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Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 14, 2011 9 years ago

TALLAHASSEE: Polls reflect gutsy leadership


Gov. Rick Scott is falling in polls measuring voter approval. It’s completely predictable and, in many ways, it shows he is offering substantive leadership, not a wet-finger to pick up the winds of re-election.

While the polls are reported with breathless glee in the media, Scott is doing at the state level what U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is doing at the national level: Making the tough choices necessary for our future.

Frankly, it is refreshing and gives us some hope for the futures of our country and state.

The question for the state of Florida beyond the caterwauling of special interest groups is whether Florida can be reformed and restructured so that it is streamlined enough to meet what it should be doing, while not being a burden on the economy and on future Floridians. We need Scott and the Legislature to create a state where businesses — and therefore jobs — can thrive. You can’t separate businesses from jobs, and jobs are necessary for quality of life. Scott gets this.

That has meant tackling entrenched state interests from unions to schools to bureaucrats to environmentalists to lawmakers. It has meant dealing with a hostile media. And when you do those things, your popularity drops. But public opinion is notoriously fickle.

Gov. Charlie Crist knows this. He had stratospheric public approval ratings during much of his first year in office when the economy was good and he pandered prodigiously. But the public view of him dropped so sharply that he fled the GOP and was soundly beaten at the polls, even as a vaunted Independent.
Scott will be fine if the state does well, and whether he does well or not, we will all be better off.

The question for the federal government is: Will political leaders be responsible and make the short-term painful decisions necessary now, or will they decide their own re-election is more important — the slogan for which could be: Elect me, screw your children!

That is the reality of the spending fiasco foisted on us in a bipartisan fashion, at first. But now, the Republican lawmakers in the House are united behind responsible reform, even though they are all up for re-election next year. (We can’t say the same for the Republican presidential contenders so far; they are mostly wet fingers.)

That reform even tackles entitlements and cuts $5.8 trillion over 10 years. This is real reform, not political gamesmanship.

President Obama, not leading, and the rest of the Democrats, demagoguing, waited in the bushes for the Republicans to propose something responsible and then leaped out with the politically opportunistic “Gotchyas!”

Dethroned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi trotted out the charge of “war on women,” etc.

But a funny thing has happened. That well-worn and successful method for getting elected just might not work.

Several reliably liberal opinion pages from the Washington Post to give Ryan a lot of credit for courage and a serious plan, albeit one with which they disagree on the details. And they are calling out the Democrats, their normal party of comfort.

Perhaps times are dire enough that the American people, and the people of Florida, will reward courageous leadership.

Can we stop mis-using the word “punish”?

We see it in headlines and from Democrats whenever there is a change in policy that cuts funding for some group.

Some recent examples: “Punishing the needy” for withholding aid to recipients who are on drugs; “punishing teachers” because they might have to pay more for healtcare costs like everyone else; “punishing rape victims” by cutting abortion funding; and “punishing the homeless” for trying to stop them from urinating in front of storefronts.

How about this take instead: Governments are finally making attempts to live within their means, and that means making cuts. No way around it. You can’t just keep jacking up taxes on the rich, because they will always find ways to hide it or simply do less — check history on this one — which hurts everyone who wants to work because it tanks the economy. No, the only way out is cuts.

But now, Democrats and the media would have us believe we are punishing every group that is getting their funding trimmed. This is why they call it an “entitlement mentality” — because almost anyone on welfare for even a short period will start feeling entitled to their neighbor’s money — which is what welfare is. It is not the government’s money, it’s the money of family, friends, neighbors and complete strangers. And once you get it, when it is reduced, you feel aggrieved. And certain politicians are there to wipe away your tears and take your vote. Someone else can worry about the future.

Here is a headline you will never read in the mainstream media: “Stop punishing taxpayers.”

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