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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Charlie Crist, Cato and and the 'fiscal responsibility horse'



Gov. Charlie Crist's new U.S. Senate campaign ad continues to backfire. First, morning show host Many Connell deconstructed it on-air as, essentially, a vomit-provoking "lie." Now Cato Institute's Tax Policy Director Christ Edwards, who gave Crist an "A" in his Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors,” is annotating Crist's decision to mention the grade in the Connell-maligned radio ad.

From an Edwards email:

According to the Herald’s Naked Politics (October 16), Gov. Charlie Crist is trumpeting his grade of “A” on Cato’s “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors.” The governor earned the grade in last year’s report based mainly on his property tax cuts and moderate spending approach. 

I am pleased that Crist values Cato’s ratings because we work hard to make them accurate and nonpartisan. But as the report’s author, I am concerned that the governor has fallen off the fiscal responsibility horse since the report was written in mid-2008.

In particular, Crist approved a huge $2.2 billion tax increase for the fiscal 2010 budget, even though he had promised that $12 billion in federal “stimulus” money showered on Florida over three years would obviate the need for tax increases.

About $1 billion of the tax increases are on cigarette consumers, which will particularly harm moderate-income families. The rest of the increases are in the form of higher costs for often mandatory services, such as automobile registration, which is really just a sneaky form of tax increases.

These tax increases will be particularly painful to Floridians in the short-term because of the recession. But Crist has also jeopardized the state’s long-term finances with his expanded subsidies for hurricane insurance. Hurricanes are a major challenge in Florida, but giving big subsidies to coastal property owners, driving private insurers out of the state, and guaranteeing a massive state bailout when the next hurricane hits strikes me as the height of fiscally irresponsibility. 


 Chris Edwards

Director of Tax Policy

Cato Institute

Washington, D.C.

Author of “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors, 2008”

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:24pm]


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