The dream of the Tea Party

Below: really excellent overview in Mother Jones of what the hell’s been going on lately.

Florida has never been known as a big-government state. An economy driven by tourism and real estate speculation has at times made it a haven for the less-than-scrupulous rich—Florida law helped O.J. Simpson shelter his assets in a mansion near Miami and avoid paying a civil judgment he owes Nicole Brown’s family. With no personal income tax, Florida collects some of the lowest taxes in the nation, leaving the government chronically starved for cash.

Even so, Scott rode into office with a promise to slash spending further. He unveiled his first budget in February 2011, at a private meeting with tea party activists, and publicly released it at a tea party rally.

The ‘jobs budget,’ as Scott dubbed it, called for $4.6 billion in spending cuts, with education taking the biggest hit ($3 billion). It included a 17 percent cut to the agency that serves the disabled and proposed dropping virtually everyone but children and pregnant women from a state health program for the medically needy. The savings would be used to slash the corporate income tax from 5.5 to 3 percent, with the goal of eliminating it entirely by 2018. The budget also called for reducing property taxes by $1.4 billion, and cutting unemployment insurance taxes by $300 million, even though Florida’s unemployment trust fund was bankrupt. US News columnist Peter Roff dubbed Scott’s budget a ‘tea party dream’ and speculated, somewhat prematurely, that it ‘almost assuredly gets him on the short list for vice president in 2012 or, depending on the outcome of that election, for president in 2016.’

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