Stephen Goldstein: Florida to blame for "Cruz-ifiction" of GOP

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  Sen. Ted Cruz is Florida Republicans' Frankenstein monster, the son of Rick Scott.

Everyone is pinning the debacle of the shutdown of the federal government and the threat of default on the nation's debt on Cruz alone. But the truth is the Florida GOP set in motion the dynamics that led to Cruz's meteoric rise to national prominence, and the recent "Cruz-ifiction" of the party. Follow the bouncing ball:

    In 2008, Sen. John McCain's bid for the Republican presidential nomination was practically dead until he won the Florida primary. With great fanfare, he later chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. That was a signal to the radical right-wing that they could come out of the shadows. Palin fired up the base, attacking Barack Obama as "not one of us" and his agenda as socialist.

   In August 2009, in Florida, some of the same supporters of McCain-Palin, now part of the tea party, protested the newly-elected President Obama's healthcare proposal.

  In March 2010, as soon as the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was passed, then-Florida Attorney General and candidate for governor Bill McCollum took the lead in filing a lawsuit, alleging the individual mandate in the law was unconstitutional.

  In November 2010, defrocked Columbia/HCA head Rick Scott was elected Florida governor on a wave of tea-party popularity. He had established a PAC to defeat Obama's proposal, campaigned against the Affordable Care Act, and won, at least in part because of it.

 After January 2011, Attorney General Pam Bondi continued McCollum's lawsuit, joined by 25 other states, until the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare in June 2012.

  In November 2012, President Obama was re-elected in a stunning victory over Mitt Romney, who promised to overturn Obamacare as soon as he was sworn in.

Still, Scott and the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature have flouted the Affordable Care Act: They refused federal money to implement parts of it, wouldn't create an exchange to allow Floridians to compare the prices and benefits of policies, and banned from state facilities "navigators" assigned to help potential enrollees sign up.

On Oct. 16, Congress voted temporarily to defeat the effort by Cruz and Republicans to kill Obamacare by tying its funding to funding the government and raising the debt ceiling.

But tea party favorite Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a relentless opponent of Obama and Obamacare, voted nay on the motion to end debate, and ultimately voted against opening the government and saving the country from default.

In the House of Representatives, of the 16 Florida Republican members voting, 11 voted to continue the government shutdown and against raising the debt ceiling. Florida's members of Congress are among the most extreme voices in the tea party-GOP coalition.

 In addition, Gov. Scott and Florida's state-elected Republican officials have used their positions to keep up the drumbeat of overturning the Affordable Care Act, no matter how they may hurt average Floridians. They have all been a major part of the chorus that emboldened Cruz and Congressional Republicans to tie defunding Obamacare to the shutdown of the federal government and the raising of the debt ceiling in the first place.

 Now is the time for deep soul-searching by Florida Republicans.

Cruz and his conspirators played the public generally, and Republicans specifically, for suckers. They knowingly gave them false hope so they could use the public spotlight for their personal gain. They knew the Affordable Care Act could not be negatively affected even by the shutdown of the day-to-day operations of the federal government because it is separately funded.

It is also obvious that, with Democrats controlling the U.S. Senate and Obama in the White House, the law will not be overturned for the foreseeable future.

  More than voters in most other states, Florida Republicans are directly responsible for (what could be) irreversible damage to the GOP, including the splintering of the party in two, with Cruz and Sarah Palin leading some sort of coalition, even a third party, though it's hard to imagine whose ego would take a backseat to whose.

Soon enough, Florida's Frankenstein will come home, looking for sustenance from those who gave him life.

Will he continue to "Cruzify" them or they, him?

Contact Stephen Goldstein on Twitter@drslgoldstein or by email at trendsman@aol.com

 

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