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Sarasota Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 8 years ago

Our View


Don’t buy it. Please don’t buy it.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is advertising on the radio that he’s a real conservative.

It’s false advertising.

With a much more-principled conservative Marco Rubio gaining more and more traction in the Republican Party’s U.S. Senate race in Florida, Crist apparently has decided it’s time to portray himself as a principled fiscal conservative.

Whatever it takes.

In two radio ads you may have heard, Crist says such things as:
“Enough is enough. That’s my message to President Obama … ”

“Less taxes, less spending, more freedom. That’s my commitment to you every day I go to work … ”

Or …

“Washington is out of control. Yet the president has the same tired answer for every problem: to spend more of your money.

“I’m Charlie Crist. I’m running for the U.S. Senate because Washington needs a dose of Florida Common sense … Here in Florida, I’ve slashed government by 10%. That’s $7 billion. And we passed the biggest tax cuts in Florida history …

“Last fall, the conservative Cato Institute graded all 50 governors with a fiscal report card. I’m proud to say I was ranked No. 1 in America …

“We can’t spend our way into prosperity and tax our way into growth. Let’s cut the size of federal government and return your family’s money so you can decide how best to spend it.”

If only he really believed this.

Those statement are from the governor who hugged the biggest-spending president of all time in a Fort Myers appearance when the president and Congress were in the process of adopting its $700 billion bailout packages. (Funny how Crist dissed the Obama visit to Arcadia this week.)

Those statements were from the governor who stood before the state press corps last winter and said he told liberal extraordinaire Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) that he would support her and her Democratic colleagues on the stimulus plan because, and we quote: “There’s a crisis.”

Those statements are from the governor who proposed borrowing $1 billion so the state could buy 180,000 acres from U.S. Sugar Corp. in the midst of a recession.

Those statements are from the governor who supports a national catastrophe insurance fund. Never mind the fact the national flood-insurance program has been a fiscal disaster and that the governor’s insurance policies are driving the biggest and most financially sound property insurers out of the state. Oh, and should we mention how Crist has been the biggest promoter of the state-government owning the largest insurance company in Florida and that he has endorsed exposing Floridians to $20 billion in taxes if and when the big hurricane hits?

And what’s this: While he supports national catastrophe insurance and the state-owned insurance company, he’s opposing nationalized health care? Surprise, surprise.

There’s more. This the governor who in his inaugural address to the Legislature in 2007 said (without one fact to back it up): “I am persuaded that global climate change is one of the most important issues that we will face this century.” And then he proceeded to propose spending almost $70 million of taxpayer money on subsidies “to foster the development and use of alternative energy sources.”

That, by the way, was from the same address where, in less than 15 minutes, Crist proposed new state spending programs totaling $691 million.

When, the political watchdog arm of the St. Petersburg Times, applied its Truth-o-Meter to Crist’s radio claim — that “Here in Florida, I’ve slashed government by 10%. That’s $7 billion” — said:

“Crist has defended the budget-cut claim by saying that in other states, taxes were increased to cover shortfalls. While Crist didn’t push for tax increases to make up the entire shortfall, he did approve fee and tax increases this year — on everything from fishing licenses to initial vehicle registrations to cigarettes — that total $2.2 billion.

“So while it is true that state government has shrunk by 10% since Crist’s election, it had little to do with him and a lot to do with the shrinking economy. For those reasons, we give Crist’s statement a Barely True.”

And about that No. 1 ranking from the Cato Institute. Cato said Crist has been the most fiscally conservative of all 50 governors. Let’s put that in context.
Cato credits Crist for property-tax cuts, including Amendment 1, the doubling of the state’s homestead property-tax exemption to $50,000 and the rolling back of local property-tax rates.

Yes, Crist endorsed the tax cuts. But, truth is, Florida voters approved the Amendment 1 tax cut, and the Legislature initiated the rollback.

Surely Floridians know by now that Charlie Crist is not really a principled fiscal conservative. He says and does whatever he must to get elected. Don’t buy it.

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