had an exchange to make access to the ACA easier, there wouldn't be this "federal problem."

Never mind that Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured in the country, a number that has significantly decreased thanks to "Obamacare." 

Never mind that a SCOTUS ruling against ACA subsidies would add millions more to the uninsured fallout facing those who fall into the Medicaid gap that Scott so carefully dug for them.

Millions more Floridians could once again face the very real possibility that they could die, or lose everything without access to affordable health care, millions who find that Rick Scott's policies have made such everyday basics a much more distant goal to reach. Scott's turned Florida into a state where merely getting by with the basics of everyday life are available only to wealthy individuals.

Scott fought with the health insurance industry against everyday Americans before he became governor. Then he sat back and refused to set up state exchanges under ACA and turned away federal money to expand Medicaid much like he did when he sent Florida taxpayer dollars elsewhere for a high-speed rail project that was in the works for years. When it became clear that turning away all that Medicaid money could be politically damaging to Scott, he once briefly made a statement that he wouldn't stand in the way of Medicaid expansion, and then sat back and watched as Republicans in the legislature made sure it never  happened. While much of the conservative media in Florida would have you believe that Scott still favored Medicaid after that one mention, there's been zero evidence to back that up. Clearly, Scott's dismissal of the rest of those in Florida who may lose their insurance along with those who fell into his Medicaid gap who could never get it in the first place ends this notion that he cares.

He doesn't, and he couldn't get much more arrogant about making sure Floridians know it. It's "not his" problem.

How is it that the governor who claims his goal is to make Florida the best place for families to live and work, thinks not having access to something as basic as health care and insurance isn't his problem? A problem that he helped create in the first place?

You can't get much colder, more arrogant than that.

Rick Scott's outdone himself this time.

Cross posted at Beach Peanuts

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Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 05:48 PM PDT

Rick Scott Hits The Fan

by Inkberries

The second debate between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist just ended, and the most that anyone will remember is the empty podium beside Crist, after Rick Scott said he refused to participate in the debate because Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium. Scott claimed it violated the rules.

Yes, Rick Scott went diva with a stunt, and it backfired. 

Scott hit the fan.

It may have been the latest tactic for Rick Scott to avoid questions we've witnessed. The stunt ate up six minutes of debate time, and Crist handled it perfectly, saying he couldn't believe we were debating a fan when there are serious issues to be discussed that Floridians are facing.

That pretty much sums up what a lot Floridians think of Rick Scott. His promises are as empty as his podium was for those six minutes. As the debate ended, Scott even tried to turn it around in a bizarre fumble of an excuse and said Charlie was the one who refused to show up. It was stunning even for the incredibly inept Scott.

As far as the rest of the debate went, Rick Scott might as well have skipped the entire thing. He fumbled, he mumbled, he dodged questions as always, and many of his non-answers were incoherent. At times it was hard to recall what the question was in the first place. Every answer turned into "jobs" or "Charlie's fault."

In short, Rick Scott's got nothing, and tonight it showed more than usual.

Cross posted at Beach Peanuts

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As this year's legislative session draws to a close, the second in a row that ignores Medicaid expansion, lawmakers are patting themselves on the backs while they celebrate a $1.2 billion budget surplus. You know what that means. It's like Christmas in April for money-grubbing lawmakers and their hometown pet projects. 

Here's some highlights on those wish lists:


"Think about it: What's the average size of member projects, $200,000?" said Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach. "Divide that into a billion. That's a whole lot of projects … a lot of lawmakers are going to be happy."

Some projects are relatively small: A $350,000 fountain in the state's richest town, Palm Beach, and $123,000 for a dog park in an affluent Jacksonville neighborhood. Others are big: $12 million for House Speaker Will Weatherford's alma mater, the private Jacksonville University, and $3 million for an industrial park in Walton County.

...The surplus $1.2-billion is being spent in a way that offers the public few clues as to where it is going and why.

On Tuesday night, negotiators printed and distributed the budget to lawmakers, who are constitutionally required to pass it by 11:59 p.m. Friday. Hours before publication, a flurry of projects were being inserted, including $2 million for Lauren's Kids, a charity run by the daughter of powerful lobbyist Ron Book. The night before, negotiators announced millions in projects that previously hadn't been in either the House or Senate budgets.

Former state Sen. Steve Geller, a Democrat from Broward County, said legislative leaders use the budget to win votes for their highest priorities.

...Environmentalists groused that Senate Appropriations chair Joe Negron, R-Stuart, steered $82 million to his top priorities, Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee, at the expense of statewide needs.

As they ignore what Floridians actually want and need, these legislators boast at the end of the session and strut around like heroes, patting themselves on the back for a job well done while they unveil portraits of themselves as if they're kings.

Note this one in particular, who thinks quite highly of himself and never misses a chance to point out what a great guy he is to everyone else:

Member projects may not require a lot of public explanation, but they do offer winning legislators bragging rights.

At a dinner last week for the conservative James Madison Institute, Weatherford and Gaetz made an announcement.

"We've been working together to create an endowed chair of free enterprise and entrepreneurship,'' Weatherford told the applauding crowd. "We're happy to do that together in honor of a great man.''

That would be Charlie Hilton, the mentor of Weatherford's father-in-law, former House Speaker Allan Bense. At the time of the announcement, neither chamber had the item budgeted. Only later did the $600,000 for the endowed chair at Florida State University appear.

That's Republican Will Weatherford, the House Speaker, and the man standing in the way of expanding Medicaid for Floridians who are dying without it every day.

The man whose own family got help from Medicaid when he was a child and his brother was very sick.

The man who says "we can't afford" to accept federal funds already paid by taxpayers at no additional cost to expand Medicaid, but who somehow at the last minute was able to dig up $600,000 of your money to suck up to his father in-law.

The same man who rushed to grab his share of the surplus to secure $15 million.

The cost to Floridians, besides death, if Weatherford hadn't personally blocked Medicaid?

$0.

Because what could be more important, saving lives at no cost, or fountains and dog parks with hefty price tags, $15 million for Weatherford and a $600,000 high-five to the guy who made it possible for him to gain power and get to where he is today, a very rich man with several incomes (for what, we don't know) who sticks it to the poor, and rubs salt into their wounds while he cashes in their chips?

I would say you can't stoop much lower than that, but Weatherford still has a day to go.

Cross posted at Beach Peanuts

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Despite the fact that there have been no security breaches on the Affordable Care Act's website, that hasn't stopped Republicans from trying to scare the public away from enrolling by claiming there have been, or that there will be in the future. It's just another scheme they've come up with since they haven't been able to kill Obamacare outright as they planned.

Now a member of Congress from Florida is introducing a bill "to address Obamacare's security risks" that he claims "could" happen, citing FOX news and ALEC, Koch associated think tanks that are pushing that idea to right-wing websites and blogs. 

Citing a "report" from FOX news, Florida GOP Rep. Gus Bilirakis is introducing the One Hour Notification Act that would require notifications in the event of those imaginary security breaches of the future on the ACA website. This "report" is really just an article authored by a "reporter" with the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity and also featured on a Franklin affiliated website, and is making its way to various right-wing blogs as these typical fear mongering round robins frequently do. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity is a Koch funded "watchdog" that, according to the Center For Media And Democracy "has rushed to fill the gap" "due in part to slipping ad revenue and corporate media conglomeration."  

Bilirakis has penned his own fear mongering, so-called "op-ed" for the website Red Alert Politics, which caters to young conservatives who just might need health insurance, in which he makes loosely based claims of potential security breaches and identity theft, the same ones others in his party have used to scare people.

He isn't nearly as fluent with these claims when writing about the bill's introduction on his official House website. That's probably because he knows there have been no such security breaches. He would know, as he's a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which was informed in December of last year that “No person or group has hacked into healthcare.gov, and no person or group has maliciously accessed any personally identifiable information from users.”

Yes, the potential for security breaches is serious and something to guard against, but these people aren't really interested in security breaches. They're merely using the idea of them as a scare tactic to discourage people from enrolling in Obamacare. The ACA website has been tested and there have been no breaches.

None.

Bilirakis, as I said, is a member of the Committee that by his own definition "has consistently focused on sensible consumer protections for the 21st century." If security breaches are such a serious concern of his, then why haven't he and his Republican colleagues led the charge to protect consumers where actual security breaches have occurred, like the recent one during the height of the holiday shopping season at Target stores? That was just one of many recent security breaches involving credit cards. Have Rep. Bilirakis or any of his fellow Republicans called for investigations or bills to deal with all those very real breaches? Have they gone after those corporations or any of the big banks affiliated with them? Are they demanding that the banks and stores step up your credit card security?

Of course not. But they are using the recent breach at Target in another way: Citing the Target breach only as yet another reason to scare potential consumers away from Obamacare

[Eric] Cantor cited the recent data breach at Target in which hackers gained access to the financial information of millions of customers, and he pointed to a study by the credit report bureau Experian warning that the healthcare industry would be the most susceptible to data breaches in 2014.

If you were a victim of the Target breach, or any other of the numerous credit card security incidents in the past, don't look at Cantor or Bilirakis to protect you from any more of those. That would mean going after the big donors and banks who the GOP essentially works for.

As Bilirakis has shown time and time again, he's not interested in helping his constituents. He's just interested in using messaging and photo ops that make it look like he is.

Right now his biggest concern is preventing people from getting Obamacare with tactics made to look as if he's looking out for his constituents' best interests.

Cross posted at Beach Peanuts
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