Non Ideological GOP needed Jeb Bush

10 01 2009

Under George W. Bush’s leadership nationally, and Charlie Crist’s leadership in Florida, the Republican party has adopted a meandering ideology alternating between hard core social conservatism, mushy moderation and in President Bush’s case Wilsonian idealism on the federal and foreign policy level. In other words, the GOP stands for nothing besides consistently calling for tax cuts.

The Republican Party both in Florida and nationally needed Jeb Bush. The former Florida Governor is a serious figure, and a towering one at that. His ideology and agenda are perfectly clear: less government, less personal freedom, and radical education reform. This website does not agree with Governor Bush on hardly any issue, but our contributor have  never previously wondered aloud where he stood on an issue or how he would handle it.

For a party like the GOP whose ship currently lacks a rudder and whose crisis management borders on comical, the decision of Governor Bush to skip the US Senate race is very damaging. Bush could have clearly defined the principles of the Republican Party for Florida voters, with whom he has always been popular. Once elected, Senator Bush would have quickly emerged as a towering figure in the national GOP, more serious, better spoken and more ideologically pure than his failed brother, our current President.

Jeb Bush would have been a titan on the national political scene. His decision not to run for the US Senate has implications beyond a single US Senate seat, and for that the Democrats should be breathing a sigh of relief.


Did Crist Always Intend to Kill Chiles Endowment?

7 01 2009

By Kartik Krishnaiyer

Much like Medicare and Social Security on the federal level, the GOP here in Florida was almost universally against Governor Lawton Chiles crusade against the Tobacco industry. With the exception of three State Senate Republicans and two in the House, Republicans voted in unison for the repeal of Governor Chiles lawsuit and a year later in the Senate to override the Governor’s veto of the repeal. Many Democrats in the Senate joined the GOP effort, which thankfully fell a single vote short of passage.

The GOP leadership used their talking points effectively in 1995 and 1996. They claimed the lawsuit would create a bad business climate and that Children’s Health was not a key concern for the state. The Republicans also complained about how the initial law passed ignoring the fact that legislative trickery and deceit had become a trait of the Legislative wing of the party.

Governor Crist’s continued efforts to raid the Chiles Endowment raises a troubling possibility: Could the GOP have been waiting for an excuse to gut the program altogether? Republicans in the Legislature have never been comfortable with the administration of a trust fund that came from a  lawsuit that the majority of Republicans opposed vociferously.

So after opposing the lawsuit and trying to repeal the law that permitted the lawsuit and then finally repealing the law once Jeb Bush became Governor, the GOP is now reaping the benefits of Governor Chiles courage. The fiscal mismanagement of the state by the Legislature in collusion with the Bush and Crist Administrations has been masked by the raiding of trust funds. How ironic, and perhaps this was all by design. Governor Crist helped lead Legislative efforts to fight the Governor’s lawsuit against Big Tobacco and also led the effort to stonewall Gov. Chiles appointees from being confirmed in the Senate. In fairness to Governor Bush, his agenda did not appear as transparant as that of Governor Crist.

Unless evidence can be brought to the contrary it must be assumed based on their public actions and statements that the GOP leadership always intended to see the Tobacco settlement money “wither on the vine.” By cutting taxes recklessly without complimentary spending cuts, perhaps the Legislature always intended to have a shortfall in funding that could be masked by raiding the Chiles endowment. By cutting taxes so frequently without any reasonable plan to enhance revenues from other sources, it would be foolish to not consider that the raiding of the Chiles fund was by design.

Charlie Crist the master politician who has won three consecutive statewide elections can be honest for change. He can say ” I was there fighting it in nineties, investigating the Governor’s actions and now we have killed it, and given Corporations and Business more money  instead of allowing the money to help the Children.” Let’s be perfectly frank: once a trust fund is raided to the extent the Chiles Endowment is being raided it is essentially dead. That will be the lasting legacy of Charlie Crist’s Governorship. If he does not wish to be remembered this way and have this shameful episode hanging like a noose over him as he pursues higher office, perhaps he should explain his actions without the smokescreen of the current budget crisis.

The state of Florida under Lawton Chiles took the lead nationally in protecting children and seniors: society’s most vulnerable citizens. Now ten years after one of the great statesman in the history of Florida passed on, the leadership of our state seems to have little regard for his legacy or little conscience when undermining one of the most successful programs in our history. So perhaps it was all by design.