Why would Democrats want Charlie Crist to switch parties? I understand that this would help reinforce the view that there is no home for moderates in the Republican Party, thus strengthening a key Democratic narrative. The problem is that Crist really is one of the worst governors in the United States, if not the absolute worst. This has nothing to do with ideology per se. Crist has backed conservative policies as well as liberal policies. He's even gotten some things right. For example, I think Crist was very wise to support reforming the criminal justice system and I also think that there's a decent case for restoring voting rights to ex-offenders. But on the central issues facing a governor or for that matter a U.S. senator — issues surrounding taxing and spending — Crist is clueless.Those of us who are opposed to Crist becoming our Republican candidate for the US Senate have stated repeatedly that it was the way that Crist used the Stimulus money that was so upsetting to us. Crist should have swallowed hard and admitted that as a state we are in deep trouble and that cuts, big cuts, were necessary to put us on solid footing. However, he lacked the political courage to do that.
…Or, for that matter, Florida, where Crist's approach threatens the state's long-term fiscal health. Rather than see federal stimulus funds as a one-time injection that could spare the state pro-cyclical cuts while creating room for a long-term plan to reduce the size of state government in line with revenues, he seemed to think that it gave him an opportunity to permanently ratchet up spending while also cutting taxes. No wonder he embraced the president.
Let's look at a couple of facts. Florida has no state income tax. That is a wonderful thing except Florida currently has the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation. Property values here have dropped like a rock. Between the foreclosures and the decreased property values the state's revenue from property taxes has taken a major hit. The state's unemployment rate is currently 11.8% and expected to rise. Adding to the unemployment crisis is from Famuan Online:
The state's unemployment rate currently rests at 11.8 percent. Businesses, some of them facing 1,000 percent increases in unemployment taxes, are threatening layoffs.
Crist and legislative leaders want to delay the pain, but experts say that increases are unavoidable. Their plan would raise the per-employee tax to $25.20 this year and $53.90 the next. But it would soar to $192.95 in 2012.
With businesses already squeezed the increase in taxes will at a minimum delay companies from hiring any additional workers and in all likelihood will cause increased layoffs. Increased layoffs will lead to more foreclosures and the cycle continues.
Now we are stuck. Crist has already raised a whole slew of fees. The only thing left to do is cut the budget to the absolute bare bones. Unfortunately, Crist has shown no will to do so. Just the opposite, Crist is asking that we increase our sales taxes to fund a train. The insanity of it all is just mind boggling.
No one is under the delusion that budget cuts will be easy but unless we want a California size catastrophe we have no choice.
Crist needs to set aside his political interests and start looking after the interests of the citizens of Florida.