There is something paradoxical yet common-sensical about Florida Gov. Rick Scott's speech today at the Americans for "Prosperity's Defending the American Dream Summit" in Orlando where he plans to announce $500 million in tax cuts.
First off, it's puzzling Scott would be there at all.
Elected (if not dragged across the finish line) by the tea-party wave of 2010, Scott's appearance at a tea party confab is clearly an exercise in choir-preaching. And from a raw-appearance point of view, it's unclear why a governor who needs to reach across the aisle appears to be heading rightward instead of leftward -- i.e., toward the center.
But Scott has a little make-up (not a Marco Rubio amount) with some hard-core conservatives over his relatively tepid call to accept Obamacare money to temporarily expand Medicaid. Scott does have GOP challengers as well. But they're no-names. Scott, though, takes no-names seriously. After all, he used to be one.
And there's another facto you're starting to hear in GOP circles for candidates in general: "getting Romneyed." No one wants to be the candidate who fails to fire up the base. Because without the base, you're lost.
Now on to the common-sense answer as to why speak to AFP here and now: Why not?
Judging by Scott's past and a few snippets of the speech that have leaked out, it's really just another forum for the governor to continue his four-year-old campaign of talking about three things: "jobs, jobs, jobs."
Scott is going to call for $500 million in tax cuts as well. He didn't specificy where they'd come from. Every year he has called for big tax cuts and gotten some of what he wants. But with an eleciton year coming up and a budget surplus, expect $500 million in tax cuts to pass.He now has another talking point to add: Charlie Crist and the record number of jobs lost under him when he was governor. Since it's a tea-party crowd, a little mention of Crist's embrace of the stimulus is tough to pass up.
Don't expect Scott to give a complete picture of the stimulus, however. Sure, the stimulus didn't kickstart the economy. But it bailed out state and local government to a degree. It definitely helped keep Florida's budget afloat and helped preserve government jobs and spending.
Even Scott would admit this. After all, in his first year in office, he kept $370 million in stimulus spending in the budget. He could have vetoed it. But he didn't. (Background and video are here)
Overall, Scott has lots to brag about. Unemployment is down, employment is up. All he needs is a mic to say it. The economy is undoubtedly better now than it was when he took over the job as governor. Blame national and global forces all you want, but the fact of politics is that appearances matter. When times are good, you get credit and when times are bad, you get blame.