You would think that the federal government is the sole responsible for our unbearable national debt. Well, think again. What happens when individual states are pushing for federal money for so-called “reimbursements”? Usually, the Feds agree. So then again, we understand that the overspending environment in Washington is mainly due to Congressional and presidential follies, but states are now to take their fair share of the blame.
Indeed, this scenario has been playing out in Florida for the past couple of days. Anticipating President Obama’s Friday speech in Miami, Republican Governor Rick Scott called for the federal government to reimburse the state the millions of dollars it has spent since Scott took office in port infrastructure investments. In total, this amounts to $425 million spent on the state’s 15 different ports, but the governor only asked for $77 million on Thursday.
This money, Scott says, will then be re-invested into the maritime trade industry.
“We’re certainly glad President Obama is coming to the port of Miami tomorrow, but he’s late to the party,” Scott said on Thursday. President Obama, meanwhile, is hesitant when it comes to the reimbursement plan (that’s right). Instead, he pointed out that the White House had already financed more than $360 million in loans for port-related transit.
The hypocrisy of our politicians cannot be better seen than now. Rick Scott had previously rejected a $2 billion grant from the federal government, back in February 2011, for the construction of a high speed rail, arguing against cost overruns. In other words, Scott wanted to save American taxpayers some money by refusing the high speed rail project.
But the context is much different now. Scott is in reelection mode. He recently started his official campaign, but still has some work to do to get conservatives back on his train. At the same time, President Obama is coming to Miami to deliver a speech on jobs and the economy and basketball. So what better way to reconquer his conservative base than attacking the President directly, even if the attack makes no sense from a conservative or libertarian point of view.
The State of Florida spent tens of millions of dollars investing in such union-boosting projects as PortMiami. Clearly, with the recent South Florida port strike threats, a large part of this money was wasted. For it to have been a real investment, private investors asking for the ports to facilitate their trade with Latin America would have had to pay for the ports on their own.
But anyhow, the Sunshine State justified the spending by calling it an investment. To some extent, it truly was. Jobs were created, trade has increased (even though not merely as much as expected). And these results mostly benefited Floridians and Florida-based companies.
Why should taxpayers from other states have to pay for this? Did an Alaskan small business owner have any say in Governor Scott’s decision to direct money to these ports? No. So why should he be forced to handle the costs?
If the argument goes to say that Congress can find a way to direct the “reimbursement” so that the money comes from Floria taxpayers, does that mean citizens from the Sunshine State will have had to pay twice for the same facility?
And that’s where it gets understandable. The reality is that the money Scott is asking for would be spent on other union-protected projects. (After all, this Republican administration has constantly given in to union demands, from raising public teacher salaries to subsidizing pointless departments.) The $77 million wouldn’t be a reimbursement at all.
Rick Scott is simply asking for a large grant from the Obama administration. Not because the State direly needs one, but because the Governor is looking for some way to attack Obama without contradicting his own actions as governor.
The difference between the Governor and some irrelevant radio talk show host is that in this case, the Governor wants to make taxpayers pay for his penny-rich argument.