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Rick Scott's Obama shuffle: Sequestration is bad (this time because of hurricanes)

@MarcACaputo with @cmorganherald

Florida Gov. Rick Scott continued his political evolution Wednesday in opposing conservative-sought budget cuts -- this time because of hurricane preparedness.

Scott's made his comments during the Governor's Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale where he wondered if the National Guard would have the money and the manpower to help the state recover from a disaster. Under the federal budget cuts, known as "sequestration," guard members could be furloughed, improperly trained or both.

“My biggest concern is that while they say sequestration will stop during a disaster, are they going to be ready in the meantime?” Scott asked.

But  Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, and Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the cuts wouldn’t jeopardize public safety or federal response to disasters. When it came to the National Guard, Fugate said, it was the governor’s decision to call soldiers out and an expense that states always pay for.

Oops.

So sequestration won't really affect hurricane preparedness and response, then.

In addition, Scott said he was relieved that the FAA had rescinded furloughs of air traffic controllers, which could have had a devasting impact on  state economy dependent on tourism.

Scott, touting a decision by Hertz to move its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Fort Myers, also joked: "Your job is not going to get easier because I'm going to do everything I can to get more people here."

Scott has already criticized sequestration for its effects on reducing Border Protection agents at Miami International Airport, thereby causing long lines (and even overnight stays) of international passengers. Initially, Scott voiced concern about military budget cuts in a state like Florida, ringed by military bases from the Pensacola area to Key West to Jacksonville.

But for a few Republicans like Scott, the main critics of budget cuts have been Democrats. But Scott has sounded more and more like a Democrat as his poll numbers have been stuck in the cellar.

Potentially facing the ultimate flip-flopper, former Gov. Charlie Crist (Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat), the leftward Obama shuffle is understandable for Scott. To many in his own party, he's starting to look as if he's out-Cristing Crist.

At the beginning of the legislative session this year, Scott called on fellow Republicans in the Legislature to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. Republicans in the House refused. For a governor who campaigned against Obamacare, it was quite a pivot. But then, so was his signing of a state budget stuffed with Obama stimulus money his first year in office.

What's next? A softer line on immigration from the politician who campaigned for an Arizona-style immigration bill, only to do nothing about it?

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