First, some followup.
Many readers asked for the bill number, and exact instructions on how to e-mail or call their legislator, in response to Sunday's column about "leadership funds" in the Legislature.
Sure. The bill is House Bill 1207 from the 2010 session of the Legislature. It was vetoed last year by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. But it came back this year when the Legislature overrode the veto March 24.
(They reuse the bill numbers each year, so remember this is the 2010 bill.)
As for calling or e-mailing your legislator, you can find all the information on the websites of the Senate and House:
Click on "senators" or "representatives" to get a list. On their individual pages, senators have an e-mail address in the left-hand column, and representatives have an e-mail link under their photo.
If you do get a reply, it will probably say that (1) it was a good bill (2) the bill does not really legalize bribery of the Legislature and (3) the bill actually makes our political system more "transparent."
In truth, the bill brings back an old practice from Florida's corrupt past that has been illegal in our state for more than two decades.
It is now legal to pay off the Florida Legislature directly through these "leadership funds" run by the people who are writing the laws of Florida. There are no two ways about it. This is how the 2011 Legislature will go down in the history books.
The Legislature should repeal this law before it is scheduled to adjourn next week. The people of Florida should rise up and force it to do so.
• • •
The other day a Republican member of Congress from Wisconsin named Paul Ryan came up with a plan for attacking our national debt, including changes to Medicare. It made national news.
For people under 55 — I said, for people under 55 — Ryan's idea is to have them pay premiums to private companies to get coverage starting in the year 2022. People who needed financial assistance would get it.
Now, what did the Democrats say to this?
Here is what they did not say. They did not say:
"Great idea! Let's pass it."
Or: "We agree with you we need to do something, although we are not sure we like your exact plan."
Or even: "That is a bad idea, and here is what we want to do instead."
Nope. The national Democrats immediately launched an ad campaign across the country accusing the Republicans of trying to "end Medicare." Ads ran in several districts in Florida, including one against Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores.
A TV ad depicted elderly "victims" (remember, this idea applies to those 55 and younger) being forced to mow lawns. This earned a "Pants on Fire" ruling from my friends at PolitiFact.
I suppose you could say this is payback for the Republicans accusing President Barack Obama of wanting "death panels" to ration care. Yet there are common themes between Ryan's ideas and Obama's.
This is a perfect example of how toxic and hopeless our national politics have become. All that matters is attacking the Other Side.
Meanwhile, we keep spending three dollars for every two dollars we take in. This is because we are idiots. The history books will show that, too.