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'Socialism,' Obamacare and fickle Florida voters


In a poor state like Florida, it seemed like a no-brainer for a U.S. Senate candidate to back a plan so that “every man or woman gainfully employed could pay for and get the health insurance they need.”

He lost, his plan bashed as part of “the socialist state.”

Sound like the 2010 fight over Obamacare? Sure.

But this happened 60 years earlier in Florida in the Democratic race between incumbent Claude Pepper and the man who tarred him as a red, George Smathers, the Miami congressman who won the U.S. Senate that year.

“It sure seems like some things never change,” laughed James C. Clark, University of Central Florida history instructor and author of the must-read book “Red Pepper and Gorgeous George: Claude Pepper’s Epic Defeat in the 1950 Democratic Primary.”

“One thing has remained consistent for years about Florida,” Clark said. “People come here hoping to retire from their jobs, retire from their government and retire from paying taxes.”

And, in that regard, anything that has the whiff of more government and more taxes has struggled in Florida and continues to struggle to this day.

So perhaps it’s little surprise that, since its passage in 2010, President Obama’s Affordable Care Act has found little traction in the Sunshine State, where Republican leaders have fought it at every turn.

Florida has a health-insurance problem. The state has the second highest rate of the uninsured in the nation, just below 25 percent. Texas is number one, at just over 25 percent.

So why would Florida, a state with so many uninsured and so many Democrats (who outnumber Republicans by 500,000) twice vote to elect Barack Obama president — only to also vote for Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio, who want to scrap Obamacare?

The answer isn’t clear. Because it’s about politics.

Column here

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