The recent offer by the feds to provide a lesser scale of funding for the Low Income Pool is being characterized by some as a caving in to Rick Scott, or as "blinking" in this game of funding chicken. Others are saying it's more like a rescue mission so that the poor in this state don't end up suffering because of Scott's stubbornness. You can count me among those who go with the second choice, and add this: I think it's a tactical concession that is meant to force Scott to further reveal himself for what he really is.
As of this moment, the feds have the high moral ground. They've offered a compromise that will allow Florida -- if Scott and the Legislature want it -- to continue to fund this desperate need for the next two years. After all, Florida has an almost two billion dollar surplus projected (or 8 billion, if you believe Scott). They could make up for themselves much of what would be cut from the LIP grant for the next fiscal year. If they wanted to.
Of course, that may mean that Scott will have to break a campaign promise or two, such as not funding education as high as he campaigned on. But since this was a guy who promised in 2009 not to cut education, and immediately did so anyway, I'm sure that would disturb him about as much as a housefly would disturb Godzilla.
Or, Scott might have to compromise by not delivering more of those delicious tax cuts to big business....or even that generous $14 per year he was offering us peons who live in the trenches as a savings on our cable TV bill. But if that's the case, Scott will still be forced to show his hand: Will he consider tax breaks for his business allies more important -- or the health and welfare of the poor, sick, and vulnerable? If he chooses the first option, he'll play right into the hands of his opposition.
I think the feds also know that there's a good chance that Scott, demagogue that he is, will say NO to this offer, and continue his lawsuit against the feds, demanding that they send him ALL the money he wants for LIP. All his talk of a state government shutdown may be a hint not of what he expects from a recalcitrant Legislature, but of what he plans to do, as far as he can make it possible, through his own executive power. This is the true coloration of Rick Scott, Hospital CEO, coming through now that he has nothing to lose and no election to face. I think the feds know this. And I think they're using it to paint Scott into a corner. You can just see his eyes nervously darting back and forth as he looks for a way out. There probably isn't one, not that makes Scott come out looking like the caring hero.
Earlier this year I asked whether to expect Happy Face Rick Scott or Tea Party Rick Scott. It looks like I forgot an even more extreme option: Temper Tantrum Tyrant Scott. I'll have to keep that title in mind from now on.