Scott learns to stop worrying and love the stimulus

As a gubernatorial candidate, Florida’s Rick Scott (R) vowed he “would fight all the stimulus money.” He even chastised then-Gov. Charlie Crist for accepting the federal funds and lessening the blow of the Great Recession. “I would have figured out how to balance the budget without it,” Scott boasted.

It’s funny how some things change after an election.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott campaigned against President Obama’s “failed stimulus” program — yet the freshman politician kept nearly $370 million of the federal cash in the Florida budget he signed last week. […]

The stimulus money Scott and Republican legislators approved touch every corner of the state: $290 million to improve electronic medical records, $4.2 million to aid disadvantaged children, $3.2 million for fighting wildfires, $12.5 million for drug courts, $8.6 million for county health departments, $1 million to fight infectious diseases, and $4.4 million to help public defenders and prosecutors.

The [Recovery Act] is specifically referenced 66 times in the budget.

To be sure, I don’t blame Scott for the change of heart. His budget plan was ridiculous enough without leaving stimulus money sitting on the table. Of course he took it. The problem is the governor taking advantage of the resources after condemning the Recovery Act, and continuing to pretend the funding is some kind of horrible imposition on taxpayers.

Scott was pressed on why his administration hates the Recovery Act but nevertheless put the funds to good use. That didn’t go well, either.

When asked why he didn’t veto the stimulus money, Scott reverted to his standard talking point — bashing the federal government. But when pressed by the Miami Herald reporter, Scott said he went through every line of the budget and considered each through the lens of job creation. “That’s the filter I used,” he said. “So if the stimulus money helps creates jobs, then it’s okay?” the reporter replied. Scott immediately reversed himself and denounced stimulus money again, saying, “I think it’s a mistake. It’s taxpayer money and we have to watch how we spend all that money.” “But you okayed it,” the reporter pointed out.

Scott’s staffer then stepped in to try to end the interview. Scott walked away hedging about how he would need more detail about which lines the reporter was talking about, again contradicting himself by suggesting he didn’t know which lines of the budget contained stimulus money.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: the economy-saving legislation Republicans refuse to admit they like.