Sunday, June 08, 2014

Rick Scott, "Decent Man"???

On Rick Scott's Facebook page, one of the most tragic cheers I've seen is when one of his followers describes him as a "decent man."

Decent? Talk about having your head stuck in a dark place!

In reality, Scott as a person is strikingly devoid of good character traits. He is unethical in his private life and in his business dealings, and now in in his governing of Florida. Yes, I do mean the thing with the Medicare fraud and pleading the Fifth 70+ times; but there's so much more to Scott's bad character that it boggles the mind. Scott lies with the ease of a practiced felon -- even on national television. All politicians lie, of course, but Scott has the art perfected.

Not surprisingly, many of Scott's lies are now talking points for his campaign -- particularly the lie that he cut taxes 40 times, and turned a budget "deficit" into a "surplus". He repeats each of these lies at least once a week on his Facebook page. 

It's no surprise that Scott's bad character was perhaps the longest subject area on my list.


56) Rick Scott was responsible for the largest historic case of Medicare fraud in history.

The details on this should neither be understated nor overplayed. Scott was not personally convicted of a crime, but was certainly responsible for events as CEO.

Some have pointed out that the Medicare fraud was something a lot of other hospitals at the time were accused of, and that the coding process behind medical procedures for Medicare is difficult. This is true, but this does not answer for things like false diagnosis codes, claiming marketing and advertising costs, and billing for things that were not medically necessary. Whether Scott knew of this fraud, as some whistleblowers have claimed, or not, he was still responsible.

57) Rick Scott misused his Fifth Amendment Rights when questioned about HCA’s Medicare fraud.

Here also, the details should not neither understated, nor overplayed. Scott as an American citizen had every right to appeal to the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination under questioning, even as many times as he did (75). However, it is clear that there would have been nothing to incriminate Scott in answering questions like whether or not he was employed by HCA.  Scott himself later said he used the Fifth Amendment because opposing attorneys were on a “fishing expedition” – in what was a civil, not a criminal case, and one in which Scott was not being charged. Scott had every right to plead the Fifth, but he did not use it for what it was intended.

More damning, however, is Scott’s profession not to know many things that, as head of HCA, things he ought to know, including simple definitions of industry terms. This indicates, again, either utter incompetence or utter evasiveness.

58) Rick Scott’s clinic company, Solantic, was passed on to his wife in a way that violates the spirit of conflict of interest principles.

Scott had to divest himself of interest in the company because of potential conflicts of interest with state policies and regulations. But this simply isn’t sufficient distance to avoid conflict of interest. As usual, when called on to explain himself, Scott dodged answering. He also attempted a questionable compromise by saying Solantic just wouldn’t do business with Florida. Finally he moved to sell the company.

59) Rick Scott has had a questionable association with convicted felon Ken Jenne.

60) Rick Scott has profited from a company that makes money off of illegal immigration.

This is in spite of the fact that early in his term, he advocated for a strict Arizona-style immigration law.

61) Rick Scott professes Christian faith, but follows a corrupt pastor.

Many Christians voted for Rick Scott because he professed to be a Christian. Scott was a founding member of Naples Community Church, which was started when Scott followed his pastor, Kirt Anderson, from First Presbyterian in Naples. Andersen had left because of a feud with church leaders.

It is not hard to see why. Andersen’s church is fiscally irresponsible, and is a mirror image of Scott’s own preferences. The church bought a home for itself in a building worth 2.5 million dollars. In contrast, to celebrate the opening of that 2.5 million dollar building, the church gave a comparative pittance of $50,000 to Habitat for Humanity, and a mere $37,000 for an impoverished church in Immokalee.

62) Rick Scott barely made the residency requirement to run for Governor.

Scott barely made the required 7 year residency requirement. Can a person who is a relative tourist here actually have a real understanding of the issues in this state? No. It took a lot of gall for Scott to think he understood this state well enough to be its governor.

63) Rick Scott has falsely blamed his predecessor for increasing the state’s debt, and misrepresented his accomplishments in reducing it.

Scott touts having reduced the state’s debt by 2 billion dollars. But it obscures the fact that Florida's debt has gone from 28.2 billion to 26.2 billion under Scott. The claim is sometimes stated as though to leave the impression that Scott has reduced the debt by 2 billion, and made it totally disappear. (His re-election website does make this clear at one point, to be fair.)

As part of this claim, he has also noted that the debt was raised 5.2 billion by Crist. But there is much more to this issue. The state debt was even numerically lower under Crist, in the earlier parts of Crist's term, than it is under Scott right now. (That may not account for inflation, though.) Further, the real "credit" for most of the difference comes from a normal and necessary funding cycle.

64) Rick Scott has lied about Florida’s credit rating in order to claim success for his administration.

Scott falsely claimed that Florida’s credit rating has gone up since his term in office began. In reality it has been “AAA” – the highest rating available – since Jeb Bush’s administration in 2005. Scott confused a different issue, the “outlook” for Florida, with the credit rating. This may not seem significant, but as a businessman, Scott surely knows the difference, and so this lie is particularly damning.

65) Rick Scott misled Florida about the cost of high speed rail to taxpayers.

Regardless of your final opinion on the usefulness of high speed rail, all should agree that an honest estimate of costs and benefits is a key to making a decision about it. Scott nullified an honest investigative process by falsely claiming high speed rail had a $1 billion price tag. Scott relied on a flawed study and misrepresented the facts, which include that the state would have had to cover no more than $280 million. His attorney also misled the Florida Supreme Court about how much money had been spent on the rail system at the time.

66) Rick Scott lied about not cutting the education budget.

In 2011, turning away from his campaign promises, Scott produced a budget that cut the education budget. Asked about this, he manufactured another lie redefining his promise.

67) Rick Scott has misled the public about his connections with gambling interests.

Although taking a public stance against gambling, Scott has accepted large donations from gambling interests.

68) Rick Scott claimed that he had “nothing to do with” a voting limitation bill that he signed himself.

69) Rick Scott lied about the cost of the Medicaid expansion in Florida.

Again, regardless of how you stand on this issue, all should agree that an open and honest presentation is needed for an informed decision. Scott did not provide that.

70) Rick Scott misrepresented himself as turning a budget deficit into a surplus.

In reality, since the state’s budget is required to be balanced, there is no “deficit” or “surplus.”

71) Rick Scott has lied about the difficulty of US regulations.

Scott called United States regulations “the most difficult in the world” but in reality, they are among the least restrictive. Scott’s response is noteworthy in that in dodges the issue, by citing difficulties and ignoring the comparative aspect which was critical to Scott’s statement.

72) Rick Scott called for movement on ethics reform, then did nothing about it.

73) Rick Scott misled voters about his role in improving the FCAT test.

Scott posed himself as a pioneer in improvements, when in reality he was continuing something started in the previous administration.

74) Rick Scott lied – on national television – about incentives offered to one company to move here.

Asked directly if Deutsche Bank was offered any incentives to come to Florida, Scott said no. In reality, they were offered as much as $2 million in incentives.

75) Rick Scott has falsely tied record state tax revenues to his “pro-growth” policies.

In reality, the collections reflect a nationwide trend in which collections are up. Scott also failed to account for inflation when claiming a “record”.

153) Rick Scott has an extended record of dodging critical questions from the media.

This article lists multiple incidents: Scott has avoided answering questions about how well his staff checked out former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who was forced to resign last year over ties to a questionable veterans' charity; whether Florida Power & Light should be allowed to raise rates on consumers; whether it was right for Attorney General Pam Bondi to ask that he delay an execution because it conflicted with her campaign fundraiser; whether the state should sell flood insurance to homeowners; and whether he agreed with Republicans in Congress who were willing to risk a federal government shutdown last fall to end funding of Obamacare.

In Clearwater in November, Scott attended a groundbreaking for a storage company's expansion. When WFLA's Mark Douglas asked Scott how a registered sex offender got a state license as a massage therapist, Scott replied by saying how "exciting" it is that Florida's crime rate keeps dropping.
But Ferre wanted a yes-or-no answer on whether Scott favors the Common Core standards for students, and his reply deftly avoided one: "My goal is, have high standards. Measure everything. Reward success."
Ferre wanted to know what Scott thinks of Charlie Crist as a 2014 gubernatorial opponent, and he answered by saying how much he wants his three grandchildren to get jobs.
After the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage rulings last June, Capitol reporters asked Scott how he would feel about a petition drive in Florida that would legalize the practice.
"Oh, gosh," Scott replied. "I'm focused on making sure everybody in our state can get a job."
Is this leadership?

158) Rick Scott has lied about how long it takes to get an environmental permit in Florida.

Trying to brag about how he has cut regulations, Scott claimed that he has cut permit times to two days. His own staffer disagreed and said the wait remains at 30 or more days. He was confusing a certain type of permit with a certain license.

159) Rick Scott has misled voters regarding education spending in 2014.

Scott has touted this year’s education budget as the largest ever. In this, Scott failed to account for inflation, and more importantly, for per-student spending. In neither case is this the largest budget.

160) Rick Scott has misled voters regarding the tax savings from a hurricane supplies tax holiday.

Scott used 2007 numbers to make his estimate. As a businessman, he certainly knows better than to use numbers that old to make estimates. The tax holiday itself is an obvious pander to voters in an election year; inflating the numbers makes it even worse, especially when Scott had available to him more recent estimates made by economists.
170) Rick Scott travels via his own private plane on state business in order to evade accountability.

Scott claims this is for security reasons, but if that is true, then he is evidently far more paranoid than most state governors, who don’t see a need to do this. He is also more paranoid than Florida’s past governors, and even himself, since he formerly did not do this. It is also belief by the fact that he hides so much of his schedule.
177) Rick Scott has lied about the impact of Medicare cuts on senior citizens.

178) Rick Scott misled voters, in the State of the State speech (2014), about Florida’s lowering crime rate.

Scott cited this year as having a record low crime rate, but the reality is that Florida’s crime rate has been steadily going lower since the early 1990s. Scott can take no credit for this, which is no doubt in part due to policing, but also because Florida’s population has (thankfully) been growing faster than criminals can keep up.

179) Rick Scott evaded explaining why Crist should be blamed for the 2008 recession’s effects in Florida.

In the State of the State speech, Scott said:

Some say these statistics were all because of a global recession. They say it doesn’t matter who was running our state – that anyone would have been just a victim of the times. 

I disagree.

As Americans, our freedom and our optimism make us anything but victims – even in the worst circumstances and the toughest times.

Our leaders especially – and every person in our state – are not simply bystanders in the arena of life where the hard battles are fought and history is made.

He goes on like this for a while, but the one thing he doesn’t do it explain what, exactly, Crist (or any state governor) was supposed to do about a worldwide recession. Optimism won’t pay your mortgage. Scott goes on about fighting battles and not being a victim, but he never gets around to explaining what, exactly, ought to have been done – because he can’t. The reality is that if he had been governor in 2008, he would have been standing around with his jaw dropping the same as so many other politicians.

180) Rick Scott relied on a questionable report to claim that Florida’s teachers were second most effective in the nation.

181) Rick Scott misled voters when claiming Florida’s 4th graders ranked second in the world in reading.

Actually, they ranked second in a study which sampled fourth graders from around the world. This was not a ranking of all students worldwide, but of selected groups from select locations.

182) Rick Scott overstated the range and impact of his “$10,000 degree” program.

Scott incorrectly says that it is available is “all” Florida community colleges. It is only in 23 as of this date. He also fails to add necessary caveats, such as accessory expenses of going to college (books, lodging, etc.)

183) Rick Scott lied about the causes of the recession in Florida, in his State of the State speech.
He blamed “taxing and borrowing” for the recession in Florida, but the real cause was the real estate crisis, plus the nationwide recession.

184) Rick Scott misled voters by claiming he cut taxes 24 times.

Some of the cuts were temporary. Some are not cuts, but credits. Others are tax holidays, which he counted more than once if they happened every year, even though they are the same cut. Finally, he is also counted tax incentives and breaks that only apply to a handful of businesses. In fact most of the “cuts” have been for businesses.

185) Rick Scott lied about “record funding” for environmental concerns in his State of the State address.

This one requires a lot of caveats, but the sum of the matter is, Scott portrayed record funding on one sub-issue (springs restoration) as though it were funding for all environmental concerns.

187) Rick Scott lied about the impact of Obamacare on businesses with under 20 people.

You may or may not like Obamacare, but again, correct information is required to make a decision. Scott falsely claimed that a small business with 20 or less employees could go out of business because of the ACA. But businesses with under 50 employees aren’t even required to provide coverage.

190) Rick Scott has a personal friend managing his alleged “blind” trust fund.

191) Rick Scott deceptively bragged about Florida’s voluntary pre-K program.

While he correctly asserted that Florida’s access to VPK is the best in the nation, he ignored the low per-pupil spending and the resulting poor quality of Florida’s programs.

193) Rick Scott lied about Obamacare driving 2.5 million people from the workforce.
This relies on a widespread misuse of a CBO report. The same ad also doesn’t tell the whole story about 300,000 people losing insurance policies.

200) Rick Scott is leading a charge to deceptively repackage Common Core.

Whether you love or hate Common Core, this is obviously a dishonest way to deal with it.

201) Rick Scott engaged in discriminatory hiring practices at Solantic.

202) Rick Scott misleads voters about Crist’s record on tuition increases.

203) Rick Scott refuses to withdraw or correct a false campaign ad about effects of Obamacare on insurance.

Typically, Scott simply made an assertion that the ad was correct, and refused to say more. This is in spite of the fact that even insurance companies agree that the ad is incorrect.

205) Rick Scott has lied about cuts to Medicare Advantage.

207) Rick Scott is using diversionary tactics to avoid providing public records.

Scott is telling those who request public records that they need to go to the employees who are “custodians” of the records. This serves to make it harder to get these records.

209) Rick Scott is using his wife as a shield for his financial investments.

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