Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


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The Blog for Monday, December 27, 2010

Teabaggers want us to "pay more for less"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Health care reform is about to deliver to consumers one of its most valuable benefits so far."
    A provision that takes effect in January prevents health insurers from directing big chunks of premium dollars to excessive executive pay packages or bloated overhead and requires that more money go to medical care and health care quality improvement. Yet Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty is contemplating asking for a three-year waiver to give insurers extra time to adjust to the new rules, which means Floridians would continue paying more for less. That would be a mistake that would undermine reform.

    Too many consumers who purchase health coverage on the individual insurance market have been paying for expenses that have nothing to do with health — such as high corporate salaries, lavish bonuses, huge profits and blitz marketing campaigns.
    "Don't deny Floridians benefits of health reform".

    "Florida's coughing, wheezing job market"

    "It seems like just the thing Florida's coughing, wheezing job market needs: With corporate profits rebounding nicely in the past year, the nation's biggest companies are sitting on almost $1.7 trillion in earnings."

    Flush with cash, those businesses must be ready to hire, right? Their strong financial position must mean that stubbornly high jobless rates — 12 percent statewide, 11.9 percent in Central Florida — will soon march downward?

    Not necessarily. ...

    While the nation's biggest employers hoard cash and delay hiring, small businesses are still focused on just staying afloat. Unable to lean on overseas earnings, and with fewer places to cut, they have not experienced the same rebound in their bottom line.

    That's painfully true in Florida, where so much rides on the construction industry.
    "Corporate profits don't translate into local jobs".

    Scott "sour-grapers"

    Nancy Smith whines that the "people bummed because the governor-elect's inauguration plans are too lavish are the same sour-grapers who voted against him or recommended against him in the Republican primary and the midterm election." "Lavish Inauguration for Rick Scott? Says Who?".

    Great Scott!

    "Rick Scott's transitions teams offered proposals that face resistance, rejection and scrutiny from legislators." "Rick Scott must sell, not order, many ideas on his list of proposals".

    Ricky will no doubt take credit ...

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The Great Recession ended more than a year ago, according to the national panel of experts that makes those judgments. Maybe Florida didn't get the memo."

    Unemployment here is stuck in double digits — it hit 12 percent statewide in November, .... The housing market is still in the tank. Tax collections are still short of projections.

    Yet there is good reason, even for skeptics, to believe better days are coming ...
    "Brighter days ahead".

    Pigs at the trough

    "Scott plans to mark his ascension to the most powerful post in the state with a black-tie inaugural ball, a candlelight dinner with donors, a parade and barbecues and breakfasts with supporters across the state."

    These series of inaugural bashes are being paid for by dozens of $25,000 checks from many of the special interests who will have business with the governor and the Republican-led Legislature in the months to come. ...

    Brian Ballard, the prominent Tallahassee lobbyist who is serving as one of the finance chairmen for the committee, said that neither Scott nor people in the transition are asking for donations. Instead he said that many organizations and people are stepping forward themselves with the money.

    Ballard echoed Rooney and said that those who are giving money to the inauguration are doing it to celebrate the election of Scott and Republicans. He said no one giving money should expect to get anything in return from the governor-elect. Scott spent more than $70 million of his own money on his campaign.

    "Giving money to the inauguration would be one the silliest things you could think of doing if you wanted to curry favor," Ballard said.
    "Wallets open to toast Scott".

    "Details, details"

    Bill Cotterell: "During the campaign, Scott said he would sell the state's executive jet, require drug testing for welfare recipients and reduce the size and cost of the state work force. He didn't mention that the luxury jet shown in his TV ads is not the little one acquired by that old tax-and-spend liberal Jeb Bush a few years ago, that there are constitutional and practical problems with drug testing or that Florida already has, per capita, the smallest and least-costly work force in the nation."

    Details, details. That was raw, red meat for the voters, but now comes the difficult drudgery of delivering. So Scott appointed advisory task forces on different areas of government to help him turn campaign ideas into policy.

    Lots of governors spoke of "reinventing government" — Chiles even gave his aides a book with that name — and every inaugural speech marks "a new beginning." But judging from many suggestions by Scott's transition teams, he obviously told his advisers to be bold, to learn from the past but not be bound by it. ...

    Yet another team said 12-week limits on unemployment compensation, perhaps moving people to public-service labor after 12 weeks unless they can show they're looking hard for jobs, would help spur economic recovery. It would probably hold down UC costs for employers, providing them more money to hire the unemployed — who would have one more incentive to find a job.

    A disdain for state workers runs through some of the Scott policy recommendations. The Health Department is described as having a "show up for work culture." An efficiency team said the Department of Management Services "lacks sufficient strength of leadership or institutional mandate."

    And 483 employees in the governor's office and agencies under his direct control were notified last week about their future. Four were told they'll keep their jobs, 70 were let go and the rest were asked to stay 60 to 90 days.

    Those departing aren't just the department heads and senior managers, most of whom change with every administration. These firings dipped down to the receptionist and clerical level, and the message was clear:

    Work as if keeping your job depends on finding a cheaper, more productive way of doing it — which still might not be enough.
    "Try to picture Scott's changes".

    Phosphate mining kerfuffle

    "Phosphate Institute rebuts Sierra Club allegations; reclaiming land for pastures ... Hundreds -- even thousands -- of Central Florida jobs could be lost if environmentalists succeed in halting phosphate mining in the state, industry sources say." "Florida Mine Battle Pits Environmentalists vs. Jobs".

    Luvin' that state spending

    "ACHA Awards $19 Million Patient Records Contract".

    "Florida is a 900-pound political gorilla"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "The latest numbers from the U.S. Census confirm that Florida is the 900-pound gorilla of American politics. That's up from 800 pounds in the 2008 election, when the state had just 27 electoral votes. Thanks to a 17 percent increase in population from 2000 to 2010, Florida's electoral prize will grow to 29 votes in 2012 -- the same number as New York."

    Floridians are not predictable. In 1992, the state went for G.H.W. Bush. In '96, Bill Clinton prevailed. In 2000, as you may recall, it was quite close in Florida and G.W. Bush ended up winning by 500 or so votes, plus five votes in the Supreme Court. Bush won again in 2004. Then Barack Obama surprised John McCain two years ago, winning the state by two percentage points.

    The Sunshine State is the ultimate Swing State. That why, although we're fourth in population, we're first in the hearts of presidential wannabes.

    Republicans will hold their national convention in Tampa in 2012. No surprise there. The GOP nominee can accept the nomination and then immediately begin campaigning for Florida's 29-vote electoral haul.

    As a very large swing state, Florida has a great deal of political clout. This raises a question: What are Floridians getting in return for their role as national kingmakers?

    The answer seems to be: not much[*]. Comparatively speaking, the state gets a poor return on the tax money it sends to Washington, D.C. Floridians have experienced more economic pain in the recession than residents of most states. Although the state's population grew impressively -- at least during the first half of the decade -- job growth hasn't been impressive at all.
    "Census reinforces state's national clout".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *This is a canard foisted upon us by right wingers: "Federal Tax Burdens and Expenditures -- Florida is a Beneficiary State". For detail, see "Comparing the amount of federal taxes sent to Washington with the amount of federal spending coming back to the state".

    Where's Ricky and his transition team on this?

    "Several companies told investors they were profitable while telling state insurance regulators the opposite. ... State regulators have approved $718 million in rate increases — despite five years with no hurricanes." "Florida homeowners brace for insurance rate increases".


    "BP oil spill hit Florida hard, but claimants remain frustrated". See also "To fix Gulf's woes, think years and billions of dollars".

    "As a new cabinet prepares to take over the state’s executive branch, Florida officials are waging a multi-pronged campaign to appeal to oil spill claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg." "Florida officials maintain pressure on Feinberg during transition".

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