Here’s what you need to understand about how Republicans in the state House of Representatives view themselves:
They are right.
Always and only.
A dispute with the federal government over tax money?
Trust the House.
A dispute with local school districts over testing?
Trust the House.
A dispute with the Senate over the budget?
Trust the House.
There is no middle ground, no shades of gray, no extenuating circumstances. They know what is best for you, and no one else can be trusted to do what is moral and smart.
That is neither sarcasm, nor hyperbole.
That is precisely how they operate.
Consider, first, the House’s stance on Medicaid expansion funds. The House decided two years ago it was not interested in accepting any additional Medicaid funds, and it has not budged one inch from that position.
Instead, GOP leaders in the House keep coming up with excuses that are disingenuous at best, and may more appropriately be called bold-faced lies.
Mostly, they base their argument on the concept that the federal government cannot be trusted.
To hear them tell it, we can’t trust that the feds will provide the necessary revenues even though funding is required by current laws.
Furthermore, we can’t believe all the federal studies that indicate preventive care is more fiscally responsible than treating the uninsured in emergency rooms.
We should put our faith in the House because Tallahassee is more attuned to your needs than D.C. could ever be. Local is better. That is their logic. That is their mantra.
Except when it isn’t convenient.
You see, they scream about state sovereignty and states’ rights when dealing with the federal government, and yet they completely ignore local law enforcement (gun laws), local school superintendents (high-stakes testing), local hospitals (Medicaid expansion), local ratepayers (nuclear cost recovery charges), local courts (redistricting) and local voters (medical marijuana).
They have become the Goldilocks of government. Don’t trust federal officials because they’re incompetent. And don’t trust local leaders because they’re rubes. But your representatives in the state House? They’re juuuuust right.
Don’t believe me?
Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, recently argued the state should actually blow off billions of dollars in health care funds because accepting the money would give the federal government too much input in Florida policies.
Days later, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, pointed out that a House bill was designed to control a $45 million chunk of teacher pay raises instead of local schools because “we have a fundamental distrust of school districts.”
Think of the hubris involved in those decisions.
We can’t trust the feds, and we can’t trust the locals. The House demands autonomy from the federal government at the same time it usurps it from Florida counties.
When it comes to Medicaid expansion, their excuses have become so twisted that House members are now arguing opposite points in the same conversation.
Corcoran says the Senate plan to use federal funds to buy private insurance is still Medicaid expansion wrapped in a different bow. And at the same time he argues the federal government will never approve the Senate plan.
So which is it?
If it really is Medicaid expansion by another name, why wouldn’t the feds approve it?
After listening to weeks of deceptive, bewildering and flat-out incorrect arguments from members of the state House on Medicaid and other issues, I would agree on this point:
We should be careful who we trust in Florida.
John Romano is a Tampa Bay Times columnist.
c. 2015 Tampa Bay Times