Sunday, January 21, 2018
Politics

Romano: Florida House Republicans — Trust no one but us

Here's what you need to understand about how Republicans in the state House of Representatives view themselves:

They are right.

Always and only.

A dispute with the federal government over tax money?

Trust the House.

A dispute with local school districts over testing?

Trust the House.

A dispute with the Senate over the budget?

Trust the House.

There is no middle ground, no shades of gray, no extenuating circumstances. They know what is best for you, and no one else can be trusted to do what is moral and smart.

That is neither sarcasm, nor hyperbole.

That is precisely how they operate.

Consider, first, the House's stance on Medicaid expansion funds. The House decided two years ago it was not interested in accepting any additional Medicaid funds, and it has not budged one inch from that position.

Instead, GOP leaders in the House keep coming up with excuses that are disingenuous at best, and may more appropriately be called bold-faced lies.

Mostly, they base their argument on the concept that the federal government cannot be trusted.

To hear them tell it, we can't trust that the feds will provide the necessary revenues even though funding is required by current laws.

Furthermore, we can't believe all the federal studies that indicate preventive care is more fiscally responsible than treating the uninsured in emergency rooms.

We should put our faith in the House because Tallahassee is more attuned to your needs than D.C. could ever be. Local is better. That is their logic. That is their mantra.

Except when it isn't convenient.

You see, they scream about state sovereignty and states' rights when dealing with the federal government, and yet they completely ignore local law enforcement (gun laws), local school superintendents (high-stakes testing), local hospitals (Medicaid expansion), local ratepayers (nuclear cost recovery charges), local courts (redistricting) and local voters (medical marijuana).

They have become the Goldilocks of government. Don't trust federal officials because they're incompetent. And don't trust local leaders because they're rubes. But your representatives in the state House? They're juuuuust right.

Don't believe me?

Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, recently argued the state should actually blow off billions of dollars in health care funds because accepting the money would give the federal government too much input in Florida policies.

Days later, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, pointed out that a House bill was designed to control a $45 million chunk of teacher pay raises instead of local schools because "we have a fundamental distrust of school districts.''

Think of the hubris involved in those decisions.

We can't trust the feds, and we can't trust the locals. The House demands autonomy from the federal government at the same time it usurps it from Florida counties.

When it comes to Medicaid expansion, their excuses have become so twisted that House members are now arguing opposite points in the same conversation.

Corcoran says the Senate plan to use federal funds to buy private insurance is still Medicaid expansion wrapped in a different bow. And at the same time he argues the federal government will never approve the Senate plan.

So which is it?

If it really is Medicaid expansion by another name, why wouldn't the feds approve it?

After listening to weeks of deceptive, bewildering and flat-out incorrect arguments from members of the state House on Medicaid and other issues, I would agree on this point:

We should be careful who we trust in Florida.

Comments
Congressman combating harassment used public money on own case

Congressman combating harassment used public money on own case

WASHINGTON ó Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., who has taken a leading role in fighting sexual harassment in Congress, used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle his own misconduct complaint after a former aide accused him last year of making un...
Published: 01/20/18
The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The early days of the federal government shutdown wonít slow the U.S. economy much. No workers are missing paychecks yet, and because it is a weekend, few businesses expect to feel the effects of lost customers or suppliers.That could change, quickly...
Published: 01/20/18
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They arenít just up for debate, they...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON ó The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trumpís inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

NEWARK, N.J. ó U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez might spend 2018 asking voters to re-elect him and jurors to acquit him. Prosecutors from the Department of Justice told a federal judge in New Jersey on Friday that they will seek a retrial of the Democratic sen...
Published: 01/19/18
Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

WASHINGTON ó A bitterly-divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being dep...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

CLEARWATER ó Voters may not be too familiar with the name John Funk.So since launching his campaign for City Council Seat 5 against well-known incumbent Hoyt Hamilton, Funk said he has knocked on 2,000 doors to introduce himself. Before the March 13 ...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

CLEARWATER ó By asking voters to elect him into office a fifth time, Hoyt Hamilton knows heís now considered part of the old-guard. Born and raised in Clearwater, his family roots stretch back here more than 100 years. Hamilton, 59, spent nearly his ...
Published: 01/19/18

Q&A: Government shutdown looms. Hereís what you need to know

Lawmakers have until midnight tonight to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown.Hereís what that means. Why would the government shut down?Every year, Congress has to approve laws, known as appropriations, that provide money for federal agen...
Published: 01/18/18
Redington Shores mayor, commission positions filled with no opponents

Redington Shores mayor, commission positions filled with no opponents

REDINGTON SHORES ó There will be no election this year, but the changeout of commission members that began last year will continue. When the new commission is sworn in this March, four of five members, including the mayor, will have changed within th...
Published: 01/18/18